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ECS Big Brake Upgrade

Considering the current and planned performance upgrades to my car, it was a wise and necessary step to upgrade the braking system. I also timed my brake upgrade with a front axle swap; this was because my stock CV boots had ruptured and put the outer ball joints at risk for eventual failure.

I ordered a 13.1" Stage 1 front brake upgrade kit from ECS Tuning that would use my stock calipers while significantly increasing surface area and braking leverage. I also ordered new Cryo-stop solid rear rotors from Tire Rack, and new PBR/Axxis Ultimate ceramic front & rear brake pads from Import Replacement Parts. The replacement axles were ordered from Raxles.

You'll need anti-seize compound and silicone grease ("brake quiet") for the job, a rear caliper retraction tool, and the usual assortment of wrenches. I followed guides here and here for assistance.

The rear brakes are easiest, so I started with them first. There are bolts in the back holding the caliper in place, and the rotor can be pulled off with the caliper out of the way.

A photo of the rear caliper with the rotor removed. The rear caliper retraction tool is pressed into the brake piston and rotated clockwise to retract it back into the caliper housing. Make sure the brake fluid reservoir is unscrewed, and that the emergency brake is disengaged during this process!

The new rotor is slid into place, and silicone grease is applied on the back of the brake pad.

Before replacing the caliper bolts, apply anti-seize to the non-threaded portions on the shaft. Excess silicone grease on the brake pad (visible here) can also be wiped off.

The front caliper and rotor are removed, and the caliper is hung inside the wheel well using chicken wire. For removing the axles, I followed a fantastic guide here. I was able to get both axles out by turning the steering wheel hard in both directions; this prevented me from having to disassemble the steering knuckle. Fortunately, Raxles supplies the necessary drivers for the job (12-point star & socked hex).

The new axles from Raxles use genuine OEM hollow shafts with new constant-velocity ball joints on the ends. The CV boots are also heavy-duty, ensuring that they do not rupture in the same way the original ones did. These new axles are installed with fresh locktight on the inner transmission bolts, and a new driveaxle bolt (supplied by Raxles) on the end.

Turning our attention to the brake upgrade, the OEM carrier needs to be modified. The ECS brake kit provides a supplemental attachment (along with the proper bolts) that increases the radial distance where the caliper is mounted. This photo shows how it looks after being assembled.

Before installing the new rotors, some of the kit's notable improvements should be mentioned. The two-piece 13.1" ECS rotors (weighing 15.3 lbs each) have over 34% more surface area than the one-piece 11.3" OEM rotors (weighing 14.9 lbs each). Because of the additional caliper leverage, braking force is increased substantially while adding less than half-a-pound of unsprung weight to the wheels. Also, the slots help remove hot gasses between the rotor & pads during intense braking sessions without reducing total surface area (an issue that drilled rotors suffer from).

The new front rotors and pads are installed just like the rears. The rotor is attached along with the modified carrier, and the new pads are prepped with silicon grease. A C-clamp is use to retract the brake piston, and the pads can be installed inside the caliper. Prior to securing the caliper, apply anti-seize to the caliper bolts and tighten everything properly. After pumping the brakes a few times, the brake fluid reservoir cap can be reattached for a test drive. After bedding the brakes (following the procedure recommended on the pad box), I noticed a substantial improvement in stopping force. The new pads bite much harder than stock, and my car screams to a halt when I mash the brakes. I haven't seen any evidence of fading under harsh stop-and-go driving, either!

Because my calipers has become pitted and hideous over the years, I decided to coat them with a fresh coat of caliper paint, too. Duplicolor makes a complete kit that includes brake cleaner, paint, and a paintbrush.

The rotors and calipers don't need to be removed for painting, although it would have been a lot easier if I had painted them during the brake upgrade process. Start by removing the wheels and thoroughly scrubbing the caliper with the can of brake cleaner.

Painter's tape is used to keep the paint from landing on the surface of the rotor and splattering on the rotor hat. I also removed the banjo clip so I could paint underneath it.

The front calipers are painted with a few even coats. Be aware that the caliper paint is extremely runny, but dries relatively quickly. Silver was a good choice because even if the caliper paint chips, the exposed metal still blends in.

Although the rear calipers are not nearly as ugly as the fronts, they still could use a fresh coat of paint.

They are prepped and painted the same way. Now my brakes looks as good as they perform!


ECS Tuning 13.1" Stage 1 big brake kit $684.95
2x Cryo-stop 9.6" solid rear rotors $82.00
PBR/Axxis Ultimate ceramic brake pads (front) $57.00
PBR/Axxis Ultimate ceramic brake pads (rear) $48.00
Silicon grease $8.00
Anti-sieze $6.79
Duplicolor caliper paint kit (silver) $17.99

Total $904.73