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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have the standard 10-something inch rotors on my 3rd gen Taurus. I don't like the performance of these things. They overheat really fast if I drive faster than average on a hilly road and the car doesn't stop as fast in emergency situations, such as suddenly running into a completely stopped traffic on an interstate. I honestly don't know what kind of parts I have right now in front. They may well be the stock rotor and a newer pad. What I know is that my parent's much heavier Ford 500 does stop much faster, and I believe it has 12.4 inch rotors in front (and also disks in the rear).


So, what can I do to improve braking performance? Rear brake conversion is just too expensive and I don't have the skills to do it. Neither it's clear of converting rear drum to discs will improve my braking.

What about fronts? Would going with more expensive pads and rotors help a lot, or should I think of front rotor conversion to gen 4 size? The front rotor conversion is rather expensive since I would have to replace the otherwise good locking 15-inch rims with 16-inch ones (so, that's like $500?) plus new rotor, pad, and caliper to replace the parts that are not even 50% worn out on my car. It seems like the parts alone for this conversion will cost around $1000. Fortunately, my tires are already worn out and need to be replaced anyways, so I don't consider that as part of the conversion cost. Would a good 11.6 inch setup with autozone parts work significantly better than the stock gen 3 brakes? I am reluctant to go with bigger than that because it means bigger rims, which means more cost, less comfort, and higher probability of damaging the wheels at say a curb stop. Thanks for suggestions..

Overall, I am surprised that Ford had sold a supposedly premium midsize car (mine is DOHC) with such lousy brake setup.
 

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Front Brake Options -- Just a Start

fct,

You might want to search on "cobra calipers" in TCCA. Moving from some improvement to more improvement these are some options. I am sure that others with more knowledge will weigh in on the topic.

There is a lot of TCCA discussion on front brake options that come up with a "cobra calipers" search.

Mustang GT dual front calipers (check the years probably 99-2004) should fit under your current wheels for some improvement (search has way more detail on the topic).

2000-2007 front brake upgrade (search -- well documented) probably in the wiki. 16 inch wheels (junk yard could get you a set for a reasonable cost from a 2000-2007 Taurus),

Cobra calipers (aluminum pbr aka Bullitt\Mach 1--very similar) can fit under 16 inch rims if you have the brackets modified. Shoforum has several excellent threads on the topic with measurements and pictures -- do it yourself or have a local machine shop help. 16 inch wheels, loaded cobra calipers with brackets $275+, machine shop bracket work $125.

If you want to go with 13 inch rotors as the cobra calipers are intended to use, you'll get the best performance but as you say 17 inch rims and tires would be a substantial extra cost and the rotors would need to be drilled for the Taurus brake pattern (local machine shop).

Fresh fluid (synthetic) and stainless steel (SS) brake lines also help but the SS lines will likely require some custom work. If you have a local shop that specializes in custom brake parts the front lines should be around $160. Custom parts usually require longer timelines.

You have options. It just depends on how far you want to take things and how much money you have to spend. There are many people here who can provide further details.

I hope that some of this helps. Good luck with your project. -- SJP
 

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Bigger brakes do help. For "Cobras" brakes, you will need 17+ inch rims for clearance.

Mustang GTs fit under 16 inch rims.

Here's the link to the Cobra kit.
Stage 3 13" Brake Kit
 

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The simplest improvement and one that doesn't really take any mechanical skills is to replace the smaller ~10" rotors with the larger ~11" ones.

All you need are the bigger rotors, the bigger caliper brackets, new pads and at least 16" wheels. The actual caliper is the same.

If you know how to change your own front pads you can do this.
 

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If you currently have 15" rims I would bleed your brakes, replace all your rotors and upgrade to the best pads you can buy. I wanted to upgrade to the larger rotors, but I couldn't justify having to buy new rims and tires too.
 

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The upgrade of the front brakes to 11.58” diameter rotors from the original 10.865” diameter rotors and the friction from organic to ceramic on my Gen 4 2000 'tec was the easily the best upgrade I performed on the vehicle. Luckily, the vehicle came originally equipped with the 16" wheels, so the cost was minimal - about $300 for new rotors, new (from Ford) brackets, new friction, and incidentals. In my opinion, the 10.865" rotor setup was marginal on the heavy Gen 4.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sounds like the simplest and cheapest option is to get cheap (possibly used) 16 inch rims (or bigger) and SHO compatible rotor, pads, and caliper bracket. I think I'll take this route. The stock 3rd gen brakes (specially 99, with its rear drums) are just terrible.
 

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Just tossing out my own experience with front brakes on my '00 SE with 10.x" non-antilock brakes and 16" wheels. I had what I thought were decent new ceramic pads and new rotors. They seemed to require a lot of foot pressure to stop and would never lock up in a panic-stop test. Then I thought I warped the rotors and replaced them only for it to happen again after about 10K miles. That's when I really started to suspect the pads were leaving deposits on the rotors. I would do several panic stops to burn off the deposits and the vibration went away only to return in a week or so. Inspecting the rotors showed a glazing and even what appeared to be embedded particles in the steel. I was going to do the 11.x upgrade but thought I would try just the Hawk Performance pads first since I would be using them with the upgrade anyway and it's the same calipers.

Long story short, after installing them, bleeding the lines just for good measure, and cleaning up the rotors with a little 180 grit sandpaper I went out and bedded them in and what a HUGE improvement! The foot pressure to stop is greatly reduced, there is no vibration, and in a panic stop I can now lock up the front tires! Now I don't need a lecture about wheel lock and braking performance so save the bandwidth before anyone starts replying about that, but just the fact that previously it was not possible to lock the wheels and now it is, plus the overall feel and stopping ability I am very impressed with the Hawk pads and will not need to spend the extra money on the 11.x upgrade.
 

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If your current 15 inch wheels are alloys and in good shape you can try selling them to offset some of your cost. You said the tires are near the end so throw them away and sell just the wheel. Not sure how much you could get but even $100 for the set is ok. You can get a good set of used 16" alloys anywhere from $150 to 200 at a boneyard or on Craigs list.
The caliper brackets are now available from the aftermarket and are about 25-30 dollars each.
Just.............food for thought.

BTW........I agree that the braking is lame on the gen 3 and I will be doing this upgrade this fall. I will let you know how much I feel the braking improves.
 

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Just tossing out my own experience with front brakes on my '00 SE with 10.x" non-antilock brakes and 16" wheels. I had what I thought were decent new ceramic pads and new rotors. They seemed to require a lot of foot pressure to stop and would never lock up in a panic-stop test. Then I thought I warped the rotors and replaced them only for it to happen again after about 10K miles. That's when I really started to suspect the pads were leaving deposits on the rotors. I would do several panic stops to burn off the deposits and the vibration went away only to return in a week or so. Inspecting the rotors showed a glazing and even what appeared to be embedded particles in the steel. I was going to do the 11.x upgrade but thought I would try just the Hawk Performance pads first since I would be using them with the upgrade anyway and it's the same calipers.

Long story short, after installing them, bleeding the lines just for good measure, and cleaning up the rotors with a little 180 grit sandpaper I went out and bedded them in and what a HUGE improvement! The foot pressure to stop is greatly reduced, there is no vibration, and in a panic stop I can now lock up the front tires! Now I don't need a lecture about wheel lock and braking performance so save the bandwidth before anyone starts replying about that, but just the fact that previously it was not possible to lock the wheels and now it is, plus the overall feel and stopping ability I am very impressed with the Hawk pads and will not need to spend the extra money on the 11.x upgrade.


+1

I to have the Hawk pads and i did notice a big difference in pedal pressure to stop the car. The only downfall with them pads are they leave alot of brake dust but me being me i wash my car alot so i dont see it to often...lol

Good luck with the upgrade let us all know how it goes
 

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And you can get a used proportioning valve with them already installed for the cheap.:)
 
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