C5 Corvette Brake Rotor & Pad Upgrade - C5 Shoestring Part IV

Putting The Brakes On It

Rob Crum Dec 12, 2006 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0702_01_z C5_corvette_brake_rotor_pad_upgrade Ssbc_package 2/16

The SSBC package came complete with four CNC-slotted rotors and a set ofhigh-performance Hawk brake pads.

With our project car becoming quicker and more driveable with eachpassing month, we've decided to devote this month's story to upgradingthe Vette's stopping power. Powerful, reliable brakes are critical notonly when performing spirited driving maneuvers, but also in everydaytraffic, where a few extra feet of stopping distance can mean thedifference between a moment's drama and a hefty repair bill.

After a lengthy search of the performance-brake aftermarket, we settledon Stainless Steel Brake Corporation's Front and Rear Short Stop SlottedRotor and Upgrade Brake Pad Kit (Part No. A2350008).Priced at a reasonable $695, the system features plated, stock-sizedfront and rear rotors with curved vanes and directional slotting. A setof high-performance organic brake pads is also included.

We chose the slotted rotors for several reasons. First, unlikecross-drilled rotors, the slotted units perform the dual function ofcleaning the brake pads while also aiding in cooling. By preventing thebrake-pad surfaces from glazing over, slotted rotors can also reducenoise and dust buildup. Finally, a slotted rotor is less likely todevelop that unsettling pulsing feel during high-speed deceleration.

Vemp_0702_02_z C5_corvette_brake_rotor_pad_upgrade Aged_rotors 3/16

The front brakes are showing their age, but the calipers appear to bejust fine. No fluid leaks are visible, and they operate by hand asdesigned. An inspection of the rear binders yields similar results.

Since we won't be doing a lot of track time in the car, we decided notto go with too aggressive a pad compound. A common misconception amongperformance enthusiasts is that a racing pad will provide better overallbraking performance than a street compound. Although superior underextreme, high-heat conditions such as those found in road racing, thematerials utilized in a typical racing pad tend to perform poorly innormal driving conditions. The Hawk Performance pads that came with ourkit (SSBC Part Nos. 1095 and 1096) use a ferro-carbonorganic "Performance Street" compound that is designed to work under abroad range of temperatures and operating conditions.

Vemp_0702_06_z C5_corvette_brake_rotor_pad_upgrade Rotor_spindle 7/16

Now it's time to install the front rotor on the spindle. Don't worry ifit's a little loose at first; this will change once everything is inplace and torqued down correctly. It is advisable to work each cornerfrom start to finish before moving on. You should also do both of thefronts before moving on to the rears, or vice versa. Notice the drainpan under the work area. This is a good precaution to take when workingon systems that involve fluid.

It's also a good idea at this stage to replace the brake fluid. Overtime, brake fluid attracts moisture, and this can damage your mastercylinder, brake lines, and calipers. With the Shoe String C5 showingover 60,000 miles on the clock, we decided to add a 32-ounce bottle ofSSBC's silicone brake fluid (Part No. A1103) to ourorder. At $22, the fluid might seem pricey, but when you stop toconsider that you'll never have to replace it, that price starts to looka lot more attractive. Also keep in mind, that unlike conventional brakefluid, stored silicone fluid will not deteriorate over time. Be sure tofollow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and completely whenbleeding your brakes. It is critical that you don't mix conventional andsilicone fluids in the system.


With the parts arriving from SSBC's New York facility a day earlier thanpromised, we headed over to Keech's Automotive in nearby Sarasota,Florida, for the installation. Follow along with Phil Maltese and SteveKeech as they bring our C5 even closer to its goal of Z06-caliberperformance.

Vemp_0702_10_z C5_corvette_brake_rotor_pad_upgrade Rear_brake 11/16

When installing the rears, check for brake-line clearance through the full range of suspension travel. Be careful when sliding the rotor over the parking-brake assemblies. You remembered to release the parking brake first, right?

Once the new brakes are installed and the fluid has been changed, it's important to test the brakes before heading out. Before starting the car, depress the brake pedal. Make sure you have a hard pedal feel and the pressure remains firm. Next, start the car, apply the brakes several times, then slowly drive off the lift, stopping first after 5 feet, then 10, and so on. Once you feel confident that the brakes are operating correctly, go to a closed area such as a driveway or empty parking lot. Drive several yards, stop, then repeat the process, progressing farther each time. Next, hit the pavement and drive for a block or two, stopping periodically. This will "scrub in" the pads on the rotors and help seat them properly.

Stay tuned for our next installment, where we'll touch up the paint, sanitize the engine compartment, and perform an overall detailing.

Costs to Date

Vehicle purchase (includes tax and tags): $19,800
Clutch & flywheel installation (includes parts and labor): $1,732.46
Mirrors (paint and installation, includes parts and labor): $638.89
Rear weatherstripping (includes parts and labor): $146
Front and rear brake upgrade (includes parts and labor): $977
Total: $23,294.35


Stainless Steel Brake Corporation
Clarence, NY 14031
Keech's Automotive
Sarasota, FL 34233


How To
Our budget minded C5 project gets new brake rotors and pads from Stainless Steel Brakes.
Rob Crum Dec 12, 2006


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