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article details
Author Ryan Leecock
Categories All Honda/Acura
Create Date January 16, 2002 17:18
Last Update February 08, 2005 18:32
General Brake Information

Last Updated: 09/10/96

This section is dedicated to making all that nice horsepower you just used into an immense amount of heat.

Brakes are one of those things on a car that people think is really complicated. Actually they aren't really. Basically, you are just compressing some liquid against a piston which is squeezing a couple of pads against the rotor. It's just about as simple as that. Those of you with ABS have some neat stuff in between but essentially it all works the same.

In order to slow down we must generate heat. This is one of the few times that we LIKE friction. Friction is good. The more friction, the faster we can slow down, assuming the tires have some traction of course. There are two reasons why one would like to upgrade the brakes. One, you would like to be able to stop shorter and or quicker. Two, you want to get rid of this annoying sinking pedal known as brake fade.

There are two kinds of brake fade. The first is pad fade. This is caused by the brake pads giving off gasses and fumes as they heat up. The gas prevents full contact between the rotor and the pad, something similar to hydroplaning. In order to get rid of this type of fade, cross-drilled rotors or slotted rotors are needed. The holes or slots in the rotor give the gasses a place to go and also serves to evacuate water. Sometimes you might have noticed after hitting a puddle, the brakes are not as efficient. This is because the water first has to be boiled or thrown off the braking surface. In my limited experience you won't notice the difference between cross-drilled/slotted rotors and regular rotors on the street. The only time pad fade really comes into play is when they get really hot, like stopping from 100-0 mph. On the track you will notice the difference because you use the brakes more heavily. So unless you have a REALLY heavy foot and drive in the city only, don't waste your money on the cross drilled/slotted rotors.

Fluid fade is the second type of brake fade. This is caused by repeated heavy braking which heats up the brake fluid in the calipers and cause it boil and then turn into a gas (air bubbles in the brake lines). A gas can be easily compressed which causes a sinking pedal and decreased braking power. The only way to get rid of fluid fade is to bleed the brakes use a fluid with a higher boiling point and to avoid excess heat.

Then there is the brake pad which really takes the beating. The stock pads that come on the 3rd Gen Integra are semi-metallic up front and organic in the rear. These pads are usually softer than most performance pads and are used in order to satisfy certain government regulations on required pedal pressure. Organic used to composed of asbestos but I don't know what they're made of now. Semi-metallic pads have about 40-50% metal in them. Metallic pads carry about 70%. The more metal the pad has, the more friction it has. Because these pads have real metal in them sometimes they will squeal and make horrible noises if not installed right. Usually some nice gooey anti-squeal compound will take care of it. But sometimes they will still slightly squeal or grind. This is normal. However use your own judgment. If it squeals really bad, then check out your brakes. Almost all pads have a wear indicator which is just a piece of metal that scraps the rotor to make a horrific noise. This is to let you know that you are about to run out of brakes.

Then we have the exotic pads. These things can be made of metal, carbon, Kevlar, ceramic and any combination thereof. Usually these are best used for the track because they require a warm-up time to become effective. In order words, the pads have to heat up before they reach peak efficiency. This is not "cool" when you want to stop for the red-light a block in front of you. However, many companies have several different formulations which may be able to allow you to run them on the street and track safely. Usually these pads dust a lot, squeal a little more than normal, and wear varies greatly. Sometimes they will last forever, and sometimes they will only last for one track event. It all depends on their formulation.

Well hopefully after reading some of the above you can decide what your needs are and gather some info from the reviews as well.

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