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 **" <cbredesen_at_lucent.com>
>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
So, is that enough disclaimers? <g>.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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>.
- 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.
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