Project E46 M3: Part 5 – Wilwood big brake kit

 

Project E46 M3: Part 5 – Bigger Brakes all Around

Too much of anything can sometimes be bad…except with brakes!

by Pablo Mazlumian

In Part 4 we witnessed the beginning of the car’s aesthetic transformation and also saw a dramatic increase in all performance categories thanks to the addition of a new wheel and tire package from D-Force and BF Goodrich.  One of the aforementioned categories that really benefitted was braking.  Going from a 60-0mph in 10 less feet, or experiencing a 0.14G improvement in deceleration, after all, is hardly going to go unnoticed.
 
 
Last time, we saw dramatic, numerically proven improvements from our D-Force and BF Goodrich combo.

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.

 

This month we’ll be featuring a Wilwood four-wheel big brake kit that has been adapted by UUC Motowerks to fit the E46 M3.

 

While a brake job like this can be done using a jack and a couple of jack stands, it was nice to have access to a lift nearby.  Thankfully, all you need are some basic tools like Allen keys, socket and box-head wrenches ranging from 1/4in SAE to 17mm, and perhaps a screwdriver to push the old brake cylinders back in their bores during removal.

 

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