Jeep WJ Brake Upgrades

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    Christian LeePhotographer, Writer

    Though we've never greatly disliked the braking system in our 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ, or even had any major failures within the system in the years since its manufacture, we knew of its inherent weaknesses and decided to upgrade rather than simply replace parts when the time came. The pads had been regularly replaced and the rotors turned once or twice in its 14 years of use, but we were still dealing with original 1999 model-year rotors and calipers. On top of that, Jeep made improvements of its own to the Grand Cherokee WJ brake system a couple years after its introduction, upgrading the front brake calipers in 2002-2004 model years.

    The Akebono-style caliper used in 2002-and-up WJs is considered to be a better setup than the Teves-style caliper used in early WJ Grand Cherokees. Both calipers are dual-piston, but the Teves caliper is prone to causing rotor warp from overheating. The Akebono-style caliper uses a more rigid bracket with greater surface area, which helps promote cooling better than the Teves unit does. Along with the new Akebono calipers, we opted to install EBC Brakes' slotted rotors at the front and rear in another step toward keeping the brake system cooler so it would operate at peak performance.

    You'll typically find the Akebono caliper and caliber bracket sold separately when sourcing parts for this upgrade. You'll also likely need to order caliper hardware kits for each caliper. Salvage yards are great sources for parts for this type of conversion—you could easily locate the calipers and brackets for half the cost of buying new or remanufactured parts. Auto parts stores also usually include a core charge for the calipers and brackets, and you won't have exact cores to exchange since you're replacing the calipers and brackets with different parts. Some Jeep-specific parts vendors have this conversion assembled as a pre-packaged kit with everything you'll need for the conversion. We located the calipers, brackets, and hardware kits at our local auto parts for around $250.

    Check out the following photos and captions for a glimpse of how easy it was to upgrade the brake system in our 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ.