Aahh, the dreaded shiny brake...
Aahh, the dreaded shiny brake pad. Take fine-grit sandpaper and clean the glaze off the pad so it can be used again.
5. What's the condition of your brake pads?
This could be the root of your brake problems. If you have no brake pads left, then you need to break down and replace them. But let's say there's a lot of meat left on them. Do they have the dreaded shiny glaze? Pads can develop a shine on them from exposure to intense heat. This shine or glaze will cause the brakes to not work as effectively. The glaze will make the pad slide on the rotor instead of stopping it. To the driver, this feels like he or she has lost the brakes. The driver will push the pedal harder in an effort to stop, which will only cause more heat and you're back to boiling the fluid.
It's pretty easy to tell if you've got this problem. Take your hand and run it across the brake pad, if it feels like you're running your hand across glass then you need new pads. Take some gritty sandpaper and run it across the brake pad and take the shine off. It's extremely easy to do. Just make certain that you mark which pad was on the inside and which was outside, so that you don't reinstall them backwards.
6. What's the condition of your rotors?
Rotors have to be inspected after every race, because you don't want one of these coming apart in the middle of a race. Just like the pads and brake fluid, the rotors are going to experience an extreme amount of heat. Under this extreme heat, it's possible for rotors to warp and cause vibrations.
Rotors will often show hairline...
Rotors will often show hairline cracks in the center (see arrows). These cracks are not a major issue. However, if any of them start to move toward the outside/inside edge of the rotor, then the whole rotor will need to be replaced.
Extreme heat aside, if you take a hard driver-side collision, common sense tells you to check the left-side rotor to make certain that it's not bent or warped. A few years ago after a hard left-side wreck, I found out that I actually bent the right front rotor. Unfortunately, our team didn't realize the problem until the next race when a mysterious vibration cropped up. We lost valuable time during practice trying to hunt down the origin of the vibration. Guess what? It was a bent right front rotor, the result of my hard left-side wreck the week before.
Rotors wear just like your brake pads, and throughout a season you need to inspect them each week. Look for hairline cracks such as those shown in the picture (left) with the arrows. While these cracks are not a problem yet, if any one of them start to move toward either the inside or outside edge of the rotor, then it will have to be replaced.
When running your brake lines,...
When running your brake lines, remember to keep them as far from the headers as possible, but also keep them from getting in the way of the upper control arm.
7. What's the condition of your brake lines?
The most often overlooked item when it comes to brakes is your brake lines. Brake lines can either be aluminum or steel. I'd suggest using steel because it's just that much more durable. Plus, whether you're using aluminum or steel, the end of the line where it connects to any fitting needs to be flared so it fits flush. The aluminum lines are more susceptible to cracking at the flared end. This can lead to a leak once the fluid heats up.
The other thing you need to check when inspecting your brake lines is where they have been run in the car. Brake lines need to be as far away from the engine or headers as possible. Also, when running the lines from the master cylinder to the right front wheel, the line should cross the car on the inside of the firewall. This will keep the brake line away from extra heat that the engine produces.
8. Where was your brake balance set?
If every time you get on the brake the car pushes like a dump truck or snaps loose, you can bet that the problem is in your brake balance adjuster. You need to find out how much front brake you're running compared to the rear. All you need is a brake pressure gauge set. They cost around $80 and are available from retailers like Speedway Motors. These gauges can be mounted to the dash, although most racers just use them outside of the car. Have you ever heard, if my adjuster is in the center at 50 percent, then I'm running 50-50 on brakes right? Not necessarily. It all depends on your master cylinders.
Now after an accident, look...
Now after an accident, look at every rotor to make certain that no rotor has been chipped or cracked. This rotor was on the opposite side of the car from where the impact was taken.
Having the right parts is...
Having the right parts is essential to running the brake lines correctly.
Notice here how the brake...
Notice here how the brake lines have been run on the outside edge of the firewall. This will heat the brake fluid up quickly. I suggest running the brake lines on the inside of the firewall to help reduce the brake fluid heat buildup.