4WD MODIFICATIONS - SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Bendix’s Ultimate 4WD Big Brake Upgrade Kits deliver improved braking performance for some dual cab utes and wagons.
As any experienced outback traveller knowns, most dual-cab utes on offer in the Australian market are substantially ‘underdone’ for hauling heavy loads and towing heavy vans or trailers over long distances on rough roads. That’s why 4WD suspension aftermarket suppliers are doing so well Down Under!
Because most of them are underdone in gross vehicle mass (GVM) terms, dual-cab utes also don’t have great braking performance when loaded or towing. You can’t buy a car with drum rear brakes these days, but most utes have rear drums. (Most of them are designed and built for the Thai market – the largest per-capita pick-up market in the world – where there’s a peculiar law, insisting that all pickups have leaf rear springs and drum brakes.)
Before developing its upgrade kits, Bendix’ testing of a Holden Colorado showed a braking distance from 80km/h of approximately 50 metres. With added weight in the form of vehicle accessories, camping equipment and four occupants – an extra 680kg of mass – the stopping distance grew to approximately 75 metres.
ADR-compliant Ultimate 4WD Big Brake Upgrade Kits were designed to address this situation.
Bendix’s testing of an unmodified, laden Dual Cab PX Ford Ranger 4×4 showed that stopping distance from 80km/h was 41.5 metres. When this same vehicle was fitted with both front and rear kits, stopping distance dropped to 32.5 metres – an improvement of nine metres or around 1.5 car lengths.
The Bendix Ultimate 4WD Big Brake Upgrade Kits are 100-percent legal and comply with Australian Design Rules, Bendix said. However, Vic, NSW, ACT, SA and TAS registered vehicles will need an engineering inspection, to ensure the kits have been installed properly and are functioning correctly, after which a ‘mod plate’ will be issued.
In more enlightened QLD and WA, Bendix have a pre-authorised LG1 certificate and all that’s required after fitment is to advise the registration authority of the installation.
The front kit includes larger-diameter disc rotors, six-piston monobloc callipers with bracket mounts, brake pads and braided brake hoses. The Bendix six-piston callipers deliver greater pressure to the brake pads, resulting in shorter stopping distances.
The larger rotors are a generous 365mm in diameter and feature a ‘Diamond Tip Slot’ that allows gases to escape in demanding driving situations, maintaining braking performance and consistent pedal feel. The rotor design also offers improved self-cleaning qualities.
The rotors incorporate high carbon metallurgy, for improved durability and stopping power. SwiftFit surface protection allows the rotors to be fitted without the need to clean or treat them with anti-rust oil.
Complementing the rotors are Ultimate 4WD Brake Pads that have been designed for use with slotted rotors. The pads have ceramic friction material that has low dust and noise properties, while providing high temperature stability and excellent fade resistance.
Also included is mechanical retention system (MRS) backing plate technology that’s used in commercial vehicle brake pads, to improve pad attachment strength in heavy duty operating conditions.
SAE J1401-approved Ultimate 4WD Brake Hoses comply with international design standards and offer the added protection of a braided line with sleeve.
Also provided with each Kit are a litre of Bendix Heavy Duty Brake Fluid, a can of Bendix Clean-up, a tube of Ceramasil brake-parts lubricant and a 60-litre Bendix-branded icebox.
Of course, the larger disc diameter and bigger calliper package means that an 18-inch wheel is the minimum size for this conversion. However, some wheel profiles won’t fit over the Bendix brakes, so fitment needs to be checked beforehand.
At the rear
The rear Ultimate 4WD Big Brake Upgrade Kit is a drum-to-disc conversion that replaces the OE drum assembly with disc rotors and hydraulic callipers. The installation of the kit requires the removal of all components from the vehicle axle ends, which is why the kit comes complete with replacement bearings and seals. ABS rings and collars are also included for some vehicle models.
The kit includes a replacement park brake mechanism that’s actuated using the OE park brake cable. The park brake shoes operate inside drum-in-disc castings that are integral with the rotors.
Bendix Brake Hoses, Ultimate 4WD Brake Pads and the ancillary components from the front kits are also included.
As at mid-2022, front Ultimate 4WD Big Brake Upgrade Kits were available for Ford Ranger (PX, PX II & PX III); Holden Colorado (RG & RG2), Colorado 7 (RG); Isuzu D-Max (TFR, TFS & RG), M-UX (RG); Mazda BT-50 (UP & UR); Mitsubishi Triton (MQ & MR); Nissan Navara (D23 & NP300) and Toyota HiLux (Gen 7, KUN26, GGN25, Gen 8 and GUN136).
Rear Ultimate 4WD Big Brake Upgrade Kits were available for the Ford Ranger (PX, PX II & PX III), Isuzu D-Max (RG) and Toyota HiLux (Gen 8 & GUN 136).
The Kit RRPs in mid-2022 were $4300 for fronts and $3750 for rears and additional Kits for more models were in the pipeline.
Kits for the LandCruiser 300 Series were released in late 2023.