4 x 4 Australia
BRAKE ’EM LIKE BENDIX
WITH 160,000KM ON THE CLOCK, IT WAS TIME TO PERFORM SOME MAINTENANCE ON THE FJ CRUISER – STARTING WITH A BRAKE UPGRADE FROM BENDIX
ONE of the joys of buying a secondhand four-wheel drive with a few kilometres under its belt, despite having a full-service history, is that there are bound to be issues regardless. While I’m happy so far with the FJ Cruiser, I noticed there was a bit of brake shudder when coming down the infamous Lapstone Hill in the Blue Mountains. On closer inspection, there was plenty of meat on the brake pads and the rotors hadn’t developed any lipping to indicate excessive wear – there was, however, plenty of heat spots on the front rotors, which explained the brake shudder.
Now, I’m not one to do things by halves. My motto when it comes to 4WDS is: if you break it, you upgrade it. I was advised I couldn’t have the rotors machined due to the heat spots, so it was time for new front rotors. As I’m planning on further accessorising the FJ Cruiser, thus adding weight, this was the right time to upgrade the stock braking system to something that would better suit my needs. I’d much rather do this early on in the piece, rather than fit all the gear and then discover the factory brakes aren’t up to scratch when I need them most.
Enter the Ultimate 4WD Brake Upgrade Kit from Bendix, which I chose for a few key reasons. Firstly, they had them in stock and could get the parts shipped ASAP, something I found refreshing in this current climate. Secondly, the kit was complete, with everything required for Shannon, my mechanic at Advanced Installation Service in Emu Heights (NSW), to perform the installation. Lastly, the kit came in a sweet 60L icebox, and I’m a sucker for a good stubby holder.
The rear brakes on the FJ were in good condition, so we opted to fit a front kit with extended braided brake lines all ’round; I’ll be raising the suspension soon, so it’s wise to think ahead if you are considering this upgrade.
Let’s take a look at what you get in the kit, and how the installation went.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
MY mechanic and I were very impressed with the packaging and how complete the kit was when it arrived. Every component was included in the box, from the new upgraded rotors and pads, right down to new clips and pins for the front calipers, and even some rotor wipes to ensure they were clean before installation.
This is the gear included in the Ultimate 4WD Brake Upgrade Kit from Bendix:
• Bendix Ultimate brake rotors
• Front set of Bendix Ultimate 4WD
• Front and rear extended braided
• Two bottles of brake fluid
• A can of brake cleaner
• A tube of brake parts lubricant
• Bendix rotor wipes
• New clips and caliper guide pins
• A 60L icebox with stubby holder, as
a cherry on top … sweet!
THE installation was fairly straightforward, thanks to the expert touch of my mechanic Shannon. I asked at the start of the process if this was an easy job, and Shannon told me that, as far as brakes go, the FJ wasn’t a challenging job. It still took a few hours, as we had to stop for photography.
Once the vehicle was up on the hoist and all four wheels were off, he hooked in to the front end. There are two 17mm bolts that hold each caliper on the vehicle; with those removed the calipers were tied up out of the way so the rotors could be replaced. While the rotor was off, Shannon took the time to wirewheel the hub area, cleaning any rust and road grime, giving a much neater final finish. Shannon also mentioned the pads have to be installed in the right orientation, and to look at the part numbers to see which pad goes where.
The brake lines were next to be removed and replaced with the Bendix braided lines. This took the most time during the installation, as there are six lines that need to be removed and replaced with the extended blue braided brake lines. With the lines replaced, it was time to bleed the entire system, which took a few goes to get spot on – I’m a fussy customer.
All in all, it took a few hours to get the job done, but it would take much less time if you don’t have a photographer getting in the way. Now the brakes have been upgraded, it’s time for a road test to see how the brakes feel and if the shudder is gone.