What to know before buying your Disc Brake Conversion Kit for your vehicle
Installing a Disc Brake Conversion Kit on your car or truck enhances the performance and safety of your vehicle while also increasing its performance image. Automotive brake technology has progressed over the years from manual to power brakes and from drum to disc brakes in the quest to stay ahead of vehicles increased performance capabilities, speed and in the case of trucks, towing capacity.
There is no question that disc brakes are superior at the job of stopping a vehicle than drum brakes. Things like pedal fade, high pedal effort and brake pull when wet are eliminated with a disc brake conversions which is why disc brake upgrades are a popular way to upgrade vehicles such as a 69 Camaro, 70 Chevelle, Chevrolet C10 Truck or anything in between. Before purchasing a disc brake conversion kit there are a couple items to know and understand that will result in better disc brake upgrade experience.
Front, Rear or a Complete 4 Wheel disc brake conversion kit, what is the difference?
Disc brake conversion kits are typically offered as either a front, rear or as a complete kit that includes front and rear brake components.
Front Disc Brake Conversion Kits typically include the brake rotors, calipers, caliper brackets, flex lines, brake pads, bearings and miscellaneous hardware required to install or convert a vehicles front brakes at the wheel. Depending on the level of kit chosen, additional items also included maybe a brake master cylinder, power booster, various brackets and the brake distribution block that are designed to work with the at the wheel kit. Purchasing a complete kit that includes all the above hardware greatly increases the ease of installation and performance of the front brake kit.
Rear Disc Brake Conversion Kits typically include the brake rotors, calipers, brake pads and miscellaneous hardware required to install a rear disc brake conversion kit. One decision that will have to be made is if you want your disc brake conversion to include a parking brake or not as not all rear disc conversion kits include this option. To ensure you purchase the correct kit for your vehicle you must verify what kind of a rear end is currently under your car to ensure proper fitment.
Complete Front and Rear Disc Brake Conversion Kit include all the above items and is engineered to work together as a complete unit and will provide the highest level of braking performance, feel, and looks. Ultimately, it is easier to install a complete brake kit than to do it in pieces.
Will my vehicles stock metal brake lines work with a Disc Brake Conversion Kit?
The short answer is maybe… it all depends on what type of brake system you will be converting from. For example, a vehicle that is being converted from manual brakes to power brakes will have different master cylinder to distribution block lines. Over the axle lines will be different when converting from rear drums to disc brakes. To ease installation of a disc brake conversion kit, consider purchasing hard lines that are re-engineered to fit your vehicle and the disc brake conversion kit you are purchasing. First Place Auto Parts has made this easy for our customers. Simply look for the “No Brainer” brake lines for your vehicle and take the frustration of the process.
What size are the wheels on your vehicle?
Muscle cars from the 60’s and 70’s typically came with 14” wheels and drum brakes as standard equipment. Brake Calipers on a Disc Brake Conversion require more space than a drum brake due to where the caliper gets mounted at the outer circumference of the brake rotor and therefore may require a 15” wheel or larger. Maintaining required clearances between the caliper and the wheel is critical to proper fitment and function.
Most “Street” style Disc Brake Conversions are designed to work with wheels that are 15” and larger in diameter. Many of the “Performance” style Disc Brake Conversions are designed to work with wheels that are 16” and larger in diameter. If your vehicle retains a stock 14” wheel be sure to look for Disc Brake conversion kits that First Place Auto Parts offers specifically designed for the use with 14” wheels.
Power or manual Disc Brake Conversion Kit?
Power brakes are the norm these days and require less brake pedal pressure to activate the brakes as compared to manual brakes. Manual brakes have the advantage of being a less complex to install and provides a “cleaner” firewall look due to the lack of a power brake booster. Ultimately the choice is yours. Some things to consider.
Power brakes are energized using engine vacuum applied to the power brake booster. If your engine has a radical camshaft and pulls 10” of vacuum or less at idle (in gear if an automatic), you may want to either consider manual brakes or the option of installing the external vacuum pump that First Place Auto Parts offers for power brakes. The optional vacuum pump will supply the power brake booster with the vacuum that your radical big or small block engine cannot. A final word of caution, without sufficient vacuum, a vehicle with power brakes will not stop as designed.
There are certain engine and body combinations where the valve cover to power booster clearance space is minimal. This typically shows up on big block car with aftermarket, tall valve covers (IE: A Big Block Chevy installed in a Chevy II engine bay) and a stock 12” brake booster making for a very tight fit. There are smaller (8” booster) diameter brake boosters available that will offer more valve cover to booster clearance. Know that smaller boosters may require a higher pedal effort due to their reduced size and effectiveness.
What Rear Axle Housing Does Your Car or Truck Currently Have?
Knowing what rear end/axle is under your car now is critical when purchasing a rear disc brake conversion or full disc brake conversion because over the years and many owners, vehicles tend to get repaired or modified for strength or performance. Rear axle housings and axles got swapped out for stronger units with frequency.
Does your Chevrolet Camaro, Chevelle or Bel Air have a 10 or 12 bolt rear end or has it been converted to the popular Ford 9” rear end? Does your Ford 9” rear end have the small or large bearing ends? Has your Ford Mustang or Falcon been converted to a 8.8 rear end? You will need to know this information when buying either a rear disc brake conversion or Full disc brake conversion kit.
Do I Want a Street or Performance Oriented Disc Brake Conversion Kit?
Disc Brake Conversion Kits are offered in an impressive array of options that can change the way your brakes perform and look.A Street Series front disc brake conversion kit option will typically include.
11” Brake Rotors
Forged Spindles (OE height or 2” Drop)
OEM style One piston calipers
Power Brake Booster in the stock diameter
Proportioning valve and mounting bracket
Brake Backing Plates
Spindles, wheel bearings, and hardware needed for the installation
Rubber flex hoses
A Street style Front disc brake conversion kit will achieve all the benefits of a disc brake conversion with a stock, factory appearing look and is a good way to upgrade from drum brakes or renew a vehicle that originally came with disc brakes with new and fresh components that are matched to work together.