The MinivanHater gets a lot of miles on it, from just daily driving to cross-country trips; sometimes, it’s on the freeway, the mean streets of California, or on occasion, the hot desert sands of Arizona. What does this all mean?
It means there is a lot of braking going on here. Daily driving includes stop-and-go traffic, and inept drivers who cut you off and stop right in front you. Cross-country driving means driving for long hours at a time across this great country and meeting inept drivers from every state you’re going through and they cut you off and stop right in front of you.
Lastly, desert driving can mean several things, like navigating a rocky trail or all-out screaming across the sand only to meet inept drivers who cut you off and stop right in front of you. You see where we’re going with this? Braking, son, lots of braking.
So, what exactly happens to your brakes as you use them every day? Well, a lot of things actually. It also has a lot to do with the way you drive.
You could be that guy or gal that goes pedal to the metal and then power stops at the stop sign or light (at least we hope you stop). The other is usually a senior citizen who is so cautious that they think a rabid farm animal is going to jump out into the street at any given time so they want to be ready, and they ride the brakes with their foot on the pedal or a constant stepping on and off the pedal. So whether you’re a pedal stomper or a pedal rider, it still results in the brakes wearing out maybe a little more than the average driver.
Let’s give a little history on disc brakes. The first version of disc brakes were invented in England and before WWII they started using them on airplanes and the Germans soon followed using them in 1942 on Tiger tanks to bring the massive war machine to a dead stop and to effectively make a sharp turn or a fast retreat.
In 1953 Jaguar started using them during the 24 hrs at Lemans. It wasn’t until 1955 that the disc brake was in full production on most make and models of cars and trucks.
Most of you hardcore off-road dudes and dudettes know how disc brakes work. But for the regular Joe on the street, it may be a mystery. The disc brake consists of a rotor, which is the round, disc-shaped part that has the wheel studs attached and slides onto the spindle. The brake pads are housed inside the caliper, which looks like a shell that fit over the rotor. When you apply the brake pedal, it sends brake fluid down a line and compresses the piston in the caliper, squeezing the brake pads onto the rotor and eventually causing you to come to a stop.
So there you have it, Disc Brake 101. That concludes the instructional part of our brake story; now, we begin the visual part.
Our Suburban sees a lot of highway and off-road trips. It runs a larger wheel and tire combo – 35-inch Mickey Thompson tires mounted on 17X9 wheels can cause some brake wear. The existing brake rotor and brake pads were stock OEM parts and did a fine job, but weren’t necessarily the right application for what we put the truck through.
On top of that, the Suburban regularly pulls a 28-foot-long toy hauler, and while the latter had electric brakes that helped, it still put the stock brakes in some heated moments.
EBC recommended their Yellow Stuff brake pads and their new black slotted and dimpled brake rotors. Dimpled, you say? Yes, dimpled. We asked the same thing – why dimpled?
EBC told us that in some cases, especially with off-road vehicles, the cross-drilled rotors got dirt and debris stuck inside the holes. After a period of time, they noticed tiny heat cracks spreading from the cross-drilled holes. Not good.
So, just when you thought “dimples were just for little cute kids, wrong, little off roader, these dimples are made for the dirt!
Designed to help with the slotted portion as well, this combo will reduce “brake fade” and increase stopping power under extreme conditions.
We incorporated our friend Dan who is no stranger to off road vehicles, as his primary job is to service off road race trailers and that includes brakes! Dan, is an avid off roader too and understands the harsh conditions that these vehicles are subjected to. Dan is going to remove the tired and worn out brake rotors and pads and install the new EBC Yellow Stuff pads and new black slotted and dimpled rotors. With the old brake setup, we noticed we had to step on the pedal a little harder and as the brakes wore out, the truck would shake and the steering wheel would pull hard to one side, with gradual braking. In emergency stopping, it was definitely two hands on the wheel as the steering wheel would shake violently.
You ever try to ride a stubborn mule down a mountain pass and it shakes its head and heads another way? No, you haven’t? Well if you did that’s what our mighty Suburban was doing during controlled stops. If you have time go out to a “Dude Ranch” and rent a Mule, better yet a little Burro and you’ll get the idea in about 5 seconds!
So follow along with the install photos and captions and see the transformation from old to a brand spankin new brake combo! You’ll also see what a little sanding and painting to your old brake calipers can do. It may not increase braking power, but it sure looks badass. Thanks for watching and remember brake for pedestrians and small animals.