Brakes are often an afterthought when it comes to performance enhancements. Even if they are included in the build plan, the brakes are usually only upgraded late in the build, after the “fun stuff” gets done. But is that the right approach? What kind of performance can you really expect from a brake upgrade? In this issue’s Prove It, we aim to find out.
We took a 1992 Ford Mustang and put it through a series of braking tests to set a baseline, and then bolted on a Big Brake Kit from Stainless Steel Brakes. Once the brakes were installed, we took the 5.0 Mustang to the same stretch of road, ran it through the same tests and then compared the results.
The Parts– The SSBC Big Brake front kit uses a cast-iron caliper with a larger-than-stock piston and beefier slotted 4-lug rotors that easily fit inside the stock 15” wheel. This kit utilizes the stock mounting hardware, keeping the weight the same. In the rear, SSBC offered up their rear disc brake conversion kit, which comes complete with rotors, calipers, brackets and brake lines, everything needed to complete the job. The rear kit actually reduced the overall weight of the car as the heavy drums were eliminated.
The Mustang was tested before and after using a Vericom VC3000 data-logging performance meter. This extremely accurate computer measures speed, braking time, braking distance and G-forces. The car was put through its paces in a series of 0-30-0 and 0-60-0 tests. Each test was conducted 3 times, and then the results were averaged to determine the overall performance.
A note on pad bedding- in order for brake pads to be properly bedded in, we used a specific cycle. The procedure is 20-30 runs of 10-30-10 braking sessions. This means the car is driven to 30, slowed to 10 or so, accelerated to 30, slowed to 10 and so on. This breaks in the pads and establishes the wear pattern that will forever remain through the life of the pads and rotors. After the 20-30 runs, the car is driven down the highway at a consistent speed with minimal braking. This cools the brakes off after the initial heat cycling. If you don’t do this, the brake pads will never be as effective as they could be.
30 to 0: In stock form, the Mustang took an average of 2.82 seconds to stop at 63.35 feet, at an average speed of 31.43 MPH. With the new brakes, the car only required 1.98 seconds to stop within 46.36 feet, at an average speed of 31.53 MPH. This is a difference of 20 foot and 1 second, more than enough to be he difference in an accident and a near miss.
60 to 0: The factory brakes stop the car in 6.37 seconds at 286.51 feet. After the SSBC brakes were installed, the modified Mustang stopped in 5.85 seconds at 197.65 feet. That is almost 100 feet shorter than the stock Mustang, which is substantial in the world of panic braking.
20 feet of stopping distance in a 30-MPH panic stop can mean the difference between life and death. This SSBC kit is a respectively small upgrade compared to some of the monster 13- and 14-inch rotor packages available in the aftermarket. While we expected a gain in performance, the SSBC package really surprised us at how big the difference was. Even small brake upgrades can make a big difference in the real world.
Stainless Steel Brake Co.