Performance Brake Parts Buying Guide

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Performance Brake Parts Buying Guide

For most people, it is fairly obvious that brakes are an essential part of any automobile. However, when it comes time to upgrade or replace brakes and brake parts, many people opt for low quality options. Knowledgeable car owners know that performance brake parts might not only improve car performance, but safety as well. For those who do realise the importance of carefully finding the right brake parts, there are many options that are available, both in auto parts stores and on eBay, where sellers from around the world offer a wide variety of options.

When buying brake parts, it is important to keep a few things in mind; namely what kind of brake parts are necessary, and how to find the best ones for an individual's automobile. Along with this, it is important to know if there are specific safety concerns to be aware of prior to purchase. Factoring all of these things into a decision about which brake parts to buy makes it possible for anyone to make a truly informed decision.

Parts of a Braking System

In most modern automobiles, there are actually two different systems of brakes working at once. For the most part, rear wheels are equipped with drum brakes, and front wheels are equipped with disc brakes. Disc brakes are fairly simple and consist of a brake rotor, attached to the car's wheel, along with brake pads and brake lines attached to a calliper. When the driver presses the brake pedal, the calliper pinches the rotor with the brake pads, which creates friction, causing the car to slow down.

Drum brakes are more complex, and feature a drum attached to the rotor that is filled with complex moving parts. Still, drum brakes function while using the same mechanical principles as disc brakes. The complexity is mainly due to the fact that drum brakes incorporate the car's emergency brake as well as the ability, found in many drum brakes, to be self-actuating.

Brake Rotors

Brake rotors are basically metal discs that attach to the wheel of a car. This is not to say that they are simple devices. One of the biggest problems found in brakes is that once the rotor and the brake pads reach a certain temperature, they can no longer function properly. For this reason, many performance brake rotors are designed to dissipate heat as much as possible. This is accomplished mainly by altering the design of the rotors, as well as the material they are made from.

For the most part, the stock rotors found on a vehicle should be a solid, smooth piece of iron that should perform adequately in normal conditions. Performance brake rotors, however, are made with slots and holes that allow air to blow through the rotors and better dissipate heat. In many cases, performance rotors are both slotted and drilled for better heat dissipation. The only difficulty with rotors that have holes is that they are more prone to cracking and should be monitored frequently as a result.

Brake Pads

Brake pads are the most commonly replaced part in a braking system, since the act of rubbing them against a rotor tends to wear them down. Once a brake pad has worn past a certain point, it can no longer function properly, and may even become a potential safety hazard. Luckily, many brake pads contain markings that make it easy to determine when a replacement is necessary. For the most part, brake pads are made from ceramic although there are other options available as well.

Brake Pad Type

Materials Used





Reliable, inexpensive, less dust, less wear on rotors, fairly quiet

Not good with extreme conditions; better suited for regular street use


30-65 per cent metal: steel wool, copper or iron powder, 35-70 percent synthetic fillers, bonding material

Very durable, very good at transferring heat

Cause more rotor tear; only work best after being warmed up first


10-30 per cent copper or steel

Cause a good amount of friction, good heat transfer

Noisy; cause more dust


Natural fibres: glass, rubber, carbon

Reliable, quiet, good in cold weather

Not efficient at heat transfer; not reliable for top performance machines

Along with being made from different materials, brake pads, like rotors, often include other features designed to improve performance. One of these other features are slots that allow air to carry away dust and heat away from the pads. There are also occasionally items that are designed to help reduce noise, such as metal shims on one side of the pad, or springs that reduce rattling.

Brake Lines

Many cliched Hollywood movies and television shows imperil a character by having their brake lines cut or otherwise sabotaged. This causes the brakes to stop working and usually ends with a last-minute rescue or an accident of some sort. While this is perhaps an overused plot point, it has a basis in reality. Brake lines are an important part of any braking system and were they to be cut, they would indeed cause a disaster. This is because most brakes use a system of hydraulics to transfer energy to the calliper that presses the brake pads against the rotor.

For the most part, brake lines are fairly simple rubber tubes. These rubber brake lines are fine for average driving, but they can become stretched and worn over time, and stretched brake lines simply cannot maintain the pressure needed to work properly. This does not mean catastrophe, rather a gradual loss of efficiency in brake function. Rubber brake lines should be replaced periodically to avoid this problem, although many drivers of performance vehicles prefer to replace their rubber brake lines with metal ones, usually made out of stainless steel. These metal brake lines should not stretch over time, and as an added bonus, can not easily be cut or punctured by an errant rock or stick.

Choosing the Right Brake Parts for an Individual Vehicle

Each car is different and has different needs and specifications. At the same time, different drivers take cars to unique places, and occasionally to extreme terrain or on steep slopes. Each car might need different brake parts at different times and in different circumstances. For this reason, it is important to know what kind of needs a vehicle has, as well as what is the standard equipment required by the manufacturer.

Just as one who has little chance of driving off road or in a snowstorm may not require 4-wheel drive, those who might not be engaging in professional racing may not need the most expensive brake parts. In many cases, there are brake kits that contain parts designed for certain situations or driving styles, and these kits may make it easier for a driver to find an affordable upgrade for their original brakes.


Brakes are one of the most important parts of a car, and should therefore be serviced regularly in order to maintain their proper functionalities. While the brakes that come installed in a car from the manufacturer are generally fine for most driving conditions, there are potential upgrades for braking systems that make them more efficient, and better suited to performance machines. While there are more complex pieces of many braking systems, the most commonly replaced parts of a braking system are the rotors, the brake pads, and the brake lines. Brake rotors are a disc that is attached to the car's wheel, and is used to slow the car down. While stock rotors are simple pieces of metal, performance rotors usually contain holes and slots that allow for better heat dissipation and therefore, better braking.

Brake pads are made from many different materials and are often worn out over use, making them the most commonly replaced part of a braking system. Brake lines allow hydraulic fluid to activate the brakes and can be replaced with metal brake lines in order to reduce the possibilities of swelling, which in turn reduces brake efficiency. Knowing the differences between these items, as well as how they can be improved, makes it possible for a buyer to make the best possible choices for their vehicle.

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