Wayne R. Dempsey shows you how easy the installation can be." />
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Pelican Technical Article:

Big Brake Kit Upgrade

Time:

12 hours12 hrs

Tab:

$1,500 to $3,000

Talent:

***

Tools:

Flare-nut wrench

Applicable Models:

 
Porsche 986 Boxster (1997-04)
Porsche 986 Boxster S (2000-04)
Porsche 987 Boxster (2005-12)
Porsche 987 Boxster S (2005-12)
Porsche 987 Cayman (2007-12)
Porsche 987 Cayman S (2006-12)

Parts Required:

Brembo big brake kit, brake fluid

Hot Tip:

Check the fit of your wheels after you mount the caliper

Performance Gain:

Shorter stopping distances and reduced brake fade

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear pads, discs and e-brake shoes
101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

The standard Boxster braking systems have always been good, but I've often thought that the stock systems could be better. If you're going to be doing any significant performance driving, it's a very wise investment to upgrade your brakes.

High performance kits aren't cheap - they range in price from about $1500 to $3000, with the top end of the dollar range belonging to the premium brand kits from Brembo. Some may find this an expensive price to pay, but when you figure that it includes the cost of a caliper rebuild, new discs, and new brake lines, the cost becomes a bit more reasonable. In addition, you can expect the following from your upgrade:

Shorter stopping distances. Depending upon the application and road conditions, you can experience up to 20-30% shorter distances. The faster you are traveling the greater the improvement.

Repeatability. Even the simplest brake systems can stop a car very well once or twice. However, as the brake fluid and pads heat up, performance decreases, and each stop gets longer and longer. Installing a big brake kit will give you remarkably shorter stops consistently.

Reduce or eliminate brake fade. The larger brake discs on the big brake systems are able to dissipate heat that causes brake fade and failure. Each component in the big brake system is designed for performance braking, which includes the proper cooling of the system. Whether you're coming down a steep mountain, or blasting from turn to turn on a racetrack, the bigger brake systems are better equipped to prevent overheating than the stock system.

Better control and modulation. With a performance brake setup, you achieve a better pedal feel, brake harder, and still maintain control. The big brake systems work flawlessly with the Boxster's anti-lock braking system (ABS).

The big brake kits typically only come with equipment to replace your front brakes. This is because the front brakes typically perform 80% or more of the stopping - sometimes more during panic stops. I don't recommend putting a high performance, big brake system on the rear because this can cause the rear brakes to lock up prematurely. This can actually cause increased stopping distances and a loss of control: exactly what you're trying to avoid! For cars that have performance systems on the rear, they are often coupled with anti-lock controllers or proportioning valves to prevent rear brake lockup.

The big brake setup that we chose for this project is manufactured by Brembo, and was supplied by PelicanParts.com. Brembo is one of the leading brake system manufacturers, and an OEM supplier to world-class sports car manufacturers like Porsche and Ferrari. The Brembo "Big Red" kit we used for this upgrade is widely considered to be one of the best you can buy for the Boxster. The car that this was mounted on was our 2000 "Boxster Carrera" that had a few "other performance mods" to match (3.4L engine, Bilstein PSS9 suspension, etc.).

The only real requirement for the kit is that you have 17" or larger wheels on your car. The stock Boxster wheels will fit, and were installed on this car at the time of the upgrade. Not all 17" wheels will allow the huge calipers to fit, so make sure that you plan in advance, and verify that your wheel combination will work with the larger brake systems. Some thin spacers may be necessary for some wheels.

The first step is to loosen the lug nuts on your wheels and then raise the front of the car (see Pelican Technical Article: Jacking Up and Lifting the Boxster on Jack Stands). You might want to raise the rear of the car as well, as I recommend that you inspect and refurbish your rear brakes at the same time so that you have fresh components on all four corners of the car. For example, on this particular car, I installed new rear rotors, new rear brake pads, and new parking brake shoes to match.

With the car up in the air, remove the two road wheels and disconnect the brake pad sensor. Then unbolt and disconnect the brake caliper from the car (see Project 55 for detailed instructions on removing the caliper, and brake disc). Tie the caliper up out of the way and do not disconnect the brake line at this time. Make sure that there is no tension on the brake line - even though we will be replacing it you don't want to make a habit of hanging the caliper by the brake hose.

Now, remove the small screw that holds the brake disc to the hub. The brake disc should simply lift off. If not, then you may need to tap it with a rubber mallet. If there is any dust or debris in this area, be sure to clean it out thoroughly.

Now place the new rotor on the spindle. There is a left and right rotor - they usually have a sticker on them, but you can also tell the difference by the way that the internal fins are cast into the disc (see inset of Figure 2). Use the brake disc locating and mounting bolt to secure and correctly register the brake disc with respect to the hub. The holes for the wheel studs should be correctly lined up with both the brake disc and the spindle. Use a spare wheel lug nut to help secure the disc to the spindle if needed.

The pads should be pre-assembled in the caliper, but if they're not, now is the time to insert them into the caliper. Remove the two retaining pins by tapping them out with a small hammer and the end of a punch or small screwdriver. Insert the pads, and replace the pins. Take the new Brembo caliper mounting adapter and place it on the strut assembly (Figure 3). Now, mount the new, huge, caliper to the strut with the adapter sandwiched in-between.. Tighten the bolts to the values detailed in the installation instructions and use a dab of Loctite 271 on the threads to make sure they don't come loose. There should be an embossed arrow on the front of the caliper that indicates the direction of the disc rotation. When mounting the calipers on the spindle, the arrow should always point up (see Figure 4).

At this point (before you disconnect the brake line to your old caliper) I suggest that you perform a test fit of your wheel to your spindle. You want to make sure that there are no interference problems when the wheel is fully mounted. Cover the caliper first with a piece of tape to protect the paint in case the wheel happens to scrape the caliper. Put the wheel on the spindle and tighten it down with two lug nuts. Then give the wheel a spin and make sure that it turns freely without rubbing or scraping on the caliper or any other brake system component. If there is a clearance problem, you may have to use a spacer and longer wheel bolts (see Figure 6).

When you have verified that the wheel turns freely, remove it, and set it aside. Now, attach your new braided brake hose to the brake caliper. There should be a small copper washer that will seal the line fitting to the caliper. Route the brake line through the small bracket that secures it to the strut (see Figure 7).

Now, using a flare-nut wrench, quickly disconnect the old rubber hose from the steel hard-line that connects the hose to the main brake system (at the top of the inner wheel well). Don't use a regular wrench on the hard line - only use a flare-nut wrench, as is explained in Pelican Technical Article: Brake Line Replacement. Reconnect the new line quickly, minimizing the amount of brake fluid that leaks out of the system.

With the brake line attached, now clean up any spilled brake fluid (beware - it is very harmful to paint). Now, repeat the process for the opposite side. When you have completed the install, you will need to bleed the brake system - see Project 48 for more information. After the brakes have been bled, reattach the road wheels, lower the car, and tighten the lug nuts to 74 ft-lb (100 Nm).

The brake system needs to be broken in before you can really test its performance. First, you should make sure that your emergency brake system is working properly. This is just in case anything went wrong, and you need to pull that lever to stop the car. Before you drive the car, pump the pedal and make sure that you have firm pressure. Have an assistant push the car while you have your foot on the brake - just to test that the system is working.

Drive the car slowly to a nearby parking lot or deserted area. Now, perform about 15-20 stops from 55 mph to 10 mph using light pressure on the pedal. This will increase the temperature on pads, the caliper and the rotors, and will help mate the pad and the disc's friction surface together. After these repeated stops, drive the car around town for a few miles, and try to avoid using the brakes. This will allow the components to cool back down. Now park the car and look at the brake discs. They should be a grayish-blue color consistently across the surface of the disc. If this color is not consistent, then repeat the 15-20 stop heating and cooling procedure.

An additional easy update is the installation of the GT3 brake duct spoilers. They replace the existing plastic inserts that are attached to the front suspension and funnel more air to help cool the brakes. The left and right part numbers are 996-341-117-91 and 996-341-118-91.

Shown here is one half of the Brembo big brake upgrade kit as purchased from PelicanParts.
Figure 1

Shown here is one half of the Brembo big brake upgrade kit as purchased from PelicanParts.com. The kit includes everything that you need for the installation: two calipers, two rotors, two brake lines, two brackets, and two sets of pads and retaining clips. Truly a sight to be seen, it's unfortunate that all of this braking beauty has to be hidden behind the wheels. A- Brembo caliper B- Brembo brake disc C- Caliper adapter D- Brake line hardware E- Caliper mounting bolts and washers F- Stainless steel brake line with metal grommet.

Mount the disc to the hub and temporarily fasten it with the brake disc locating screw (red arrow).
Figure 2

Mount the disc to the hub and temporarily fasten it with the brake disc locating screw (red arrow). Verify that the disc turns freely and doesn't hang up on any part of the strut or hub assembly. The discs are specific to each side of the car - verify from the diagram that the proper one is mounted according to how the wheel turns when the car is moving forwards.

The caliper is mounted in a similar position as the factory one, using the same original bolt holes as mounting points.
Figure 3

The caliper is mounted in a similar position as the factory one, using the same original bolt holes as mounting points. The spacer is sandwiched between the caliper and the mounting surface.

Shown here is the caliper mounted to the strut assembly.
Figure 4

Shown here is the caliper mounted to the strut assembly. The embossed arrow on the caliper should always point upwards (green arrow). The brake pads should be installed in the caliper from the factory.

Perform a test fit of the road wheel to the hub to make sure that there are no interference problems.
Figure 5

Perform a test fit of the road wheel to the hub to make sure that there are no interference problems. Place some tape on the painted surface of the caliper, just to make sure that the inside of the wheel doesn't accidentally scratch the surface of the caliper. The Porsche OEM SportDesign wheels shown in the photo work very well with the Brembo kit. Clearance is very tight, but with the addition of a spacer, the wheel fits as if the kit was tailor made for this particular wheel.

After checking the clearance of the caliper with the SportDesign wheels, I discovered that I needed some thin spacers because the caliper was contacting the inside of the wheel.
Figure 6

After checking the clearance of the caliper with the SportDesign wheels, I discovered that I needed some thin spacers because the caliper was contacting the inside of the wheel. The solution is easy: a set of 4mm spacers and 38mm long lug bolts from PelicanParts.com. It's very important not to forget to use the longer lug bolts when you add the spacers to your hub.

This photo shows the attachment of the new stainless steel brake line.
Figure 7

This photo shows the attachment of the new stainless steel brake line. The fitting on the chassis side fit well with the new line (inset photo, upper left), but the small bracket that holds the line and clamp (green arrow) to the strut had to be slightly modified with a Dremmel tool. The center hole needed to be opened up to accommodate the larger brake line fitting (see inset, lower right).

The Brembo system does not have an accommodation for the brake pad wear sensors, so you will need to trick the system into thinking the pads are within spec.
Figure 8

The Brembo system does not have an accommodation for the brake pad wear sensors, so you will need to trick the system into thinking the pads are within spec. This is easy: simply take an old sensor, clip its wires, and connect the two together. Cover the ends with some electrical tape, and insert the connector back into the strut housing. Be sure to inspect your pads for wear periodically since the brake pad wear system is now disabled. In the upper left inset photo, you will see the point where the brake line enters the brake caliper (yellow arrow). This line attaches to the lower part of the caliper, and the bleed nipple should be on top of the caliper.

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Comments and Suggestions:
R Comments: So 17" wheels are the way to go, but what offset will give clearance?
May 25, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have the clearance numbers. I f you can 18" they will fit. If you go 17", start with a thing spacer and adjust as needed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jim Comments: does this fits into a 19" rims?
November 26, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The only real requirement for the kit is that you have 17" or larger wheels on your car. The stock Boxster wheels will fit, and were installed on this car at the time of the upgrade. Not all 17" wheels will allow the huge calipers to fit, so make sure that you plan in advance, and verify that your wheel combination will work with the larger brake systems. Some thin spacers may be necessary for some wheels. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
yossteve Comments: I think stk brke calipers are fine i put on girro rotors 2 piece.to be honest did it for looks as much as anthing. i was really hating the cast iron grey hunk rotors also slighly larger and thicker and finished inside so no rust drips out allover your clean wheels. also about 3 lb per corner lighter. better feel now and fab looks also stainles lines.
January 9, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
skinny Comments: With the Big Brake upgrade the spare tire in the trunk will not fit over the caliper. I found this out the hard way.
July 23, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Right, that makes sense - the big brake kit requires 18" wheels. So, the spare would only be good for the rears at that point. I would be sure to carry a can of fix-a-flat in the trunk for just this purpose! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
WRGREENER Comments: Hi, I understand the non "big brake" concept. however could you give us a tech lessen on converting the rear non-s to s rotors and calipers. including spacers, springs, brake shoes added parts and numbers. there are many of us that have the s parts calipers and rotors and would like to know the other parts needed to convert. pls advise
February 12, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Okay. On the rear, the setup is very similar between the 'S' and non-'S' brakes. However, the wheel carrier is different, which makes the installation of the 'S' components difficult without swapping out the hubs, the wheel carrier, and potentially the transmission. We have more discussion on this topic here: http://forums.pelicanparts.com/boxster-cayman-forum/591347-question-boxster-big-brake-upgrade.html - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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