Installing New Brakes And Tires - Stop!!!Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on October 20, 2007
Certain words come to mind when we try to describe our Grand Cherokee's stock braking system. "Squirrelly" is one such word, as is "sketchy." If this weren't a somewhat family-friendly magazine, there are some more profane descriptors we might include. As you may have guessed, we haven't felt all that confident about our WJ's stopping abilities. We've had some tense moments while depending on the stock brakes; navigating down slippery downslopes can be worrisome, and quick slowdowns on freeways can be downright terrifying. You know the feeling - your spine goes rigid, all of your butt muscles clench up, and you contort your face into something that looks even uglier than Editor Cappa's deformed mug. This type of thing didn't suit us very well (especially the looking-uglier-than-Cappa thing), so we were glad to get our hands on a set of new rotors from Powerslot.
The stock rotors on the Grand use a design that hasn't changed much since the Stone Age, and they're known to warp. They're basic smooth discs that seem to groove and pock pretty easily as the brake pads wear down. The Powerslot rotors, on the other hand, have slots in them that help evacuate gasses, dust, water, and heat from the rotors and pads. This helps the brake surfaces keep clean and operate more efficiently. Also, the slots serve as visual indicators of rotor wear. When the rotors are worn or machined down past the slots, it's time to get new ones. Unlike rotors with holes drilled in them, these slotted rotors aren't weaker than conventional ones. Plus, Powerslot coats its rotors with military-spec cadmium plating, which protects them against corrosion much better than zinc plating, which is what you'll find on most other plated rotors. For those of you who don't like to read lengthy explanations, the slotted rotors "make Jeep stop good."
Being the procrastinators we are, it took us a while to get around to installing the rotors. We spent several Saturdays installing more exciting mods onto the Grand, like a window-mounted bottle rocket launcher and an air horn that sounded like a machine gun. But after the cops made us take that stuff off, we headed over to Performance Off-Road in Phoenix, Arizona, to get the Jeep up on the lift and install the rotors.
After getting the things on and the initial break-in, it was easy to feel a difference while braking. With the old warped rotors, we could actually feel vibrations and general rotor unevenness with our foot as we pressed on the brake pedal. The new rotors were smooth as silk and provided a reassuring steadiness as we applied pressure to the pedal. Sure enough, a few days after the rotors had been installed, we had to slam on the brakes in traffic. To our relief, the Grand came to a quick and authoritative stop. No shimmying, no protesting.
After getting a little carried away and coming to a skidding stop every chance we could, we quickly ruined the Grand's tires. We threw a set of trusty BFG All Terrains on the Jeep, along with some trick Boomerang wheels from U.S. Wheel. Now, with traction and stopping power (as well as a pretty cool look) at every corner, our Grand Cherokee is better equipped for both on- and off-road driving.