Brakes, they only slow you down. Am I right? At least, that’s the attitude most of us have when it comes time to do the pads and rotors on our 4X4s. We tend not to give it much thought. And just go with whatever is on there from the factory and call it good.
The thing is, the OE brakes are not really designed for what we like to do with our vehicles. Bigger tyres, more power, towing trailers, extra weight from accessories and camping gear all lead to increased wear and tear on your braking system. Then add in a little mud driving. Or a few steep off-road descents. And all of a sudden the factory brakes are battling to keep up with the demands placed on them.
I’m sure you can see what we’re getting at here. A brake upgrade makes a lot of sense. Especially for those of us who like to take the track less travelled. And the real kicker is that they can actually be a lot more cost effective than going down the OE route. You get a higher quality product with better stopping power for similar money – essentially, there’s no downside.
Take Bendix for example. They offer their Ultimate 4WD Brake Upgrade Kit – which does both front brakes and supplies absolutely everything needed for the job, including brake lines, fluid, slide lubricant and cleaner – which costs roughly the same as a set of stock pads and discs for, say, a 200 Land Cruiser, and offers a hell of a lot more when you stomp on the stop pedal.
Bendix Ultimate upgrade vs OE – dollar for dollar
We rang our local Toyota dealership and got prices on a new set of front pads, rotors and rubber brake lines all around. Here’s how the cost broke down:
- Front Pads: $220
- Front Rotors: $370 ($185 per side)
- Front and rear rubber lines: $316 ($79 per corner)
NB: The above price does not include any consumables, fluid, slide-lube or labour. It’s only the major parts needed.
Bendix Ultimate 4WD Brake Upgrade Kit – what ya get:
- 1x set Ultimate 4WD Brake Pads (ceramic)
- 1x set Ultimate 4WD Rotors (slotted and vented)
- 4x Ultimate Brake Hoses (braided)
- 1L Bendix Heavy Duty Brake Fluid
- 1x Can Bendix Brake Cleanup
- 1x Tube Ceramasil Brake Parts Lubricant
- Bendix Rotor Wipes
- 1x 60L Icebox (not needed for the job, but free Esky!)
NB: All up you’re paying $53 more, but keep in mind you’re getting everything needed to do the job, and you’re getting a much better product (as you’ll see further down), so it’s arguably the best $50 you’ll ever spend on your rig.
The technical stuff
As mentioned, the Bendix product is, well, just better than the OE fare. The rotors are metallurgically optimised for 4WD applications, feature diamond-tip slotting for optimum gas and heat expulsion as well as better self-cleaning off-road. The thermal efficiency of the design is also superior to the stock gear, meaning less fade under heavy braking applications. Basically, they’re safer.
The pads are ceramic, which equals less brake dust and lower noise, not to mention a longer life without sacrificing braking feel. The pads are designed for slotted rotors and are held in place with MRS (mechanical retention system) technology which ensures they offer maximum bite even under heavy load conditions.
The lines are built to meet SAEJ1401 specs, which is nerd talk for them being compliant with international design and safety standards – so they will not affect warranty. They’re also braided, as opposed to being made out of regular rubber, which can balloon out under heavy braking causing the driver to lose pedal feel and braking ability. The braided lines won’t do that, so will provide full fluid flow even under extreme conditions. Also, they can be bought up to 4in longer, so will allow for those 4WDs with suspension upgrades.
The real-world performance
Better feel, reduced stopping distances and arguably longer servicing intervals (obviously this one will largely depend on vehicle usage, we’re talking compared to stock here). There really is not any reason to not fit up some Bendix goodness behind your rims next time your brakes are due. I mean, not only is it all included, right down to rotor-wipes for when you leave greasy fingerprints all over your shiny new discs, but you’re spending essentially the same money for more, and they even throw in a 60L icebox. Can you see a downside? Yeah, we can’t either.
These guys have been around since 1955 and are known all over the country for being a top-shelf brakes supplier. The quality and longevity of Bendix products is coupled with sharp pricing that really does offer a huge amount of bang for buck, not to mention increased performance.
You can find the full range of Bendix gear at: www.bendix.com.au