Brakes are an often-overlooked part of the off-roading truck. Even though it’s a lot more fun to be putting on those meaty tires, that steel bumper, and lifting the suspension, you can’t forget stopping power, especially considering all that extra weight.
The stock brakes on any offroad truck or jeep may be fine for highway stopping; however, once you head out onto the trails are they going to be powerful enough? The rougher the trail and the more specialized equipment gets loaded onto a truck, the more you’ll want to upgrade your disc brakes as well.
Upgrading the Rotors
When more stopping power is needed, thicker rotors are definitely better. They provide more for the pads to grab onto, while more easily dissipating heat that could damage the braking system. Larger rotors with an expanded swept area are also recommended since they permit the use of bigger brake pads that can touch a greater surface area. You will want to forego drilling those rotors; definitely opt for vented ones instead.
Although popular opinion suggests that drilling promotes cooling, it actually reduces the ability for the rotor to dissipate heat because it reduces the material that can absorb that heat. Vented rotors perform much better on offroad trucks or jeeps that make heavy use of the brakes.
Choosing the Best Disc Brake Pads
There are all kinds of available brake pads made of different material. Most stock OEM brakes used on today’s vehicles are ceramic based that yield lighter, easy to clean dust; for off-roading usage, semi-metallic might be better. Although they can produce more dust, they offer better stopping power than ceramic varieties due to increased friction. Check the friction coefficient on different pads and look for one with a higher number.
A bigger brake pad is the better choice. Use the largest pad that will fit the swept area of the rotor, even when upsizing rotors to ones with a larger contact area. Higher friction coefficient and larger pad size produces greater stopping power when you need it most in your offroad truck.
In addition to those larger rotors and brake pads, you may want to upgrade the calipers as well. Some recommend multi-piston calipers; however, they don’t actually increase braking power as many people think. Braking power for Ford or Chevy offroad trucks is determined by total piston surface area, which can be the same regardless of the number of pistons. Multi-piston calipers do provide more even pressure to the calipers, which is more effective.
Brake upgrade kits that move the caliper setup further away from the axle and closer to the tire can also be helpful. They reduce the amount of heat that must be absorbed by the rotors, allowing the heat to more easily vent away. This positioning also increases braking leverage to stop the wheel faster and easier.
Using these suggestions, those equipping their Jeeps or Toyota trucks for better traction and improved performance over rough terrains can also address that all-important stopping ability issue. Remember that all additional equipment considerably increases the vehicle weight, especially after adding truck bumpers, bigger and wider tires, and heavier shocks. Stock brakes weren’t designed to handle stopping all that extra weight, especially in off-road conditions.
Reduce the chance of trail mishaps by boosting up the braking system on your Ford or Chevy offroading truck when you beef up everything else. It’ll be money well spent on making sure all those other upgrades don’t go to waste when your truck won’t stop!