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Anyone Use PowerStop Rotors and Pads?


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A brake job I let a mechanic do recently has come to haunt me. I found the invoice in some of my year-end housecleaning and I did web searches on the part numbers. He used the cheapest parts available, Pronto economy rotors and economy Wagner pads, essentially downgrading the braking performance of my car. As a career lead-foot, I feel that I must replace the pads and rotors before I take the car out on a road trip to avoid the possibility of a disastrous surprise in an emergency situation. This is a bit of an emergency because my wife and I may want to go to Atlantic City for New Year's, and the "culture" on the freeway to there from the Philly area is one where I would want OEM brake performance for safety reasons.

I did some work and it looks like a good way to go is the PowerStop kit, part number K1543, which includes drilled and slotted rotors with matching ceramic pads for all four corners, including silencing springs and sensors, offered by Rock Auto for $252. I've looked at the instructions and everything looks good but one caveat caught my eye: "Do not use impact wrenches on Power Stop rotors under any circumstances." I'll call them tomorrow but I'm hoping that means the mounting bolts, not the lug nuts, because every pro mechanic that I have seen work uses special air tools to remove and mount wheels that have impact bits set to apply 95 lb-ft of torque to the lug nuts. I'm not keen on insisting that people use torque wrenches to mount my tires.

The key question is, has anyone used PowerStop performance rotors (drilled and slotted), or their Z16 Evolution ceramic brake pads?

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-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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I did some online looking and all the reviews were good, although they were all for other makes and models. I checked the PowerStop web site and didn't see anything warning against impact wrenches, so I called them. The technical assistance guy couldn't find anything like that either and asked me to send him the document that warned against impact wrenches; I found it on the Rock Auto web site and sent it to him. He said that any such warning basically meant that if the tire mounting equipment is improperly used or miscalculated, they don't want to hear about warped or cracked rotors, which is obvious. So, I just won't take it to a shop with dirty floors and sulking mechanics lurking in the shadows but no certifications on the walls.

I just ordered the kit and will start making arrangements to have the rotors and pads put in. However, I'm still very much interested in hearing about people's experiences with PowerStop rotors and pads on their Cadillacs.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Jim,

I have no direct experience with them, but on one of the truck forums I am on... several people have used the Powerstop kits to upgrade their brakes after putting bigger wheels and tires on the trucks.

After going with big wheels and tires, they find that OEM brakes no longer have the stopping power they need.

I don't seem to remember anyone having complaints about them.

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So how has your car stopped since the brake job? Did you feel something was off? I only have puny 11" rotors on my 96. I wish I had 12" rotors like your car. Maybe I could have your wimpy rotors? Now, if I could only find some proper caliper mounting brackets.

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I've had the original rotors on my car until August. About 40,000 miles ago, I had the front rotors resurfaced and new pads, the first brake job the car had, at about 120,000 miles. The August brake job was a hustle. I suspected as much, but when I was refused access to the old parts that clinched it. I didn't know that the mechanic had cheaped out the parts, although I suspected as much from his body language. I'm going through paperwork cleanup, scanning in things like invoices and archiving them, turned up this one, and decided to do a web search on the part numbers. My worst fears were more than realized when I saw $13 "economy" rotors and such.

The pedal was good, and it had been down a bit since the other brake job, so I do give the mechanic credit for doing a good job of bleeding the brakes. As far as feel, they did seem to be a bit less responsive but very smooth. Since I haven't been out on the road much and didn't have occasion to test them, and also because something in me didn't really trust them because of the bad feeling I came away with after the brake job, I haven't stressed the brakes. My fear is that, leaving Atlantic City on an early evening, a couple of drunks will tangle in front of me and my brakes won't do what I think they will and disaster will ensue, or some variation on that theme.

Brake rotors and pads come in grades, which I have seen on more than one web site with the labels of "economy," "daily driver," "heavy duty" or "fleet," and "super duty" or "fleet" and "competition." With an ETC in prime condition, I would need at least OEM quality, which would be the high end of "daily driver" or better. The PowerStop line that I bought are on the high end of "heavy duty." The material on them on the PowerStop web site shows that they will perform better with stress (heat), wear, responsiveness (good friction), quietness (no undue noise or squealing), and long life. The user reviews that I have seen bear all this out on Hondas, Lexuses, BMWs, etc. but I haven't seen a Cadillac review.

I think that the OEM Cadillac brakes are just fine. I wouldn't be looking for an upgrade if I didn't feel that I needed new rotors and pads for safety reasons. In looking at that I found that it costs no more to get a decent upgrade.

If you want to make a change that increases the rolling radius of your tires and need an improved braking solution, I'll leave that up to you. Improving the brakes is just one of many things you will need to do to get the car back to the ride, handling, safety, and overall performance that you have with the factory rolling radius. That's really a topic for a whole new thread.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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I haven't used PowerStop pads but I'm currently using ProStop Ceramic front end pads purchased from Pepboys. They are pretty good for mid-range as far as quality and cost under $60. I only bought them because I wasn't paying enough attention pad wear and ended up haveing to by them on short notice in order to save the discs. But the question is how long will they last?! My experience with these mid-range pads is that they don't last more than about 20K, if that much. But at least they give me good braking and I'll be more diligent as far as checking wear next time around and look to buy Akebono pads next time around or maybe just go back to ACDelco.

Here is an article of someone who used ProStop pads in a track and reported the results:

http://automotivethi...-to-brake-dust/

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MAC - your link led to Pep Boys ProStop pads. PowerStop is a whole different outfit; they don't have stores and they don't sell direct, they sell to retailers like Rock Auto and Summit Racing. PowerStop doesn't sell economy or mid-range parts. And they don't sell through Pep Boys; I checked their "Where to Buy" page for their outlets and distributors. One distributor, in Russia, uses the Powerstop name. That page is here:

Looking at that list, their primary markets are 4X4s, trucks, and performance upgrades for the rest of us. All the reviews I saw on my search were from owners with sports sedans of various stripes that wanted better brakes.

I've got them on the car now, and just came back from a break-in drive plus a cruise to get back home from out on a road where I could do the break-in and cool-down. The process is five "aggressive" decelerations from 40 mph to 10 mph, followed by five "moderate" stops from 35 mph to 5 mph, then a five-minute cool-down cruise. So, I got the brakes a little hot. The bite and responsiveness are very good, better than the factory brakes. And, there is absolutely no fade whatsoever in the break-in process. Of course, I haven't pulled it down from 140 mph to 40 mph a couple of times in a row, then stopped hard from 90 mph yet, and don't have plans to try that. The worst thing that I can think of is driving up Mt. Washington, then driving back down riding the brakes; I did that once with my 1969 Chevrolet 9-passenger wagon with the 427 cid engine and didn't notice any fade but pulled over into one of the brake relief pull-offs and the rear brakes were smoking. The front brakes on that car were vented disks and didn't break a sweat, and the rears (drums!) were OK after a cool-down period. I think my 1997 ETC would take that in stride, with only one cool-down stop (not the four or five recommended by the park service), quite possibly with the factory brakes and certainly with the drilled and slotted rotors and high-performance ceramic pads that I have now.

There are other places that I would want at least OEM brake performance, all on downgrades off of mountain passes. Any road where you see a sign "Trucks use lower gear" and with runaway truck escape lanes is one where I would rather be in my Cadillac than in any rental car; I once rode down the Teton pass on Highway 22 to Jackson Hole from Idaho in a rented Toyota, and a deft combination of lower gears on the automatic transmission, careful brake use, and keeping the speed down prevented damage to this otherwise fine rental car. But my safety and car protection instincts were on red hot alert for many miles of steep downgrade. I would have felt much safer in my Cadillac. With the Toyota, if you let it coast too fast, the engine drag would start to decrease as the RPMs grew and I had no confidence in the brakes to bring us to a complete stop, so there is an invisible cliff of speed that, if you went over it, the car probably couldn't maintain sufficient deceleration to prevent more speed and the car would run away. This seemed to be about 50 mph, so I kept the speed down to about 40 mph or lower.

I've had a lot of good cars in my time. All of them have had their strong points and their weak points, but my ETC does not seem to have a weak point. The worst thing that I can say about it is that I can't get it over 23 mpg on the highway, average over traveling all day, on gas that is 10% ethanol.

At this point, I have a young Jaspser engine, new shocks and struts, new PowerStop performance brakes, new Michelin Pilot Sport Plus tires, no codes, low-restriction exhaust an a high-flow BOD-compliant cat, a perfect interior and paint, and the original dealer paper plate from 1997 is still under the wool cover over the spare tire in the trunk. I guess I better have the spare checked; I think that it still has the original tire on it and I haven't checked the air in it for ten years. It's not a compact spare but I believe that it has a steel wheel.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a couple of weeks I can say that I have absolutely no complaints. The responsiveness of the brakes encourages more aggressive driving, but that's OK; I keep it safe and legal and I will get over it eventually. This setup is also advertised as low-dust. It will take some time to evaluate that.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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