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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I just bought my E about a month ago. I am a rural mail carrier and I bought it to carry mail out of. It is the perfect vehicle for mail. The question I have is about the brakes. I have to stop at about 500 mailboxes a day 5 days a week. So, you know what kind of abuse this puts on the brakes. I was wondering if anyone knew of any super heavy duty brake products that might help me get some extra use under these extreme conditions. I am also in Texas, so the summers are very hot. I love this thing so far. It is certainly an awesome mail haulin vehicle. It freaked people on my mail route out when I first started driving it. They couldnt figure out what it was. Everyone has agreed that this is the perfect vehicle for hauling mail.. I even have a couple of my mail carrying pals looking into getting one. If anyone knows of anything that might help, I certainly do appreciate it. Thanks, mailhauler....
 

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Yeah, it would be cooler to get the Japanese right-hand drive one just like the regular mail trucks.

You may want to look into some cross-drilled or vented brake rotors to dissipate all the excess heat. Also some braided stainless steel brake lines would help too. Hope that helps and keep up the good work, Mailhauler.
 

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[quote:5a1ead13f4=" "]You may want to look into some cross-drilled or vented brake rotors to dissipate all the excess heat. Also some braided stainless steel brake lines would help too. [/quote:5a1ead13f4]

I guess this is good advice if you have 500 hp and you run the car up to about 100mph between mailbox stops and then hammer the brakes real hard to get to a stop. Otherwise it's completely ridiculous. Cross-drilled rotors don't dissipate heat better, and stopping from 15mph is not a big problem for heat. Stopping from 150mph is a heat problem... slowing from 70mph to 40mph for a corner, then getting on the throttle at the corner exit to go from 30 to 60, then immediately back down to 40 for another corner, repeat every 5 sedonds for two hours, that's tough on brakes for heat. In other words, racing a car is very demanding of brakes in terms of heat. Driving a mail truck between mailboxes is NOT. Stainless brake lines are useful if you have enough brake pressure to cause rubber brake lines to flex, particularly exacerbated by heat being conducted from the caliper body and fluid to the brake line. Now imagine how hard you have to have your foot on the pedal for this to happen. These kinds of brake "features" are really only useful for cars you plan to race, or of course for looks.

And a side note, have you ever actually driven a DJ Jeep (typical postal jeep)? Those vehicles have the worst, most scary brakes on earth. I have driven regular cars that had near-complete braking failure that were much less scary than a properly-operating DJ. I actually had thoughts of hanging my right foot out the door and dragging it on the ground to try and help stop the DJ I drove. I think it would have helped! Only thing worse was the cable-operated drum brake on the 50cc scooter my wife and I rented and rode in Mexico, which when loaded with my wife and I, who at the time weighed a combined 380 lb, would not stop. That's the ONLY thing that stopped worse than the DJ Jeeps I have driven.

But back to the original question. Sounds to me like you're asking about long life. I have had nothing but good luck with the "Carbon Metallic" brake pads commonly available from Auto Zone, they are made by Performance Friction and will improve overall stopping and last a VERY long time, and important for a mail carrier running under 15mph most of the time, they work great when they are cold. FWIW they also are also good for "spirited" driving IF you were driving a sports car or sports sedan. The bone stock Honda brake pads are fine for regular driving in an Element, and the improved performance of the CM pads would offer no benefit in an Element... just improved lifetime. If you're driving your Element hard enough to notice a braking performance difference with carbon metallic pads, be sure and have your life insurance premiums paid up... you're going to roll it.

Most other "performance" brake pads, such as Axxis Metal Masters etc. have to be fairly hot to really work right and also require a very long and drawn-out break-in/bed-in period by regular commuter/grocery-store/mail-carrier standards (coupla laps on an autocross course will put more heat and wear on a set of front brake pads than three months of commuting). During this time they won't work worth a darn, and even after, if you're not hitting them pretty hard (that is, stopping from a high rate of speed, and stopping AT a high rate of speed), they won't perform right. So I would avoid those.

My suggestion is just drive the car until the brake pads wear out, then replace with the Performance Friction Carbon Metallic pads from Autozone complete with lifetime wear warranty. They cost 2x as much as regular pads but will last a very long time, and when they are worn out, you get another set for free.
 

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Performance Friction pads are top notch, although expensive for some applications. Tire Rack has Hawk HP brake pads, a high performance street compound that has good initial bite and works cold, is quiet and produces less brake dust than OEM.

They also have Brembo replacement rotors for the E for under $50 each, which would be a good option for whenever the rotors need to be replaced.

I while back, I emailed Wilwood brakes about a big brake kit for the element. The passed me to this company that builds custom brake kits with Wilwood calipers for about 30-50% of the cost of typical big brake kits.
http://www.precisionbrakescompany.com/

Krash--for what it is worth, I had Axxis Metal Masters on my BMW and they worked great cold.

Finally, the limiting factor for most braking situations on the street (single event panic stop, not repeated braking which generates a lot of heat) is tire grip.
 

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[quote:d4a9829dd1=" "]
Krash--for what it is worth, I had Axxis Metal Masters on my BMW and they worked great cold.

Finally, the limiting factor for most braking situations on the street (single event panic stop, not repeated braking which generates a lot of heat) is tire grip.[/quote:d4a9829dd1]


I have Metal Masters on the front in my Miata and notice a difference in performance cold vs. hot. Of course this is a much lighter car that takes more effort to get the brakes hot. The original (factory) pads were better when the brakes were dead-cold on initial bite, but as long as you're engaged in a stop that is long enough to heat the pads (like stopping from more than 20mph) they are better.

You are absolutely correct in that the limiting factor is usually tire grip, but I think the limiting factor on an Element is going to be weight shift, and the inability to distribute braking force to more than one tire while the vehicle is in any kind of lateral (not-straight-line) condition... In other words, increasing grip and braking will only increase the propensity to roll the vehicle in a panic stop, because you are increasing the amount of lateral force differential that can be applied, and you are not changing the length of the lever (the height of the center of gravity). So more force on the lever means more force pushing it to roll over. IMHO, this is not safe! I'd much rather skid into an object I'm trying to avoid than roll the car doing an avoidance maneuver plus hard braking.
 

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Krash--agree. Evasive maneuvers notwithstanding, I think more grip would be advantageous in a straight line panic stop situation. Later today, I am having the stock Goodyear Wrangler HP tires replaced with Kumho KH11 tires in size 235/60-16. The tires were highly rated in Tire Rack customer surveys. I am anxious to see how these new tires work with the larger contact patch, better tread compound, different casing construction and slightly shorter and stiffer sidewalls (overall diameter 27.1 inches compared to 27.7 stock--I need to get the speedo recalibrated). As I mentioned in a suspension post, the lower center of gravity afforded by the Eibach springs dramatically improved cornering, stability and overall confidence, probably would address brake force distro related to dive and other weight transfer related issues you mentioned.
 

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Hey Tom, I'm looking forward to your post on how the tires work out.

On the postal brakes does anyone know anything about the "ceramic" pads?
Like Krash I usually think of metalic pads in terms of speed stopping so thats what I use. I think they also tend to shorten rotor life.

I think the postal requirement is for longevity. Maybe ceramics are a solution.
 

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[quote:4fc3ed48e0=" "]Krash--agree. Evasive maneuvers notwithstanding, I think more grip would be advantageous in a straight line panic stop situation. [/quote:4fc3ed48e0]

It would, if there were such a thing. However, I think the dynamics of any real-world evasive situation are that there are non-straight-line forces involved virtually 100% of the time... be it the crown of the road, tendancy to try and turn the vehicle or swerve during the stop, inconsistent road surface or suspension movement, etc. But you're right, lowering the car with stiffer springs will improve your odds!

Later today, I am having the stock Goodyear Wrangler HP tires replaced with Kumho KH11 tires in size 235/60-16. The tires were highly rated in Tire Rack customer surveys. I am anxious to see how these new tires work with the larger contact patch, better tread compound, different casing construction and slightly shorter and stiffer sidewalls (overall diameter 27.1 inches compared to 27.7 stock--I need to get the speedo recalibrated).
As you probably know, the speedo doesn't really get calibrated in most cars, dunno about this particular car. It's driven by a gear, right? So you could conceivably change the speedo drive gear for one with more or less teeth, but my guess is you can't hit it any more "on the money" with drive gear changes than it is already. The .6" diameter diff. in the tires is not going to be that big of a difference.

I had considered that same tire in the same size. Love to hear how it turns out. Mostly I'm looking for improvement in wet stopping. Suffice to say I may accidentally on purpose forget to rotate the tires on our Element so they require premature replacement. FWIW I've been very impressed with Kumho tires on my other cars. I wish they had a 235/65-16 tire. If I go with a .3" shorter-sidewall tire I am either going to have to do some extra hours on the exercise bike and knock off an extra pound or two, or jack up my Element when I change the oil, because as it is, I'm a perfect fit under the car :)
 

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What a difference tires can make--I have a new car!

The difference is dramatic. The car carves through turns with confidence instead of wallowing unnervingly as the old tires hunted in vain to take a set. No more embarrassing squeal from the front tires when accelerating briskly from a stop--not even the inside front tire when accelerating and turning. What amazes me is that in addition to the improved handling, the ride is also better. Where I live, we have a lot of speed dips with sharp approach angles. They seem much more muted now with the new tires. Pretty good considering the shorter sidewalls. I wonder how the tire volume compares btwn 215/70/16 and 235/60/16? This may account for some of the simultaneous improvement in ride and handling. It would be interesting to test different tires of identical sizes for the truest comparison. The top of my car is now also 3/10 of an inch lower to the ground which further lowers the cG, in addition to the 1.7 inches lower from the Eibach springs (makes roofrack loading/unloading easier as well).

With tires, every distinct brand and model behaves differently, so I wouldn't generalize about any other tire in the same size or any other tire by the same manufacturer. Seems like every tire manufacturer out there has their share of good and bad tire models. For example, though the original equipment Wrangler HPs were dogs in retrospect, the Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3s on my Porsche 911 are incredible. There are even several "Eagle F1" variants and generations with varying levels of performance.

By the tire size calculator at Miata.net, the difference in speed reading on the speedo is about 2%, so 60 mph indicated is 58.4 mph actual. I was using the term speedo recalibration loosely-it may even be a software thing. I was given the name of a good speedo shop in downtown San Diego, so I plan to check that out.
 

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Boy, that makes me want to junk the Wranglers 1000 miles old or not! Even though the Wranglers are SUV or light truck oriented it's hard to understand Hondas tire selections. The Bridgestone RE92's that came on my Prelude were absolute junk. I guess the E is considered a truck but considering the GVWR and the most probable use, a more car oriented tire would seem to be an obvious improvement especialy considering the advances in tire tecnology recently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone for your replies. I will check into some of the things you mentioned. As for the Jeep DJ's brakes...That makes me laugh. When I was a sub, I bought one of those old postal jeeps. It was a DJ 5. These things had all been worn out by the city carriers 20 years before I got it. Then they all ended up back on the street as they were sold to rural carriers like me. This was the biggest piece of junk I had ever rode in. They were set up perfect to carry mail, but worn out doesnt even come close to what it was. I, like you often thought of cutting a hold in the floor and doing the Fred Flintstone brake...LOL Anyhow, thanks to you all...
 

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I just installed Stillen cross drilled/slotted rotors and Stillen high performance pads.....They look and work awesome.....
 

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It all sounds nice, but where's the pictures? We'd probably like to see your rims and tires with those sweet rotors visible, too, ya know. 8)

On a more mundane note, I was wondering earlier this week without even having read this thread, if anyone has anything to report on "typical" brake pad wear on Elements. I'm not nearly so aggresive a driver as a lot of people here sound like, but with an auto tranny, the brakes do get a little more wear. I've had metallic pads last from 60-80,000 miles in "sportier" cars than this, so I'm wondering if anyone can remark on a trend for "normal".
 

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I will post some pictures next week...after it gets a bath :lol:
 

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tirerack sells replacement brembo rotors for the front...what about the rear??? also, they sell nice aftermarket pads for the front, but just oem replacements for the rear?
 
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