When that god awful moment of truth arrives, when both feet are mashed firmly to the brake pedal and you feel like if it would make a difference you would gladly push hard enough to go through the floorboard, how much would you give for your truck to stop just a few feet sooner? How much would you pay to avoid smashing into the car in front of you? You can't put a price on safety or peace of mind. However, you can put a plan into effect that will give you that precious few extra feet of stopping distance.
Our test truck's brakes work just fine. In fact, the owner has taken meticulous care of the truck and followed a strict maintenance schedule. But, after seeing the difference we were able to make in stopping power with two easy upgrades, he was sold on the benefits of better brakes. We focused solely on the front end of this 1999 Chevy C-3500 Crew Cab dualie, first with a new set of rotors and then with new brake pads. Arret Brakes is a relative newcomer to the high-performance braking game, but the company is starting out on the right foot. If it doesn't already offer a slotted and cross-drilled rotor for your truck, it will build one to suit. In fact, the company even offers customized options like slots arranged in your company's logo or name. The second prong of our attack came in the form of new brake pads from EBC Brakes. EBC offers pads in several compounds for street and/or track duty. Since our test truck is heavy and is routinely called upon to haul heavy loads, we chose the Yellow Stuff compound, which does expel quite a bit of brake dust, but also offers the best grip.
Follow along with the photos to see how the upgrades went into place, and check out our driving impressions in The Final Word section at the end of this story.
What's in the box?
The parts list of this install is short. The Arret rotors are cross-drilled and vented to dissipate heat, plus they are slotted to clean the pads you're rollin' hard. The EBC brake pads are coated in a "break-in" coating to help bed them to the rotors during the first miles of driving.
Tipping the scales at over 10,000 pounds in GVRW, the Crew Cab dualie needs monster front brakes to do the majority of the stopping.
1.The rotors had new bearing...
1.The rotors had new bearing races already pressed into place so we went ahead and bought new German-made SKF bearings and seals from our local parts supplier.
2.After packing the bearings...
2.After packing the bearings with red Valvoline bearing grease by hand, the races were lubed and the inner bearings and seals were installed into the rotors. Then, the seals were simply tapped into place with a hammer.
3.We had already disassembled...
3.We had already disassembled the stock brakes and cleaned the spindles and brake calipers in preparation for the new parts. Next, the brake rotors were slid onto the spindles along with the outer bearings. The locknuts, cotter pins, and dust caps, soon followed.
4.Determining which pad goes...
4.Determining which pad goes where on the caliper is as easy as matching them up to the old ones.
5.Before the pads were installed...
5.Before the pads were installed into the calipers though, we lubed and installed the mounting bolts and sleeves.
6a.Next, the brake pads were...
6a.Next, the brake pads were clipped into place on the calipers. Please note that during the disassembly process we retracted the stock pads and drained the fluid from the brake lines at the calipers to make installing the new pads easier. A brake line clamp was installed onto each hose up front to keep the brake fluid from completely draining from the master cylinder.
7.The calipers were installed...
7.The calipers were installed onto the new rotors and then we bled the front brakes.
8.Here is the completed front...
8.Here is the completed front brake assembly. After re-installation of the front wheels, the truck was ready for the bed-in procedure.
Tips For Breaking In Your New Brakes
Before you hit the road with a new set of brake pads on your truck, it's important to follow a proper break-in procedure. Doing this will help extend the life of your new brake pads and give you peace of mind knowing everything works properly.
* First find a safe spot to drive, with no traffic to get in the way.
* During the break-in process,never drag the brakes to a complete stop.
* Make 6 to 10 braking/slowdowns from approximately 30 to 35 mph while applying moderate pressure down to approximately 5 to 10 mph.
* Make an additional 2 to 3 hard braking/slowdowns from approximately 40 to 45 mph down to approximately 5 to 10 mph.
* Allow 15 minutes for the brake system to cool down. Your pads and rotors are ready for regular use now.
The Final Word
How well did the new brakes work? If a picture is worth a thousand words then this photo speaks volumes. That orange cone marks the original stopping point of our 60-to-0 mph braking test. After bedding in the brakes according to EBC's instructions, our stopping distance was shortened by over 12 feet, which is about the size of a compact car. In addition to the reduced stopping distance during hard braking, we noted better-than-stock pedal feel under light braking instances as well. Think about that the next time you've got to make a panic stop in your sport truck!