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Making Sense of Porsche Brake Colors

Porsche was not the first company to offer disc brakes. That honor goes to Austin Healey all the way back in 1954. Indeed, Porsche began offering disc brakes in 1962, the same year that Studebaker introduced a Bendix system on the Avanti. Despite being a bit late to the game, Porsche has always taken disc brake development very seriously. Beginning with the annular discs used on the 1962 Carrera 2, all the way through the most modern PCCB systems, Porsche has kept themselves at the forefront of brake development.

Today, Porsche offers several types of brakes across its model range. For ease of identification, these systems are color coded. Each system gets a unique caliper color to help identify which system is in use.

Black: The Basic Brake

In a modern Porsche, black calipers signify the standard brake package. In a 911, for instance, this means 350mm cast front and rear rotors with cast monobloc calipers front and rear. Incidentally, black was the first color used on Porsche brake calipers, with black cast aluminum calipers first appearing on the 928 and 911 in the late 1970s. For lesser models, this signified upgraded brakes from the often unfinished standard calipers. For example, where a standard 944 used zinc plated single piston calipers, the Turbo, Turbo S and S2 used black-finished cast aluminum calipers.

Today, black calipers are the standard brakes on any Porsche model.

Silver and Red: The « S » Brake

The standard brakes used on Porsche « S »  models come finished in either silver or red. Typically, sports cars use red calipers, while the Macan, Panamera and Cayenne use silver. This shift in colors also signifies the first brake upgrade. For instance, a base Macan uses a 345mm front brake rotor with a 4-piston monoblock caliper. Moving the S model nets both a larger disc, and a more powerful 6-piston brake caliper.

Curiously, while the colors change from model to model, this does not always signify that the brakes themselves are substantially different. For instance, both the base 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S use the same 4-piston front and rear calipers, clamping the same size 330mm front and 300mm rear brake rotors. Consult the model specification sheet for the model you are interested in to see if that particular S model includes larger brakes.

Acid Green: The Hybrid Brakes

Green brakes are used almost exclusively on Porsche hybrid models, including the 918 Hypercar. In this instance, the color of the brakes does not necessarily indicate the type of disc brake system in use. Regenerative braking is used by all but one model with green brake calipers.

The only exception to this rule is the 997 Turbo S Edition 918 Hybrid. This model was sold as an add-on for 918 Hybrid buyers, and was finished to match the 918. As such, this model uses acid green brake calipers, but does not feature a hybrid system.

Yellow: Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes

These are the top brakes in the Porsche lineup. First launched on the 996 GT2 road car in 2001, Porsche’s Carbon Ceramic discs are able withstand significantly higher temperatures than their grey iron counterparts. These brakes are formed using ceramic bonded with carbon fiber. The ceramic provides the heat resistance in the rotor, while the bonded carbon filament provides the strength.

These brakes are available in virtually all Porsche models, ranging from the base Boxster, all the way to the top 911s, Panamera and Cayenne. In addition to shedding more heat, carbon ceramic brakes weigh up to 50% less than standard brake rotors. This weight reduction decreases unsprung weight, sharpening cornering and improving ride quality.

Though they are a very expensive option, at some $7,410USD on a base Cayman and $9,210USD on a 991 Turbo, these brakes offer superior fade resistance, and an increased lifespan compared to their iron counterparts.

A short video on how Carbon Ceramic brakes are made is attached below.

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Why Do Your Porsche’s Brakes Squeal?

There are few sounds in automotivedom less pleasant than brake squeal. While increasing brake temperatures will typically alleviate squeal, keeping your Porsche’s brakes at racetrack temperatures around town isn’t practical. It’s important to consider what is causing your Porsche’s brakes to squeal, and determine whether the noise is caused by wear, or the high performance nature of your braking system. In recent years complaints about squeaky Porsche brakes have cropped up in the press. In most cases this squeal is not caused by a mechanical fault. The noise is caused instead by the construction and composition of the brakes themselves.

Causes of Porsche Brake Squeal

Every object in the universe will vibrate at a given frequency when acted upon with appropriate force. Smack a bare brake rotor with a hammer and it will ring like a gong (try it in the shop on a sleepy friend). Fastening the rotor to the braking system doesn’t entirely dampen this tendency. Instead it combines the resonance of the brake rotor with the resonance of every other part in the system. When a strong enough vibration passes through one component it can transmit that vibration into other parts.

Typically squeal will originate in the brake rotor. But, the nature of the vibration will also cause the hub, caliper carrier, caliper, and other nearby parts to vibrate along with it.

The cause of this vibration is typically uneven friction across the face of the brake pad where it meets the brake rotor. During normal driving a brake pad will heat up and cool down unevenly across its surface. Depending on the intended operating range of the given pad, this can cause the pad to have a high coefficient of friction in some areas, and a lower coefficient in others. In effect the pad is repeatedly gripping and releasing the face of the brake rotor as the rotor passes across it. These high-frequency stick-slip moments cause microscopic vibrations which are then transmitted into the entire brake system.

Reducing Porsche Brake Squeal

Some measures are in place to reduce these vibrations. These include weighted dampers on the pads themselves. While these measures can negate some squeal frequencies, it is not possible or desireable to cancel out all frequencies. Unfortunately under many conditions Porsche brakes will squeal.

Unsurprisingly the issue seems to be worse in cars equipped with Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes. These systems are designed with higher operating temperatures in mind than their steel counterparts. Because of this, and their advanced heat-shedding properies, PCCB systems tend to squeak at lower temperatures.

Those of us who have used high performance brake pads are very aware of the pitfalls of pads designed around high operating temperatures. Many years ago I ran track pads on my Volkswagen Golf, and my car sounded like a school bus coming to a stop during normal driving. Given Porsche’s requirement that their pads work both on the road and on track, it is not altogether surprising that some squeal is evident. As temperatures increase, the tendency towards squeal should lessen.

While much of this may be readily apparent to more experienced Porsche owners and car enthusiasts, it is not true for everyone. If you hear someone complaining of brake squeal in their Porsche, remind them that it may be a feature, not a bug and point them to this post to explain why.

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Lee’s 996 Carrera 4S diary: the first big spend

It’s been a busy period for my C4S as after five months of ownership, I’ve finally needed to spend out on something other than fuel for it. I’ve previously mentioned the car needed new brakes and tyres all round, and they’ve now been replenished after a trip to Porsche Centre Bournemouth. For the brakes I was happy to stick with an OEM-spec setup as in my view if those Big Reds are good enough for a 996 Turbo they’re good enough for a 996 C4S. I bought the brake discs and pads separately from Heritage Parts Centre last month, which arrived promptly and had been sitting at my house waiting for a gap in my diary to take the car to Porsche.

That day arrived in early September and I whisked the car over to OPC Bournemouth where it’d be under the stewardship of one Scott Gardner, whom you’ll recognize in the pictures as our very own ‘ask the expert’ from the front of the magazine. Scott had the discs, pads, wear sensors and anti squeal shims (I had to buy the latter separately) swapped over in three hours without a hitch – you do always assume with a 996 that there is going to be a hitch, be it something as simple as a sheared bolt or ripped thread, which can delay even the most simplest of tasks.

Heritage Parts Centre are new to the Porsche industry but I was very pleased with the quality of the brakes, which all married up absolutely fine into my calipers and onto my hubs. Again it sounds obvious but I’ve had wrong parts turn up from other suppliers in the past and this only leads to a frustrating scenario when work has to be stopped because the part doesn’t quite match up. This wasn’t the case here though, and Heritage Parts Centre come highly recommended from me. The brakes will take a bit of time to bed in but already I’m noticing much sharper response to brake pedal applications, which has already inspired me to push the car a little harder.

I also addressed the worn rear Continental tyres by replacing them with a set of Michelin Pilot Sport tyres all round. N4 rated (a higher ‘N’ rating means more recent tyre technology has been used), I was recommended them by a Michelin representative when I told him the car is used for shopping runs, plenty of fast road driving and the occasional track day. I’ve never actually ran Michelin tyres on any of my own cars before but have always enjoyed them on other 911s (Pilot Sport Cup 2s are surely the best road tyre ever to grace a 911) and am really looking forward to exploring their limits in the coming weeks. More on their performance will be found in a coming update.

It’s standard procedure for Porsche to health check your car while it’s on the ramps, so Scott and I had a good look around underneath the C4S once all the work was done. I was very happy with Scott’s exemplary comments as regards to its overall health and condition – he was shocked when he found out I’m the 11th owner – and his remarks has only further endorsed my decision to purchase this cracking 911 in the first place. Thanks to the guys at Porsche Centre Bournemouth for stellar service as always – now, I can’t wait to wrack up some miles with my new toys courtesy of Heritage Parts and Michelin!

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Top ten modifications for M96 and M97-engined Porsche 911s

Despite values changing on an almost monthly basis in the current market, there are still ways to experience the magic of the Porsche 911 without substantial investment. The answer for many buyers is a 996 or Gen1 997 fitted with the M96 and M97 engine respectively, yet while these cars offer terrific performance for the money, there’s also plenty of extra potential just waiting to be unlocked.

And no matter which aspect of your car you’d like to improve, there’s an absolute wealth of choice out there. It needn’t be a prohibitively expensive exercise, either; whether you’re looking to spend a few hundred or a few thousand pounds, you can make changes and adjustments to the engine, exhaust, brakes, and suspension that will transform the way your cherished Porsche 911 drives.

Here’s our top ten countdown of must-do modifications in no particular order, as advised by some of the industry’s leading specialists – such as Autofarm’s Mikey Wastie, RPM Technik’s Darren Anderson and Pete Twyman at Paragon Porsche – to help you get the most from your 996 or Gen1 997 Carrera.

Short-shift kit
short-shift-kit

The way that you interact with your Neunelfer is just as important as its outright performance, and while the gear change of a 996/997 is slick and accurate, there’s always room for improvement. A short-shift kit can transform the feel of every ratio swap and the DesignTek item in particular is a direct, bolt-on replacement for your 996 or Gen1 997.

Manufactured from stainless steel and aluminium, the short-shift kit includes all the clips and bushings you’ll need and fitment is a DIY task. Careful counterbalancing ensures the ultimate in slick shifts, and you can retain the standard gear knob, too. This is a cheap way to improve driving satisfaction.
Improves: Gear changes
Cost: From £138.50 (Design 911)

Lightweight flywheel
Flywheel from a Porsche 911

We’re big fans of RPM Technik’s CSR products, and swapping your car’s standard flywheel and clutch for their lightweight items will really change its character. Available for both 996 and Gen1 997 models, you’ll quickly notice the engine’s improved eagerness to rev and “heel-and- toe downshifts are sublime”, according to RPM Technik’s Darren Anderson.

It comes as a complete kit with custom friction plate, pressure plate, release bearing and flywheel bolts. They do recommend using a clutch friction plate with a sprung hub, though; the lightweight flywheel can be fitted without it but the upgraded item will help minimise any chatter at idle. Having the parts fitted to your 996 will cost £2,128 including VAT, and just over £2,200 for a 997.
Improves: Heel-and-toe gear changes
Cost:
£1,540 (parts without fitting)

To find out our eight other modifications for M96 and M97-engined Porsche 911s, pick up Total 911 issue 144 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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Four of the best Porsche 911 brake upgrade packages

When people think of modifying their Porsche 911, they very often start with the engine or suspension. However, no matter how fast you make your Neunelfer go, you need to ensure you can make it stop perfectly too.

That’s why we’ve put together four of the best brake upgrade kits (from a trio of well respected, well tested brands) to improve the stopping power and feel of your Porsche 911:

EuroCupGT 380mm front brake kit – £1,370.41 plus VAT
EuroCupGT brakes

EuroCupGT offer a range of Porsche 911 parts with a price tag that won’t break the bank. Designed to work with the existing brake architecture on 997 Carrera models, this 380mm kit uses two-part aluminium calipers to reduce costs without compromising on performance.

The kit also includes two floating discs, ‘fast road’ pads, hoses and all other hardware. The 380mm kit clears all 19-inch and 20-inch wheels, while a 355mm version is available for 18-inch alloys.
www.porscheshop.com 

Brembo GT Big Brake front kit – £2,761 plus VAT
Brembo brakes

Brembo are the number one name when it comes to high performance brake upgrades, having fi tted their products to various championship-winning race cars since its foundation in 1961.

The popular Gran Tourismo range features billet aluminium, six-piston monoblock calipers for excellent rigidity and drilled or slotted vented discs. The 380mm kit shown is designed for 996 and 997.1 C4S and Turbos and comes with two calipers, discs, pads, brake hoses and fittings.
www.design911.co.uk

Performance Friction replacement discs – £503.24 plus VAT (each)
PFC brakes

American company Performance Friction (more often known as PFC) may be a relative newcomer on the braking scene but they have been making a big impression, none more so than when Porsche announced them as the sole brake supplier for the latest 991 GT3 Cup car.

They offer a range of replacement discs for water-cooled Porsche 911s, with the 350x34mm fl oating offerings on show here (including the bells, not pictured) suitable for 996 and 997.1 GT3s and RSs.

Performance Friction brake pads – £352.81 plus VAT

Like most brake manufacturers, Performance Friction recommends using their own pads with PFC branded discs.

While the American company’s wares are more pricey than some of their competitors, PFC claims that the true cost of running their pads is lower thanks to the improved longevity and performance of their products, a result of the carbon metallic matrix used to create the friction material.
www.rpmtechnik.co.uk

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