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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’ve broken things in pieces to make the read more digestible :p


I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned, things to do, things not to do, from my experience doing brakes for the first time this past summer… This is not a write up. Just some tips and shared experience on a few important elements of changing brake pads and rotors.


Intro:
Many of you have followed my painful tribulation and, lol, probably annoying posts about my bad experience with brakes.
I’ve selected a few things I hope will help out others who may want to tackle the work for the first time.



Brief recap:
This past summer I decided to go ahead and replace my old rotors and pads. Little was available I could find on SS that speaks of personal experience so I went with EBC slotted rotors, Hawk HPS in the front for better performance, Akebono ceramic to the rear for low dust.
After doing the work my brake performance was really bad! Much worse than OEM all with performance equipment. Go figure… I could hardly brake hard in the case of an emergency. When braking somewhat hard I could so easily pass over the brake pedal hump you might feel if you pass a certain point. This should not happen in most braking situations. My brakes eventually developed really bad vibration. I bled the brake line than had the dealer do a brake flush and check brake component. I still had terrible braking performance. It is worth noting that I did a lot of work to correct the problems and it is unclear if rotors and pads were the sole cause but I can tell you that I now have fixed 99% of my problems with new equipments and a lot of correcting work :D



So a few tips for y’all. . . (all of these are different mistake I’ve made or things to do better I’ve discovered)

1. Caliper’s brackets:
It’s good to go clean the caliper parts from brake dust but there are other things that make brakes work a lot better. For one the pads’ plate have hooks that rest on parts of the caliper holder bracket. These small surfaces of the caliper pad retainer can have some rust, brake pad grim, and unevenness from pad pressure. This not only prevents the pads from properly sliding but further more will create added material that pushes the pads outward and create other issues. You can clean off and sand down these little surfaces so they are smooth. The pads outer surface will be with-in rotor braking surface as a result. Just make sure all stays relatively well on the same plane so not to create piston pressure unevenness on the pads. I really make it sound worse than it actually is.



2. Caliper’s sliding pins:
Calipers have stainless steel pins sliding in rubber guides. It’s really critical these slide well AND easily once everything is back together! So you want to clean them up really well. Seriously old pins and rubber grommet can be brought back to life which is critical to make sure brake pads get the proper even pressure from brake pistons.
That said do not use brake cleaner! This harsh solvent dries up the rubber making it stiff and too tight on the sliding pins. Secondly, do not use anti-seize as lubricant. Anti-seize will gum up and only deter pins from sliding as well. What you want to do is first clean rubber guides and stainless steel pins with just water and a little dishwasher/hand soap. The pins and rubber guides may look old but if you clean them well they will actually look almost brand new. Polish the pins with a towel while you’re at it. Gentle water and soap will actually bring the rubber back to life. To lubricate these you want to use silicon based high temp grease which as a great consistency and not only does not run off but further more sticks to the metal pins and yet let it slide really well! Finally to make it easier you can remove the rubber guides from the caliper with pliers and by pushing them from the pad side with your finger. They are hard to remove but they won’t get damaged in the process. Wipe the inside of the rubber guides with a corner of a towel and your pinky finger if it fits :p. Remove all old lubricant before applying new one. I was amazed how bad I did it the first time compared to how well it slides now.



3. Brake pads:
This might be more of a personal experience but anyway, I started with Akebono ceramic on the rear only in order to reduce brake dust and this was a mistake. Even if rear brakes aren’t the critical element I now believe they are a lot more important than we might think and it is quite beneficial to not have too much biased pad compound from front to back. Yes the ceramic don’t dust much but I personally did not like how much weaker they were especially with something like Hawk HPS in the front. The brakes didn’t engage very well in the rear loosing overall braking performance. I would highly recommend keeping same pad compound front to back.
In the end I replaced all my pads a second/third time with StopTech 309. What I found out is that HPS hawks have a much more pronounced bevel. I believe that with the EBC rotors (will get to that in a second) the surface area of the Hawk HPS where really poor in comparison. Perhaps 15/20% less surface contact area than the StopTech out of the box. I have no doubt eventually the Hawks HPS would have worn down to better performance level but I didn’t feel like waiting for a third of their life time to find out!




It is also worth saying that the StopTech 309 seemed much stickier on a cold system and by far more linear than the Hawk. You really have to work on the hawk brake pad hard for 15 minute to get them hot enough for them to stick properly. I’m sure many others have had different experiences with them using different rotors and especially front caliper size. I don’t drive with thick shoe soles so I can really feel the difference in foot pedal pressure required.



4. Greasing up pads:
This is more of a tip to use than anything else. Needless to say that you should never ever put lubricant in contact with the rotor or pad braking surfaces. When you apply grease to the back side of the pads, on the edge of its hooks, or to the piston surface to help reducing possible brake noise you have to realize that under strong brake pressure most of the lubricant will be squeezed out. So when you do want to apply some lubricant you literally do not need to put much at all. I now use a very small flat paint brush and apply a very thin layer of lubricant. This not only helps preventing possible grease run off onto the rotors but also insure the pad will be compressed evenly. On the outer pads I use a pen to trace where the caliper is in contact with the pad so I know precisely where to put some grease.

use the one to the right (not the left). Both are listed has suitable for brake calipers.



5. Rotors:
The EBC slotted rotors seemed quite a good quality at first. It is hard to tell if some of the vibration came from bad rotors really… What I can speak about is this: The EBC have a particulate slot pattern that - to be totally honest - look pretty cool. But this has two downsides. One is that it seems the amounts of slots are too many. Even if the general surface area might be close to the PowerSlots I installed afterwards, there is never a large surface area free of slots for the pads to get grip. I believe that this design with reduced surface area of the Hawk pads dramatically reduced the performance I was looking for.

EBC at the top. StopTech on the bottom:


Another downside of the EBC is that the slots are open to the outside edge of the rotor. The Hawk and EBC parts did not seem to match well in diameter (part of the issue being the caliper bracket I mentioned earlier). The Hawk pad outer wall was flush with the outside edge wall of the rotor. However the rotors have a bevel as well on the outside edge. This created a thin knife edge material on the pads which I believe would catch the open slot of the rotors. Not a good situation. The StopTech Pads and PowerSlot rotors (from the same Centric company) where much more in sync.

hawk with knife edges from sticking outside of EBC rotor braking zone:



So to sum this up I strongly recommend getting rotors and pads from the same manufacturer so diameters match. Otherwise try to get specification drawings as much as you can to make sure pads will seat within rotor braking surface.
Overall I do prefer the StopTech slot design because it leaves a continuous surfaces area of the rotors the far edges of the pads ride on without slot interruption keeping the pad stable as it runs over slots.
EBC rotors had a coating on them. While it seems sufficient to prevent rust I believe this coating wasn’t great for the pads. I now come to think that you do not want any form of substance to get caught in the pads.
I followed someone instruction and actually wiped down my new PowerSlots with water and a drop of hand soap. Than dry it with a clean, unused, rag.




6. Wheel hubs:
Needless to say cleaning things up before placing new rotors is essential. What I didn’t realize however, and some may not either, is to what extent!
When you change the rotors for the first time after 48000 miles (77000 km) there is quite a bit of rust between the original rotor and wheel hub. While these two have aged together without any alignment issues putting the new rotors on does not provide good aligned any longer. The first time I re-did my brakes I used a wire brush to scrape off most of the rust. This was not sufficient what so ever. The older style hub is all one flat surface. It has little concentric ridges. These were hidden under the rust. I now believe I was getting vibration in part because the surface of the hub was never planar. I used 220 grit sand paper this last time around and realized you can sand off all the rust without damaging the hub surface. On the contrary you can sand rust off to reveal concentric ridges once more. I warn you though this takes lots of time. Perhaps there’s an easier way than by hand but it is hard with the studs in the way. After I sanded down all my hubs the rotors were perfectly aligned (well I still have a slight issue with the front right hub but no vibration noticeable at the moment).

Rusted HUB:


Cleaned HUB:


7. Bed-in:
When you get new pads you might want to bed-in those new pads. As you do so just a word of caution here. I have no doubt professionals know what they are talking about when they highly recommend bed-in new pads. This is beneficial for braking performance and pad life. However, what is worse than not bed-in is bed-in the pads improperly. There’s a good chance when I bedded-in my Hawks HPS pads that I did not get the pads to high enough temperature and created uneven pad transfer to the rotor only exasperating the vibration problem from miss aligned rotors on the hubs.
I’ve also contacted StopTech who confirmed that bed-in is not something you must do right away. So better take the proper time and place to do this right and fully. I have yet to do it with this last setup. Furthermore I’m going to drive easy on the brakes for 300/400 miles before I try a proper bed-in procedure. This I believe will give me to best results. It is good to note that Hawk HPS recommend not dragging the brake prior to bed-in. I think that’s just a bad start in my opinion. Can you say you can drive daily without dragging your brakes in traffic? Perhaps I miss interpreted their instructions.




As a result of all this work my brakes are 200% better than they were when I first installed EBC rotors and Hawk HPS.
There are a lot of little things that can be overlooked when you change your brake components. It is hard to pin point exactly what may cause an issue but I believe all these things I’ve learned through this experience will prevent me from ever having this bad an experience in the future.

If I think of other things I’ll do quick edits. I'll had some pictures later as well to help out some of the points…

Cheers to you all and your safety :D
 

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awesome info. thanks TG.
more importantly - i am very happy to hear that your brake issues are resolved!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

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Good JOB - TG

Extra Tips :
You might want to including something about - Brake Bleeding .

Clamp on - Dial Indicator for Hub Inspection - which can be borrowed usually from Auto Parts Place .
Hub Cleaning - Must use a Power Drill with small Disc - Flat Wheel - It has sticky Pads of - Tough Scotch Brite . ( Similar to what is used for Gasket Cleaning ) -
Only .001 Debris and Your Rotors will Suffer .

New Lines on Older Cars are a Must .

Nice Even Wheel Torque applied to Wheel Studs . Remember Grease , so don't let these Shop and Tires Guys - BS You - Wet Torque Spec. is : Lower - Period
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I added a few images for those interested . . .
 

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Good Stuff , You should get You money back on those HAWKS - that Pad wasn't even Cut or Beveled Right .

Also sounds like You got some from a Bad Batch .
Like the Red stuff I bought from a Whole sale site = BS the Dam Pads were so Hard I also had to work those Pads to get Good Braking Action.
It did seem I had to use Harder Brake Pedal Force to get the same Results . No Dust , but better Pads make a Big difference .

Where did You Buy the Hawk Pads ?
 

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1+

I have the same EBC slotted rotors and they vibrate soooo bad. Overall very disappointed in their performance. I just bought new OEM rotors and pads all around. Hopefully I can put them on this weekend. Thanks for sharing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I feel better knowing I'm not the only one . . . I know I'm not crazy . . . :D
 

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TG,

Thanks for the extra insight...
Few things I noticed as well:

Rear caliper tool
If you are thinking about using one of these:



They don't fit.
Best to borrow/hire/buy the correct 'twist & push' brake caliper tool.
If you're stuck like me, resist the temptation to use the needle nose pliers.

I found that my angle grinder spanner (with the lugs) fit the Volvo rear piston perfectly.
With the angle grinder spanner for rotation and an F-clamp for downward pressure, the piston was pushed back in in about 4 turns.


Effective brake dust cleaner
Brake cleaner in a can - It's quick and cheap, but also a nasty solvent.

If you are looking for a thorough clean, try using a specialized non-caustic wheel cleaner.
Ideally something that uses thioglycolic acid to break down the iron particles in brake dust.
Two good products are Einzett wheel cleaner and Iron-X.





Iron-X can also used for removing embedded iron particles out paint.
Perfect for when you have to clay bar your car next time.
 

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Use rubber gloves when applying Iron-X... The spray nozzle leaks, and the content smells like butt...

The bottle may say "New cherry scent", but that's a outright lie! :D Anyway, fantastic product, especially on white paints! (They turn purple... ;))
 

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Adding Additional - Info - The Dust Boots - Be Careful about Cleaning this Area .
I would put some of the Above Mention Brake Caliper Grease on and all the way around the ( ATE - Boot Dust - Debris Shield )
See Photo's of Small Opening - Keep It full of Grease - Larger Dia. Area . . ( Brake Shops - Probably Spray this Area - when Cleaning Up )
If WORK is being done by Brake Person - Most Likely Don't Know to Protect this Area . . and to .. Grease Coat it just before New Pads go In . ..

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I realized I never given an update on the StopTech rotors and StopTech 309 pads.

At the time some people where wondering how long those rotors would last with those pads. I'm happy to report that after around 30,000 miles I've been really happy with that setup.

I am inclined to believe that JN2k108 who mentioned that flat rotors are better, is probably correct for almost all of us. A nice consistent surface area gives more braking performance... No one is formula1 racing here.

That said I'm a big fan of this StopTech setup. The quality hasn't faulted. The braking power has been consistently good, and the rotors have not worn out excessively as some were asking back then... I just though I'de mention it.
 

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Ok, so I read something and I am throwing it up to the community. I read somewhere that you should AVOID silicone lube and use high temp ceramic brake grease. The reason why was because if the temp got high enough it would run and cause you braking issues. Now I know this might be something of an non-issue because most people don't let it get that high of temps, but if you do a track day, it might be an issue. Everything else I read on there was quite interesting and pretty spot on.

Also, I found that better than needlenose is a set of leatherman pliers, they fit, are quite large, and allow you to press firmly on them when twisting without eating into the 2 holes. One of my pistons was so bad it took a 12" G clamp and turning with some FatMaxx channelocks at the same time to get it back in I don't know why. The other one went in when I pressed with all my might on the leatherman and twisted at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok, so I read something and I am throwing it up to the community. I read somewhere that you should AVOID silicone lube and use high temp ceramic brake grease. The reason why was because if the temp got high enough it would run and cause you braking issues. Now I know this might be something of an non-issue because most people don't let it get that high of temps, but if you do a track day, it might be an issue.
Interesting,
I can't say I can comment on the specificity of the silicon lube and the high temp. I'll will take a look at that lube and see if they mentioned the temperature limits...

Generally speaking I don't recommande to put a lot of lubricant at all anyway. Really the brake piston apply a lot of pressure so any excess lubricant will be squeezed out. So there's no need to spread much at all on the back of the pad to start with. On a lot of these things a very thin layer is all you need, and inherently will avoid any run offs. I've got use to use a thin paint brush which really helps limit the amount of lubricant applied a great deal.
 

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I would like to share some of my pad / rotor experience. My first 2005 V50, in 2008, came with stock rotors and Volvo (ATE) pads. They worked very well but were dusty and made strange noise when backing up on cold days.

I replaced these with Zimmerman zinc coated OEM style rotors and Hawk HPS pads. They made nearly no dust, were quiet but were a little vague when cold.

Next I switched to StopTech Street Performance pads. They performed very well with great bite even when cold but they dusted like mad.

Next up was StopTech slotted rotors and back to Hawk HPS. This was a very good combo for performance and low dust but has a little noise associated with slots. Contrary to what many say about slotted rotors running cooler, they tend to heat up quick because the pad is is better contact with the rotor surface with out that gas layer and the slot edges tend to scrub the pads. This heating works well to heat the HPS pads.

Now my new 2005 V50 just had Volvo rotors and pads installed at the dealer before I bought it. Performance is great and I have very little dust and no noise. Did Volvo reformulate their pads? Different supplier?
 

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I have reached the same conclusion. Dimpled and drilled make a lot of noise and chew threw pads. Slotted are actually quite great, just in how they help dissipate water from the surface of the rotor. But my preference are smooth rotors, and that's also being used for track days and autoX.

OEM brakes are severely underrated. I have had the best experiences with them and the fewest problems. On the half-contrary, I am trying a OE rotor/Hawk pad setup on the C30 very soon...
I'm running lifetime Meyle rotors (OEM replacement) from FCP Euro with Hawk Pads. Best setup I have run to date.
The 300mm brakes weren't bad but they struggled a bit (again, track days and autox) but 320s made a big improvement. I have never felt the need to further upgrade from my stock 320s, and these are still only single piston calipers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Life cycle goes in circles :D

Volvo being high on safety OE is meant to work well all the time. I actually suspects that most higher end car brands provides the required braking needs in most conditions. Cost margins being what they are, the prices isn't always great thought...

Aftermarket components are all about stepping out of the well balanced comfort zone car manufacturers worked hard to establish (and it's no easy task since the car working conditions they have to deal with is much bigger than focusing on a specific arena). So with the StopTech 309 equipment I've come to be more comfortable with a little more dust for its added brake feel in the full range of temperature, with less fading in that wide range, (cold to hot, stop and go, to highway). That's just the choice I made. Ceramic where a little bit of a jock in that spectrum. slightly too hard on rotors and not where I wanted them to be with 300mm brakes. Yes they're nice on reducing dust, but the compromise wasn't what I was looking for. I was far from impressed with the hawks and I suspect there's a little bit of a aftermarket social favoring with them. They probably do well on AutoX environnement. But I was far from happy on an everyday use. The Stoptech 309 are easily superior to the Hawks from my experience. But they do dust a bit more... and that's the compromise :p. I have not tried but I'm guessing there 308 is closer to OE spec with less dust.
 

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I'm running lifetime Meyle rotors (OEM replacement) from FCP Euro with Hawk Pads. Best setup I have run to date.
The 300mm brakes weren't bad but they struggled a bit (again, track days and autox) but 320s made a big improvement. I have never felt the need to further upgrade from my stock 320s, and these are still only single piston calipers.
I'm not sure what the difference between OEM and OEM replacement. I always stuck to OEM if I saw this on a part unless I knew for sure it was the supplier to the OE. Volvo rotors are made in Sweden (as per the retail box) and Meyle is a German company :confused:

In any case, I'm excited to try this setup. I've tried full Stoptech setups (three so far) and they always end up getting warped within about 10,000 miles. This, even when the job is being done by the book.
 
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