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Car enthusiasts modify their cars with performance parts so that the car will go faster, stop faster, and look better at the same time. One popular modification that’s used for more stopping power is a big brake kit, since most enthusiasts think that the bigger the rotors the better. But are they really worth the money and the effort?

What is a big brake kit?

Wilwood Brake Rotor
Wilwood Brake Rotor | Wilwood

A big brake kit is just as its name implies; it’s a kit that typically consists of larger-than-stock brake rotors, upgraded brake pads and rotors, stainless-steel brake lines, and fittings. There are many companies that produce big brake kits in the aftermarket. Some of the most well-known brands are Brembo, Wilwood, EBC Brakes, and Stoptech, to name a few.

The beauty of purchasing a big brake kit is that you can upgrade your car’s stock brake system for one single price without needing to piece all of the components together separately. Additionally, many companies will tailor big brake kits for specific uses like daily driven street duty, track-only purposes, or a combination of both. However, it should be noted that not every vehicle application is covered, so your specific car may or may not have a big brake kit available for it.

Can bigger brakes really stop your car better than the stock OEM brakes?

The stock brake system that your car is equipped with is meant to provide enough stopping power at nearly all speeds in a smooth and quiet manner. However, if you have modified your car to produce a lot more power than what it came out of the factory with, then you may need to upgrade your brake system.

According to Buy Brakes, larger brake rotors can improve a car’s stopping performance due to their increased surface area, which will, in turn, increase the car’s braking power. Since the pads and rotors are bigger than stock, the pads will have more surface area to grab onto, which will make the car stop shorter. Also, big brake kits usually come with larger brake calipers with more pistons for a better bite.

Big brake kits aren’t just for race cars

A car mechanic changes the brake disc of a Range Rover Evoque in a garage.
A car mechanic changes the brake disc of a Range Rover Evoque in a garage. | (Photo by Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images)

While you can find a big brake kit for most enthusiast cars like the Mazda Miata, the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, and even a Honda Civic, you can also find them for trucks and SUVs. While many enthusiasts will upgrade their car’s braking system to withstand race track abuse, many truck and SUV owners will upgrade their brakes for towing and off-road applications as well.

Is a big brake kit worth the money?

A Tesla logo can be seen on the rim and brake shoe of a Tesla Model X electric vehicle at the new Tesla Service Center.
A Tesla logo can be seen on the rim and brake shoe of a Tesla Model X electric vehicle at the new Tesla Service Center. | (Photo by Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images)

When shopping for a big brake kit, you’ll likely run into a lot of expensive options. Many kits can cost around $1,000 to $3,000 or more depending on your application. However, it really depends on how you plan to use the car. If you’re only planning to drive the car on the street with some track days here and there, then a better set of brake pads, stainless steel lines, and higher-temp brake fluid could work just fine. In that case, a big brake kit could be overkill for the car and your wallet.

However, if you plan to install the big brake kit on a track-only race car that you’re building, then the upgrade could be worth the money. Just like upgrading the horsepower on your car, upgrading its braking system can provide better performance. But how much of that performance you need really depends on how you will use the car.