Today’s modern cars come with very advanced braking systems comparted to the old British cars I used to race in the 1980’s. Even if the horsepower of atypical pocket rocket (Civic, Golf, Mazda3, etc.) is increased by 50-100%, the stock brakes will still work great. I still use stock brake pads and rotors, despite the fact that brake manufacturers are always trying to send me free brake components. But there are several situations that dictate that you should upgrade your brake system. If you decide to do so, the aftermarket brake market is filled with great items that will not only look great on your car, but will stop it even faster. On the other hand, just because there are fancy brake parts available, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy them.
If you have a budget for your project, then some of the modifications mentioned in this book should take precedence in terms of both your time and money. We are certainly not advocating that the brake system should be ignored, on the contrary. Fluid level should be checked often, and your entire system should be flushed every 2-3 years to avoid moisture build up. Moisture in your brake lines can slow stopping distance, and also lead to corrosion from the inside of your brake components and lines. Calipers and pads need to be checked yearly, and rotors should be cut whenever new pads are installed, or replaced if they are too worn or warped. But beyond this routine maintenance schedule, you should consider sticking with the original braking system. There are, however, two instances where brake upgrades are recommended.
The first thing that most novice drives realize after finishing their first event is just how brutal road racing can be on a car and its components. Anytime you abuse your brakes, such as in road racing, track events, or driver’s schools, an upgrade is required. The heat that can be generated from constant high-speed racing has been known to melt a wheel’s center cap, warp a rotor, boil brake fluid, or even turn a brake pad into dust. As stated before, Neons have excellent stock braking systems, so all that may be needed is to change to a performance brake pad. You will, however, need to completely replace your brake fluid after each event due to the heat build up. We recommend using a fully synthetic brake fluid with as high a boiling point that you can find. Also, the harder the pad you choose, the more your rotors will be abused. Obviously, something has to give. If you use a stock pad, you will likely not wear out your rotors, But if you use a hard racing pad, you will cut a 3” groove in your rotors as if your pads were made of sandpaper, and your rotors were made of wood. I have been there – done that.