TECH-TIP #5: Give Me a Break!
Z3ís have great brakes. I have always been very impressed with my 1.9ís stopping power in every situation. I did replace the dusty old pads with some PBR MetalMasters, but that was because I was lazy. I hate cleaning the dust off the wheels! What I wasnít very pleased with was the appearance of the rotors. The rotors were all rusty and nasty. I did paint the calipers red but they were even getting kind of funky
My wife started hearing a chant from the
This chant has been known to cause the end of many a successful
I knew I wouldnít be able to sneak in a set of 13 inch Bremboís with 6 piston calipers, as much as I wanted to, past She Who Must Be Obeyed (SHMBO). Whatís an upgrade junky to do? What I needed was an inexpensive way to improve the looks and still keep the good brake balance that I had.
Here is what I came up with after talking to some other 1.9 owners and checking the parts CD. I needed some 6 cylinder brakes! They came with vented 286x22mm rotors, where the 1.9 had 286x12mm.
The 10mm increase in width doesnít seem to be very much but it almost doubles the thickness. The bigger the rotor the better heat sink it becomes. The better the heat sink the better the brakes are when they get hot. The brakes will be more consistent with less fade.
I checked the prices at the dealer and found the parts needed would be pretty expensive. What is needed to do this upgrade is 6 cylinder calipers, caliper mounting brackets, and rotors. I decided to go with used components and rebuild the calipers. I sourced the calipers and brackets from Bavarian Auto Recycling. What I got was a set of 93 325i front calipers w/brackets. They had a 6-month warranty and I got great service and the price was good at $187 plus shipping. I got the rebuild parts from the dealer for a cost of $70. I also decided to use some ATE Powerslot rotors ($89.90 the pair), new PBR MetalMaster pads ($32.95), and stainless steel brake lines ($99.00). That comes to a total of $478.85, not as bad as over $2k for big Brembos. I decided after trying to clean the calipers to have them sand blasted just as a time saver, this was $20.00 well spent.
The install was not complicated, just followed the Bentleyís shop manual. I did paint the calipers with 4 coats of Foliatec red paint. This job is much easier with the calipers off the car. I rebuilt them after painting. This keeps the seals and boots clean. The one area that required more than normal care was the rebuilding of the calipers. This process isnít covered in the Bentleys manual. I had an old Haynes manual from my daughters E28 528e that did cover the rebuild. You will need access to a compressor to do this to since air is the only way to get the pistons out of the calipers. Make sure to place some wood between the piston and the caliper where using compressed air. The piston comes out of the caliper with a lot of force. You donít want to damage either the caliper or the piston.
I was very please with the final appearance of the calipers. The Foliatec caliper paint is a 2-part paint, pigment and hardener. I was lucky to have left over paint from the old 1.9 calipers and a little goes a long way. I will have to pull the rear calipers off and repaint them to match the fronts. Noticeable improvement in quality from the first to this paint job, who says I canít learn! I also painted the caliper brackets and clips in contrasting colors. Brackets in black, I used BBQ grill black. Clips sprayed in Griotís Garage wheel paint silver. Not sure if I will leave the clips this color or not.
I installed the Turner Motorsportís stainless steel lines. The rear uses 4 short lines and they are in a difficult position to reach. I flushed the brake fluid with ATE blue. I used a Motive pressure bleeder and I recommend this to anybody who is even remotely interested in changing their fluid rather than letting the dealer do it. It makes this a one man job.
Was the work and money worth it? In a word, YES! I think they look great. The feel with the stainless steel lines is firmer. The pads are about 90% dustless. After saying all this the main reason I like this upgrade is that I saved $1500 and Iím still married. I just need to learn to whisper my Upgrade chant.
*FredR's Tech Tips has been changed to Mitsy's Tech Tips. Mitsy was that confounded cat who kept putting her paw prints all over Fred's car (and all over this space too!). Mitsy has since gone on to kitty heaven and in her memory, we have renamed the pages.
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