My standard FTO brakes didn't perform very well when faced with a bit of enthusiastic driving. After a couple of serious pedal applications in quick succession, they faded badly. There was certainly work to be done!
Malcolm Crockenberg came through with some good ol' fashioned common sense, and stopped me from making a beeline for larger discs, 6-pot calipers, braided brake hoses, etc. etc. His advice: Unless I was looking to spend money just for the sake of it, start by ensuring all the existing brake system components were top quality and fit for the usage expected of them.
The existing brake pads were down to minimum thickness. Upon removal, they were evidently glazed from being exposed to temperatures beyond their tolerance. This wasn't surprising, as they were nothing more than cheap road pads.
After reading some great reviews of Mintex performance brake pads, I started hunting around for an Australian supplier. It took some doing, but I eventually came across the name Barrie Smith Motorsport in NSW. They weren't exactly local, but it was better than buying from the UK!
A few more phone calls and I had confirmation that they stocked both front and rear Mintex C-Tech M1155 pads. These were capable of working across a wide temperature range, with a good coefficient of friction right up to 600 degrees C. While they weren't cheap (around $400 a set!), they would last a good many kilometres. They would also bring the car to a halt time and time again without fading.
The brake fluid was flushed and replaced - and would be done again at regular intervals. This would minimise the risk of old fluid absorbing H2O to the point where it would boil when worked hard. I have never yet had the pedal go to right the floor without slowing me down, and I don't plan on experiencing this any time soon!
The good quality pads and fresh hydraulic fluid were enough to transform the braking attributes of this FTO. Pedal feel is now vastly improved, and the Mintex pads manage to improve their bite as they heat up. Fortunately, they are still totally usable around town at low temperatures - except for one minor detail...
When rotating for a long time at low temperatures, the brake pad material previously deposited on the disc is abraded away. This can result in a squeak from the brakes when driving sedately. It's safe to say my wife does not appreciate the squeaky wheels! This problem is easily solved, however, by turning up the stereo to drown out the noise. No, I'm talking about the brake noise!
The new rotors also improve initial pedal bite, which was an unexpected bonus.
With this setup, I have not experienced any brake fade whatsoever - and they have at times been literally smokin'.
At the current rate of wear, the front pads should last approximately 30,000km and the rears 40,000km. The distance covered to date includes the odd defensive driving course (emergency braking all day), several motor-challenge style events (threshold braking) - not to mention spirited everyday driving. The front discs are also holding up very well, especially considering the metallic pad material being regularly clamped down on them!
When these pads finally run out, I might
give the "softer" Mintex M1144 a try. While they aren't rated to quite
the same operating temperature, they will still be head and shoulders
above standard road pads. Plus, they may save my marriage if they are
a little less noisy!!
For an excellent article on all things
brake-like, check out Warped
Rotors and Other Myths.
The following may be of assistance to other FTO owners. While I have endeavoured to ensure the accuracy of all information here, I take no responsibility for consequences of using it.
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