Originally Posted by radomirthegreat
...The failure rate one might imagine from reading all the above from willwren and clm2112 is probably higher than what it is in reality.
That'* probably true. But, it only takes one failure to destroy the car it was attached to. (and one chunk of metal comming off a rotor under braking will nicely re-arrange the front of the car....possibly with enough force to snap the spindle, ball joints, etc.)
At this point I would suggest a few other, safer, strategies to improve the braking forces available from the car. (this is old hat to folks running roadrace cars, but it offers some great, low cost, approaches.) The order is pretty much how I attack the problem.
1.) Change brake fluid to higher boiling point fluid, bleed the living heck out of them, and keep the resevoir topped off to keep moisture absortion low. Even in an all stock system, new fluid does wonders.
2.) Change the brake lines and hoses. Braided steel hoses offer good improvement in delivering the pressure to the calipers. It'* a small improvement, but it makes them more predictable on repeated applications. (One thing that always is good for a laugh is to look at the hoses connected to those mondo cool brakes on a typical "ricer"-mobile...they are usually cracked and rotten...looser spent all his/her money on the parts you see and ignored the bits that make them work.
3.) Better pads. The pads do so much for the system. You don't care how clean they run, or how quiet they are...if you want braking performance, go for ones that bite hard and wear away quickly.
4.) Adjustable brake bias valve. The cars leave the factory with a conservative bias that is safe in all conditions. You can tweak it with a bias valve to have more of the pressure put on the front calipers and less on the rear. (Track days for best dry pavement performance at the risk of wet road stability) then go back to a more moderate bias for street driving in all weather conditions (like the factory setup aimed for the best braking performance with a safe margin of stability.)
5.) Bigger master cylinder bore. Braking power comes from the amount of pressure in the caliper pistons. That pressure comes from the master cylinder. Increase the master cylinder bore, even by a fraction of an inch, increases the volume of fluid pumped on every stroke and the pressure pressing the pads into the rotors. Also shortens up the pedal travel...which feels pretty good too.
6.) Bigger calipers and rotors. If you've bumped the size of the master cylinder, then you have head-room to add larger caliper pistons or more of them. This doesn't really increase the braking forces on it'* own, but it gives you more pad surface area, that will make the pads live a little longer. Bigger rotors add more leverage to the brakes...same forces applied a little further away from the centerline of the spinning wheel.
This usually gets it done....and pretty cheaply too (except #5...which is not needed in most cases) It'* not cutting edge cool...but it does work.