Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are Big Brake Kits for?
Stock brake systems on modern cars generally work fine for average daily street driving. If you're a performance enthusiast, however, your driving patterns will easily push your stock brakes beyond their capabilities. Horsepower-boosting modifications and upgrades to your suspension and tires can quickly add up and overpower your brakes. One way to give your vehicle stopping power to match your going power is with a big brake kit. These kits include oversize rotors and either caliper relocation brackets or completely new calipers.
Big brake kits provide improved braking performance in two ways. First, the larger rotors of a big brake kit have a higher heat capacity, which offers far more brake fade resistance under high stress. Plus, the larger diameter of the rotors gives the calipers and pads extra leverage, making it physically easier to stop the wheels compared to stock rotors.
How long do brake pads and rotors last?
The lifespan of your brake components depends on a wide set of factors, from the type of pads and rotors you have to your personal driving style as well as coefficient ratings. Most brake pads typically last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles under normal driving conditions. Brake rotors can last quite a bit longer (as much as 3 times as long as pads), but again this depends on many factors like your driving conditions and brake system maintenance. The more extreme driving conditions you apply on those brake pads and discs, the shorter the lifespan.
When should I have my rotors turned/lathed?
Brake rotors can wear unevenly or become slightly warped over time, compromising your braking performance. "Turning" or "lathing" brake rotors means putting them onto a lathe and shaving off a small amount of the braking surface. This is also known as "machining" or "resurfacing," and the process essentially gives your rotors a new surface that's straight, smooth, and true. Prodigywerks recommends resurfacing of the brake rotors whenever an extreme warping of the discs occurs which exceeds the floating designed tolerance.
Which type is better, drilled or slotted rotors?
Whether you want drilled or slotted rotors depends on your driving style. Both drilling and venting rotors improve the performance of your brakes, for example, but they're ideal for different types of use. Slotted rotors are usually the preferred choice for heavy-duty, high-performance use due to their higher structural strength. Drilling provides similar benefits to slotting, but holes can make rotors susceptible to cracking under severe use like heavy-duty racing. Drilled rotors have an attractive look that's preferred by street and light-duty track drivers who don't do as much stressful braking.
Why are my brakes squeaking when I step on the pedal? Is this a problem?
Not usually. Like death and taxes, a little bit of brake noise is one of those unavoidable aspects of life. Stop-and-go traffic, dusty conditions, and even humidity can cause pads to harden or "glaze", which makes the friction surfaces generate noise on contact. Often noisy pads can be sanded down with common sandpaper to eliminate the hardening. Another phenomenon known as "crystallization," alters the pads so much that they would have to be replaced to eliminate the noise.
Brake noise can also be indicative of a weak link elsewhere in your brake system, and the noise may be your first warning of oncoming brake failure. If your brakes are consistently making an inordinate amount of noise, we recommend you have your entire brake system checked out and serviced.
Which brake fluids should I use for my BBK; DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5 or DOT 5.1? What are the differences?
In general, the difference between these fluids are the temperature tolerance as well as whether if they are silicone based or common glycol / glycol ethers based. DOT 3, 4 and 5.1 are mostly common glycol based while DOT 5 is silicone based. DOT 3 is always the cheapest option—DOT 4 is about 50% more expensive than DOT 3 and DOT 5 is about two times more expensive than DOT 4. Some owners mistakenly assume that the higher cost of DOT 5 equates to better performance, but this is not always the case. In fact, sometimes the exact opposite is true. To get a better handle on why we don’t recommend DOT 5 for our brake kits, we need to take a crash course in chemistry.
Common brake fluids such as DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 are mixtures of glycols and glycol ethers while DOT 5 is silicone based. DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 are hydroscopic, which is a fancy way of saying they absorb water. It is true that we try to keep our brake systems "dry", but over time, even a buttoned up brake system with tight seals and new lines absorbs moisture. The key here is what happens to that moisture after it enters the system.
DOT 5 doesn’t absorb moisture, so some folks think it is the better choice, but is it? Before you go rushing off to the parts counter, remember even though DOT 5 doesn’t absorb water, it can’t/won’t prevent moisture from entering the brake system. And since the water isn’t absorbed by DOT 5, moisture puddles and causes localized corrosion within the brake system. As funny as it sounds, DOT 3, 4, and 5.1 absorb moisture, which in turn eliminates the puddling that can cause corrosion. More importantly, when brake fluid heats up, water trapped inside the brake lines (but not absorbed by the brake fluid) is converted from liquid to vapor. Steam compresses easier than liquid. With this in mind, imagine barreling down the road at high speed and hitting the brakes. When the hydraulics sends DOT 5 fluid through a pocket of steam in the line, that drop in pressure creates a soft pedal, a lost of compression feel.
If you have done any reading, you’ve probably heard DOT 5 doesn’t eat paint. This is true. Accidental spills and undetected leaks happen, so if you have big money in a custom paint job, DOT 5 may sound like a solid play despite the extra cost. That said, if you think selecting the proper brake fluid is simply a matter of choosing between the lesser of two potential cons (a soft pedal versus damaged paint), think again. Most folks know they aren't supposed to top off DOT 3 or 4 brake fluids with DOT 5, but don't know why. The answer goes back to the chemistry. Combining even trace amounts of a glycol-based brake fluid with DOT 5 can cause the two incompatible fluids to gel, resulting in poor braking. Converting to DOT 5 also requires thorough flushing and removing ALL traces of the old fluid to avoid seal damage. For all of these reasons, we do not recommend using DOT 5 brake fluid with our brake kits.
Will aftermarket brakes void my warranty?
According to the United States Federal Law, installing aftermarket brake systems or components will not void your warranty unless your dealer can prove that any damage you are making a warranty claim about was directly caused by your aftermarket parts. For example, if you install a big brake kit and your windshield wipers stop working, your wipers are still covered.