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Budget Brake Upgrade

Stop On A Dime, And Gimme Some Change

Photography by Jason Jackman

You can never stress enough the importance of upgrading your brakes when doing performance modifications. The sad fact is, most brake upgrades require a substantial dollar investment and usually get brushed off for other modifications. The thing most people don’t know is you don’t always have to go for huge calipers and rotors; you can upgrade your current system and still be OK. If you are getting into large horsepower numbers you will want to go with larger brakes to stop you. On the other hand, if you aren’t going to be pushing 400 hp with your turbo VR6, you may want to look into what the aftermarket has in the way of OE replacement parts.

For this article, we chose to keep a fairly modest price tag and find a replacement for the OE-size brakes. While we were there, we wanted to work out some shortcomings the stock system has with fade and brake dust.

The stock brake setup for the ’96 and newer Mk III VR6 cars is 11.3-inch vented front rotors and 8.9-inch solid rear rotors. While these brakes are great for everyday driving, constant abuse causes fade. On most cars, the culprit of fade is lack of places for hot gases to go; as the temperature rises the amount of gas between the pad and the rotor increases. A solution to expel the gases from underneath the pads is to either use a cross-drilled or slotted rotor. You’ll then need a high-temperature pad to handle the increased temperatures, and steel braided lines to keep the lines from expanding from hot brake fluid.

For the test we chose to go with EBC slotted and dot-drilled rotors, EBC Green Stuff pads, and Goodridge stainless steel brake lines. For the installation we needed a trustworthy shop that has plenty of experience with VWs, so we called Tom at Renner Motorsport. He has a very experienced staff who are more than willing to answer any questions you might have about what they’re doing to your car. The goal of this upgrade was to get improved stopping distances, less brake fade, and good high-temperature performance for its occasional track day. That is exactly what we got, too!

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