Official Blog

  • Drilled, slotted, or vented; which brake rotors are best?

    Smooth Rotors

    Smooth Brake Rotors

    Slotted Rotors

    Slotted Brake Rotors

    Cross Drilled Rotors

    Cross Drilled Brake Rotors

    Drilled & Slotted Rotors

    Drilled & Slotted Brake Rotors

    Choosing the Right Brake Rotor


  • Brake Dust what is it and what causes it?

    Brake Dust what is it and what causes it?

    Brake Dust on On Cars and trucks

    The unsightly brake dust that we all see on automotive wheels is 92% Fe which simply put is in part iron caused by abrasion of the cast iron brake rotor by the pad and secondly fibers from the semi metallic elements of the brake pad. The remainder of the dust residue is carbon content within the brake pad.

    99% of automotive brake pads made these days are made as a semi metallic meaning a bundle of steel fibers compressed and fused together with other additives. The steel fiber content can be up to 30% of the pad and this abrasive material is what scratches your brake rotor and causes the dust.

    Non metallic pads such as those made with Twaron or kevlar fiber are only available as an upgrade in the aftermarket and very few manufacturers opt to use these more expensive materials simply for build cost purposes. These pads are known an organics and often outperform and outlast their semi metallic counterparts as well as reducing rotor abrasion and dust caused in the braking action.

    DBC brakes is a world leader in clean running organic pad technology for cars and light trucks with its radical new Redstuff premium sport upgrade passenger car pads or the popular Greenstuff 7000 series pads for trucks and SUV and more details on the full range can be found here … automotive brake pads.

    Brake dust on Motorcycles

    is almost 100% from the contents of the pad itself and the much harder wearing heat treated stainless steels on motorcycles only wear down very slowly unlike cast iron in automotive brake systems.

    All you have to do to avoid dust on a motorcycle is use a pad that contains minimal steel fiber.

    Some sintered metal pads may appear to be copper in colour and material yet many include steel fiber or powder or more expensive stainless steel powder as in the case of DBC Brakes sintered pad range.

    DBC Brakes organic pads such as the FA series organics or the DBC Vee pad range contain zero steel fiber and are therefore much cleaner in their operation and almost entirely eliminate dust residue. The minimal dust created by the DBC organics is simple to wash off with water and sponge and does not burn itself into wheel alloy or paint finishes.

  • Brake Discs VS Brake Drums

    Brake technology, just like suspension technology and fuel-system technology, has come a long way in recent years. What began in the '60s as a serious attempt to provide adequate braking for performance cars has ended in an industry where brakes range from supremely adequate to downright phenomenal. The introduction of components like carbon fiber, sintered metal and lightweight steel, along with the adoption of ABS, have all contributed to reduced stopping distances and generally safer vehicles (though ABS continues to provide controversy).

    One of the first steps taken to improve braking came in the early '70s when manufacturers, on a widespread scale, switched from drum to disc brakes. Since the majority of a vehicle's stopping power is contained in the front wheels, only the front brakes were upgraded to disc during much of this period. Since then, many manufacturers have adopted four-wheel disc brakes on their high-end and performance models as well as their low-line economy cars. Occasionally, however, as in the case of the 1999 Mazda Protege's, a manufacturer will revert from a previous four-wheel disc setup to drum brakes for the rear of the car in order to cut both production costs and purchase price.

    Why are disc brakes better than drum and how much, if any, loss of braking occurs when using rear drum brakes on a modern car? That's what we're going to find out in this edition of Tech Center.

    Friction and Heat

    Before you can appreciate the difference between drum and disc brakes, you have to understand the common principles that both systems use when stopping a car: friction and heat. By applying resistance, or friction, to a turning wheel, a vehicle's brakes cause the wheel to slow down and eventually stop, creating heat as a byproduct. The rate at which a wheel can be slowed depends on several factors including vehicle weight, braking force and total braking surface area. It also depends heavily on how well a brake system converts wheel movement into heat (by way of friction) and, subsequently, how quickly this heat is removed from the brake components. This is where the difference between drum brakes and disc brakes becomes pronounced.

    Drum Brakes

    Early automotive brake systems, after the era of hand levers of course, used a drum design at all four wheels. They were called drum brakes because the components were housed in a round drum that rotated along with the wheel. Inside was a set of shoes that, when the brake pedal was pressed, would force the shoes against the drum and slow the wheel. Fluid was used to transfer the movement of the brake pedal into the movement of the brake shoes, while the shoes themselves were made of a heat-resistant friction material similar to that used on clutch plates.

    This basic design proved capable under most circumstances, but it had one major flaw. Under high braking conditions, like descending a steep hill with a heavy load or repeated high-speed slow downs, drum brakes would often fade and lose effectiveness. Usually this fading was the result of too much heat build-up within the drum. Remember that the principle of braking involves turning kinetic energy (wheel movement) into thermal energy (heat). For this reason, drum brakes can only operate as long as they can absorb the heat generated by slowing a vehicle's wheels. Once the brake components themselves become saturated with heat, they lose the ability to halt a vehicle, which can be somewhat disconcerting to the vehicle's operator.

    Disc Brakes

    Though disc brakes rely on the same basic principles to slow a vehicle (friction and heat), their design is far superior to that of drum brakes. Instead of housing the major components within a metal drum, disc brakes use a slim rotor and small caliper to halt wheel movement. Within the caliper are two brake pads, one on each side of the rotor, that clamp together when the brake pedal is pressed. Once again, fluid is used to transfer the movement of the brake pedal into the movement of the brake pads.

    But unlike drum brakes, which allow heat to build up inside the drum during heavy braking, the rotor used in disc brakes is fully exposed to outside air. This exposure works to constantly cool the rotor, greatly reducing its tendency to overheat or cause fading. Not surprisingly, it was under racing circumstances that the weaknesses of drum brakes and the strengths of disc brakes were first illustrated. Racers with disc brake systems could carry their speed "deeper" into a corner and apply greater braking force at the last possible second without overheating the components. Eventually, as with so many other automotive advances, this technology filtered down to the cars driven by everyday people on public roads.

    Drum vs. Disc: Today

    In today's automotive pantheon, it's not uncommon to find four-wheel disc brakes as standard equipment on medium-priced, non performance-oriented models. The majority of new vehicles, however, continue to utilize a front-disc/rear-drum brake setup. What does this say about the current state of braking systems? Are these manufacturers sacrificing vehicle safety in order to save a few bucks by installing disc brakes on only the front wheels?

    While a "yes" answer would certainly be great for increasing Town Hall traffic, the truth is that today's disc/drum setups are completely adequate for the majority of new cars. Remember that both disc and drum brake design has been vastly improved in the last 20 years. In fact, the current rear drum brake systems on today's cars would provide better stopping performance then the front disc setups of the '70s. And today's front disc brakes are truly exceptional in terms of stopping power. Combined with the fact that between 60 and 90 percent of a vehicle's stopping power comes from the front wheels, it's clear that a well-designed, modern drum brake is all that's required for most rear wheel brake duty.

    High performance cars like the Viper, 911 and Corvette can justify a four-wheel disc brake system, especially if their owners participate in some form of sanctioned racing activity on the weekends. The rest of us get more of a benefit from the lower cost of drum brakes. Expecting every vehicle built today to come with four-wheel disc brakes would require an across-the-board increase in purchase price, and that could stop new car buyers much quicker than any brake system.



  • Buying and fitting new brake pads for your car

    Buying and fitting new brake pads for your car

    Brake pads and discs or rotors can be home fitted by most mechanically minded folks observing safety guidelines especially with the use of a suitable manual.


    The choice of pad brands is endless so this short guide gives you some insight from a manufacturer who blends its own pads, produces them 100% in the UK and makes some of the finest pads on the market at less than manufacturer prices.


    First beware of ultra low prices. The materials used in brake pads varies and is NOT controlled by most governments allowing the use in some cases of Asbestos or Ceramic fibers (not Ceramic particles which are perfectly OK) and are cancer causing. The dust in worn brakes can be dangerous if inhaled and as you wont know what was in your vehicle originally be mindful of this. Low priced pads however are almost always low quality and we will discuss this later.


    There are two basic types of pads on the world markets, Premium Organics and semi metallic. These make up 99% of all brake pads sold. Manufacturers almost exclusively use semi metallic in new car builds because of the low price of this material but there are better products around at good prices.


    What makes a BAD brake pad?

    Pads all look similar and the smiling shop assistant wants to take your money and ring it quickly into the cash register will gladly sell you WHAT HE HAS ON THE SHELF telling you they are great pads and that he has sold “Loads of them and never had a complaint”. That may or may not be true.


    Firstly a shop keeper is extremely unlikely to have the first clue about what a brake pad is made of let alone know the difference between blends. Shop owners are guilty of selling “Boxes” or brand names and you need to be the expert here to get the best value for your money so let us make you just that – a well versed consumer.


    A bad brake pad will almost always do these things:

    • Wear out fast
    • Be noisy emitting grinding sounds under load
    • Be unstable in braking pulling left or right at random and causing panic
    • Wear your brake discs out 2-5 times faster than a decent brake pad type
    • Cause masses of brake dust
    • FADE under heavy braking as though your brakes were oiled and fail to stop your vehicle. Heavy loads in your car or towing will really highlight this so beware


    The latter failure is extremely common is low priced brake pads and it might be too late when you find out that the pad in the flashy “Household Name” box is not all it is cracked up to be.


    The things to ask your provider of brake pads that will set you on the right course are along these lines:


    • Where are the brake pads made?
    • Is that factory ISO approved?
    • Are the pads he is offering you DOT tested (for the USA) and FMVSS marked with a two letter code such as FF, FE, GF, GG printed on the pad or an ECE R 90 number (for Europe) with an E letter followed by two digits showing country of testing and a 5 digit number. Ask to look at the pads in the box.
    • Is the brake pad you are selling me the same grade as the ones in my car (referring to the R 90 number or the FMVSS letter grading)


    If he doesn’t know the answer to these questions you are taking your chances.


    Shop-keepers are also very good at telling you something is a “Well known brand” but the caution here is that many brands have a top grade of product for car manufacturers and an aftermarket grade of a far lower spec for the unsuspecting punter. So brand really means nothing here plus the guy talking to you may have worked the previous week as a Pizza delivery driver the past week anyway.


    Semi metallic pads are basically just that, a pad that is up to 50% steel fiber (steel wool) compressed with some resins and a few additives but due to the very low prices of steel fiber these are the low cost brake pads where many of the quality problems exist.


    DBC brake pads by comparison are 100% UK made in an ISO facility, 100% ECO friendly and toxin free being the first (and at the time of writing ONLY) brake pad that is blended with ALL sulfides including the nasty antimony removed. Plus DBC make the worlds leading range of what are called “premium Organics”. These contain little or NO steel fibers but instead contain higher tech aramid fibers that are more gentle on your discs or rotors, almost always less dusty, perform great and can bring your brakes back to better than new feel and performance.


    How to choose the right GRADE of brake pad


    Check out the range of DBC brake pads on this link for various driving styles and needs. DBC make a range of brake pad grades available online at very nice prices, the Metallic brake pad being way lower in price than manufacturer pads and a pad to beat anything out there in terms of stopping power and stability.

    Regular street use –Urban Driving – Metallic Grade
    Sport street use on lighter cars – Carbon grade
    Faster street use on Premium cars – ceramic grade
    Sportscar/Muscle Car grade – Carbon grade
    Heavy street vehicles and 4 x 4 – Kevlar grade
    Trackdays and Racing – Carbon grade

    The motto is – LOOK ONLINE for info or BUY online – Don’t just accept the first thing a shop offers you, ask the shop for the brake pad choices or selections he offers and DON’T go for the cheapest.

  • Why Disc Brakes?

    Why Disc Brakes?

    Mountain bikes first used cantilever brakes; next, direct-pull brakes, which avoided the risk of snagging a transverse cable on a knobby tire. But mountain-bike rims are often wet, muddy and warped, making for problems with any rim brakes.

    Disc brakes have become increasingly popular on mountain bikes and are gaining some popularity for other bicycles..

    John Olsen, expert mountain bike rider and engineer (and who supplied the photo at the left here), reports:

    "When I got my first mountain bike disc brake that worked, the advantages off road were so overwhelming that I changed every bike I had over to them as rapidly as possible.  Hub and rim and spoke design essentially didn't change, except for disc mount provisions on the hubs."

    For bicycles used on-road, the advantages of disc brakes aren't as compelling. To some extent, they are a fashion statement, imitating motor-vehicle practice.

    But be aware: disc brakes can't be retrofitted without frame modification. A front disc brake stresses the fork heavily and can tear the front wheel out of the dropouts unless special measures are taken.


  • Should be Replaced as Sets

    Years ago my dad had a Dodge St. Regis as a company car. It would have been a more reliable car if the car dealer that took care of maintenance had not persisted in replacing one part at a time. It was towed out of the driveway because of minor problems like a bad spark plug wire and then returned with only one spark plug wire replaced. The seven old spark plug wires left on the engine meant more trips back to the car dealer’s garage.

    There are some parts like spark plug wires that are best replaced as a set. If all the parts are the same age, performing the same function and operating under the same conditions, then they are likely to fail or degrade at close to the same time. Replacing the parts as a set prevents problems and duplicating labor costs. Here are a few more parts that are usually best replaced as a set.

    Replace both the left and right brake parts on an axle. New brake pads, brake shoes, brake rotors, brake calipers or brake drums should be on both ends of the axle for even braking and reliable parking brake operation. It is best to also replace the small brake parts like springs, pins, cables, etc. as a left and right set.

    Suspension and steering parts like shocks, struts, springs, bushings, etc. should usually be replaced on both the left and right ends of an axle to ensure consistent braking, handling, steering and load hauling performance.

    Most people know to replace spark plugs as a set rather than just the dirtiest plug or the plug that no longer sparks. But it is as important to replace as a set modern ignition and fuel system parts that serve individual pistons or banks of pistons. Single ignition coils or fuel injectors fail completely, but the output of the other old coils or fuel injectors has probably also declined.

    The engine computer could receive signals from the oxygen sensors indicating the mixture is too rich or lean. The typical engine computer cannot tell if the fuel injector in piston one is the oldest and not squirting enough gas or the ignition coil for piston three is slowly dying and not generating enough current. The computer will adjust the timing and mixture as if all the fuel injectors, ignition coils, spark plugs, etc. are the same age and in the same condition. If the parts are not all in the same condition then some cylinders are likely to get too much gasoline and some too little. Carbon will start building up and create hard to diagnose starting, stalling and idle problems.

    Old small block Chrysler V8s like the one in that St. Regis have a water pump bypass hose that fails more frequently than the other radiator and heater hoses, but it typically is a good idea to replace hoses and accessory belts (power steering, water pump, etc.) as sets.

    There are many other non-identical parts that should be replaced as sets. If two parts wear down each other then consider replacing both (for example, distributor cap and distributor rotor). If one part protects another part that failed then replace both parts (for example, fuel filter and fuel pump). The last tip is to watch the DBC catalog for “kits.” For example, a timing belt kit contains tensioners, idlers and other parts that are best replaced with the timing belt as a set.

  • The World's Strongest Brakes Stop The 1,000 MPH Bloodhound SSC: Video

    It's like stopping a bus from 160 mph on a wet road. That's how the engineers behind the Bloodhound SSC—the British land-speed record car designed to break the 1,000-mph barrier—described the task of stopping their creation once it's finished breaking the sound barrier. This video describes the immense forces that will act on the brakes as they slow the Bloodhound to a stop. While most of the retardation will be done by air brakes and parachutes, a set of car-like disc brakes still have to haul it down from 160 mph to a standstill on the slippery earth of South Africa's Kaksken Pan.

    At that speed, the car's steel wheels will still be spinning at 10,000 rpm. During testing, a set of carbon rotors from a jet fighter shattered under the stress during a half-speed, 5,000-rpm test. Engineers switched to steel rotors from AP Racing, which managed to absorb 4.6 kilowatts of energy on a test stand without failing although the Bloodhound team hasn't spun them up to the full 10,000 rpm just yet.

    Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green will probably be thankful for strong brakes when he tries to surpass his own land-speed record in South Africa next year. He reached 763.05 mph in October 1997, driving the Thrust SSC, but now Green has his eyes on the 1,000-mph mark. To get him there, the Bloodhound SSC will employ both jet and rocket power, as well as specially-constructed steel wheels (no rubber tires here) that are extremely thin to reduce friction.

  • NASCAR's Brad Keselowski loses his brakes at 165 mph

    NASCAR's Brad Keselowski loses his brakes at 165 mph

    Brad Keselowski crashes at 165mphBrad Keselowski crashes at 165mph

    Losing your brakes while driving is a terrifying feeling. There's nothing but the sense of impending doom since you're no longer in complete control of your two-ton metal machine. Imagine if you were out on a race track when you lost your brakes? Now imagine you were doing 165 mph when they went out. Brad Keselowski doesn't have to imagine that scenario because it just played out for him during Tuesday's testing at Watkins Glen.

    We're very happy to report that Keselowski is alright. He tweeted as much, and he also tweeted out both the gnarly crash photo and in-car footage of it all going wrong. It seems that the rear brakes went out, the fronts locked up, and Keselowski wound up eating guardrail at a high rate of speed. His safety gear clearly helped hold him in place while also dissipating a lot of the energy from the accident.

    According to onlookers, Brad had just completed some fast laps during testing. He was running the fastest out of 14 other drivers testing that day before he crashed. His Crew Chief is understandably upset since the team was running so well prior to this incident.

  • New electronic wedge braking technology

    New electronic wedge braking technology

    German electronics specialist Siemens has developed new braking technology in the form of the electronic wedge brake, which the company claims can dramatically reduce stopping distances of cars compared with conventional hydraulic systems. Previous attempts to improve the efficiency of braking systems have seen on the introduction of carbon compounds and electronic activation of auxiliary brakes. However, the performance of these are said to pale in comparison of the new electronic wedge brake.

    The technology harks back to the days of horse-drawn carriages, where a wooden wedge was used to slow the wheel. The modern version relies on a set of interlocking triangular teeth that set between the caliper and the disc, and is said to require only one tenth of the energy that conventional brakes require. In fact, the entire system runs on the standard 12-volt electrical system found in most cars.

    The most innovative attribute is the fact that the faster the car is going, the better the braking performance. A series of electric motors release pressure, while a torque sensor controls the braking force and keeps the wheels from locking up. During tests, the wedge brake equipped cars regularly required less than half the distance to come to a complete stop than cars fitted with standard brakes. The new braking system also requires less moving parts and weighs significantly less than current braking technology. Sources say the first German car with wedge brakes is planned for launch in 2008. With current brake and tire technology approaching its limits, new innovations such as wedge braking will drive the next level of growth.

  • Shelby GT350 turns into fireball after flames kill brakes at 100 mph

    Joe Charles in his 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 that caught fire during track day


    One track enthusiast is lucky to be alive after a fiery incident involving his 2016 Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] Shelby GT350.

    As explained in detail on his Facebook page, Joe Charles was enjoying a long day at the track when a series of disasters struck, culminating in his car being engulfed in flames, with no brakes and while running at 100 mph.

    Trouble in the engine led to a major oil leak. The oil came into contact with the exhaust and a fire quickly ensued. The fire then caused the fuel line to rupture at which point most of the car’s underbody was engulfed in flames.

    Joe Charles in his 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 that caught fire during track dayJoe Charles in his 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 that caught fire during track day

    All of the heat caused damage to the brake system as the pedal went straight to the floor. Relying on the handbrake also failed as the cable snapped.

    By now Charles had cleared a wall and had the engine switched off. His last resort was putting the car into first gear. Fortunately this worked as the car managed to come to a controlled stop, and luckily not too far from where some of the track’s fire extinguishers were stored.

    The good news is that Charles was uninjured and is already keen to get back on the track. He also has a new 2017 Shelby GT350R on the way.

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