Performance Friction Pads: How well do they work?
Most of us want our favorite Ford to be just little bit faster (okay, how about a lot faster) than it currently is. While this is an honorable goal, it is not always the safest. We showed you how to upgrade your late model 5.0 with GT rotors and drums and substantially increase the available stopping power. A nice combination, but can you improve the stock system and spend less money? We decided to find out on Green Machine II, our '92 LX AOD. Before the serious power upgrades are started we felt it would be prudent to try and improve the braking.

Performance Friction Corporation
manufactures the Carbon Metallic brand of brake pads which use a carbon/metal compound to decrease stopping distances and fade as compared to OEM brake pads. These pads are now standard fare in just about all forms of automotive racing. Performance Friction makes some strong claims about shorter stopping distances by simply installing their pads, so we decided to purchase a set and test them using a Gtech accelerometer. A front set of pads for the '92 Mustang run about $31.00. This author has driven a '74 Pontiac Gran Ville (can you say Land Yacht?) with Carbon Metallic pads and was impressed at how well the brakes pulled down the 4000lb+, 455 equipped four door.

The first order of business was to get a baseline of the stock Ford replacement pads. GM2 was taken out on a deserted country road where some 0 to 60 to 0 runs could be run safely and without unwanted attention. The hardest part of stopping a car without ABS in a short distance is avoiding wheel lockup and skidding. The first try was a dismal 226 feet with a lot of squeeling tires and smoke. Some more trial and error and GM2 was stopping in less than 200ft, with a best stop of 183ft. and second best of 187ft. Time for those new pads!
Changing brake pads on the front of a '79 and up Mustang is quite easy. The calipers are held on by two bolts that require a Torx bit to remove. Once the two bolts are out simply slide the calipers up and off of the rotor and pull out the stock pads. The rotors should be turned at this time. Since I am a cheapskate and these rotors had only about a thousand miles on them since the last brake job, I cheated and just swapped the pads. The new pads have an inner and outer pad for each side. The outer pads are marked RH and LH for the correct side, the inners are interchangeable. Once the new pads were on and the wheeels torqued down I drove GM2 for about 10 miles with a lot of hard stops to help seat the new pads. The pedal feel was firmer and the stops felt shorter with the grip getting stronger at the end of the stop. This is the desireable characteristic of the carbon which works better the hottor it gets. The following day it was back to the same stretch of road for new numbers.
With the Gtech back in place it was time for the truth to show itself. The very first run resulted in a small amount of wheel spin and a stopping distance of 184ft., equal to the best of the the previous day. The subsequant runs showed the worth of the Carbon Metallic pads as each was shorter than the previous. The numbers just kept going down, 170ft.-165ft.-154ft.-160ft.-159ft.-150ft.-154ft.! The pedal feel was actually improving as the pads got hotter. The other noticeable improvement was the ability to hit the brake pedal harder at the start of the stop without causing lockup. The first days testing stopped after only 5 runs due to increasing problems with lockup while the second days was ended after 8 runs with each run feeling better than the last! For an investment of $31.00 we knocked 33 ft off of our shortest stop, 60 to 0. This can be the difference that prevents you rear ending another vehicle in an emergency stop (trust us, we know from experience driving in the SF bay area.)
Editors Note: We also measured the stopping distance (using the GTech) of our '88LX which was fitted with dimpled rotors and slotted drums from GTRotors (see the "Stopping Power" article here). The car posted results ranging from 138 ft. to 145 ft, a huge improvement over stock. The pads on that set-up are not Performance Friction, but are a low-carbon semi-metallic compound. We'll upgrade to PF pads and see what additional reductions is stopping distance we can achieve.
There have been reports of increased rotor wear with these pads, and the owner of the big Pontiac complained about excessive brake dust compared to the stock pads. Considering the outstanding results we can live with a little more dust and shorter rotor life. Now GM2 can make the first return road at the end of the mile instead of the second. F/M

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