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From digest.v7.n437 Sun Oct 19 22:53:12 1997
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 14:03:14 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: E36 Brake Experience (Long)

>From: "Bredesen, Chris (Chris)** CTR **" <>
>Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 06:16:43 -0600
>Anyone have any recommendations for a good pad/rotor combination for a
>'94 325is? My mechanic swears by BMW parts in this case, but if anyone
>has a better solution, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm looking at some
>track time in the future, so I'd like something a little more
>aggressive. Somehow, I've managed to keep my original brakes for 70,000
>mi - is this normal?
>I hear good things about the metal master pads, but they tend to warp
>stock rotors. Since I will be replacing the rotors also, can I find a
>product better suited to the MM pads?

Oh Chris, don't you know that this is a subject that has given rise so some very heated and forcefully expressed opinions in the past? <g>

Here's my experience with a 96 M3. I have much bigger and stronger brakes than your 325is, but on the other hand I also have 50 extra horsepower's worth of speed to bleed off, so the apparent differences may be closer to a wash. It's very difficult for any of us as individuals to make a controlled and scientific comparison of brakes. But I've experimented with a few options, and tried to collect informed opinions from others at the track (meaning driver school particpants and instructors, not racers). So the following isn't gospel, but it is at least reasonably informed opinion. Pads I haven't personally tried are so noted below, otherwise I have used them. Prices are for E36 M3, yours are quite a bit cheaper.

So, is that enough disclaimers? <g>.

  1. Stock pads - Fine on the street, but fairly easy to overheat at the track. Once you do, they'll *never* recover. Then you tend to overheat and warp the rotors through prolonged attempts to get some braking. Can be used, but with care. About $175/set list.
  2. Porterfield R4S - Street/track compound with built-in ceramic insulator. Very impressive bite, power, and heat resistance. Work fine cold. Squeal noisily on light application for street use, even with CRC goop on back. I like these pads, but you have to be careful of wear toward the end since some of the apparent friction material thickness is actually the ceramic. $188/set (Bekkers).
  3. PBR/Axis Deluxe - Very nice pad for non-aggressive street driving, keeps your wheels clean. Completely unsuited for the track, I was forced to use a set once at Gingerman and vaporized them (literally: even got black flagged due to the amount of smoke coming from my wheel wells <vbg>) in one day. About $165/set.
  4. PBR/Axis Metal Masters - I have *not* driven these myself, although plenty of people at the track use them. Some think they're OK, some not, but I've never heard anyone claim they're really great. Some say they're hard on rotors. I think there are better choices, and have no plans to try Metal Masters myself. About $175/set.
  5. Pagid - These are German sport pads, I tried them at the sugggestion of an E30 M3 friend (thanks John!). Very nicely made, fit exactly. Have anti-squeal plate bonded on the back and are completely suitable for street, but also work amazingly well on the track. I've done 2 schools (Mt. Tremblant and Mid-Ohio) on a set plus a couple of thousand street miles. Not enough pad material remains for the next Mid-Ohio school though. About the same price as stock pads (Bavarian Autosport).
  6. Turner Motorsport Pads (formerly Cool Carbon, now sold only by TMS under their own name). I haven't tried these, seem to be highly recommended but for track use only. Feedback anyone? Haven't checked price.
  7. Hawk Blues _ Haven't tried except as instructor's passenger. Strong braking, heat resistant. Also violent, noisy, not easy to modulate, and they throw out these glowing metal particles which embed themselves in your wheels and paint. Not in *my* road car thanks. Haven't checked price, but unless they throw in a new paint job who cares? <g>.
  8. Performance Friction 90 - One of several compounds they have available. I haven't tried these yet, but Carl Buckland recommends the PF90 and that's good enough for me, hope to try them next. Some Auto Zone store carry PF, otherwise MacNeill. Haven't checked price.

My recommendation for the use you say you plan (aggressive street plus some Driver School) would be to try the Pagids, I think they would do you very nicely. Use ATE Super-Blue brake fluid or equivalent. As for rotors, I'd stick with stock until they warp or wear out, then try the new pre-grooved ATE rotors. I had my M3 rotors grooved (thanks Jeff Krause) and they work well, the grooves stop melted pad material from getting stuck to the rotor.

>Also, I'm a mechanically inclined person with only moderate car
>experience, should I leave the brake job to the pros or try to tackle it

Working on 3 series brakes is quite easy with just a few tools. I did a how-to write up for someone once, e-mail me privately if you'd like a copy. Driver Schools tend to use up brakes at a rate, so doing your own brake work becomes a necessary financial self-defense strategy.

I see Duane and others have given useful advice of using your brakes at the track, I sure can't improve on what they said.

96 M3
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