Project Vehicross Part 9: Beefing Up the Brakes

 

Project Vehicross Part 9: Beefing Up the Brakes

by: David Zipf

I’m not going to bullshit here:  The Isuzu VehiCross’s brakes suck.  They are by far the worst part of the truck.  While Isuzu was kind enough to install four-wheel disc brakes all around, they are far too small to really pull down the 2-ton truck at speed.  Not long after we picked up out VX, we installed a set of EBC Greenstuff brake pads to try and help our brakes out.  They were a mild improvement over the original pads, but despite loving them on our old CR-V, they were not up to snuff in the VX.  The front pads didn’t even last 30,000 miles and spewed out a ton of gross dust all over our shiny chrome wheels.  In fact they wore out so quickly we had to grab a set of Duralast pads for an emergency install when we realized we were nearly down to the backing plates!  The rear pads lasted a bit more than 40,000 miles, and when we saw them getting low, we decided to do something about the whole mess.

Our plan of attack is multi-faceted.  First, we are dumping the worn out EBC and emergency Duralast pads in favor of something longer lasting.  Second, we are upgrading our rubber brake lines with stainless steel braided lines. Third, we are flushing the ancient (and possibly original) brake fluid with something fresh.  Fourth, we are fixing our faulty brake booster. And finally, we are going to fix the ABS, which has been broken since the day we bought the truck. We’d have LOVED to find a big brake kit for this truck, but the only Isuzus that have BBK options are those that are GM rebadges.  Sure we could have engineered one out of GM or Honda parts (Isuzu has shared platforms with both OEMs), but guessing and checking on a daily driver isn’t such a hot idea (plus, having a daily driver down while waiting on parts to be machined isn’t an option). So massaging our original parts as best we can is the best option for our truck.

Starting with pads, we are moving off the EBCs and onto Hawk HPS pads all around.  These are a fairly mild pad, but are more aggressive than the factory. We are hoping they will last longer and be less dusty than the EBCs were.  We think the main reason the EBCs were so bad were the fact that the factory brakes are just too small for the big truck. With single piston calipers, pads that don’t have a ton of surface area, and relatively small 11” rotors, the pads are going to be the weakest link.  

Actually that’s a lie.  Hawk does not offer HPS pads for the rear of the VX.  Instead we found out that Brembo offers an OEM replacement style pad for Isuzus that fits perfectly into the rear calipers of our VehiCross.  Shwing!

Our stainless steel brake lines came from our friends at Independent4X.  Some of you may be asking who in their right mind would make stainless steel brake lines for a truck?  Well, these are actually extended brake lines, perfect for those who will flex their Isuzus over rocks and ruts (since tearing a brake line when off-roading could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere).  They are necessary if you are adding big lift to your Isuzu, but they are also useful to those who want better pedal feel out of their truck, or are replacing crusty, old, leaking lines.

These are wonderful parts and include brand new crush washers and clips, as well as OEM quality fittings.  The I4X lines come with this fancy red sheathing that prevents the line from chafing anything it rubs against.  Very smart! If that weren’t enough these lines are DOT approved so you can be assured they meet the same quality standards the OEM lines did.  Best of all, the price for all 5 lines (one for each caliper and one to connect the rear axle to the chassis) means they are only slightly more expensive than their OEM counterparts.  They are a great investment to any old Isuzu.

2 comments

  1. Maybe I skimmed it too quickly, but were the calipers in good working shape? No chance of sticky/stuck calipers?

    I do find that most Japanese manufacturers (imo) undersizes brakes on their regular cars. On my old Highlander, a very quick stop from 160km/h to 0km/h would seriously put the brakes to test(did that once). I didn’t encounter adequately sized brakes until I got my Mazdaspeed3, and even then they somehow were just huge single piston sliding behemoths.

    PS: With the new website format, are all the old accounts and such gone? We use this name and email format to comment now?

    1. Calipers were fine. We cleaned the sliding pins and re-greased them when we replaced the pads, but that’s all they needed.

      if the VX’s brakes were more consistent they’d be a lot better. Even with the repairs, the pedal can be a bit vague. Feels like there isn’t enough vacuum on the booster or something along those lines. Still a great rig though and the upgrades we added made a noticeable difference.

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