Project E46 M3: Part 5 – Bigger Brakes all Around
Too much of anything can sometimes be bad…except with brakes!
The stock E46 M3 brakes are very good in their own right. All M3s, while top-notch contenders in handling and acceleration for their class, usually come with more braking power than needed. It's a good thing, too, because the more braking power the merrier.
Our E46 M3 seemed to work well with the stock-sized, 225mm front tires. ABS interruptions were only apparent during hard pedal applications. For a track weekend, simply swapping in more aggressive pads, while performing a DOT4 brake fluid flush, seems to do the trick for many enthusiasts wanting multi-lap good times without brake fade. With the move to the 245mm, softer BFG Rival rubber up front, however, it started to take a lot more pedal effort to trigger the ABS system.
The increase in tire size, along with the softer compound, can only mean one thing for the stock brakes during high performance driving—and that's more heat. With the factory one-piece rotors and single-piston setup, this would mean possibly moving up to a more aggressive pad setup—perhaps even one that’s not very street friendly—to make up the difference. But this will mean more dust, maybe even more noise, and quite possibly chewing up rotors in a shorter period of time. Plus, if the pad is really meant for racing, it won't bite well on the first stab, especially on a cold day (and I've already hit the neighbor's dog once before).
An alternative to this is to change out the entire brake system for something larger, and that’s what we did with the help of our friends at UUC Motorwerks and Wilwood brake systems.