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Brake FAQ - A MUST READ!! - Tweaked Feb 2008

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  • Brake FAQ - A MUST READ!! - Tweaked Feb 2008

    FYI! This FAQ is a work in progress and roughly applies to the entire Community, please be aware some vehicles will be different do to factory quirks or after market modifications!

    Please reply if you see spelling errors, have info to add, or my words are unclear! Type it exactly like it should be in the FAQ and where it should be!

    Braking Facts/Ideals:
    What brake pads are the best?
    This is too broad of a question. What kind of performance are you looking for track or street? The quality of pads also varies, some have great experience with a certain pad while others have a horrible one. Search the forum for a specific pad name and you should get plenty of opinions.

    What is brake pad bedding?
    Brake pad bedding is the process of mating your pads to the rotors. Most pad manufacturers have their own procedures as do most car web sites. Some are good, while others encourage you to grossly exceed safe driving speeds. The best I can tell you is to avoid emergency stops for about a five hundred miles. Also, I suggest you preform some smooth high speed to low speed aggressive slow downs, using threshold breaking*. This will help bed the pads to the rotors. It is also not good practice to park your car for a long period after over heating your brakes and rotors. This can contribute to warping. Drive around until they are back within normal braking temps before you park.
    *Threshold breaking is aggressive breaking without the use of ABS. In other words, you are braking hard on the threshold of using ABS but are not engaging it.

    What are the benefits of cross-drilled/slotted rotors?
    The simple answer is aesthetics! Slotted and cross-drilled rotors do not improve braking nor is the weight savings beneficial. Often, the slots and holes cause quicker pad wear and shorter rotor life due to cracking and warping. You've heard that the unsprung weight savings can help greatly, false. It is beneficial on a vehicle as weight sensitive as a motor cycle but not on a street car like the a Contour. Your best bet for good braking and pad/rotor life is a quality set of blanks!

    What are the differences in braking fluids?
    Here is an old but very thorough brake fluid breakdown. My personal choice for performance vs cost is either ATE fluid. FYI, the fluids with higher boiling points usually absorb moisture quicker causing a spongy pedal, requiring them to be flushed more frequently, i.e. once a year. The lower boiling point fluids can usually last two years.

    What are the advantages of Stainless Steel brake lines?

    Stainless Steel(SS) brake lines primary benefit is pedal feel. They don't stretch as much, if at all, as rubber lines when under pressure, giving the pedal a stiffer feel. Aesthetically they are pleasing. The weakness with SS brake lines is where the braided line attaches to the coupling, if the line is bent at this point the line is likely to break or spring a leak. As such, they come in two types DOT approved and track only. DOT approved lines have plastic protectors around the braided line as it attaches to the coupling, reducing the likely hood of a failure.

    What are the differences in stock front braking systems?
    Calipers types(two types):
    -Type A calipers are on all Contiques, Cougars, and late model SVT Contours. The pads for these calipers are thin and long compared to Type B. This caliper has two mounting brackets, one for 260mm rotors and one for 278mm rotors.
    -Type B calipers are only on early model SVT Contours. The pads for these calipers are shorter and wider than Type A.
    * The date in which SVT Contours switched from Type B to Type A is unclear. Some say early in the '99 MY others say in late 98.5 MY and evidence suggests it wasn't quite clear to Ford either. The best way to find out is by comparing your pads to the pictures in the Contour/Cougar catalog.
    ** Which Type is better has been debated but no hard evidence has settled the dispute. Type A has a greater swept area while Type B physically covers more of the rotor. Type A does have a better pad selection.

    Rotor types(two sizes):
    -260mm rotors are standard on all non SVT Contiques and Cougars.
    -278mm rotors are standard on all SVT Contours and an option on some Cougars.
    * I believe the distinction for Cougars is related to what engine and if the car came with Anti-lock brakes. i.e. If you got a V6 with ABS you have 278mm rotors, if not you got 260mm. Maybe a cougar expert could post the right info for me.

    What are the differences in stock rear braking systems?
    All four wheel disk brake Contique and Cougars have the same rear disc brakes! Rear drum equipped 1995-96 cars are equipped with 203 x 38mm (8") rear drums, but 1997-2001 cars are a mix of the 203 x 38mm (8") and larger 228 x 45mm (9") drums. This is probably a manufacturing supply issue when the cars were built and the only way to determine which rear drum/shoe set is on you car is to check before ordering parts. Conversion from drum to disk is possible and has been done several times. Check the other stickied posts.

    What causes a pulsation or strong vibration in the pedal?
    -Most often, this is caused by warped rotors. You can either replace the rotors or have them turned. If you just recently had new rotors installed, turn them. If you are at the end of your pad cycle, get new ones.
    -Occasionally, rotors have pad build-up which can cause pulsation. This link contains information on brake pad build-up and other useful braking facts.

    What causes a soft and/or spongy brake pedal?
    -If the problem occurs after a brake job, it is most likely caused by improper installation of the front caliper retainer springs. If they are not install properly your brake pedal will feel weak.
    -If the problem occurs after caliper replacement or brake fluid flush, it is likely caused by air in the brake master cylinder or brake lines. Air in the lines can be solved with a simple bleeding of the hydraulic system, see below. Air in the master cylinder, is a big problem that is best handled by a professional with special tools!
    -Otherwise, it is likely due to moisture in your brake fluid. Most commonly a simple brake fluid flush will fix it. See the Brake Fluid Flush/Replacement: Pedal Pumping Style! in the How To section of the Mods/Parts page of the main site. With DOT 3 fluid you can replace it about every 4 years. With DOT 4 fluid you should change it every two. Good maintenance practice would be once a year. It's cheap and easy.

    Brake Tech Links:
    Visit the link below for more technical information on brake systems. Stop Tech Brake White Papers

    Brake Parts:
    How much time or money should it take to install ____?
    Install time depends on experience and cost depends on labor rate. Specifics can best be found by searching, looking at the Ford repair CD's, or talking with members in your local forum. Often, another member is willing to help or knows a shop that can get it done at a reasonable price!

    OEM Replacement brake pad and rotor options:Below are links to two companies and Stazi, which provide pad and rotor options to CEGers. Others do exist these are just the most commonly used with good service.
    Stazi's brake supply information!
    BAT Inc Catalog!
    SP Motorsports Contour brake options.

    Stazi's Bendix Titanium Metallic pads and Autospecialty Rotors are a popular choice among CEGers. Good performance and an even better value for the mildly aggressive driver.

    BAT and SP Motorsports offer a wide array of pad types , track and street, and rotors at a wide array of prices.

    Front Brake upgrade options:
    WilWood Caliper based front brake kits!
    Check out TCE Performance!
    TCE offers 12" and 13" rotor options and four different styles of Wilwood calipers, including FSL, BSL6, DP, and NDL.

    BAT Inc. offers Wilwood Kits as well!
    BAT offers Wilwood 4-Piston calipers and mounting hardware for stock 268mm rotors and 300mm rotor.

    SP Motorsports resells both BAT and TCE brake kits.

    For the rear, they offer a kit includes; hats, 11.75" rotors, brackets and hoses to enlarge rear brakes using the stock calipers. This will retain the parking brake, greater braking power, and it will compliment those 19's nicely.

    Baer Caliper based front brake kits!

    CTA Motorsports also offers a wide variety of brake parts for the CDW27 platform.

    The sites listed above are not the only sites that provide us with brake upgrades, but they are commonly used by CEGers.

    Not for publication on any other site or media without my(AndyW) permission.
    Last edited by Andy W.; 07-14-2008, 10:28 AM.
    Andy W.
    The problem with America is stupidity.
    I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity,
    but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

    Uh, hmm, well, uh, I don't know where he's not. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to assume that I couldn’t exactly not say that it is or isn’t almost partially incorrect. Oh, on the contrary. I'm possibly more or less not definitely rejecting the idea that in no way with any amount of uncertainty that I undeniably do or do not know where he shouldn’t probably be, if that indeed wasn’t where he isn’t. Even if he wasn’t at where I knew he was, that’d mean I’d really have to know where he wasn't.

  • #2
    Researching brake work due to my having to replace an e-brake cable and rear caliper on my Cougar, thought I'd try to clarify the Cougar rotor sizing.

    On the Cougar, the 278mm front rotors are on cars with the Sport Package, which basically means that if you've got four wheel disc brakes, you've got the larger front rotors. If you have rear drums, then you've got the smaller front rotors. One indication of the Sport Package is the car coming with the 16" alloy wheels, versus the 15".

    ABS only came with four wheel disc, so if you have ABS you've got the larger front rotors, but not having ABS isn't conclusive.

    The only exceptions are for very early 99 MY Cougars, which sometimes came with odd combinations of features.

    Hope that helps.
    2001 Laser Red Cougar V6 ATX
    1997 Medium Willow Green Taurus GL V6 ATX
    2008 Dark Ink Blue Fusion SEL V6 ATX
    1993 Bright Red Tempo 2.3 ATX RIP 23 Nov 2007 & 1998 T.Red Contour V6 ATX RIP June 2006


    • #3
      I would like to make a note to this that the comment on cross drilled and/or slotted rotors not having any performance gain is 100% COMPLETELY wrong. The cross drilling and/or slotting has NO distinct effect on wieght, but it's not supposed to. These type of rotors are designed to help with two specific things:heat dissapation and degassing. Heat dissapation is self explanatory, but some may not know what I mean by degassing. Degassing is a refference to the gasses that build up between the pad and rotor, particularly under extreme braking conditions. These gasses build up and cause what is known as a phenolic spacer. The gasses actually build up to the point that they act as a buffer and reduce braking power. Most of you, I'm sure, have experienced this phenolic spacer effect. Many refer to it as brake fade. The drilling and/or slotting allows these gasses to escape quickly and easily from between the rotor and pad. Personally, my Contour SVT had a fairly serious issue with brake fade. The first time I needed to stop short from 100+mph and felt how horrendus the brake fade was I immediately knew that I needed to upgrade my brakes. I noticed a HUGE difference in braking, for the better, immediately after installing EBC dimpled and slotted rotors on all four corners(I've noticed this difference on every car I've upgraded to these style of rotor, and that's quite a few). 0 - 60 braking improved significantly by stopping the car over 10 feet shorter! Also, why do all race cars, hyper cars, and super cars have drilled and/or slotted rotors if it has no effect? You could claim asthetics on the hyper and super cars(which wouldn't be right), but not on race cars; race cars are about performance, not looks.

      My credentials to these facts are that I'm a master mechanic, customizer, and amateur racer. I also have degrees in the business side of the automotive industry from Northwood University and know many people in the industry that will agree 100% with everything I've stated. Not trying to dis the original poster here at all, but I felt that people need to know the CORRECT information...