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STILLEN

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By Richard Fong

Upgrading brake pads and rotors can make considerable improvements to a vehicle’s braking system, especially since the factory equipment is generally adequate for an everyday street application but not always ideal for high-performance driving. However, there are a few other variables that can further enhance the performance of a factory brake system before making the jump to aftermarket calipers and larger rotors. Now that you’ve been familiarized with some of the first and most straightforward brake-system upgrades in our Brake Systems 101: Pads and Rotors, it’s time to look at the next modifications in line to optimize the factory brake system. Two-piece rotors, performance fluids and braided brake lines can further improve your factory brake system for greater performance on both the street and the track.

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Room to Expand

A smoothly-operating vehicle typically indicates that all is well and functioning properly. When an ABS-like vibration feeds back through the brake pedal, it can be disconcerting to some and annoying to others. It’s certainly an indication of something amiss that requires attention. That vibration could simply be caused by uneven pad material built up on the surface of the rotor, for which a proper brake service (new pads, resurfaced or replaced rotors, brake fluid flush) would remedy. However, in the case of performance and heavy utility applications, the damage to the rotors could be more severe.

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Dissipating Heat

A vast majority of brake rotors on the market are manufactured as a single piece of iron for cost and durability. As the friction surface for the pads, rotors are subjected to extreme heating and cooling cycles. Since the center or “hat” of the rotor bolts to the wheel hub, it is sandwiched between the hub and the mounting pad of the wheel. This limits the rotor’s ability to expand and contract freely when subjected to extreme braking conditions (as would be the case on a racetrack or during an aggressive mountain drive) and could lead to warped rotors. A viable solution would be to upgrade to a 2-piece rotor solution. In this application, a billet aluminum hat is fastened by way of “floating” hardware to a rotor, which permits the rotor to expand, contract and dissipate heat without being restricted by the hat. A 2-piece solution also permits the use of exotic and lightweight rotor materials as well, like a carbon-ceramic matrix.  An added benefit to having a billet aluminum hat and/or lighter rotors is reduced unsprung weight. This weight reduction helps to sharpen and lighten steering response which further lends to improved handling.

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Boiling Point

A recurring theme in brake systems is that heat is the enemy. For the most part, this is true, the exception being specialized brake pad compounds formulated to function optimally at higher temperatures (racing brake pads). Aside from this instance, heat that is generated by the friction between the rotors and the pad material eventually transfers to the calipers and then the brake fluid. Modern brake systems are hydraulic, which means that they rely on incompressible hydraulic fluid (in this instance, brake fluid) to actuate the pistons against the pads when the brake pedal is depressed. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has established standards to indicate a fluid’s capabilities. DOT 3 brake fluid is the most common fluid used in automobiles. The name denotes the fluid’s heat capacity and performance capability as required by the DOT. Street vehicles rarely exceed the capabilities of DOT 3 fluid under normal driving conditions. When brake fluid heats to the point of boiling, pockets of air form in the brake lines. These compressible voids translate into a spongy brake pedal and an unresponsive brake system with dramatically reduced stopping ability. If you’ve upgraded your pads and rotors and have not upgraded the brake fluid, this could be the cause of poor braking performance. The solution is to upgrade your brake fluid. Under performance conditions such as on a track or a road requiring significant and frequent brake input, upgrading to DOT 4, DOT 5 or DOT 5.1 brake fluid will help to maintain the responsiveness and effectiveness of the brake’s hydraulic system.

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DOT Standards

Typical factory brake fluid is engineered to function within a prescribed temperature range optimized for the majority of driving conditions that the manufacturer expects a vehicle to encounter. This covers a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from freezing to triple-digit ambient temperatures. While these requirements cover a seemingly broad range of temperatures, the brake fluid must endure far more extreme temperatures. DOT 3 fluid is the most common fluid type employed by automakers with some requiring DOT4 fluid (in the case of higher performance or heavy duty applications). DOT 3, 4 and 5.1 are polyethylene glycol based fluids while DOT 5 is silicone based. The hygroscopic traits (propensity to absorb moisture from the atmosphere) of the DOT 3, 4 and 5.1 fluids could render the fluids less effective over time. Regular flushing of the brake system mitigates this effect. The silicone-based DOT 5 fluid tends to cost more but benefits from its hydrophobic properties.

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Fluid Grade               Dry Boiling Point                  Wet Boiling Point

DOT 3                         401 F                                     284 F

DOT 4                         446 F                                     311 F

DOT 5                         500 F                                     356 F

DOT 5.1                     500 F                                     356 F

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Containing the Pressure

Another component of a factory brake system that could benefit from improvement is the brake line. The stock brake lines are often high-pressure rubber hoses designed to be flexible throughout the full range of travel for your. However, during high performance braking, these factory lines tend to expand under extreme pressure, resulting in reduced responsiveness and braking performance along with a spongy brake pedal. To improve the responsiveness of the brake system hydraulics, swapping out the factory brake lines with performance brake lines is an essential upgrade. Performance brake lines (like those offered by Goodridge) feature a PTFE liner (inner hose) that is shrouded by a flexible sheathing (stainless steel or even exotic materials like Kevlar) that protect the liner and prevent expansion. This keeps the fluids moving toward the calipers, for more responsive braking under all driving conditions.

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Maxed Out

Now that you’ve learned about the basics of brake systems, you can maximize the stopping performance of your vehicle. Slowing and stopping are paramount for safety as well as performance, regardless of your application. From streetcars and track cars to tow and utility vehicles, a good braking system is a must. If you’re pushing your vehicle beyond these bolt-on solutions, you could be a candidate for a big brake upgrade, which will be covered in the next two installments of STILLEN University. Stay on track!

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Do you have more questions about what would be right for your application? Reach out to us at 866-250-5542, at sales@stillen.com or by live chat on our website stillen.com to help you select the product that best suits your needs.

In our next installment of STILLEN University, we’re going to explore big brake system upgrades in greater detail. Check back with us soon!

If you would like to shop for upgraded 2-piece rotors, brake lines, or brake fluid:

Automotive customization at the dealership is really starting to hit the mainstream more and more these days. You used to walk into a dealership, pick your color and a few options and that was really your only option. Things are changing though, as automakers have started to understand that people want their vehicle to be unique and to reflect their personality. We’ve seen manufacturers expand their offerings to include more trim packages, color combinations and more elaborate accessories over the years. While this has satisfied a good number of buyers, some dealerships realize that their customers wanted more!

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Cash flow often becomes a challenge when you invest in a brand new car. One generally invests a sizable amount on a down payment in order to reduce monthly payments. This option doesn’t leave much of a cash reserve for modifications. Fortunately, Bennett Infiniti of Wilkes-Barre, PA recognized this dilemma and decided to enable its customers to buy and modify their new ride at the time of purchase. When this dealership modifies a car for you, it sources the parts directly from STILLEN, installs them on your car and then roll the modification costs into the financing. This means that you can make some nice modifications to your new car for approximately $40-$120/month (depending on the cost of the parts and labor.) Check out this example of a Q50 Red Sport AWD that Bennett Infiniti modified for a customer. It features a STILLEN Front Splitter, Side Splitters, Diffuser and Rear Wing that complement the Red Sport’s elevated performance with a more aggressive appearance.

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The Bennett Infiniti observed that the modified cars on the showroom floor always get the most attention and it’s easy to see why. So next time you are in the market for a new car and want it modified on day one, you know where to look!

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Does your 2016+ 4WD Titan need a lift? Rough Country’s solution could be the answer you’re looking for! Recently released for the Titan XD, Rough Country now offers its popular lift kit for the half-ton Titan 4WD. This comprehensive and durable kit includes everything you’d need for excellent off-road performance. The benefits of this 6-inch lift kit include increased ground clearance, stronger lifted knuckles, strengthened front and rear cross members and upgraded rear shocks. Together, these components give your Titan a more rugged appearance while inspiring confident, off-road handling.

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  • Lifetime Construction Warranty
  • Levels the Front and Rear of the chassis for enhanced road handling
  • The 6-inches of added clearance permit the use of larger tires up to 35-inches
  • No exhaust modifications required
  • Includes all necessary hardware to complete the installation
  • Backed by Rough Country’s Lifetime Replacement Warranty

 

Rough Country Lift Kit

Coulter Nissan of Surprise, AZ has already installed the Rough Country Lift Kit on a half-ton Titan. The six-inches of added lift complement the Titan’s already imposing chassis. When matched with aftermarket wheels and off-road tires, it’s simply stunning. Prepare your half-ton Titan for the road and the off-road with a Rough Country Lift Kit.

Coulter Nissan’s parts and service department works closely with STILLEN to offer you the parts, accessories and installation services to suit your needs.

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If you have any additional questions about the Rough Country Lift Kit for the Titan XD 4wd please feel free to give us a call (866-275-1294) or shoot us an email (jrsmith@stillen.com).

 

Based on vehicle specific engineering and a heritage of manufacturing quality suspension in Japan for over 49 years, RS-R Down, SuperDown and Ti2000 springs are manufactured exclusively by the largest spring manufacturer in Japan, NHK. This relationship ensures consistency and quality in every RS-R spring. Check out today’s STILLEN Vendor Spotlight to learn more about RS-R’s line of springs! For Infiniti Q50 and Q60 RWD and AWD Sport and Red Sport owners, the new Down and SuperDown springs are now available for purchase! Call us at 866-250-5542, email us at sales@stillen.com or contact us through live chat at stillen.com.

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By Richard Fong

 

There’s no point in being able to go if you can’t stop. While an engine provides motility to a car, the braking system is what brings your vehicle to a stop. Typical brake systems are hydraulic and include a pedal, master cylinder, hydraulic lines, calipers, rotors and pads. The braking system is not only an important performance element, it’s also an imperative for safety and the safe operation of a vehicle.

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As is often the case, many standard vehicle components are designed as a compromise of quality versus price. With the exception of premium vehicles that include performance brake components from the factory, most vehicles are equipped with little more than adequate braking systems. Take that vehicle to the track or even on a spirited drive, and you’ll quickly learn its shortcomings. Imagine accelerating down a stretch and then braking just before engaging a turn or a series of switchbacks. The first time works fine, shaving speed and hitting the apex of the turn with ease. One or even two laps later, that same braking area seems to get shorter, as you soon find yourself stomping on the brakes to adjust your speed in order to engage that same turn. The pedal feels mushy, the brakes don’t have any bite and before you know it, you’re way past the apex and are either off line or off track. This is the ugly face of an insufficient brake system, known as fade.

Fade isn’t your friend. Brake fade is the enemy of safe and reliable braking. Brake fade occurs when the friction efficiency and/or heat capacity of the brake pads or rotors is exceeded and the ability of the brake system to slow or stop the vehicle becomes compromised. Whether it be on a twisty mountain pass or on a racetrack, finding the limits of braking leaves much to be desired. Fortunately, a quick look toward the aftermarket could be the answer to your problems, as it probably offers a solution for your application.

Bring Back the Friction

One of the first and most straight-forward upgrades you can invest in are brake pads. Brake pads, like rotors and fluid, are wear items that can be upgraded. Brake pads are composed of a backing plate and a friction compound that creates friction when placed in contact with the brake rotors, enabling a vehicle to stop. Brake pads offered by STILLEN, Ferodo, Hawk Performance, Mintex, Pagid and T-Rex are offered in a variety of friction compounds ranging from organic and ceramic to semi-metallic. Each pad type and compound is optimized depending on your vehicle’s intended purpose.

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  • Organic (Common OEM Material)
    • Pros: Less aggressive rotor wear, decent initial bite, manageable brake dust generation
    • Cons: Mediocre braking performance, tends to wear quickly, prone to brake fade
  • Ceramic (Common OEM Material, Aftermarket Upgrade)
    • Pros: Moderate rotor wear, good wear characteristics, less prone to brake fade, moderate dust production, ideal for rotors lacking slots or cross drilling, the middle ground between organic and semi-metallic pads
    • Cons: Higher cost, limited compound options, less aggressive friction traits, not ideal for the track
  • Semi-metallic (Common Aftermarket Material, Aftermarket Upgrade)
    • Pros: Broad selection of available compounds, improved resistance to fade, improved heat rejection when used on slotted or cross-drilled rotors, permits tailoring of braking performance traits depending on driving conditions by changing compounds
    • Cons: Potentially aggressive rotor wear, excessive dust, noise (brake squeal)

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Pick Your Pad

Organic pads offer good initial bite (initiation of friction and slowing of the vehicle) and modulation for daily driven vehicles, but generally suffer rapid wear and fade when subjected to aggressive driving. Ceramic pads cost more but take the best traits of organic pads and can add longevity as well as reduced brake dust production. However, these pads suffer accelerated wear under heavy loads and are not ideal for track or heavy-duty braking situations. Semi-metallic pads tend to resist fade better and offer superior heat capacity and dissipation compared to organic or ceramic pads. They are offered in a variety of compositions enabling the end user to choose the braking characteristics desired of their vehicle. When choosing a semi-metallic pad, aggressive initial bite could be desirable in the case of a vehicle driven hard for short intervals. The counterpoint is that this pad could eventually suffer from fade with prolonged aggressive driving. By comparison, a semi-metallic pad formulated for endurance offers increased heat capacity for longer driving intervals but will likely lack initial bite when cold and suffer reduced braking performance until brought up to optimal operating temperatures. This is not ideal for short driving intervals or street driving since the ideal temperatures are much higher and might not be reached under these conditions.

Release the Heat

Another common brake system improvement involves upgrading the surface that the brake pads apply friction to, the brake rotors. Brake rotors are not only a friction surface, they’re also heat sinks. This means that they must draw away and dissipate the heat produced by the friction with the pads efficiently to ensure consistent braking performance and to stave off brake fade. Factory brake rotors are typically composed of iron due to cost, longevity and heat capacity for the everyday driver. However, to save on cost, typical factory rotors do not benefit from the design elements and heat dissipation characteristics of aftermarket brake rotors.

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Fighting Fade

Aftermarket brake rotors, like those offered by STILLEN, AP Racing and DBA, can feature a variety of benefits thanks to engineering innovations such as improved vane design (in the case of vented rotors) as well as cross drilling, slotting and other surface treatments. In the search for improved methods of heat dissipation, some manufacturers of vented rotors have implemented proprietary vane designs to facilitate improved airflow for better cooling of the rotors. As an added measure of cooling, some have turned to cross-drilling the rotor surface. However, it is not unheard of for cracks to develop between the holes of a cross-drilled rotor after repeated heating and cooling cycles over time. Another brake rotor type is the slotted rotor. The slots cut into the rotor surface help to optimize the friction surface area while helping to release the gasses that build up between the friction material of the pad and the rotor surface. However, this rotor type also causes accelerated wear on the pads, shortening the typical service life of the pads.

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Step Up and Stop Better

With a better grasp of the basics of brake upgrades and the first steps toward better braking for both performance and safety, contact us to order your upgrade today! Do you have more questions about what would be right for your application? Reach out to us at 866-250-5542, at sales@stillen.com or by live chat on our website stillen.com to help you select the product that best suits your needs.

In our next installment of STILLEN University, we’re going to explore brake system upgrades in greater detail. Check back with us soon!

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If you would like to shop for brake rotors and pads:

You’ve learned about the company and you’ve seen what it produces. Now, in this episode of the STILLEN Vendor Spotlight featuring RS-R, we take a look at the company’s partners and who they work with to further the development of their product offerings both in Japan and the USA. Relationships with Super GT champion and D1GP driver  Manabu “Max” Orido and Formula Drift Champion Fredric Aasbo have helped to shape the development of exciting new products for both Japanese and US Domestic applications.

 

 

For this second installment of the STILLEN Vendor Spotlight featuring RS-R, we’re moving on from the company’s heritage and taking a look at some of its specialties! With humble beginnings that date back 49 years, RS-R has grown into one of Japan’s premier suspension developers. Vehicle-specific product engineering sits at the pinnacle of RS-R’s objectives as it continues to develop exciting new products for both Japanese and US Domestic applications!

 

 

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This week, we would like to showcase our new STILLEN Vendor Spotlight – showcasing the Japanese tuning company, RS-R. This five day series starts with today’s video, introducing you to RS-R with some insight into the company’s history. RS-R emphasizes vehicle-specific product development, which is a mantra employed in each of the suspension components that it develops. Proudly manufactured in Japan, RS-R prides itself on the quality of its products. Take a look at what RS-R has to offer for your vehicle!

 

In this episode of STILLEN Product Spotlight, HRE FF01 and FF15 FlowForm Wheels are the stars of the show! The FlowForm manufacturing process produces a wheel that exhibits some of the qualities of a forged wheel with the price point of a premium cast wheel.

Check out the video on YouTube as Lauren presents these products. Keep up with us by subscribing to our YouTube channel and by liking our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages!

Order yours today at (866)250-5542, by email at sales@stillen.com, or via live chat at our website, stillen.com!

#stillen #hre #hrewheels #camaro #camaross #gettoknowus #gettingtoknowyou

 

Nothing draws the eye to your ride like a nice set of wheels. For the fourth STILLEN Product Spotlight , we take a look at the CV and VF series wheels by Vossen Wheels. Check out the video on our YouTube channel! Don’t miss a single video, subscribe today!

 

#stillen #vossen #camaro #camaross #gettoknowus #gettingtoknowyou

Check out the video on YouTube as Lauren presents these products. Keep up with us by subscribing to our YouTube channel and by liking our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages!

Order yours today at (866)250-5542, by email at sales@stillen.com, or via live chat at our website, stillen.com!