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Corvette Brake Upgrade Information

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Warning: Baer rotors are made in China

I ordered a set of 4 Baer rotors thinking they were made in Phoenix, Arizona where Baer is located. After receiving the boxes I noticed they are marked "Made in China". I don't know about you, but the last thing I want are rotors made in China. You just know they have to be substandard like everything else the Chinese make. This explains why most web sites that sell Baer brake systems indicate that it takes up to eight weeks to have them delivered. It's obviously because it takes them that long to come from China.

Brembo rotors are made in Canada, and not Italy, GM rotors are now made in China and not the USA. I discovered that the rotors and calipers on the C6 Z06 are made in China. Good God, do we make anything anymore?

Inspired by the look of the brake rotors (made in China) on the C6 Z06, I decided to replace my stock rotors with Brembo cross-drilled rotors. It made sense to replace the rubber brake hoses with stainless steel brake lines, and the OEM pads with ceramic pads while I had the car apart. I decided to leave the stock calipers since this was more of a cosmetic upgrade than a performance upgrade, and the Z06 calipers are red already, so who would notice the Brembo calipers?

Since I would have the car up on jack stands I thought it would be a good time to replace the anti-roll bar end links (front and rear) with the 2002 part and replace the rubber anti-roll bar bushings with polyurethane bushings (front and rear).

What follows is a step-by-step illustration of the installation process with photos for anyone who wants to go the same route. Where appropriate I'll provide photos that clarify a topic. I'll also point out the errors posted on other Corvette sites with respect to bolt torque, etc. This photo shows all the parts and tools required.

Here is a list of parts that you will need.

• Front and rear rotors (Brembo part numbers 37193 and 37195 respectively)
• Front and rear ceramic brake pads (GM part numbers 88909667 and 88909668 respectively)
• Stainless steel brake lines front and rear (Stoptech part numbers 85-180-4500-F and 85-180-5500-R respectively, although the Stoptech packaging lists numbers 950.62000 and 950-62500)
• Polyurethane anti-roll bar bushings front and rear ( Prothane Z06 kit, part numbers 7-1176BL front 30mm bar, 7-1181BL rear 23.6mm bar)
• 4 anti-roll bar end links (GM part number 15907003)
• 8 new caliper bracket mounting bolts GM part number 14084051
• 8 new caliper bracket mounting bolt washers GM part number 10268875
• 8 new caliper mounting bolts GM part number 14064559

Note: you can NOT reuse the bolts and washers you remove. Once they are coated with red Loctite and torqued down the bolts stretch and the washers compress. Using them again is dangerous. The bolts are expensive ($4.75 each), no matter where you buy them, but they are most expensive from your Chevy dealer (who probably will have to order them, same with the washers). The part number for the bolts is 14084051 and the washers ($3.19 each) carry part number 10268875.

Although the Corvette shop manual does not state that the caliper mounting bolts should be replaced and not re-used, I noticed that they also had red Loctite applied to them when they were installed during assembly. As a safety measure I decided to replace these as well. Here is a photo of the two types of bolts. The larger ones with washers are the caliper mounting bracket bolts, while the smaller ones are the caliper mounting bolts. Note the red Loctite on the threads of both types of bolts.

If you have a pre-2002 C5 you may want to replace the plastic end link on the rear anti-roll bar with the 2002 model year aluminum parts. You can also use the same part to replace the front end links, which are made of metal but are an older design. The part number is 15907003. Order four. They cost between $20 and $25 depending on where you get them. Here is a shot showing all three end links side by side for comparison.

I also decided to replace the stock rubber anti-roll bar bushings with polyurethane bushings since the rubber bushings were looking a little ragged. Replacing these at the same time as the end links saves a lot of effort since the end links have to come off to replace the bushings.

You will need a fair amount of tools for this upgrade. Here is a list.

• 4 jack stands
• 1 very low jack

• 21mm 1/2 inch drive socket (for caliper bracket mounting bolts)
• 18mm 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch drive socket (anti-roll bar end link nuts)
• 15mm 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch drive socket (caliper mounting bolts)
• 9/16 inch 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch drive socket (Stoptech brake line caliper bolts)
• 3/4-inch 1/2-inch drive socket (lug nuts)

• 18mm open end wrench (front caliper bracket guide nuts and anti-roll bar end link nuts)
• 16mm open end wrench (rear caliper bracket guide nuts)

• 13mm flair nut wrench (GM brake hard-line)
• 15mm flair nut wrench (GM brake line bolt)
• 10mm flair nut, box, or open-end wrench (brake bleeder screws)
• 11/16 inch flair nut wrench (for Stoptech brake line nuts)

• 18-inch 1/2 inch drive breaker bar (for caliper bracket mounting bolts, front)
• 15-inch 1/2 inch drive breaker bar (for caliper bracket mounting bolts, rear)
• 3/8-inch drive air ratchet (optional but recommended)
• 3/8-inch drive ratchet
• 1/2-inch drive ratchet

• 1/2-inch drive torque wrench (click type is better)
• 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch drive torque wrench (graduated in lb. inches for brake line fittings)
• 13mm 3/8-inch drive crow's foot flair wrench (for use with torque wrench for brake line fittings)

• Wide flat blade screwdriver (for removing brake hard-line retaining clip)
• Needle nose pliers
• Cutting pliers
• Pry bar (helps in removing rotors from hub)
• Large rubber mallet (for removing stuck rotors)
• Dial Indicator (measure lateral run-out of new rotors)

• Pad spreader (twin piston type for front)
• Pad spreader (single piston type for rear)

• Vacuum type one-man brake bleeder (or a diaphragm-type pressure bleeder).

• 2 16oz cans GM DOT 3 brake fluid
• 2 spray-cans of Brakekleen
• 1 spray-can Liquid Wrench (to help loosen rotors rusted to hub flange)
• 1 spray-can WD-40 (to help loosen rotors rusted to hub flange)
• 1 tube of silicone brake part lubricant
• several rolls of blue shop towels

The first step in the process is jacking the car. In their infinite wisdom, the Chevrolet engineers made certain that this is harder than it has to be and should be. It is not possible to use the jacking points and place jack stands at the jack points, unless you can make the car levitate while you remove the jack and insert the jack stand.

There are various techniques, none very attractive, and I choose to jack up the front first. Slide a very low jack under the air dam and position it in the center of the front cross member (see arrow). Jack the car and place jack stands as far out on the front cross member as possible.

Next raise the rear by placing the jack under the center of the rear cross member. I place the jack stands on each side of the jack point, then lower the car onto the jack stands. I place a two-by-four under the cross member so there is no metal-to-metal contact.

Once you have the car in the air it's time to remove all four wheels (savvy enthusiast will have loosened the front wheel lug nuts before lifting the car) and set them aside in a secure place. Next you pick a wheel to start with. I choose the left front, since I wanted the awesome sight of the Brembo rotors mounted as soon as possible.

When the wheels are off and the rotors are exposed you will notice that two wheel studs have small washers on them. These are put on during assembly to keep the rotor from falling off the hub before it gets to the assembly position where the caliper mounting bracket is installed. You can remove these washers by unscrewing them and throwing them away. They are not needed.

Remove the caliper from the caliper mounting bracket but do not disconnect the brake line yet. Take a long plastic tie wrap or coat hanger and suspend the caliper from the upper control arm to keep it out of harm's way. Next remove the caliper mounting bracket. The bolts which attach the bracket to the steering knuckle have red Loctite on them and should have been torqued to 125 lb-ft. This means that removing them will require substantial effort if the car is on jack stands and not a lift, since there will be little clearance between the car and the garage floor and hence little opportunity for leverage. It helps to turn the steering wheel so that the bolts are more accessable. Once the bracket is free remove the rotor. The rotor will not just slip off. Enough rust forms between hub and rotor that the rotors will require a few hard whacks from a heavy rubber mallet. Make sure the parking brake is released before attempting to remove the rear rotors!

Here is a shot of the left rear hub after the rotor has been removed. And here is a photo of the left front hub with the rotor removed.

Rust forms at the mating surface of the rotor and wheel hub (even in dry California since water gets in there when washing the car) making it hard to remove the rotor. You may need to bang on the back of the rotor with a heavy rubber mallet to remove it. Once the front and rear rotors are off it's a good time to check the parking brake for proper adjustment if you noticed it doesn't hold the car. It's also the perfect time to remove the old anti-roll bar end links and the anti-roll bar bushings since you have maximum room to maneuver with the rotors off. If you don't intend to do anything with the anti-roll bars, skip this section.

Here is the left front anti-roll bar bushing and mounting bracket. Here is the left rear left rear anti-roll bar bushing and mounting bracket. Note that the nut on the bottom attaches to the lower control arm mounting bolt so do not remove the bolt.

This photo shows the front anti-roll bar after removal with the bushings removed from the bar. Here is a shot of the rear anti-roll bar after removal with the bushings still on the bar. Some people refer to the anti-roll bar as a "sway" bar. A sway bar is a device that was used on 1960 era station wagons to keep the body from swaying side to side on the frame. The bars on a Corvette are designed to prevent body roll. When you turn a corner the weight of the vehicle shifts to the outside wheels compressing the suspension. The body rolls to the outside of the corner and the inside suspension extends lifting the inside wheels, causing them to lose contact with the road surface.

The anti-roll bar is actually a torsion bar, fixed to the sprung mass of the chassis and to the unsprung mass (control arm, brakes, etc) by the end link. The anti-roll bar should swing freely in the mounts when the end links are disconnected. When the outside control arms compress, they force the bar to twist (via the end link). The bar resists the twisting by forcing the chassis back up by pushing down on the outside control arms. The other end of the bar resists the twisting and in so doing casues the inside control arms to move up. This counteracts body roll, keeping the inside tires in contact with the road surface. Hence the name "anti-roll bar". The Corvette Shop Manual refers to these as "stabilizer bars".

The rubber bushings which come on the car can compress, altering the movement of the bar (which should not move vertically, it should only rotate). The polyurethane bushings resist copmression better and when properly lunbricated allow the bar to spin more easily than the rubber bushings.

The end link removal requires an 18mm box wrench and a Torx T40 bit. Insert the Torx bit into the center of the end link shaft. Use the box wrench to hold the nut while you turn the shaft with the Torx bit and a ratchet to loosen the nuts. This takes forever. Once they are loose enough remove the nut with your fingers and slide the end link out of the mounting holes. Now loosen the bolts for the bushing retainers.

Using a 15mm socket and rachet unscrew the two bolts on each anti-roll bar bushing bracket. Remove the anti-roll bar and then remove the rubber bushings from the bar. Clean any rust off of the area of the anti-roll bar where the bushings will reside so that the bar while twist freely in the bushing. Lubricate the bushing inside with silicon lubricant and reinstall the anti-roll bar. The bar should spin freely in the bushings. Here is the left front urethane bushing mounted. Here is a photo of the rear left rear urethane bushing mounted.

Now install the new aluminum end links. The new end links allow the use of an 18mm open-end wrench to hold the shaft while you tighten the end link retaining nuts using a ratchet and an 18mm socket. This is much easier and faster than the old links. GM did NOT change the Torx T40 fitting in the shaft to a metric hex key as you may read on other sites. Here is the new left front end link installed. This photo shows the new left rear end link installed.

It's now time to install the new rotors. Clean the wheel hub and remove any rust. Insert the rotor over the five wheel studs and put a lug nut on each of the studs and tighten it down finger tight to keep the rotor flush against the wheel hub.

If you have a dial indicator now is the time to check the rotor for lateral run-out. If it exceeds the manufacturer's allowance you should contact the vendor and arrange for a return. The Tire Rack recommends a generic .004 inches of run-out as the maximum allowable.

It was at this point that I noticed that the Brembo rotors exceeded the Tire Rack's own lateral run out tolerance. And by a fairly large margin. So I returned them. But I also noticed that the gold-colored rotors would look great on any color car EXCEPT Quicksilver. What followed was an odyssey that's painful to read.

Reinstall the caliper mounting bracket with two new bolts and two new washers. Use an 18mm socket and ratchet (or air ratchet set on low torque) to snug the bolts, and torque them to 125x lb-ft. It is very important to use a torque wrench here. Thorougly clean the rotor with Brakekleen to remove any lubricants left over from the manufacturing process.

Next put the pads inside the caliper mounting bracket, making certain to lubricate the brake pads ends and backing plates with high temperature silicon lubricant (a small tube usually accompanies the brake pads). This will eliminate brake noise. Lubricate the places on the caliper mounting bracket where the pads will come into contact with it as well.

Now put the caliper over the pads and rotor after pushing the pistons back into the bores with the pad spreader. Insert the bottom caliper mounting bolt and snug it up, then rotate the caliper onto the pads and install and snug up the top caliper mounting bolt. Torque these bolts to 37 lb-ft.

After the calipers are mounted it’s time to replace the rubber brake hoses. The hard-line connection is where the rubber hoses mate with the brake line piping. Do NOT remove the bolt holding the bracket. The bracket will serve as a back-up wrench during loosening of the brake pipe. Use a 13mm flair wrench on the brake fitting and loosen it. Once the pipe is out of the hose you can remove the clip that holds the hose to the mounting bracket. Use a screwdriver to pry it out. Put a 3/8-inch vacuum cap over the brake pipe to minimize brake fluid dripping onto the floor.

Next remove the rubber hose from the caliper using a 15mm socket and ratchet. Make certain the old copper washer isn’t left sticking to the caliper and clean the mounting surface with Brakekleen. Put an old plastic dish washing pan under the caliper to catch the fluid dripping out.

Now mount the stainless steel brake line. Depending on which manufacturer’s kit you purchased, the installation procedure will vary slightly.

All kits will come with new copper washers for the “banjo” fitting which attaches to the caliper. One washer goes between the bolt head and the banjo fitting, the other goes on the bolt end and will be mounted against the caliper. These washers should only be compressed once. If you tighten them down and torque them to specification (which varies by manufacturer) and then have to remove them, you’ll need new washers. This will delay the project for quite some time. Customer support at brake line manufacturers varies. Goodridge has excellent support, as does Stoptech.

After installing the new brake lines it’s time to bleed the system. The Corvette shop manual lists the caliper bleed sequence (for 2001 and later Corvettes) as follows: Right rear, left front, left rear, right front. This is contrary to the conventional advice to bleed right rear, left rear, right front, left front (Corvettes prior to 2001). It is because the system is divided into two parts, with the right rear and left front on one hydraulic circuit and the left rear and right front on the other circuit. This is so that a leak at one corner will always leave you with one working front brake, since the front brakes are responsible for 90% of the braking effort because of forward weight transfer under braking.

I used a vacuum-type bleeder connected to my air compressor. It allows one-man bleeding. But all of these units are made in China, and have poor fittings for the bleed screw, meaning they allow as much air into the system as you are bleeding out. A better alternative is a diaphragm-type pressure bleeder. Another alternative is to use the tried and true method of having some unlucky soul sit in the driver’s seat and depress the brake pedal while you open the bleed screws.

Whatever method you choose, do not let the master cylinder run out of fluid. Some bleeder kits come with a special bottle (at left in photo above) which you fill with brake fluid and insert (inverted) into the master cylinder fill neck. This allows clean fluid to flow into the master cylinder as the level drops due to bleeding.

Use a 10mm flair nut wrench on the bleeder bolts.

You can either bleed the system until no air bubbles are visible, or continue bleeding until all of the old moisture-laden fluid is flushed out and the fluid in the master cylinder and the fluid coming out of the bleeder nipples is clear.

Note that as the brake pads wear, the fluid level in the master cylinder will gradually drop. Do NOT add fluid to bring the level back up to the "Max" line unless you have bled the brakes and are topping off the master cylinder. Adding fluid to compensate for pad wear will result in fluid gushing out when you compress the pistons back into the caliper bores unless you remove the excess with a turkey baster. If the level drops below the "Min" mark check for leaks.

After you are finished bleeding, depress the brake pedal with the ignition OFF three or four times. Check for leaks at all the brake line fittings.

Replace the wheels, using a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to 100 lb-ft.

Lower the car and, with the parking brake set, start the engine. Make certain the brake pedal is firm and slowly move the car and test the brakes. If the pedal is spongy you didn’t get all the air out. Do not move the car. Re-bleed the system.

If the pedal is firm move the car slowly and check for solid brake engagement. If the brakes do not engage smoothly or you hear strange noises, stop immediately and recheck everything.

Now take the car out and bed the pads and rotors. Do not follow the advice of some shade tree mechanics to run the car up to 100 mph and slam on the brakes. The proper method is the make about 20 moderately hard stops from 30 mph, allowing the brakes to cool between stops. Do not brake so hard that the ABS engages, and do not bring the car to a complete stop. Do not allow the pads to clamp the rotor while it is stationary during this process or you will incur "pad imprinting".

After 20 of these stops return the car to the garage and allow the brakes to cool to ambient temperature. For the next 100 miles or so avoid maniacal braking. After this procedure the rotors will be coated with a thin layer of brake pad material which is what you want. Read a detailed explanation of this process on the Stoptech web site.

Here is a photo of the front Baer Decelarotor installed and here is a photo of the rotor after bedding. Notice the darker color after bedding as the pad material is deposited onto the rotor. Here is the rear rotor after installation and here is the rear rotor after bedding.

I Installed the Z06 compartment divider. Here is a front view and a rear view. I decided to install the Z06 exhaust enhancer plate as well.

As a final touch I installed the aluminum gas and dead pedals. This was actually more time consuming than the barke upgrade.

Doing business with The Tire Rack.

The perils of dealing with Corvettes of Houston.

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Creation Date: Friday, June 22, 2007
Last Modified: Friday, June 22, 2007
Copyright ฉ Ray Smith, 2007

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