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#4479896 - 08/05/17 12:41 PM Upping brake performance for mountain roads
HawkeyeScott Offline


Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 785
Loc: El Oeste
Just wrapped up a few days of mountain driving, the first since I bought my 2008 Suburban. Truck did well on some very winding, up and down mountain two-lane roads. While it's easy to understand why it doesn't brake or handle like a sports car, I did come away feeling a little underwhelmed with how the current brakes slowed the vehicle going into tighter turns. Heat buildup wasn't an issue, I just wanted more grab.

The current brakes and rotors were on the truck when I purchased it early this year. I assume they are OE or perhaps even lesser quality. Also, this is the trruck I sometimes tow our 4200 lb. travel trailer with. The trailer has its own brakes and the current setup on the truck has been pretty adequate for that application, even in the mountains.

All that said, any suggestions on what to buy when upgrading? If the rotors aren't warped and remain in spec, is replacing those essential? Do pads make a bigger difference than rotors when it comes to performance?

Thanks a lot. There are many brake options for this truck, so I welcome any suggestions.

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#4479901 - 08/05/17 12:46 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
turtlevette Offline


Registered: 12/24/13
Posts: 3575
Loc: Massachusetts
How are you determining heat isn't an issue. A semi metallic pad has the best cold stopping cf.
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#4479916 - 08/05/17 01:08 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
HawkeyeScott Offline


Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 785
Loc: El Oeste
Had some very long high speed downhill runs (7 miles downhill around curves at 65 mph) with quite a bit of braking and never whiff of hot brakes while the pedal stayed firm. The current brakes seemed to handle that aspect of braking pretty well.

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#4479926 - 08/05/17 01:17 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
E150GT Offline


Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 1109
Loc: San Antonio, TX
Frequent mountain driving means frequent brake fluid changes.
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#4479930 - 08/05/17 01:26 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13466
Loc: Chicago, IL
Everything matters in braking, truthfully. Most people assume the pads are the only thing that matters -- you are right in asking about rotors, too.


As the rotors wear their mass decreases. Less mass means they heat up faster and that equates to reduced stopping power. So yes, rotors matter too. They may still be in spec for weight or thickness, but that doesn't mean they're performing optimally. Most sports cars or other vehicles with high-performance brake systems recommend against turning rotors for this very reason: reduced mass.

As the fluid stays in service longer, it gets contaminated with water. This reduces the boiling point and leads to a spongy pedal and reduced stopping since the pads can't push against the rotor face as hard. Severe service (towing, racing, etc.) almost always calls for replacing the fluid yearly. If you're the DIY type, this can typically be done at home in an hour or less.

Similar to the rotors, as pads wear they don't handle heat as well either for the same reason: less mass. Less mass in the pads means that more of the heat is transferred from the rotor into the pad, and then into the caliper and fluid.


If the pedal felt firm and you didn't smell cooking brakes, I think you're in good shape.

I would caution you about pads with more bite: they are tougher to modulate. This means when you want to apply the brakes very lightly, it will be jerky and harder to control. Although I don't tow, I do race and I prefer a more linear pedal feel. It's true that a quick tap on the brakes won't stop the car ultra-fast, but I would prefer a more predictable pedal so that pushing twice as hard means twice the stopping power. Quick bite always feels "impressive" but I think it is actually less useful.
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#4479932 - 08/05/17 01:26 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
bdcardinal Offline


Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 11008
Loc: Santa Barbara, CA
I would say changing out to braided stainless brake lines with DOT 4LV to start. I am actually surprised heat is not an issue, I would say try to put in cooling ducts to the front bumper if it was at all.

The performance pad makers usually also have a line for towing. Performance Friction and Hawk are a few that come to mind right away.
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#4479942 - 08/05/17 01:41 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
BrocLuno Offline


Registered: 09/06/15
Posts: 5526
Loc: Kalifornia Kollective
Downshift ... Why are you braking that much on long downhills? The motor will live all day long at 4,500 RPM engine braking.

Why use the wheel brakes. You might need than in an emergency ...
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#4479948 - 08/05/17 01:45 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
4WD Offline


Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 6418
Loc: Texas
Power Stop Extreme Truck & Tow - if rotors are good just the pads have more bite ...try front only and go from there


Edited by 4WD (08/05/17 01:46 PM)

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#4479990 - 08/05/17 02:49 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: dparm]
HawkeyeScott Offline


Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 785
Loc: El Oeste
Thanks a lot. I appreciate the thoughts.

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#4479994 - 08/05/17 02:51 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: BrocLuno]
Kuato Offline


Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 7094
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: BrocLuno
Downshift ... Why are you braking that much on long downhills? The motor will live all day long at 4,500 RPM engine braking.

Why use the wheel brakes. You might need than in an emergency ...


Exactly. Shifting into lower gears to let the engine slow the vehicle is the better way to address this. Brakes can be starting to overheat and not give off a smell.

If you're hitting the brakes that often going downhill, I apologize for saying so but you're not doing it right.

However if you choose to upgrade the brakes, be prepared to spend a couple grand to do it right; there will be amazing stopping power to be had with an upgrade, but you may need new wheels to fit the upgraded calipers.
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#4480002 - 08/05/17 02:58 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: BrocLuno]
HawkeyeScott Offline


Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 785
Loc: El Oeste
Re downshifting: Certainly did on the steepest grades with the most curves. But the bulk of the highways didn't call for this. They were high traffic 55 MPH zones with sudden 35 mph curves, and very little room for any safe passing? Downshifting would've caused a Dumb and Dumber style traffic jam.





Edited by HawkeyeScott (08/05/17 02:59 PM)

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#4480097 - 08/05/17 05:19 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: BrocLuno]
pkunk Offline


Registered: 03/19/11
Posts: 257
Loc: NM, USA
Originally Posted By: BrocLuno
Downshift ... Why are you braking that much on long downhills? The motor will live all day long at 4,500 RPM engine braking.

Why use the wheel brakes. You might need than in an emergency ...


^
This-I still have the origonal brakes on my 1994 Dodge 2500 diesel at 194k
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#4481081 - 08/06/17 06:08 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
csx7006 Offline


Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 135
Loc: Amarillo Texas
no brakes on the trailer??????

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#4481108 - 08/06/17 06:39 PM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
SilverFusion2010 Offline


Registered: 06/29/11
Posts: 1663
Loc: Crawfordville FL
Akebono Street Performance pads. They will handle a bit more heat, are easy on rotors and have excellent grab and bite.

one thought... If you get in a situation where you feel your brakes are compromised, use low gear and [censored] the traffic backup
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#4481416 - 08/07/17 01:44 AM Re: Upping brake performance for mountain roads [Re: HawkeyeScott]
edyvw Offline


Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 5038
Loc: Colorado Springs
Downshift! Most important trick in mountains.
Other then that:
1. Switch to DOT 4 fluid made for Euro cars. I would go with ATE TYP200. Other then that, Pentosin is good, Motul etc.
2. Not sure whether Brembo makes rotors for Suburban, but I would go with Brembo rotors due to high carbon. If not, check EBC, Hawk, etc.
3. Pads, I use on my wife's VW Tiguan EBC Red Stuff. They have good cold bite, but no fade whatsoever once I put them to work. They are paired with Brembo sport rotors.
4. Tires? Do not forget, if your tires are not of good performance, you can have Ferrari brakes on the car, it won't work.
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