Brakes, generally speaking, are not sexy. Unless you’re running a fancy big brake kit like Josh, brakes typically fall into the category of “yeah, I guess I need some.” You don’t really notice your brakes until suddenly they’re not there. This is what happened to my fiancee’s CPO 2012 Ford Flex just two months after she bought it. (That’s a story in itself, which is still developing and that I’ll report on once it does.) With the pads completely gone and the backing plates digging into rotors, both needed to be replaced, fast.
Pads and rotors are not covered under Ford’s CPO warranty since they are wear items. Though that means we had to pay for the repair, it also left us free to go about it any way we wanted. My fiancee went online and found some agreeable prices at Auto Anything. Rotors are big and heavy to ship, but Auto Anything offers free shipping on a number of pads, rotors, and pad and rotor kits. We needed both pads and rotors and saw a couple of OEM quality kits, but for a few dollars more we opted for the Power Stop Z23 Brake Kit. It includes a set of Power Stop Z23 performance brake pads, plus a pair of slotted and cross drilled rotors. Normally I’m not a fan of cross drilled rotors. I’ve seen track driven cars with cracks starting to form from the holes drilled through them. But the only track use the Flex might ever see is pace laps at Track Night In America which, with a 45mph speed limit, doesn’t really count. Besides, I figured they’d look cool through the spokes of the Flex’s 20″ wheels – a subtle hint that the driver of this bus isn’t your typical appliance driving soccer mom.
Shipping from Auto Anything was prompt and faster than expected. She placed the order on Wednesday, and despite predictions of arriving the following week it was on our doorstep Saturday. (Fortunately we were able to use Project MJ for a few days to keep the Flex off the road while still enabling me to move to our new
garage house.) This is the most complete brake kit I’ve had the pleasure of installing. Not only did it include the pads and rotors as promised, it also came with all of the clips and springs to replace the original hardware, and even replacement rubber boots for the caliper pins. After just under 40,000 miles all of the original hardware was still in good shape, so I reused it. But I’m definitely hanging onto the extra pieces for the future when the original parts do wear out.
Aside from a bit of a jacking disaster, installation was simple and straightforward. The Flex uses a Torx bolt to hold the rotors onto the hub, and these aftermarket rotors included a hole to use that. Bolts like this aren’t strictly necessary and many aftermarket rotors omit it, but since these support it, I reused the bolt on them. The bed-in process was simple – three hard stops from 40-5mph, followed by three moderate stops from 35-5mph, and then some gentle driving to cool things off. My fiancee insisted on doing the bed-in herself, which was fine because I know she’s fully capable of handling such things, and it is her car after all.
It wasn’t until several days later that I finally got a chance to drive the Flex with the new brakes myself. When I did, I had to apologize to my fiancee for launching her into her locked seat belt. The brakes grabbed much stronger than I expected. But after recalibrating my foot I had no problem modulating the brakes effectively, as gentle or hard as I wanted. When one particular idiot cut us off on the highway I was very happy to have the extra braking power – and that nobody with inferior brakes was tailgating me.
This is why I run at least autocross grade pads on all of my cars, even if they will never see a track or runway full of cones. The qualities that make a good autocross pad also make a good street pad – more braking power than stock, better resistance to lock-up, and easy to modulate. Heat resistance is not as important for street or autocross use, since you won’t build up heat in the brakes unless you’re driving like you’re on a track, which you shouldn’t be doing on the street anyway. Plus track pads can generate a lot of dust and make a lot of noise. My Winmax W5 pads do this on my BRZ, which is why I switch back to stock pads between track events. I will seriously consider the Power Stop Z23 Evolution brake pads for everyday use on my BRZ when it’s time to replace my stock ones.
And yes, those slotted and cross drilled rotors do look cool behind the Flex’s 20″ wheels.