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Upgrading the Brakes on Your S550 Mustang

Upgrading the Brakes on Your S550 Mustang

As with most things, it’s all about speed; safety’s third! However, an upgraded brake system will not only allow for faster track times but have better all-around performance while still being easy to drive daily. The factory brakes are designed to handle factory power, so if you're looking to bolster your Mustang's engine, don't leave out stopping power.

Shop S550 Big Brakes

Big brake kits take the guess work out of piecing together a brake set for you Mustang. Big brakes can handle more heat and horsepower to bring your Mustang safely to a stop in some of the most demanding conditions.

Shop Big Brakes

How Do the Stock Systems of the S550 Compare to Previous Years?

Ford really upped their game with this one. Depending on the model, there are options for a 6-piston caliper setup (the GT PP). Even in factory form, the S550 in stock form on base models (V6, EB) utilizes the same setup as the previous generation GT. However, the EcoBoost model can still be further upgraded with the PP. 

Why Do I Need to Upgrade My Mustang's Brakes?

One of the most important aspects of owning a performance car is being able to get it to stop. Spirited driving will cause increased brake temperatures, since you will constantly using the brakes. Base brakes are prone to fade when excessive heat builds in them. By upgrading a few key components, you can increase the stopping power of your Mustang, giving you more confidence when pushing the envelope! Most people focus on getting their Mustang to accelerate faster, but nothing will ruin your day faster than your Mustang not being able to stop just as quickly! It’s important to choose the right brake set up for your application, in order to make sure you’re not wasting your money, or that your brakes aren’t lacking for the type of driving you do!

2015 EcoBoost Mustang Stock Front Brakes

Upgrading the V6 and EcoBoost Brakes

If you have a base V6 or Ecoboost Mustang, you have 2 piston calipers with 12.6” rotors. These work well for a car thats being used only as a street car, but when put in a high performance setting they will fade much faster than a larger caliper and rotor will. To prevent brake fade, you need to increase the thermal capacity of the braking system. By increasing the diameter of the rotor and the size of the caliper, you offer a larger heat sink. Increasing the number of pistons in the caliper will also increase the amount of force exerted on the rotor, and offer a more even and consistent brake feel. One of the most economical ways of upgrading the rotors and calipers on your V6 or non-Performance Pack Ecoboost is by buying some GT take off brakes, or by ordering them from the dealership. The GT comes standard with 4 piston calipers and 14” rotors in the front, along with 13” rotors in the rear.

2015 EcoBoost Mustang with Four Piston Calipers

Upgrading GT Brakes

If your Mustang GT did not come from the factory with the Performance Pack upgrade, you can upgrade your base 4 piston calipers with the Performance Pack brakes by ordering the Ford Racing Big Brake Upgrade. This gives you the 6 piston front calipers, with 15” front rotors and a 13.8” rear rotor. Brembo also offers brake upgrade kits for the GT, Ecoboost, and V6, but the Ford Racing kit is by far the most economical. You can also upgrade your pads and rotors to a performance brake pad with drilled or slotted rotors if you don’t want to pony up for a big brake kit.

2015 Mustang with Brembo Brakes

Brake Lines and Fluid Upgrades

Factory fluid is not design with the performance enthusiast in mind, and neither are the brake lines. Factory lines are soft and prone to expansion when braking, so swapping them out for a stiffer stainless steel line will give you a firmer and more responsive pedal. If you’re going to be swapping calipers, adding lines at the same time is a no-brainer. Factory brake fluid has a boiling point of around 300º-400º. If you get your brake temperatures hot enough to boil the fluid, you will have severe brake failure. Flushing the factory fluid with a performance brake fluid can increase the boiling point of your brake fluid by about 100º, allowing you to push your brakes harder without having to worry about boiling the fluid.

Mustang Stainless Brake Lines from Russell

Brake Pad and Rotor Upgrades

For the modder on a budget looking to improve the bite of their brakes, a good set of brake pads and slotted or drilled rotors will offer you a cost effective way to stop faster and harder without experiencing brake fade. Drilled rotors dissipate heat faster than solid rotors, and using a higher temperature pad compound will offer you a higher threshold without brake fade. Brake fade is where the amount of heat generated on the brake system is too great. As a result, performance suffers. However, having different rotors, such as drilled rotors, can allow for better release of heat. This release will retain the optimal braking performance of the system. When upgraded pads and rotors are paired with stainless lines and new fluid, you’ll be able to get performance that is leaps and bounds above stock, without breaking the budget.

Changing brake pads also has a significant impact on changing the performance of the brakes. Brake pads are the pieces that literally begin the process of slowing down the car; the better performance a pad is directly impacts the braking performance. However, the performance of brake pads can be reduced with brake fade. For a daily driver/non-racing application, changing rotors and pads is all that is really needed for the majority of drivers.  

Perks of Upgrading Brake Calipers

In addition to changing the brake pads and rotors, consider the idea of getting upgraded brake calipers. Upgraded brake calipers can include larger calipers that house more pistons. A higher piston count gives more pressure zones, which in turn gives a higher friction coefficient. This provides with more even braking. In certain setups, this can also result in larger pads which also provide a larger friction service.

Going from 2 to 4 Piston Mustang Brakes

While there is no specific kit at the time, the hardware is pretty basic. You would need items such as the brake calipers, rotors, brake lines, and different brake pads. With the exception of fittings being 100%, the majority of the swap should be plug and play. The primary concern is the proper fitment of the wheels. It is best to do a test fit with the wheels/calipers before installing.

Base V6 and EcoBoost Owners Should Consider:

  • Installing new or take off GT calipers and rotors
  • Installing the Ford Racing 6 piston upgrade
  • Installing performance brake pads
  • Replacing rubber factory lines with stainless steel lines
  • Flushing factory brake fluid out with a performance fluid

Performance Pack EcoBoost Owners Should Install:

  • Ford Racing 6 piston brake upgrade
  • Installing performance brake pads
  • Replacing rubber factory lines with stainless steel lines
  • Flushing factory brake fluid with a performance fluid

GT Owners Should Upgrade Their Brake By:

  • Installing the Ford Racing 6 piston brake upgrade
  • Installing drilled or slotted rotors
  • Installing performance brake pads
  • Installing stainless steel brake lines
  • Replacing stock brake fluid with performance fluid

Performance Pack GT Owners Can Install:

  • Drilled or slotted rotors
  • More aggressive brake pads
  • Stainless steel lines
  • Upgraded brake fluid
Reinstalling a Wheel on a 2015 EcoBoost Mustang

Quick Braking Tips

  • For a daily driven Mustang, upgrading your pads and rotors will help in emergency situations and for dealing with heavy traffic
  • If you're looking to fill your rims for a big brake look, a big brake kit is what you need
  • Reducing weight is important for dragster builds. If you have a dedicated drag 'Stang, there are brake kits designed for the short runs
  • For autocross Mustangs, the frequent braking demands upgrading the fluid to better handle the increased temperatures
  • Track Mustangs needs as much braking as you can fit. Heat dissipation is key of course as well as durability

Mustang Brake Upgrades for the Street

There are a number of different options available for the street driven Mustang. If you use your Mustang as a daily driver and are only looking for a bit more bite from your brakes, upgrading the pads and rotors will offer you more stopping power and a higher temperature threshold before brake fade sets in.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for an aggressive big brake look, you’ll benefit from both the stopping power and looks of a big brake kit. Before buying a big brake kit, check to make sure that your wheels will fit, because not all wheels will clear the massive calipers and rotors offered in big brake kits.

Mustang Brakes Upgrades for Drag Racing

If you spend the majority of your seat time drag racing your Mustang, getting a set of brakes that can stop you quickly at the end of the quarter mile is important. It’s also necessary to get something that is lightweight, so you don’t slow your ETs down.

Going with a big brake kit can make it harder for you to find drag wheels that clear the large front calipers, and the extra rotational mass will hinder your 1/4 mile performance. There are lightweight drag brakes available that will drop a significant amount of rotational mass from your Mustang. You need to keep in mind though, that not all drag brake kits are safe for the street, and are only designed to be used for a short period to slow the car after a run. Another option is to upgrade just your pads and rotors. By doing this you can reduce or eliminate brake fade, since the brakes have time to cool down after your 1/4 blast.

Mustang Brakes Upgrades for Autocross

Killing cones is a popular pastime for lots of Mustang owners and brake fade can be an issue when you’re ripping around a parking lot and getting on the brakes frequently. Upgrading the pads, rotors, brake lines, and switching to a higher temperature brake fluid on your autocross Mustang is a wise choice.

Like drag racers, autocrossers need to keep rotational mass down to help keep their lap times down. Since they are constantly speeding up and slowing down in such a short period of time, the lighter the components, the better. Big brake kits will likely not be very beneficial to the autocrosser, and drag brakes will not be able to handle the heat generated by repeated brake application.

By adding a higher temperature brake fluid like DOT 4 or DOT 5.1, you’ll be able to get on the brakes harder without having to worry about boiling the fluid.

Mustang Brake Upgrades for Road Course or Track Days

If you track your car frequently, you understand how much a beating your brakes can take when you’re making lots of high speed laps. Even the factory Performance Pack brakes can be underpowered for the serious racer.

If you do a lot of track days, you may want to upgrade to a more race oriented set of Brembos. They feature lighter and more rigid monoblock calipers compared to stock two-piece calipers. They also come with two-piece rotors which have an aluminum hat.

The aluminum hat will shave some rotational weight from your brakes, and in the long run can save you money because you only have to replace the friction surface. The high end Brembo kits also feature floating rotors, which allow the rotor to expand and move around when it’s heated, offering better braking performance and reducing stress on the rotor.

While these kits are costly, the braking performance is second to none for those hardcore track rats!

Fitment includes: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, GT, V6, EcoBoost, ShelbyGT350