Your BMW probably came with some pretty great brakes – especially if that BMW is an E46 BMW M3. However, brakes, like tires, don’t last forever – and when it’s time to replace, why not sharpen their performance just a bit while you’re at it? Check out how simple it is to take your BMW’s brakes from stock to Stage II, ready for whatever commuting, weekend trackdays or your favorite mountain road can throw at you. ModBargains’ install shop, Mod Auto, located in La Habra, CA is able to offer you a shop that’s competent to install your performance brake components or simply replace your stock brakes the right way. Our experienced and professional technicians can make quick work of upgrading your brakes or just popping in new pads and rotors. (Make an appointment today at 714-582-3330)
Since we had this beautiful BMW E46 M3 Convertible in the shop, we figured there’s no better time to talk about Staged Brake Upgrade packages. Consider, you’re going to have to replace your brakes no matter what you do, why not put something better in since you have to replace the parts? Our Staged brake packages make it straightforward and surprisingly affordable to step up your stopping power for a fraction of the cost of a Big Brake Kit. No matter how you slice it, improved brakes are going to benefit your car – stopping faster means a greater margin of safety, and better brakes means you can brake later on the track to make that overtaking pass! In this post we’ll look at your brake system and how this easy upgrade lets your brakes work to their fullest potential, and how much worn stock components could be hampering your performance.
The OEM E46 BMW M3 brakes here aren’t in horrific condition, but they’ve definitely seen better days with plenty of deep visible grooves in the face of the rotor. The OEM rotors can be blank or slotted, depending on your options. (If you’re not sure what’s right for your E46 or any other car, give our Mod Experts a call at 714-582-3330) The OEM brake rotor is vented and that’s good, but we can enhance its performance with better materials, slotting or cross-drilling and better brake pads. What’s more, we’re going to enhance the feel of the brakes by eliminating the spongy and probably aged/deteriorated brake lines with a set of StopTech Braided Stainless Steel Brake Lines for E46, and replace the brake fluid of unknown age/origin with fresh appropriate-spec brake fluid.
This owner opted to take it a step beyond the usual cross-drilled rotors. These are StopTech Slotted Brake Rotors for BMW M3 that have been CRYO TREATED to further enhance their strength. Cryo-Treating the rotors helps prevents problems like spider-cracks that can sometimes occur with low-quality cross-drilled brake rotors.
Beyond the performance aspect of cross-drilled or slotted StopTech Brake Rotors, there’s also the fact that well, let’s be honest, they’re actually pretty sexy, and gives you something to show off behind whatever wheels for BMW are your style. The Cross-Drill pattern creates additional paths for hot brake exhaust gases to exit the rotor as you apply the brakes heavily, which helps stave off brake fade (a condition that greatly reduces braking performance and response) with superior cooling.
Of course, with performance brake rotors when doing Brake Upgrades for BMW E46, you want to pair those rotors with a set of Performance Brake Pads as well. That’s why our Stage II Brake Package for BMW E46 includes StopTech Street Performance Brake Pads for E46, offering brake pads that are ideal for demanding street driving but can also stand up to light autocross abuse or a few laps on a track. It’s worth noting for track days BMW‘s designed your calipers in such a way that brake pads can quickly and easily be interchanged. Use track spec pads for track days for ideal performance. By the same token, don’t use track compound pads for street use, as their characteristics can cause them to perform poorly when cold.
We mentioned the StopTech Stainless Steel Brake Lines for BMW E46 earlier, but here they are actually fitted to the car. For those unfamiliar, here’s why these braided stainless lines are a good idea. Your E46 is getting old. We hate to put so bluntly, but that’s the fact. Like you need to take care of yourself, your car needs a little TLC too to stay looking and performing its best. Certain components are especially prone to the effects of age and wear and tear. Like your skin ages, rubber also ages and deteriorates, gets softer and gets porous. The OEM brake lines from the hard line to the caliper is reinforced rubber – and it’s nearly a decade old at the youngest. When you brake hard, the pressure inside the brake line causes the rubber to expand, robbing you of braking stopping power and response, creating a potentially dangerous situation. This worsens as the brake fluid becomes hot, and the expanded lines give the boiling fluid somewhere to form air bubbles, causing dangerous brake fade. It’s a good idea, simply as a matter of preventive maintenance, to replace these due to age, and StopTech lines are surprisingly affordable. Because of their braided stainless steel construction, they’re not prone to aging, they don’t expand under pressure and they’re not porous, meaning unwanted moisture cannot make its way into your hydraulic system. Bottom line: Stainless Steel Lines will make your brakes more responsive and precise, enhancing performance.
When you service your brakes, it’s not a bad idea to change the brake fluid while you are at it. Your brake fluid should be clear and easy to see through – if your brake fluid is dark or cloudy, it’s definitely time to replace it – and since you’re going to use up some brake fluid while bleeding your brakes after installing new brake rotors and pads, StopTech STR Brake Fluid for BMW is a great option. In the case of this M3, we’re going with the fluid originally specified for use with the M3 by the owner’s request – and because the M-spec brakes called for it, but if you’re not an M, stepping up the brake fluid you’re using is something you’ll really want to consider. If you’re not familiar with how to bleed your brakes, we strongly advise you leave actually installing your brake components up to a professional. (Again, we offer full service brake replacements and upgrades at Mod Auto, our install shop in La Habra. Call 714-528-3330 to make an appointment)
With the new brakes fitted, it’s time to get her on the ground and take her out for a spin around the block to ensure the brakes are working correctly before we send it home.
Thanks for reading – we hope we’ve given you something to consider the next time you’re doing your brakes. You’re going to have to replace your brake pads and rotors – why not make it the best it can be while you’re at it.
Interested in upgrading your brakes, or have questions? Call us at 714-582-3330 to speak to our friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable Mod Experts for advice on what setup is right for you, your budget and your goals or to make an appointment to have your brakes serviced. See you next time!
Story & Photos Nicholas Gregson