Today’s auto braking systems have rolled a long way down the road from a time when manufacturer-only options were the only game in town. Part of this evolution emerged from various technologies that took advantage of lower prices over time; but more than that, it was driven by the emergence of a third-party supply-chain market that encouraged owners to mix and match components to create particular levels of performance.
This interest in ‘do-it-yourself performance’ allowed component providers and supply-chain folks to work together to deliver hosts of customer options, ranging from the purchase of single components, to more complex brake kits that involved everything an owner might need, all delivered in one neat package. Nevertheless, as simple as that sounds, for some owners there’s still a fair amount of confusion of about what ends up being in ‘the box’, when all is said and done.
Consequently, this short primer should help remove some of the chaff, and help folks get to the wheat a bit more quickly.
What are Brake Kits?
As one might suggest, a brake ‘kit’ typically includes necessary components that allow a user to completely upgrade a vehicle’s braking system for a single price. Elements relating to this integration usually include; rotors, calibers, and pads.
These ‘in the box’ systems are typically specialized, and suited to particular vehicle uses. For example, some kits are tailored to daily driver use, whereas others are purpose built for high-performance, track-only, fleet, hauling or trailer applications. It all depends on what the customer wants, and more importantly what’s needed to get the job done right.
Other kitting offers include subordinate components like; pads, wear sensors, lines, fluids, hydraulic, repair kits and rotor rings. Consequently, this is where how the third-party provider comes in. Customers should be particularly interested in how providers respond to questions, in order to be sure that the selected seller is responsive and helpful and experienced.
How brake kits are used in the consumer or performance auto segments
The short answer to this brake kit question is pretty straightforward, although things can get complicated quickly if a customer hasn’t ever seen a cluster of seemly unrelated parts lying in the bottom of a box. Consequently, here are a couple of tips when opening a brake kit for the first time.
- Once you have the package open, remove any extraneous packing. Then, locate the shipping list, and locate and identify each component in the box, and identify any installation instructions. This process should be pretty simple since each part should be labeled for easy use, either on a vacuum-packed card, or on the part itself.
- As you identify each part lay it out on the basis of ‘shipping list order’. This way you’ll always have a starting point, and if you get lost during the work process, you’ll also have a way to find your way home once you begin working on the car itself.
- Once you’re ensured that everything is where it’s supposed to be, and have all the proper tools set out, begin removing current components from the vehicle. This process should take the form of a reverse removal approach; meaning listing and placing old parts on the workbench, in the same order they are taken off. This work should also allow for an opportunity to inspect and compare current with new parts, to make sure that old components look like new ones. This little ‘gotcha’ can save a lot of time, since if two elements don’t look the same physically; it is likely that something has gone wrong. In this event, it’s usually best to call for help from your provider before you get too much further into the re-build.
- Assuming that each part comparison makes sure sense, you should have two separate clusters of ‘in-order’ parts, i.e. old versus new; all components are removed; and the customer is ready to follow the specific instructions offered by the re-build kit manufacturer.
What types of Brake Kits are in the Market?
Most major aftermarket brake kit providers provide similar levels of product performance. These typically include; consumer or daily driver kits, street performance, track-only products, truck and/or heavy duty components, and packages specifically oriented to fleet or commercial operations. However, just because a provider suggests that these systems are available, they may, or may not stock them as a practical matter. Consequently, this is yet another reason to not only research the brake kit itself, but also the level of quality and response providers offer.
What major brake kit brands are in the market?
Depending on the particular purpose some brand brake kits are more useful than other. However, you can never go wrong with the following major manufacturers, particularly with they come to issues of performance, and in most cases, price. This list includes:
Again, this list is only a partial list of what’s in today’s brake kit market; however, these providers should give you a pretty good way to get schooled up before you get started on your own upgrade.