Brake Tech

Getting the Right Fit: Brake System Upgrades

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Brake system upgrades are a popular performance enhancement. Whether it's to improve the appearance of your vehicle after installing open-spoke wheels, to improve stopping ability on the track or to shorten stopping distance for safety's sake, many brake upgrades result in a larger brake system rotor or caliper, or both. While looking good and filling out the space behind the spokes of your wheels, these larger brake system components pose a challenge to the wheel fitment. Original Equipment wheels installed at the factory were not designed with larger brake components in mind, and rarely allow sufficient clearance in diameter and behind the spokes for a performance brake upgrade. The increased diameter of the brake rotor will often dictate using larger diameter wheels, sometimes as much as 2-3" larger. Because the caliper is often changed as part of the upgrade, consideration must be given to the size and shape of the new caliper, which will encroach on the space directly behind the spokes or face of the wheel. The combined shape of the new rotor and caliper create a profile, which must be measured and compared to the space behind the wheel to determine if sufficient clearance exists. But it's important to remember that larger wheel diameter alone does not assure clearance around the brake components. It's the combination of diameter and profile, or shape of the wheel itself, that determine how much room is available for larger brake components.

Performance brake upgrades are now available at the Tire Rack. As a result, we have added a new aspect of wheel measurement - the area inside or on the back of the wheel - to our fitment information and wheel design/manufacturer requirements. We have taken 3-dimensional measurements of the wheels we carry, as well as of the brake system upgrades we offer, and have developed a fitment database to know exactly which wheels will clear "big" brake components. We also work closely with our wheel suppliers as they develop new wheels and fitments, keeping in mind the demands of the end user, and the potential for being fitted with a brake system upgrade installed.

In addition to brake upgrades sold as aftermarket components, a number of vehicle manufacturers offer special edition vehicles that come with larger, upgraded brake systems right from the factory. To assure a proper fit over Original Equipment brake systems, the Tire Rack does extensive on-vehicle measuring to determine which wheels will fit over these brake systems. The clearances are just too close to guess.

Working with wheel and brake system manufacturers, extensive analysis of the product, and hands-on inspection and measurement of vehicles is a complex and labor-intensive process most people don't have time or access to accomplish. But it's what allows the Tire Rack to determine which wheels are the correct fitment for your vehicle in combination with a brake system upgrade, to ensure proper clearance and performance. We want you to get the right fit.


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