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Typically, big brake kits only upgrade the two front brakes. This is because the front brakes do 70%-80% of the braking work on most vehicles most of the time (vehicle weight distribution, wheelbase, and center of gravity position all determine exactly how much braking is done by the front brakes vs. the rear). By upgrading the size of the front rotors, larger brake pads and better performing calipers can be used to increase stopping power. And when the kit is properly designed, it will still compliment the factory rear brakes.
Of course, there are rear big brake kits available for some vehicles, but they tend to be high-performance vehicles and/or large pickup trucks that tow/haul oversized loads.
Assuming you have the right tools, a good place to work, and you don't have to deal with any rusted or broken bolts, a typical big brake kit install will take 2-4 hours. Some vehicles (mostly 4WDs) will need new/replacement knuckles (included with the kit) that will increase this installation time. But that's the exception rather than the rule.
If you hire a shop to install your big brake kit, be sure to verify that they'll be replacing brake fluid and bleeding the brake system as part of the install, and it doesn't hurt to verify the brake fluid type they'll be using as well.
The short answer is yes: Almost all of the big brake kits we sell are designed to work with the factory brake system. The OEM master cylinder, ABS, and traction control systems are often integrated and therefore difficult and/or expensive to upgrade. So, it's usually smarter to design a big brake kit around the existing systems than to try and replace them.
All of the big brake kits we offer are designed to be as easy to install as possible, and to work with the factory ABS and traction systems for safety reasons. As always, be sure to read the installation instructions carefully, and feel free to call our brake experts with any questions you have before or after purchase. Learn about stock breaks vs big brake kits in this blog post.
Big brake kits should go on the front wheels only, or on all four wheels...but never on the back wheels only.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but adding a big brake system to the rear of a vehicle without also upgrading the front brakes can result stability issues. The reason is that upgraded rear brakes could grab hard enough to substantially reduce the weight on the front wheels during a hard stop. This can be a very bad thing at the racetrack, as hard braking and turning typically happen at the same time. To make your turn, you want weight to transfer to the front tires. That way, you've got great traction up front and the tires can guide the vehicle. But if your rear brakes are grabbing extra hard, your front wheels can't turn as easily and the car will push.
Any OE replacement drilled or slotted disc brake pad and rotor kit is a good upgrade. These kits are designed to work with the standard calipers, won't upset the front/rear brake balance, and will compliment a big brake kit quiet nicely.
Not necessarily. A bigger disc means more weight, and your vehicle may not be designed for one. Big discs also increase torque. Usually, a big disc is used in high-heat scenarios. The more heat the disc can absorb and dissipate, the greater the fade resistance of the system. This blog post talks more about big rotors.