One of the overlooked areas on most modified vehicles whether they are cars or 4×4’s is brakes.  A lot of people emphasis going fast, few emphasis handling, and even fewer stopping power.  Given the heavy E load range tires, towing a trailer, and the fact that the Jeep is my daily driver, my brakes have been long over due for an upgrade.

LJ on the lift at work.
For once I’m not the one turning the wrenches.
Luckily I work with some talented mechanics.

If you’re familiar with ECOA then you know I like to do my own work.  Most all the work done to the LJ and the trailer has been done by me and my friends.  Very rarely do I resort to paying someone else to do my work for me.  Sadly current events (like getting a job) have cut into my free time.  Luckily my day just happens to be a a 4×4 store with it’s own shop.  Anyway, read on for the details of my much needed brake upgrade…

Stock Brakes

Before looking at the upgraded brakes, let’s take a second to look at the stock brakes.
Front Brakes. Nothing special.
You can see some glazing and groves.
Obviously time for new brakes… might as well upgrade, right?

The rears were much worse.
Lots of glazing.
I doubt they were helping me at all.
The main issues I was facing with the stock brakes was overall stopping power and brake fade when on long drives – especially when towing.  Obviously new brakes would help, but I knew I would need some sort of upgrade.  Premium pads and rotors were an option but I had a feeling they wouldn’t be enough.  I felt like performance brakes would be the way to go.  I needed something that would increase my stopping power as well as help mitigate glazing and dissipate heat better.  Enter Powerstop Brakes.
Off with the old…

Powerstop Brakes

Powerstop Brakes is a co-sponsor of the Unlimited LJ Adventure later this month.  As such, I was able to get a hookup on a set of brakes I’ve been wanting for a long time. The kit I decided to go with is a Powerstop Brakes Z36 Truck & Tow package.  It includes front and rear drilled and slotted rotors, high performance pads, and the necessary hardware.  All in all it’s a pretty solid kit that is specifically designed for Jeeps like mine.

Look at that rotor.
So sexy.

There’s not really much I can add more than the photo above.  You can just see how much of an upgrade over stock it is.  Holes for cooling.  Slots for cleaning.  High performance pads.  I mean, yeah.  That’s about it.

Other Upgrades

If you have keen eye you can probably spot a few more new parts than just the pads and rotors.  Since the Jeep is pushing 195k miles I figured it was time to replace the calipers.  I’ve run into issues in the past putting new pads and rotors on old calipers.  When I did the ones on my ZJ I had a caliper seize on me.  Ever since I’ve always sworn when it comes to brakes it would be an “all-in” job.

Look at the new and clean caliper.
Almost makes me with the rest of the brackets were cleaned up too.

Also opted for new brake lines up front.
These are also longer than stock negating the need for relocation brakes.
This will prevent the front axle from “hanging” on the line at full-flex.

Another much needed area of attention was the rear parking brake shoes.
Also went with all new springs and hardware.

One other the tech noticed was a rear axle seal leak.
This was a perfect chance to just swap out the entire shaft for an alloy upgrade.
Too bad I didn’t have enough money to do the fronts too.

First Impressions

It’s only been a few days, but my first impressions are impressive… or is it impressed… either way, I like them.  Stopping distance is greatly improved.  I won’t know what the brake fatigue is like till I start towing the trailer.  For not this article will just focus on the install.  I’ll do a more detailed review next month after I get a few miles on them.
I will say the break-in period on these brakes is very particular.  You really need to get them heated up so the pads cure and set up on the rotors.  Most complaints about performance brakes are due to improper setup and brake-in.  For the pads to cure they need to nice and hot. That means repeated heavy brakes from progressively higher speeds.  Start off nice and slow (like 10mph to zero) and then work up to full on moderate speed ones (like 45mph to zero).  If the brakes are smelling then you’re probably doing it right.  You do want to make sure they have time to cool between stops.
Beyond that, I can say I’m happy with the brakes so far.  As I said, I’ll do a more detailed review but so far so good.

Thank you to Powerstop Brakes for their support in making this, and articles like it, possible and for their support of the 2018 Spring Unlimited LJ Adventure in Uwharrie, NC.