Brakes don’t get nearly the attention of 35-spline axleshafts or fancy lockers, but they are one of the most valuable upgrades when you’re swapping 1-ton axles under your vehicle. Bigger brakes intended to stop bigger, heavier trucks translate to better braking power to combat taller, heavier tires. They are arguably the most important system on your vehicle both on-road and off (along with the steering). Fortunately, you don’t have to swap in entirely new axle assemblies to gain increased braking on your vehicle. Power Stop offers a host of products, from performance brake pads to rotors to entire vehicle kits, that you can order under one part number.
We recently installed Power Stop’s Z36 Truck and Tow Performance Brake Kit on our 2014 Ram 3500 (PN K5458-36). This truck already came with 1-ton brakes, but after 100,000 miles of towing over mountain passes the factory brakes were overdue for replacement. We ordered the kit from Summit Racing Equipment, and it came complete with Z36 brake pads and Evolution rotors for all four corners of our truck.
We were able to install the quality Power Stop components in our driveway in an afternoon using only handtools. The most time-consuming part of the installation didn’t have to do with the brake install at all—it was addressing the leaking rear wheel seals. In just a few hours we were rewarded with stopping distances that were 30 feet shorter than our worn factory brakes. Now our Ram is ready to reliable tow and hit the trail for another 100,000 miles.
The Power Stop Z36 Truck and Tow Performance Brake Kit includes front and rear Evolution rotors and Z36 pads, along with new hardware, pin bushings, and lubricant. Kits are also available just for the front or rear of most popular 4x4s, or Power Stop pads and rotors are available separately to fit a variety of needs and budgets.
After 100,000 miles of towing and daily driving with 35-inch-tall tires, the factory brakes on our 2014 Ram 3500 were desperately in need of replacement. Power Stop’s 1-Click Extreme Truck and Tow Brake Kit allowed us to improve our braking at a cost that is comparable to factory replacement rotors and pads.
Even when the factory rotors were new, they didn’t provide the same level of performance as the Power Stop Evolution rotors. And after 100,000 miles our rotors are glazed at best, and warped at the worst. The slots and beveled holes in the Evolution rotors allow the brakes to run cooler and sweep away gas and dust that can build up between the rotor and the pad.
Little details set the Power Stop Evolution brake rotors apart from the competition, like labels on each rotor to ensure they are installed in the proper orientation to maximize the usefulness of the slots. The slots and beveled holes allow the Evolution rotors to run up to 180 degrees cooler than factory rotors. This is particularly useful when towing on long, steep grades where the brakes are applied for an extended period of time.
Power Stop Evolution rotors are mill balanced to exacting tolerances. Their metric for rotor run-out is 0.0015 inch—that’s less than two-thousandths of an inch! The silver zinc plating resists rust and corrosion, which makes future maintenance on items like unit bearings much easier, particularly if you live in an area where they salt the roads in winter.
Power Stop Z36 brake pads are designed for heavy-duty use with carbon fiber–infused ceramic material that has a higher coefficient of friction than the factory brake pads. And unlike pads intended for track use, the Power Stop Z36 pads work just as good when they are cold as they do after repeated hard braking.
Power Stop brake pads are chamfered and slotted to prevent any noise or chatter. The stainless steel insulating shims further reduce the potential for noise. The proprietary brake pad material increases stopping power without creating the additional brake dust that is often associated with performance brake pads. You can see how shiny and glazed our old pads were. Even though there is plenty of material left, braking performance was diminished.
Power Stop brake kits come with all necessary hardware, such as these new caliper pin bushings. With a piston on only one side of the caliper, these pins allow the body of the caliper to move and clamp down on the brake rotor. It may seem like a minor detail, but keeping the pins clean and free of debris like mud and dirt allows them to function smoothly.
When we removed the factory rear rotors we found a surprise waiting for us: leaking rear axle seals! Since we already had the rear brakes off, we took the time to replace the axle seals and clean all of the parking brake components.
We did not have to bleed the brakes when installing the Power Stop Z36 brake pads and Evolution rotors; however, we did need to push the piston back into the bore of the caliper to accommodate the new pads, which were thicker than our worn factory pads. To do this, we used a C-clamp and an old brake pad. Note that a few pumps on the brake pedal are necessary after this procedure to return the pistons to their proper position.
The Z36 pads use a carbon fiber and ceramic compound that provides maximum thermal stability for exceptional stopping power, even with big, heavy tires. Power Stop’s proprietary brake pad formula not only improves stopping distances but also manages to last 40 percent longer than OEM pads.
In just a few hours we were able to install the Power Stop rotors and pads with simple handtools. The most time-consuming part of the installation was fixing the leaking rear axle seals, but that had nothing to do with the brake install. This is the best bang-for-the-buck upgrade you can make to the braking system on your 4x4 vehicle.
We performed before-and-after testing from 60 to 0 mph along an old abandoned road, where we could do it safely. The road surface was less than ideal, but it was consistent for all tests performed. Our braking distances decreased by more than 10 percent after we installed the new Power Stop Z36 pads and Evolution rotors.
How to Bed Your Pads (and Why)
Bedding in new brake pads is critical to maximize performance by creating an even layer of friction material deposited on the rotors from the pads. In order to do this, you should find a clear stretch of straight road and decelerate aggressively from approximately 40 mph to 10 mph. Repeat this five times without coming to a complete stop; the rotor should always be sweeping past the pad, otherwise the pad could create an imprint in the rotor. The goal is to perform these events in close succession without letting the brakes cool. Next decelerate moderately from approximately 35 mph to 5 mph five times. Don’t be alarmed if you smell the brakes at this time since that is normal. Finally drive around for a few minutes while using the brakes as little as possible to allow them to cool evenly.