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Old 07-14-2011, 11:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A Serious Track Brakes Setup... That works!

Hi all!

I started tracking my '07 Si Sedan 4 years ago and quickly realized that the stock brake setup was easily the weakest link for good track performance (okay, behind having a good set of tires). I am writing this thread to share my experiences as my skill progressed and I demanded more and more from the car. I wish I had a better guide as I got into the hobby... so here one is...

My first resource was a fantastic thread by Moose: Brake Options
  • This gave me a good idea of the parts available, but didn't give me a clear idea of what I needed to track the car
  • Best point to take away from the article: drilled and slotted rotors are all show... don't waste your money if you're going to be pushing your brakes. Personally, I've seen a ton of people with cracked rotors because of this!

Now, let me explain the problem with the stock brakes. On the street, they're fantastic! You will never have any issue engaging the ABS, and they will not heat up with any realistic street driving (even pushing). The problem reveals when you take your car out to a real track and start really pushing for LONG sessions (anything over than 10min). Further, at these extremes, almost all the weight, and consequently braking, will be on the front axle. The rear brakes are great to slap a set of Hawk HPS pads on and forget about for years. However the fronts...

The stock front brake setup will overheat every time. Here are the main contributors:
  1. The stock pads will literally disintegrate as temperatures moderately heat up. (I'll get to this later)
  2. Stock DOT3 brake fluid sucks, replace with a quality DOT4 fluid and flush before each track session (ATE Super Blue my favorite, Motul is a better alternative for more $$)
  3. Stock dust shields restrict air movement around the rotors. A dremel tool will make quick work of them (there's an article around somewhere about that)

And the final, and crucial restriction of the stock setup is the inadequate thermal mass of the stock rotors/calipers. The Acura TSX '06 generation has = diameter rotors, but are much thicker with 26% larger pads and calipers. This adds a ton of additional thermal mass to manage larger heat inputs. Again, this is only needed on the front axle.

To complete the story, I had quite an adventure in figuring out a high performance AND economical brake pad. I would say this is equally important as switching to the TSX rotors. This is my trail:
  1. Stock pads were great my first weekend, but it was clear that my last session was murdering them as I pushed harder.
  2. I switched to Hawk HP+ in fronts HPS rears for the next track weekend which lasted 2 weekends, barely.
  3. Cobalt Friction XR3 - Good pad feel, but ended up chipping under hard braking and ABS. Pads lasted 2 weekends
  4. Hawk Blue. GREAT feel, but brake dust eats paint when wet and killed a set of brake rotors in 3 track days.
  5. Carbotech XP10: Great feel, wear rate, and easy on the rotors. BUT the pad material is mounted to the backing plate using pins, which actually use up half of the usable pad depth! not worth the cost! Lasted 2 weekends
  6. Hawk HT-10's ... YES!!! 2 weekends down with ~75% pad remaining. No noticeable rotor wear. Great feel, never fades either.

To sum the pad journey up... If you're really pushing the car hard for extended sessions, get a pad that is rated for 1500-1600F! With the small thermal mass of the brake setup, combined with the extremely front loaded brake dist., you will need the added temperature. I think this is the main reason why the first sets of pads only lasted 2 weekends... These are great pad companies, but our car needs a more temperature tolerant compound than I chose. This is also why flushing your brake fluid with a quality DOT4 fluid is essential, otherwise you will put your foot to the floor... not good. The TSX swap is a great idea as well: cheap, easy, works great.

Anyway, I hope this helps people out! I know it's kinda late, but I wish I could have read this coming into the track hobby. I am proud to say that I am running my little civic in the experienced run groups with the Audi and BMWCCA's, and still passing corvette's, porsche's, and the occasional lotus... I even have a picture of me lapping an R8
track shots from a year ago.

Let me know if you all have any questions!
-Mike
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Old 07-15-2011, 10:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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kudos well written and extremely informative write-up for one of the most overlooked components of the 8th gen.

Thanks!
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Old 07-16-2011, 02:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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most def. I have hps in the rear and hp+ in the front and enjoy it for track use. however, I still need to change my fluids to find out if the pads are fading at all. for now, that fluid is the weakest link as it boils pretty quickly.

.Yetti
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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most def. I have hps in the rear and hp+ in the front and enjoy it for track use. however, I still need to change my fluids to find out if the pads are fading at all. for now, that fluid is the weakest link as it boils pretty quickly.

.Yetti
I get the feeling the stock pads are weaker than the fluid, but I could easily be wrong. I changed both at the same time.

The rotors really aren't big enough for our Si's. Are they the same size as the rest of the Civics? Now with better pads and fluid, it is too easy to overheat the calipers. As I understand it, the seals in the calipers start to deteriorate above 400F.
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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good info!
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I get the feeling the stock pads are weaker than the fluid, but I could easily be wrong. I changed both at the same time.

The rotors really aren't big enough for our Si's. Are they the same size as the rest of the Civics? Now with better pads and fluid, it is too easy to overheat the calipers. As I understand it, the seals in the calipers start to deteriorate above 400F.
My rotors have 3 hours of track time with the HP+ on the fronts and another 4 months of daily driving and they are still smooth and clean. just make sure you install and bed them correctly... and master the technique of daily braking. make it a pet peeve.

Once I finish out this season, I'll move to a set of brembo blanks for next year. that's all anyone really needs.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great Info! Thx!!
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Great info! I wish i had seen this thread before ordering my Carbotech XP10's.

I've ran 2 events with Axxis Ultimates front and back with ATE super blue fluid. Brakes felt great for the first two sessions and then the third I was really pushing it and the brake pedal hit the floor at the end of straight away.

Anyways, for the next event i'm going to install the XP10's and RBF600 fluid on a stock brake system, do i have to worry about heat damaging the calipers? I've heard some people saying even thought the pad can take 1600F heat, the brake piston seals will melt and they rebuild calipers oftens. Any advice?
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Nice write up! Where do you track at? NM i see Mid Ohio. Well if you ever make it to Putnam let me know! I may do the oct 22-23rd event put on by 10 10ths motorsports

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Old 07-20-2011, 11:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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if you dont mind me asking what suspension setup are you running?
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I installed Hawk HP+ on my Si... I'm disappointed. The fronts were new before my track weekend... and after ~100 laps at Road Atlanta I have no pads and my stock rotors are completely destroyed (large grooves and chips of metal out). Each session was about 30 minutes. I think the rotors are weaker than the pads, and now I want bigger brakes. I can't being going off on 10a because the brake pads and rotors are shot.
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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:+1: Very good write up.
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Is there anything involved with doing the TSX brake swap? Or is it a simple R&R job. Is this also including changing the rear out as well? A friend of mine has an Si and we were looking at doing some brake work, I am glad to come across this before we purchased anything. I was leaning towards the Cobalt Friction units since I have never really enjoyed the entry level Hawk pads, but loved the Cobalts. Are those HT10s just for track days or do you use them on the street?
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Wow, thanks for the great info, My friend just recently added a set of accord calipers to his EP3, works good. However I like my new DC5R brembo better. Well, my question is the touge course I run is 5.7mile uphill, and 5.8mile downhill. With yellowstuff front pads and ATE Super blue I will still have a little brake fade after 4mile/4min(usually I finish the course within 4 1/2 -5min) after on the downhill section. Do you think adding some thermal tape/wrap to the brake line would help since they are too close to the header?
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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That sounds like the pad is fading, not your brake fluid boiling and lines flexing.

BTW I found the answer to my original post before his. Found a complete write-up.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:35 AM   #16 (permalink)
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That's what my thought too, but I've done some reseach and talked to lots of people. They say the yellowstuff is very heat/brake fade resistant even though it's not a real track pad. Coudl it be my pads are glazed?
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:37 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Just came back from a 20min touge. Brake fade after the 4th mile during the downhill section as usually. Openned my hood, touched those brake lines. They aren't that hot except those right above the header/valve cover.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:28 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I have run at Sebring 5 times
Hawk DTC-60s in front
Hawk Blacks in rear.
I have HFP rotors but will be changing to blanks.
I change back to my factory pads when i get home.

Also tires are very important. I run Star Specs.
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Old 08-02-2011, 11:36 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Just came back from a 20min touge. Brake fade after the 4th mile during the downhill section as usually. Openned my hood, touched those brake lines. They aren't that hot except those right above the header/valve cover.
Here is the problem your facing. I don't think the pads are glazed. What is honestly happening, which is very typical of FWD cars on a downhill is that while your talking about the brakes fading it is more to do with your driving then the actual brakes. The front wheels have so much work to do that aside from accelerating and stoping they need to turn. What tires are you using? What tire pressures are you starting with, and more importantly what are you ending with? I would suggest getting an infrared temp gun and check the outer tire, middle tire, and inside of the tire and record all three numbers. Your tires are losing grip and when they lose grip every corner requires you to push the brakes further. The temp gun will also be able to tell you what the temp is of the rotor your using. Knowing where you are before and imediately after will help you figure out what adjustments you need to make. I just don't see how Brembo's aren't able to supply the braking performance you require. Even if they are stock equipment Brembos. Those pads aren't that bad. This might seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it.

If your inner tire temp is hotter than your outer tire temp try reducing negative camber. If the middle of your tire is colder add 1 psi or just the opposite if its hotter.

Hopefully this will help. Knowing those temps will help dial in the tires, and suspension, and if your rotors are way too hot then maybe your exceeding the limits of the pads and they could be glazing.

This is typically how I go about adjusting cars for the suspension. I wish I had a long stretch of road to do my testing with like you do. Let us know how you make out.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Just came back from a 20min touge. Brake fade after the 4th mile during the downhill section as usually. Openned my hood, touched those brake lines. They aren't that hot except those right above the header/valve cover.
Here is the problem your facing. I don't think the pads are glazed. What is honestly happening, which is very typical of FWD cars on a downhill is that while your talking about the brakes fading it is more to do with your driving then the actual brakes. The front wheels have so much work to do that aside from accelerating and stoping they need to turn. What tires are you using? What tire pressures are you starting with, and more importantly what are you ending with? I would suggest getting an infrared temp gun and check the outer tire, middle tire, and inside of the tire and record all three numbers. Your tires are losing grip and when they lose grip every corner requires you to push the brakes further. The temp gun will also be able to tell you what the temp is of the rotor your using. Knowing where you are before and imediately after will help you figure out what adjustments you need to make. I just don't see how Brembo's aren't able to supply the braking performance you require. Even if they are stock equipment Brembos. Those pads aren't that bad. This might seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it.

If your inner tire temp is hotter than your outer tire temp try reducing negative camber. If the middle of your tire is colder add 1 psi or just the opposite if its hotter.

Hopefully this will help. Knowing those temps will help dial in the tires, and suspension, and if your rotors are way too hot then maybe your exceeding the limits of the pads and they could be glazing.

This is typically how I go about adjusting cars for the suspension. I wish I had a long stretch of road to do my testing with like you do. Let us know how you make out.

+1 wow I thought I was actually reading honda tech and 8th gen for a second.

There's clearly other limiting factors at play here. Whats the ambient temp and what tires are you squeeling with?
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