My WJ brakes suck. How can I improve my braking experience? - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 42 Old 03-04-2020, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
Nibroc99
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Wj My WJ brakes suck. How can I improve my braking experience?

Howdy, everybody!

I've got a 2003 Grand Cherokee Laredo, with Akebono calipers up front and the single-piston TEVES-style calipers out back. I have had to replace both rear calipers due to pistons locking, as well as my front-right caliper twice within the span of two years (the second time being today, actually). Front left caliper is old, but I have no idea how old. I plan on replacing it soon as a preventative measure, but before I do, I wanted to ask the community about upgrades. All of my brake lines are brand new, and I got the highest-quality lines I could get from AutoZone. The only part of my braking system that I haven't replaced is the master Cylinder and booster.

I always go with the Duralast CMax pads and Duralast Gold rotors because those have that sweet, sweet lifetime/3-year warranty respectively, which means free pads and rotors from AutoZone for life. However, with my setup, I find that brake fade is a huge issue in hilly regions like New Hampshire, Vermont or western Massachusetts. The brakes start to burn up after several hills even when I'm mostly slowing down with engine braking. It feels like either my brakes are sticking or they're just not big enough or something. My dad uses these same pads and rotors on his 2013 Chevy Avalanche and has no issues whatsoever. I also find that I get warping issues up front within a half-year of replacing the pads and rotors. I haven't cared much about how often I replace the rotors and pads since it doesn't cost me anything any more thanks to that warranty.

However, now I'm starting to get tired of replacing my brakes every 4-8 months. They should last way longer than that. I do drive somewhat hard, but I don't think I drive THAT hard that this should be happening. I drove the same way when I borrow my dad's Avalanche for about three months while I didn't have my Jeep due to electrical problems, and the tank of a truck was braking just fine, no warping or brake fade at all and no real need for engine braking on long hills. I ALWAYS have to engine brake aggressively to avoid my brakes burning up or warping.

I have the standard size Timberline wheels and Kelly Edge A/T 225/75R16 tires on my old girl, so we can rule out wheel or tire size/weight being the issue.

What can I do to make my car stop better? Would upgrading the rear brakes do anything? Is there perhaps a 3- or 4-piston front caliper upgrade that I could do, or a 2-piston rear caliper upgrade? Will there be a fifth question? And finally, would I benefit from running drilled and/or slotted rotors up front? What are y'all using with your Akebono calipers?

Thanks in advance, everybody!


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post #2 of 42 Old 03-04-2020, 10:06 PM
PalehorseZJ
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Black magic pads
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post #3 of 42 Old 03-04-2020, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PalehorseZJ View Post
Black magic pads
Edit: I found the pads... Those are pretty darn expensive pads for my budget, but if they really do last then I'd be willing to pay a little more upfront for a longer lifespan! What rotors do you have along with those pads?

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post #4 of 42 Old 03-05-2020, 06:10 AM
HarryH3
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If the hills are overheating your brakes, then you aren't downshifting to a low enough gear. If you ride the pedal down every hill then you're going to cook the brakes.
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post #5 of 42 Old 03-05-2020, 06:51 AM
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I just sold the family WJ - brakes were more than adequate no complaints @50k+ PLUS pad life and that was Va blue ridge Mts.

ABS issues (codes?) towing, driving style, are first thoughts.

What brake lines were replaced metal or flex lines?


My 2 long life pads had the wear transferred to the rotors, long live rotors had low pad life putting both together make for a good academic debate, IDK

When I see the price of OEM I think aftermarket.
When I see the quality of aftermarket I think OEM.
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post #6 of 42 Old 03-05-2020, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HarryH3 View Post
If the hills are overheating your brakes, then you aren't downshifting to a low enough gear. If you ride the pedal down every hill then you're going to cook the brakes.
The thing is, they cook after coming off of the highway too - after a long, gradual, gentle stop from 80mph off on a flat off-ramp, I feel grinding for the next few miles. That tells me that the pads are getting cooked. I really don't think it's a problem with my driving! And when going downhill, I put it in second or third (Overdrive Off) gear and only have to use the brakes if I have to actually slow down, such as for a stop sign. Like I said, I don't have this problem whatsoever in my dad's Chevy Avalanche, or even his '09 impala. That leads me to believe it's the Jeep having issues. So basically I don't ride the brakes by any means, in fact I use them way less than the people I see in front of me using their brakes all the way down the hill. My foot stays hovering in front of the brake pedal all the way down but not actually touching/resting on it.

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post #7 of 42 Old 03-05-2020, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtec View Post
I just sold the family WJ - brakes were more than adequate no complaints @50k+ PLUS pad life and that was Va blue ridge Mts.

ABS issues (codes?) towing, driving style, are first thoughts.

What brake lines were replaced metal or flex lines?


My 2 long life pads had the wear transferred to the rotors, long live rotors had low pad life putting both together make for a good academic debate, IDK
I don't tow anything, and I brake very conservatively and typically very gently unless I have to brake hard to avoid a collision or what have you. See my last reply about going downhill as well. The lines I had replaced were all of the metal hard lines as well as the flexible lines connected to the calipers. Every single brake line on the vehicle is just under a year old, and I have had the problem since I got the vehicle so the lines didn't change anything. The brake fluid is also as new as the lines and is still fairly clear, only getting slightly darker than normal now. Looks like well-hydrated urine, hehe. I don't know what I could do aside from installing a big brake kit (which isn't guaranteed to fit inside my stock wheels or on my stock hubs) or try replacing the master cylinder and booster, which is a PITA haha.

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post #8 of 42 Old 03-05-2020, 02:19 PM
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thoughts easier said than done though.

When the brakes are acting up,
crack a bleeder on caliper - did fluid eject as when bleeding a good pressurized stream?

A misadjusted master cylinder push rod, NOW need to do do some thinking how to test, other than loosening MC to booster a few turns allow MC to move forward.

You did not answer about ABS - does ABS light come on @2seconds every start?
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When I see the price of OEM I think aftermarket.
When I see the quality of aftermarket I think OEM.
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post #9 of 42 Old 03-11-2020, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryH3 View Post
If the hills are overheating your brakes, then you aren't downshifting to a low enough gear. If you ride the pedal down every hill then you're going to cook the brakes.
Exactly. Driver error.

2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ) Limited 4.0L 2WD
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post #10 of 42 Old 03-12-2020, 08:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtec View Post
thoughts easier said than done though.

When the brakes are acting up,
crack a bleeder on caliper - did fluid eject as when bleeding a good pressurized stream?

A misadjusted master cylinder push rod, NOW need to do do some thinking how to test, other than loosening MC to booster a few turns allow MC to move forward.

You did not answer about ABS - does ABS light come on @2seconds every start?
Thought I replied to this already but apparently I didn't haha - my bad! My ABS light is functioning properly and is not lit/throwing codes. At startup when all of the lights come on to test themselves, it does light up, showing that the bulb isn't blown. As for the MC adjustment, how do I adjust it? I don't see any adjustment nuts/screws - do you have any links to videos or photos of what I should look for and play with? Furthermore, would that he;p with the mushy brake pedal and the massive amount of brake fade, do you think?

Quote:
Originally Posted by apropes View Post
Exactly. Driver error.
Coming off the highway should not cook my brakes/make them glass over. When I am going down a steep hill, I barely use the brakes, especially compared to the people in front of me who are riding on their brakes. My foot is off the brake pedal and I put it in 3rd or 2nd gear depending o the speed limit/steepness of the hill. However, coming off the highway, I shouldn't have to manually downshift in order to feel like I can safely stop. If I come off the highway more than twice within ten minutes of each other, my brakes glass over and I temporarily feel a kind of grinding sensation for a few miles of driving. I drive the exact same way in my dad's Avalanche and Impala, both with the same Duralast C-Max pads as I have on my Jeep, and they don't grind or fade quickly like my Jeep's brakes do. I've flushed and bled the brake lines twice now, so there's no air in them at all, guaranteed. All of my brake lines have been replaced with new metal hardlines, but the hoses that connect to the calipers were replaced with OEM Rubber hoses when my mechanic replaced the brake lines last summer.

All of that being said, I don't think it's driver error. I am not trying to sound arrogant when saying this, but I am a very experienced and active driver, and I know that brakes should not feel the way they do in my Jeep... Mushy pedal feel and rapid brake fade. I don't drive harder than your average Joe, and like I said, I drive my father's vehicles the same way with little-no brake fade. Another example is stop-and-go traffic. If I have to slow down from 80 to 0 because traffic comes to a sudden halt on the highway, my brakes cook in one hard braking. After moving forward a few feet after stopping like that, I can feel a grinding sensation for a while. THAT should not happen.

Now that we've established that it's not driver error, what do y'all recommend? Any ideas?

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post #11 of 42 Old 03-12-2020, 09:46 AM
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Next step is to get you one of those IR thermometer guns. Something like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Etekcity-1022.../dp/B013X0NQT0 Use it to check the temp of all 4 rotors after getting off the highway. I had a caliper start dragging and the temp on one side was around 140 degrees, while the other side was closer to 450 degrees.
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post #12 of 42 Old 03-12-2020, 11:19 AM
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I would start with checking to see of calipers are showing signs of PRESSURE, A simple crack of the bleeder screw.

Also look at the caliper brackets and pins the area where the pads slide, there may be ridges and valleys preventing the free movement of pads.

When I see the price of OEM I think aftermarket.
When I see the quality of aftermarket I think OEM.
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post #13 of 42 Old 03-12-2020, 12:28 PM
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If you cant swing the Black Magic pads, which really are the best, the PowerStop evolution carbons are great for the money. Had them on a couple different vehicles and have had good luck with them.
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post #14 of 42 Old 03-13-2020, 09:09 AM
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Your description doesn't sound to me like you are over-stessing your brakes. You replaced everything and you still don't like the wear or effectiveness. Sounds to me like the problem lies in your pads; if Duralast are not working, you might have to look somewhere else.
A set of drilled and slotted rotors up front might help too. Holes are supposed to promote cooling so you don't cook the pads, slots are supposed to improve stopping power. If you look around, you can get a set of these at a relatively inexpensive price, I saw a set a couple days ago that were only slightly more than regular flat rotors but don't remember where, sorry.


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ok mostly just repairs, but we are closing in on a lift
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post #15 of 42 Old 03-13-2020, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryH3 View Post
Next step is to get you one of those IR thermometer guns. Something like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Etekcity-1022.../dp/B013X0NQT0 Use it to check the temp of all 4 rotors after getting off the highway. I had a caliper start dragging and the temp on one side was around 140 degrees, while the other side was closer to 450 degrees.
Yikes! That's hot lol. My dad actually has an IR thermometer gun, so I'll have to borrow that from him soon and try it out. Great thinking!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtec View Post
I would start with checking to see of calipers are showing signs of PRESSURE, A simple crack of the bleeder screw.

Also look at the caliper brackets and pins the area where the pads slide, there may be ridges and valleys preventing the free movement of pads.
All but one of the caliper brackets are brand new, and the pads come with brake hardware, which I lube up with copper antisieze (per ChrisFix's recommendations on YouTube). So regardless, the brake pads are sliding on stainless steel hardware, not the brackets. Good thinking though, this is why I love these forums - great minds come together and come up with tons of clever solutions to problems like mine!
Edit: I checked the bleeders for excess pressure, and none of them squirted or anything, the fluid very calmly oozed from them all - so I don't think there are any clogs or anything in the lines. Thanks for the advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by willis36 View Post
If you cant swing the Black Magic pads, which really are the best, the PowerStop evolution carbons are great for the money. Had them on a couple different vehicles and have had good luck with them.
I'll add those to the list of things to purchase this summer - I may actually end up upgrading to the black magic pads if I can save up for them. I'm on a college-student-working-part-time budget, lol. See below for my plan of what to do about upgrading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GmanWJ View Post
Your description doesn't sound to me like you are over-stessing your brakes. You replaced everything and you still don't like the wear or effectiveness. Sounds to me like the problem lies in your pads; if Duralast are not working, you might have to look somewhere else.
A set of drilled and slotted rotors up front might help too. Holes are supposed to promote cooling so you don't cook the pads, slots are supposed to improve stopping power. If you look around, you can get a set of these at a relatively inexpensive price, I saw a set a couple days ago that were only slightly more than regular flat rotors but don't remember where, sorry.
Thanks a ton for your input. Based on what you've said, here's what I'm thinking: I'm going to look into some options for slotted and drilled rotors first. Since I basically have free pads for life with the duralasts, I'd like to try to stick with those. I'll exchange the pads for brand new ones to bed in the new rotors when I get them. Then, if I still have trouble with brake fade and whatnot, then I'll try upgrading the pads to the Black Magic if I can afford them, and if I can't afford them then I'll go for the Powerstop Evolution carbons that Willis36 mentioned. This will mean that I won't need to get new rotors to go with the new pads since you only have to do new pads with brand new rotors. (If any of what I said is incorrect, PLEASE correct me haha!)

Your life can change in an instant.
Make the most of what you have before it's gone.
~Corbin
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