Power Slot rotors and Hawk Performance Brake pads
Installation for the 2003/4/5 Dodge 5.7 HEMI RAM 1500 (2WD or 4X4)
By Mark Simonds (MrHemi)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Well it finally happened to me… warped rotors. I have read numerous posts on the HemiTruckClub forum about ’03 and ’04 Dodge Ram owners who have had this problem… with anywhere from 5k to 20k miles on the truck, the stock rotors and/or brake pads begin to fail. I just went over 20k miles – I thought I was going to be one of the lucky ones. And then it happened… on the way back from HTC’s first annual Rally in Daytona Beach, I noticed the steering wheel shuddered whenever I applied the brakes! The stopping power that I felt when I first bought the truck seemed to have diminished as well. So much for being one of the “lucky ones”… I am unsure of the exact cause of the problem concerning the Ram’s front brakes – could be inferior materials used on the rotors and pads, could be an undersized rotor, could be inadequate cooling fins… who knows. I can tell you that if your truck has less than 12k miles, Daimler Chrysler will fix the problem under warranty (by replacing the defective rotors and/or pads with a new version of the same exact part they just took off). But if you’re like me and are well over that 12k odometer mark, you’re on your own.
I did not want a repeat of this situation any time soon, so I knew I didn’t want the OE rotors and pads. I wanted a high performance set-up… but something that didn’t cost an arm and a leg (like the SRT-10 front brake system – at $1,000). I wanted slotted rotors and a beefy set of brake pads – preferably pads that limit the amount of dust on the rims. So it was time for some Internet searching… and I found exactly what I was looking for… Power Slot rotors and Hawk Performance brake pads.Here’s an excerpt from http://www.powerslot.com/platm.html - they can explain the technology aspect much better than I can… “Heat is the primary cause of ineffective brakes due to fade. There is actually a “boundary layer” of gases that builds up between the pad and rotor surface which inhibits performance. Here’s where Power Slot rotors make a big difference. The exclusive Vac-U-Slots machined into the rotor “wipes” brake pads clean, evacuates gases, and sheds heat. A combination of a “high performance pad” and Power Slot rotors will provide superior reliable braking for virtually all automotive and truck applications, with an upgrade to larger diameter rotors and bigger calipers typically only needed for the most severe competition applications.Power Slot rotors are manufactured to the highest tolerances keeping SAFETY and quality our number one priority. Slotting, unlike drilling, doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of the rotor. When you drill a rotor you weaken it and cause stress points that can lead to cracking and ultimately failure. Also, drilled rotors lose considerable surface area compared to slotted rotors which means less active braking area for pad to rotor contact.Power Slot rotors are made using the highest quality Original Equipment replacement blanks. Competitors will sacrifice quality by using inexpensive off-shore castings. Typically these are made of inferior porous material and often have less cooling fins than their OE counterpart. These fins also serve to reinforce the rotor and guard against warpage. Power Slot rotors always meet and/or exceed all OE specifications. It’s also important to know that the exclusive Vac-U-Slot is tapered to enhance evacuation of heat and gases. All machining is done in house to Power Performance Group’s application specific tolerances to ensure optimum quality control. The final touch is a military-spec cadmium plating that gives Power Slot rotors their bright silver finish and protects the rotor from the elements.” Check out http://www.hawkperformance.com/home.cfm for information on the benefits of high performance brake pads.
I ordered the rotors and brake pads from http://www.truckperformance.com, and now it was time to do the installation. Total time spent on the install was about 2.5 hours, and with the exception of a torque wrench and a “C” clamp, only basic hand tools are required for this install. After removal of the tire, the brake caliper was next. There are two bolts that secure the caliper to the rotor… but before you loosen them, loosen the two smaller bolts that hold the upper pad assembly to the caliper. This will be easier to do now then trying to loosen the bolts while the caliper is free from the rotor. After those two bolts are loosened (not removed), remove the two large bolts. A large socket wrench with a breaker bar is ideal… I used a piece of 2’ long pipe extended over the handle of the socket wrench… it worked fine. Once the caliper is removed, place it on the upper control arm for ease of use… do NOT let it hang by the brake line! Remove the two smaller bolts and remove the upper pad assembly. Remove the old pads and clean both parts the caliper with brake cleaner. Try not to get any brake cleaner on the rubber piston boots. Install the new brake pads - make sure you spread “Anti-squeal” or a similar product on the back of the pads before installation… this is a quick way to ensure you will never have squeaky brakes or brake chatter. Re-install the two smaller bolts (hand tighten only for now), and place the caliper back up on the upper control arm… it’s time to install the rotor. Remove the single retaining washer from the stud with a screwdriver – be careful not to mess up the threads on the stud. The rotor will come right off – no banging with a hammer required! Install the new Power Slot rotor making sure you put the one marked “L” on the driver’s side, and “R” on the passenger side. These are directional slotted rotors and the last thing you want to do is get them on backwards. Re-install the retaining washer. Open the hood and remove the cap from the brake reservoir. Since the pads are new and have plenty of surface thickness, there is no way the caliper will slide over the rotor. The two pistons need to be compressed about a ¼” in order for the caliper to fit properly over the rotor. An old friend of mine showed me this trick – you will need a “C” clamp (or any type of woodworker’s clamp), and a piece of 1” x 2” x 8” hardwood (like oak). Place the strip of wood over the two pistons (after ensuring the piston’s rubber boot is clean and free of debris). Place the clamp over the wood and outer surface of the caliper, and gently tighten the clamp until you see the pistons compress slightly.This is the reason for removing the reservoir cap… you will be pushing brake fluid back up into the reservoir. You may have to do this a couple of times before you get the proper fit (you don’t want a lot of room between the pads and the rotor).Once you get the caliper to slide over the rotor, re-install the large caliper bolts and torque them down to 55 foot pounds. Torque the smaller two bolts to 30 foot pounds. Don’t forget to replace and tighten the brake reservoir cap! Place the tire back on and torque the lug nuts to about 90 foot pounds (if you have a 2500 model, torque is increased to 130 foot pounds).
The last item required for this brake upgrade is to ensure the pads are seated properly to the rotors. The first thing I had to do was hop in the truck and step on the brake pedal several times… this is done so the pads adjust and sit on the rotors correctly. Your brake pedal may go right to the floor when you first step on the brake – this is normal. Apply the brake a few more times and the pedal with firm up to the usual position. Take the truck out for a road test, applying the brake gently a few times. Then get up to a speed of 35-40 mph and brake down to 10 mph. Do this 6-10 times. The final step in the break-in process is to get up to speeds of 55 mph and brake fairly hard down to 25 mph. Do this 3-5 times and you’re done! I felt the benefits of the Power Slot rotors and Hawk Performance brake pads immediately… much, much better stopping power and most importantly – no more pulsating/shuddering steering wheel when the brake is applied! I highly recommend this upgrade… even if you do not have the symptoms I was experiencing, when the time comes to change your brakes, upgrade to Power slot rotors and Hawk brake pads. You will not be disappointed!