From the day I got my Suzuki, I always felt the brakes were a tad on the useless side. If you compare it to other modern cars their brakes are very sharp and sensitive. Those are two words I would certainly NOT use to describe the Jimny’s brakes.
About 2 years later and with a lot of mods, weight and hard wear on the car, the stock brake pads were eventual finished. I thought this would be the most economical time to do something about the lacking brakes.
After some heavy googling and research I found that there are quite a number of options that you can do in the brake upgrade department, ranging from simple & quick to complex and expensive. I have listed them below in order of easiness.
Brake Upgrade Options
- Install better brake pads
- Greenstuff pads is a common one – Link
- Install new slotted discs along with new brake pads (this is the option I went with)
- PowerBrake sells a kit with new slotted high carbon discs & mintex pads.
- Convert the rear drum brakes to disc brakes
- Not so simple or cheap, either custom or import expensive kits.
- Upgrade the front discs to a larger diameter & vented disc from a Vitara
- This involves finding brake callipers from an old Vitara, and building custom brackets to fit them, you will also have to machine the ID on the Vitara disc to fit around the Jimny hubs.
I opted to go for option number 2:
Upgraded Discs & Pads
I decided to go for the simplest method, this is a straight bolt-on kit, with no modifications or any tampering to the braking system. I wanted something that was standard so that if we have issues when Overlanding I was able to get a part standard to any Jimny and carry on along my trip. I opted to go for the Power Brake slotted high carbon discs & mintex brake pads.
Step 1: Remove the old brakes
Start by parking the car on a reasonably level surface. Hand brake up. Then Jack up the front and remove the wheel.
Remove the disc from the hub.
Then once this is done, you will be able to remove the disc. This is not always so easy as it can be really tight or get rusted up. Generally, you gotta use a bit of force and just hit it with a hammer to brake the seal. Then there are two threaded holes in the discs, which you can drive an m8 bolt into which will help push the disc away from the hub.
Clean the hub
Next step is very important. Your wheel hub is going to be rather dirty and have some old rust / gunk that has build up there over time. Now this is not so easy to clean as the wheel bolts are in the way. I used a wire brush on a battery powered drill.
If you do not clean the hub properly the new discs are not going to fit straight onto the wheel hub, this is not good at all as you can imagine. So my advice is to take the time and clean them up as best as possible. You don’t want to redo all this when you take it for a drive and it shudders.
Install the new discs & Pads
Next step is to install the new discs onto our nice and clean hub. NB there are left and right discs for the PowerBrake discs. Please check the stickers on them to make sure. Also, keep in mind that you do not want any oils (even finger marks etc on your new discs & pads. It’s best to wear some mechanics gloves here. And never spray any lubricant etc onto the brakes.
Install the new brake pads.
Next step is to install the new pads into the caliper. Remove the old ones, taking note how the fit in and how that little clip holds them in place, you will put the new ones in exactly the same way.
One very important step is to MANUALY push the calliper piston back, this is because our new brake pads are MUCH thicker than the old worn ones. Do this using a water pump plier. Just squeeze it closed with medium force.
Clean up the brake caliper sliders.
This step may be optional, but when I did my right hand side one I noticed that the caliper its self seemed slightly skew (not 90 degrees to the disc). After some investigation it turned out that the sliders had sceided up. at first this worried me, but it was actualy quit a simple fix.
This was fairly simple to fix, I remove the booties on one side, and pushed the shaft / cylinder out. I then cleaned it up on the wire brush. I then put some grease in the housing and pushed it all back together. Again take extreme caution not to mess or spill any grease etc on the discs or pads. Once I did this, I then went back to my left wheel and actually undid everything to also just check those. This is most likely caused from water crossings and years of dirt and dust getting in there.
Once all this was done, I put all the bolts back using a small amount of lock tite and ensure everything was torqued correctly. You do not want your brake bolts falling out. Put the Calliper back over the new pads and then bolted it all up.
It’s best to not put the wheels back on yet, as it’s easier to bleed the brakes when they are off. You simply have better access to the bleed nipple.
Bleed the brake system.
Next step, I would highly recommend doing a complete brake fluid flush. This is not as hectic or scary as it sounds. But if you are replacing your brakes, your car has probably got a good few years or Kms on it. Brake fluid is so cheap in the greater scheme of things. I would recommend buying a good quality DOT 4 brake fluid and flushing the system completely. I am no pro and I would recommend googling how to do this your self. All I know is that you do not want to completely drain the system as you would get air bubbles everywhere. Best is to bleed from each wheel until your brake reservoir is LOW (not empty) and then top it up with the new brake fluid. Repeat this 3 times, ensuring that the new fluid was in all pipes all the way to calipers.
Running in the brakes
So now your first instinct would be to pull out the garage and hit 80km and try your first emergency brake. Unfortunately, this is not the case. With both new discs and pads, you need to start slowly wearing them in. On the PowerBrake install manual, they say that you must drive normal town driving no harsh or extreme braking for ~300km of driving. This allows the pads and discs to bed in.
Once you have them slightly warn in you have to perform a brake bed in procedure. see details below