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BRAKES - Pad types & choices for the MINI Cooper & S
I know I keep dragging this one out for an airing but it’s continually ignored by far too many folk - the only way to get the best from what you have is to betotally honest with yourself about your Mini’s main usage. Delusions ofgrandeur cause severe disappointment, and tears before bedtime. Fitting a set ofpads to your road Mini because you think you drive like Michael Schumacher, andyour Mini’s built around a ‘race’ theme, with ‘race-spec’ brakes isgoing to get you into severe bother. Nine times out of ten they won’t workproperly.
Despite a particular pad type having a high ‘Mu’ designate doesn’t mean to say it’ll give you the best braking potential. They’re generally made in a harder compound so may also give unacceptable levels of disc wear, noise output (squeal), or judder. A pad that gives excellent performance at lower temperatures may have unacceptable pad wear, and create excessive corrosive dust.
So what you need is a pad that works from cold, gives strong initial bite,gradually decreasing ‘Mu’ during the stop and through consecutive stops nomatter how frequent/infrequent, no squeal or judder, minimal pad wear, maximumdisc life, usable on road and track, tolerate a mile wide heat range, and lastbut not least, cost a fortune. Seemingly impossible - or is it?
Heat of battle
The main factor to establish then is the heat range your brakes are working in. Todecide on which pads best suit this you can either rely on theexperience/knowledge of your friendly Mini and /or brake specialist, or measurethe temperature your brake set-up is developing. To assist in the former, I’vejotted down my two-penny-worth in the accompanying chart. By no means the entireselection available these days - but a very broad cross-section of what'savailable. Achieving the latter is relatively simple. Thermal paints andstick-on tabs are available from brake specialists that are applied to the edgeof the disc. They change colour when certain temperatures are achieved,indicating a certain running temperature range. Maybe excessive for road use,but an absolute must for accurate pad selection when competing to avoid loads of'trial and error' testing…
BRAKE PAD PERFORMANCE CHART.
Allvaluations based on a 1 to 5 scale where 1 is worst, 5 is best except thefollowing:
Generalnotes on pad types
CarbonMetallic pads. Made in USA by Performance Industries, heralded as the latest andgreatest in brake pad technology. And they were when they first arrived. Formedby combining carbon and iron particles, fused together by a special sinteringprocess. Developed for ‘real’ race cars (the compound is the sameirrespective of vehicle application) but used by one and all despiteshort-comings as they bettered the established marques (Ferodo, Mintex).Recommended to be used with non-drilled/grooved discs to try and maintain highoperating temperatures. Pros - Highfriction coefficient, broad operating temperature range, no fade. Cons- savage disc wear, full potential rarely used on Mini (insufficientweight/speed), high heat transfer to caliper/fluid (causes fluid boiling),grabby in operation - especially in the wet! Can be very noisy, limited range,expensive.
MintexM1144 pads. Part of new ‘C-Tech’ range ofasbestos-free pads. Superseded the old and ‘favoured’ M171 compound, but hasbeen struggling to achieve similar performance since the abolition of asbestos.New, superior alternatives could be sounding its death-knell with all but diehard supporters. Pros - wide rangeavailable, marginally better than OE pads, work well from cold. Cons- Prone to squeal, not as effective as old M171, limited effective temperaturerange.
Pagidpads. One of the ‘new kids on the block’ and are counted amongst the selectfew pad manufacturers that develop compounds for specific vehicle applicationsrather than a single compound type applied to all vehicles. Consequently theircompound for Mini applications is dedicated to the type of vehicle/use. Pros- Specific compound development means no compromise for application, works wellfrom cold, extensive effective temperature range, low disc wear, low pad wear,no ‘noise’. An excellent pad. Cons- very limited range, compound exclusivity development means higher cost.
EBCKevlar pads. Made in England by the renowned motorbike pad manufacturers, andnew in 1998. Kevlar’s a high-strength Aramid fiber, a space-age materialthat’s six times stronger than steel. Despite this it’s flexible, resilient,flame proof, and superlative insulation material. These combined properties makeit ideal for durable, high-quality brake pads providing vast improvements overthe more common high metallic non-asbestos types. Pros- Very low disc damage/wear, no ‘noise’, very high friction/anti-fadebraking, extremely wide effective temperature range keeps production costs downso are cheaper than equivalent pads, enhanced pad life, extensive range. Cons - Erm.
Aword about standard pads - ‘reasonable’. Sticking to Unipart pads, you’llget pretty good results for a road car. Avoid cornflake packet linedafter-market specials. They’re generally rubbish. In fact Unipart pads arepretty good for the hill climb/sprint brigade too. Obviously available for alltypes.
See'Brakes - Pads, function and parameters' for further information.
Allother service items are available separately; see relevant section on site.