Big Brake Kits - Are they necessary?

The only honest answer here is "it depends."


Big Brake Kits are becoming more and more popular in our requests lately, so we wanted to take a moment and address why exactly you may, or may not, need them.


First and foremost we want to think about the size of our tires. The braking power built into your stock brakes is intended most specifically for stock tires carrying stock load.


Here's the physics behind how a braking system works:

  • Small Tire Means Low Mass and Low Diameter - Therefore - Lower Rolling Mass

  • Large Tire Means High Mass and Large Diameter - Therefore - Higher Rolling Mass


The higher your rolling mass, the more braking power you need to bring that object to a complete stop.


Let's make it simpler - You have a bowling ball and a boulder heading towards you. The force of that boulder is going to take significantly more work to stop then the bowling ball, right? Same concept!


But here is were it gets a little tricky - if you are going from a 33 all terrain tire to a 34 all terrain, chances are that you will be just fine. But if you are going from a 33 street tire to a 35 mud tire, chances are that you are going to need stronger brakes regardless of anything else going on with the vehicle.


Now when we are talking about adding weight - a Canopy Camper, Roof Top Tent, or some heavy duty steel bumpers - this is where you will want to almost always take your brakes into consideration.


It takes more braking power to stop a heavier rolling mass.


That weight negatively affects brake performance and results in increased stopping distances. Basically, you are going to need a longer distance to stop the vehicle completely and will in turn need a much quicker response time. Regardless if you have stock 33's or upgraded 37's - you will want a more powerful solution for safety purposes both on the road and the trail.



So what makes for a good Big Brake Kit? There are a few different components, but here's what you should be looking for:

  • Number of pistons in the caliper (essentially the amount of power the caliper gets to stop the rotor)

  • Quality of the brake pad material

  • Number of cooling vanes in the rotor


At the very least, when you are upgrading your brakes you want to consider an upgrade to higher quality disc rotors and brake pads. But the best overall use of a brake upgrade is to not only upgrade the rotors, but to upgrade to larger, stronger calipers as well. These are usually the signature for popular big brake kits.


The reason we usually suggest the go big or go home method for brakes? Because the increased pistons in the caliper are ultimately what will impact your force most significantly. The harder you stop a large rolling mass, the faster said mass stops.


Interested in seeing if you should upgrade your vehicles brake system? Contact our sales department today and talk to an Overland Specialist!



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