When it comes to braking performance, the bigger they are, the better the performance. The same principle usually applies for the number of pistons a brake caliper uses as well. So, why do some cars come from the factory with less-than-ideal braking performance? Well, here’s where that “bigger is better” mentality comes into play.
More pistons allow for an increased clamping force, which is then more evenly distributed across the friction surface to provide greater, and more effective braking. – Frank Bisciotti, AmericanMuscle
Braking performance has increased drastically over the years of car production, and the Mustang is no exception. If you were lucky enough to own a 2003-2004 SVT Mustang Cobra back in the early 2000s (or currently own one), you’ll know that the Cobra was considered the top-of-the-line Mustang of the moment. It featured the best braking components for its time too; utilizing 13-inch Brembo vented discs matched with twin-piston calipers for the front, and 11.85-inch vented discs and single-piston calipers.
Fast forward to the sixth-generation Mustang; enthusiasts now have the privilege of optioning their Mustang from the factory with Ford’s Performance Package. This option includes the use of massive 15-inch discs and Brembo six-piston calipers in the front, with 13.8-inch discs and single-piston calipers in the rear. However, it’s important to note that these amenities aren’t standard equipment, as evident on our own 2017 Ford Mustang GT.
Bigger Is Better
When we entered the market for our ’Stang, we wanted to save some money (and weight) up front by purchasing a base model. While the standard brakes from Ford are up-to the task of around town and highway duties, we knew we would eventually turn this daily driven Mustang into a well-rounded performer for weekend duties as well. Forging forward with the need for better braking performance for our ’Stang, we acquired a Ford Performance Six-Piston Front Brake Upgrade Kit (PN M-2300-V; $1,298.97) and a Ford Performance Rear Brake Kit (PN M-2300-MR; $481.99) from our friends at AmericanMuscle . He we details the parts we used to complete the swap and how we did it.
Included in the six-piston front brake upgrade kit are a pair of Ford Performance Brembo six-piston calipers, a set of 15-inch Brembo vented brake discs, a pair of OEM brake pads a set of brake dust shields, as well as any necessary hardware for the installation. The rear kit includes two single-piston calipers, two 13.8-inch vented brake discs, a pair of splash shields, a set of brake Pads, two caliper brackets, and installation hardware.
Why we did it, is just as important, however. It is true that more surface area on a brake disc directly equates to better braking ability, but what about the amount of pistons a caliper has?
“The amount of pistons in a caliper are directly related to braking force or braking torque,” Frank Bisciotti, of AmericanMuscle, explained. “More pistons allow for an increased clamping force, which is then more evenly distributed across the friction surface to provide greater, and more effective braking.”
Frank detailed that the larger rotors included in the kit allows for the pads to do their work while having enough room for greater heat dissipation.
“Since the front brakes handle the majority of the work, having a larger rotor equals increased braking torque; which, in return, provides shorter and faster stopping times.”
Remove, Replace, & Improve
The 2015-2017 Mustang GT uses single-piston rear calipers matched with 13.0-inch vented brake discs. We’ll be upgrading our rear brake discs and calipers, increasing the surface area of the brake disc almost 1 inch in diameter.
Replacing the rear brakes on our 2017 Mustang GT was easy like Sunday morning. Simply unbolt the stock caliper/bracket assembly and move it out of place, followed by removing the factory brake disc. From there, you'll want to install the new included disc, followed by the new caliper bracket and caliper. It's that simple.
Up front, the factory brakes on our base-model Mustang utilizes four-piston calipers and 14-inch discs. Stepping up to the Performance Pack-spec six-piston calipers and 15-inch rotors is literally a huge improvement.
Removing and replacing the front braking system components was a simple as the rear. Tip: Just make sure you have a rag ready in case any brake fluid spills when you'll need to connect the brake line to the new caliper. Once everything is installed, you will obviously need to refill the brake fluid and bleed the system.
It’s important to note that our new brakes increased total brake disc diameter by one inch in the front, and nearly one inch in the rear (0.8-inches total). This means that we’ll need to run larger wheels to compensate for more clearance. AmericanMuscle recommends running at least a 19-inch wheel or larger with the new brakes.
As far as upgrading our kit even farther goes, Frank says, the possibilities are endless.
“Slotted rotors work to dissipate gasses and dust created under braking, while drilled rotors are designed to dissipate heat,” Frank said when asked about slotted versus drilled rotors. “By cutting into the friction surface of the rotor, you are reducing the amount of contact surface from pad to rotor, as well as reducing its strength and structural integrity. In my opinion, unless you are doing a lot of extremely hard braking, the solid (or blank) brake rotor is more than enough.”
Frank also noted that upgrading to stainless steel brake lines, as well as using a more aggressive pad, would be the icing on the cake for a combo like this.
For more information about the components that we installed here, visit AmericanMuscle’s website for your own Mustang upgrades.