If you have braking problems and/or want to dramatically improve how well your brakes stop your Jeep, check out the new bolt-on brake upgrade kit developed in a collaboration between mrblaine and VANCO Power Brake Supply.
Assuming you have installed larger tires on your Jeep as many of us have done here on Jeep Forum, you've undoubtedly noticed that your braking has degraded, often in a very noticeable and dramatic amount. This is due to two primary reasons: 1) The bigger tire weighs more and 2) the tire's longer radius gives it substantially more leverage against the brakes. In other words, the OE brakes don't have enough power to overcome a bigger tire's weight and substantially increased leverage against the brakes.
In my case, I noticed my brakes weren't all that great once I installed 33" tires. And once I installed 35" tires, my brakes became downright marginal. The bottom line was that my Wrangler's brakes were no longer able to stop me quickly enough to make me feel safe driving on the highway. My marginal braking was downright scary at times.
Every brake upgrade I found that could actually return my braking back to what I would consider good or even acceptable involved more work and modifications than I was willing to undertake.
FINALLY, there is a BOLT-ON brake upgrade kit from VANCO Power Brake Supply (www.vancopbs.com/) that requires only the most minor of modifications limited to minor trimming of the dust shield and a bit of grinding on the unit bearing housing, if present. Developed in collaboration with mrblaine who is very well known in Jeeping circles, this is a 100% bolt-on kit that was designed around the factory brake booster, factory master cylinder, factory brake proportioning valve, and factory brake lines.
Here are the upgrade kit's main components:
This complete kit can be installed in an afternoon by anyone with a set of socket wrenches and just a moderate amount of mechanical savvy.
Included in the kit are new all-cast ventilated rotors, newly machined strengthened & stiffened OE outer knuckles, newly remanufactured to Centric's high standards DUAL-piston Ford calipers, 105 series Centric Ceramic PosiQuiet brake pads, steel knuckle stiffeners, and all required hardware. And if you are running manual hubs, the rotors are machined to accept them.
Here is the new outer knuckle and what it started life as:
This kit improves braking by 1) eliminating caliper and knuckle flex which allows the brake pad to flex so not all of its surface area is utilized and 2) upgrading the factory single piston caliper to a dual-piston caliper.
The factory knuckles and calipers flex enough under pressure that only part of the brake pad is pressed against the rotor. On top of that, the factory single piston only presses against the center of the brake pad. This upgrade kit changes all that by strengthening and stiffening the brake and caliper assembly so it doesn't flex, together with upgrading from a single to a a dual piston caliper to push on the entire the brake pad rather than just the center of the pad as happens with the factory brake assembly.
All I can say is that after installing this kit, I was absolutely grinning from ear-to-ear and stunned on how dramatically my Wrangler's braking performance had improved. I can now actually lock up my front brakes with 35" Goodyear MT/R tires, something I couldn't have even come CLOSE to before. I didn't measure braking distances before and after but based on what my brakes couldn't do before and now can do easily, the braking improvement is dramatic. Anytime you can lock up your brakes with 35" tires with only moderate brake pedal pressure, you've found the Holy Grail of Jeep braking. And yes, the front brakes lock up before the rears do as they should for good controllability.
In summary, here are some very convincing benefits to VANCO's Jeep brake upgrade kit:
* Totally bolt-on
* No special tools needed
* Uses the factory power brake booster, brake lines, master brake cylinder, and proportioning valve
* Fits inside most 15" wheels with common backspace dimensions
* Easily found standard off-the-shelf Ford brake components
* Cost effective
* Can be installed in just a few hours
* Outstanding stop-on-a-dime braking performance with good front-to-rear braking balance
Here's a telling photo here that shows the original single-piston caliper assembly:
Compare it to what's in VANCO's kit. The OE single piston brake caliper looks downright puny compared to VANCO's dual piston caliper and is another reason why the Wrangler's OE brakes don't perform adequately with big tires.
Note the below photo showing how the pads can be easily replaced without removing the entire caliper assembly like you must do with the OE brakes. Also notice the newly formed layer of rust (it only took five minutes to start forming) on the cast rotors. That rust is proof you got the rotors perfectly clean using a detergent like Simple Green. Using the usual brake cleaner leaves a residue that doesn't help braking in the least. No rust on the rotors after you cleaned them means you didn't get them clean enough or you used brake cleaner that leaves the undesirable residue. That rust that formed if you got the rotors clean enough goes away as soon as you start using the brakes.
Here it is all put together:
This kit is available for 1990-2006 Wranglers, all Comanches, Cherokees 1990-2000, and Grand Cherokee 1995-1998
At under $800 for this kit that is easily installed by any competent shadetree mechanic without special tools, this kit rates FIVE out of FIVE thumbsup in my personal opinion.
If you can't already tell, I am grinning big time after installing this kit!
VANCO's website is at www.vancopbs.com/