Modification Modification
Car: Audi | A4 | B5 | All Derivatives | All body styles

B5 Braking upgrades

Pedal feel and initial bite offered by the standard system is excellent, however the sharp responses soon degenerate into fade if pushed hard. In fact stopping from modest speeds can call for a considerable amount of pedal pressure, certainly not confidence inspiring. For these reasons alone I have never been entirely happy with the standard braking system, and have been actively seeking a vastly improved setup.

Having said this the standard braking system will suffice for most day to day driving, however I would certainly recommend a brake upgrade to accompany any performance increase you had in mind.

Which setup though? There are many upgrade routes to choose from, ranging from a simple pad change to comprehensive aftermarket kits, the list is long. With this in mind I'll not only detail my setup but summarise a few of the well known upgrades available.

All a4 b5's come with an Anti-lock braking system (ABS), vacuum power assist, asbestos-free linings, dual diagonal circuits and electronic rear brake pressure proportioning from the factory. The ABS system fitted was as follows:

1996 = ABS 5.0
1997 = ABS 5.1
1998+ = ABS 5.3

Audi logo

Standard calipers and discs, aftermarket pads

Mintex pads

This is the first step on the road to better brakes. The stock Audi pads are fine for normal use, but for spirited driving a pad change can be beneficial. The soft compound of the Audi pads contributes towards good pedal feel but at the same time can lead to premature brake fade.

There are may different options to choose from, Mintex and EBC are a couple of the popular choices.

"I have the Mintex Red Box pads. They're decent pads. Probably the closest stock replacement with very little brake dust. For the first 200 miles they were fine, then they started to squeal a lot. After a few hundred more miles, the squealing is gone, so I'm happy. The pedal feels a little softer than stock, but braking seems the same, both wet and dry."  Mike Dolan

Audi logo

Standard calipers, TT carriers & A8 discs

Patrick Visitacions - A8 Discs & TT caliper carriers

This is a nice and simple conversion that offers greatly improved stopping power. The upgrade comprises of fitting A8 brake discs and replacing the stock caliper carriers (mounting brackets) with TT items. The stock caliper body is retained, TT carriers can accommodate larger diameter discs by virtue of the fact the mounting lugs are spaced further outboard from the caliper.

A8 Brake sizes:
Front, size and type: 12.3 in. (312 mm) - Ventilated disc
Rear, size and type: 9.6 in. (245 mm) - Solid disc

"After the upgrade with Mintex Red pads, a more definite bite was felt.  Granted, it could be because of the new brake pads, but the Reds are similar to OEM and don't much of an aggressive track compound.  Regardless, after the brakes have been bedded and used for over 1000 miles, the brake feel was more responsive and stopping distance seemed to have taken less effort to decrease in a shorter distance.

Value for the money- worth it. Granted, we used it on a stock A4 2.8q Avant - no real engine mods. With a base hp of 190hp, it noticeably stopped the car better than before. I believe the weight of the system was a bit heavier, but the braking advantages outweighed (excuse the pun) the weight increase on the front corners."
Patrick Visitacion

ECS logo

Stage 1

ECS Tuning stage 1 kit

Taken from the ECS site:

"All our Stage 1 brake kits are designed for those who are looking to improve on the stock braking system while working within a sensible budget. Using massive, yet light weight 2 piece 332mm rotors, ECS has the kit to stop your high powered street machine. Budgeted oriented kit with serious performance gains as well as dramatic styling. consistant stopping power from high speed runs."

"The install went pretty well. I was pleased with the quality of the new rotors as well with their looks. I've already gotten some interest from other Audizine members wanting to know what rotors they were once they saw them. It's nice to see them fill up 90% of a 18" wheel diameter. Although I haven't done much with them with regards to performance, I can say that the few times that I have had to stop fast or even the one time I had to do an emergency stop to avoid an accident on the freeway at 60mph, they performed flawlessly. Having the large diameter rotor really does add to stopping performance, even with OEM calipers.

The other nice part about the ECS Stage 1 upgrade as far as I'm concerned is the ability to later upgrade to their Stage 2v2, which includes the Porsche Boxster calipers and braided brake lines. For those that can't afford or don't have a need for the BBK's that are priced in the $2-3K(£1120-£1700) range, the ECS Stage 1, then Stage 2v2 upgrade of approx. $1400 (£785) is a good substitute."
Joseph W Stampfl

Porsche logo

993 Monoblock 'Big reds'

Porsche 993 front conversion

One of the more powerful solutions available, this particular conversion makes use of both Porsche calipers and disc ring. The calipers are a very powerful 4 piston, lightweight aluminium design. It can be argued that the cross-bolting employed on these calipers is superior to the greatly hyped 'Monoblock' designs. Individual tests have proven cross-bolted designs to flex less than their Monoblock counterparts.

The disc (rotor) ring is also a Porsche part, featuring cast in holes which are far superior to drilled, the surface strength of the disc is not compromised in any way. The disc ring its on a custom aluminium hat. As well as incredible stopping power, the lightweight calipers and discs go towards reducing unsprung weight.

B5 Brake comparison chart

Kit name Caliper type  Caliper material   Disc/Rotor diameter   Disc/Rotor thickness 
A8 upgrade Single piston, sliding Cast iron 312mm 25mm
ECS Stage 1 Single piston, sliding Cast iron 332mm 26mm
OEM Single piston, sliding Cast iron 278mm 25mm
Porsche 986 4 piston, Monoblock Aluminium 299mm 24mm
Porsche 993 Bi-turbo 4 piston, Cross bolted Aluminium 322mm 22mm
Porsche 993 Carerra 4 4 piston, Cross bolted Aluminium 304mm 32mm
Porsche Cayenne 6 piston, Monoblock Aluminium 352mm 32mm
Porsche 996 GT3* 4 piston, Monoblock Aluminium 322mm 32mm
Porsche 996 GT3 4 piston, Monoblock Aluminium 330mm 32mm
Porsche 996 GT3 4 piston, Monoblock Aluminium 380mm 32mm
Stoptech 4 piston, Cross bolted Aluminium 332mm 32mm
Stoptech large 4 piston, Cross bolted Aluminium 355mm 32mm

*Pad area is 78.5cm2(Bi-turbo caliper is 75.5cm2)

© Mark Stewart, Wednesday 5th May 2004
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