It's a moment none of us ever want to be put in-a panic stop. With no warning, you slam on your brakes and hope for the best. For those of you driving big lifted trucks with large wheels and tires, the extra rotating mass combined with the added height from the lift can make your truck a rolling freight train. For years we have been advocating the need for big brakes on trucks equipped with larger wheels and tires, whether it be on a lowered or lifted truck, and we finally took it upon ourselves to dispel any myths about factory brakes. In our first issue of 2007, we began our Fantastic Four series with a '06 F-150 SuperCrew 4WD by lifting it 12 inches and adding 24-inch Detata wheels mounted inside 36.6-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires. Since its lift, the owner has put more than 60,000 miles on the truck and performed regular maintenance to keep it both running well and safe. Safety was important as the factory brakes wore especially fast and rotor/pad replacement was a 15,000-mile occurrence.
Knowing this truck was at the more extreme end of the lifted spectrum, a call was made to borrow the truck for extensive brake testing. It's worth noting, the OE 20-inch wheel and tire combo (275/55R20) weighed in at around 85 pounds and the aftermarket 24-inch Detata wheels and Nitto 36.6-inch tires (LT315/50R24) combined to tip the scales at 131 pounds. That much added weight on all four corners would tax any factory brake system, but by how much? Something else often overlooked when considering safety, we also tested worn tires compared to brand new tires. The results will surprise you.
Most of the negative feedback we received from truck owners about brake upgrades are the high prices associated with big brakes. Can you really put a price on your family's safety? We don't think so, but taking price into consideration, we contacted EBC Brakes for a pair of its 3GD drilled and slotted rotors and a set of its YellowStuff heavy-duty brake pads. Combining brake rotors that cool quicker by drawing fresh air into the contact surface and brake pads with a formulation similar to those found on race applications, our test truck had no choice but to stop sooner. The question we all had was; rather than spending thousands on a big brake kit, how much safer would these pads/rotors make the lifted truck?