Hawk Brake Pads for Your Light Truck or SUV

Friday, November 12, 2010 by Ed Singleton
Hawk Performance LTS PadsHawk Performance brake pads are excellent replacement pads for light duty trucks and SUVs. Hawk Performance LTS Brake Pads have a Ferro-Carbon Compound that was developed utilizing polymer research and carbon fiber processing. Take a look at some of the key features and benefits of the Hawk Performance LTS Brake Pad.
  • Smooth engagement
  • Extremely fade resistant
  • Low noise
  • Low dust
  • Extended pad life
  • Increased rotor life   

When it's time to replace your brake pads, Hawk Performance is the best option.

Brake Fluid Maintenance

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 by Jonas Paeplow

Look through the maintenance schedule in the average owner’s manual and you probably won’t find a specific change interval for brake fluid. But, just because no specific time or mileage recommendations for ­replacing brake fluid exist, doesn’t mean you should ignore it, especially if you are using your car for competition purposes.


As a rule of thumb, the minimum preventative maintenance interval for brake fluid should be at least every two years, more frequently, if the vehicle is used in a high performance, or heavy duty use environment. Brake fluid should always be changed when the brakes pads or shoes are replaced or when replacing a caliper, wheel cylinder, brake line, hose or master cylinder. Bleeding and flushing brake fluid is the best way to minimize the danger of fluid boil and internal corrosion in the brake system.

DOT3 and DOT4 brake fluid contains glycol, as well as various corrosion inhibitors and seal conditioners. When brake fluid is manufactured, it contains no moisture. But the properties of brake fluid make it hygroscopic in nature, meaning it attracts water.

Moisture contamination causes several things to happen. When the fluid absorbs water, it lowers the fluid’s boiling temperature. DOT3 brake fluid, which is most commonly used in domestic cars and light trucks, has a minimum dry boiling point of 401ºF. A 3% level of water contamination will lower the boiling point 25% or 100ºF!


Goodridge G-Stop Brakeline KitAfter just one year of service, DOT3 fluid may contain as much as 2% water. After 18 months, the level of contamination can be as high as 3%. And after several years of service, it’s not unusual to find brake fluid that has soaked up as much as 7-8% water. The problem is even more acute in older vehicles due to internal seal wear and porosity in the brake hoses. Replacing your hoses with a Goodridge G-Stop Brakeline Kit with stainless steel brake lines goes a long way toward reducing this possibility.

Under normal driving conditions, neglected brake fluid may not pose a serious safety concern. The calipers on most cars and trucks won’t get hot enough in everyday driving to make the fluid boil. But under severe conditions, such as: driving down a mountain, towing a heavy trailer or the occasional track day, the brakes may get hot enough to make the fluid boil. Braking generates a lot of heat. A quick stop from 40 or 50 mph can raise the temperature of the front rotors a couple hundred degrees. Several hard, quick stops in rapid succession or riding the brakes while driving, can increase rotor temperatures to 600°F or higher. Since vapor is compressable but liquid is not, once brake fluid turns to vapor, the bubbles cause an increase in the distance the pedal must travel to apply the brakes. This is called “pedal fade” and it may result in brake failure.

You really can’t tell how contaminated brake fluid is just by looking at it. New fluid may be clear to amber-colored. The fluid will typically become darker as it ages, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s contaminated. If you see rust or sediment in the fluid, the fluid is long overdue for a change. High brake temperatures accelerate the rate at which the corrosion inhibitors in brake fluid break down. As the fluid ages, oxidation eats away at metal surfaces, creating dissolved acids and sludge that are carried with the fluid. These contaminants increase seal, piston and bore wear in the calipers, wheel cylinders and master cylinder. They can also damage ABS solenoid valves and cause them to jam and stick.

ATE Type 200 Amber Brake Fluid
ATE Type 200 Amber
Brake Fluid
ATE Super Blue Racing Brake Fluid
ATE Super Blue Racing
Brake Flui

For performance or heavy duty applications I would recommend ATE Type 200 Amber Brake Fluid or ATE Super Blue Racing Brake Fluid. Both are designed to excel within the extreme demands made on a heavy duty or race vehicle and exceed all DOT4 standards. They are compatible with and will mix well with most DOT3, DOT4 or DOT5.1 fluids. Their formulations offer higher boiling points (wet or dry) and minimal drop in boiling point with age, resulting in a longer lasting fluid. By alternating the use of blue and amber colored fluids, evidence of a more complete system flush can be accomplished. When adding fluid to the system, use the type of brake fluid specified by the vehicle manufacturer (DOT3 or DOT4). Brake fluid specifications can be found in the vehicle's owner’s manual, maintenance guide, or on the master cylinder reservoir or filler cap.




Warped rotors? No problem!

Thursday, May 6, 2010 by Adrian Lautaru
I own a 4-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe, a heavy SUV with fairly small brakes. I have replaced the front rotors with Original Equipment equivalent rotors only to replace them again a few months later due to severe warping from the heat generated by every day normal braking.

Cryo-stop rotors have been the solution to my problem. Although they still look like stock rotors, internally the cryogenic treatment has dramatically increased durability and abrasive wear resistance. Installed over 3 years ago and with more than 45k miles, they show no signs of warping or fading. Matched with Hawk LTS pads which have improved stopping power, far better from the original equipment pads.
Cryo-Stop Rotor
Tire Rack carries Cryo-treated rotors to fit most SUVs and trucks on the market today.

Why ask Henry about tires?

Thursday, May 6, 2010 by Henry Carlson
Hi! I have worked at Tire Rack for over 13 years. Part of my job is to test the tires we sell on both the highway and on our test track where I push the tires to their limits in both dry and wet conditions. I test all kinds of tires from Standard Touring All-Season tires, High Performance All-Season tires to Extreme Performance Summer tires. Some of my favorites are the Bridgestone and Firestone performance tires that handle great even in wet. By testing tires I am able to inform customers about the differences in handling as well as noise and comfort levels. I have even tested snow and ice tires in an ice rink!

If you drive a BMW, Porsche, Acura, Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, SUV, mini-van, pick-up truck or anything in between, I can put you into the best tire and price for you and your vehicle.

Tire Rack also carries a large selection of aftermarket wheels that will enhance the appearance and handling of your vehicle in addition to brake pads and rotors as well as suspension parts.

So why ask Henry about tires? The answer is his over 13 years of tire testing experience. During those 13 years I have seen great improvements in all brands of the tires we sell. Visit our website and if you have any questions please contact me at 800-461-5527 ext. 351 and I will be happy to discuss your tire needs.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by Gus Liszewski
I don't know about everyone else, but in my opinion there is nothing worse than not being able to stop. So let's take a minute to talk about brakes. Stopping power is derived from the friction material. Friction material is more commonly known as a brake pad. Pads create friction against the rotor which allows the vehicle to stop. This whole process creates a lot of heat and the heat can be the problem.
Rotors are available from a lot of different sources and and from multiple manufacturers.  Some are a basic metallurgy and normally are not very resistant to the effects of heat. Products sold at Tire Rack manufactured by DBA, Centric, Power Slot, Brembo, and ATE are premium products with metal alloys which have less impurities and will be less likely to have failure due to over heating.

Cryogenic treating is a process that hardens the steel of a rotor and results in a molecular restructuring that makes the surface harder and more durable. Power Slot offers a cryo rotor, and these are strongly recommended for those who spend time on the track or put their vehicle through some extreme conditions.

When it comes to pads, I recommend the Hawk Performance products. Hawk has some of the most consistent products on the market, and offer a wide range of pads starting with a quiet and comfortable ceramic pad, up through pads that are designed to be used on the race track only.  The best part of the HAWK line...they have everything in between too!

When it comes to replacing the wheels and tires on an SUV and plus sizing is the direction that you have chosen to go, remember that with bigger wheels comes higher weights. The rotational mass that comes along with the larger wheels will put more stress on the braking system and this should be considered. The last thing that you want to do is park your newly upgraded truck in the trunk of someone's civic.  

When selecting brake pads and rotors, it is important to remember that you need to consider your driving style, your expectations, and the vehicle's dynamics.
There is something out there for everyone....so stop...and smell the brake dust!

When you buy brake pads, choose from the right performance category.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
As we all know, brake pads are a crucial element of your vehicle. Buy the wrong ones, or install them incorrectly, and a whole heck of a lot can go wrong—that's why we do our best to help you out when you need to buy brake pads. Starting with performance categories. Find out where your vehicle resides, and we can narrow down a selection of brake pads that make sense. Take a look:

PREMIUM:Minimal brake dust, moderate stopping power.
Akebono Euro Ultra-Premium Ceramic
ATE Original
Hawk Performance Ceramic

PERFORMANCE STREET: Noticeable increase in performance for the spirited driver.
Akebono Street Performance
Hawk HPS
Brembo Sport

AUTOCROSS/TRACK: Aggressive brakes for high-speed competitors.
Hawk Black
Hawk DTC-60
Hawk HP Plus

TRUCK/SUV: For large diameter Tire & Wheel Packages that tow or carry heavy loads.
Hawk HP SuperDuty
Hawk LTS

These, of course, are just a few of the brake pad products we offer. Search our entire inventory for a more detailed list of products well-suited to your vehicle.

Akebono ProACT™ Ceramic Disc Brake Pads

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Looking to upgrade from conventional brake pads? Akebono ProACT™ ceramic brakes are an excellent option—they even appear as Original Equipment on some of North America's most popular cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles.

"I chose these pads because I wanted something better than stock, with little fade, and less brake dust that would not eat up my rotors. These fit the bill. I've taken the same pads through two track days and a mountain run and experienced little to no fade and very little dust. Also I experienced NO noise at anytime." — Tire Rack Consumer Review, Lexus GS420, GA

This review, among others, is so positive because of Akebono Ceramic Technology. It works to reduce vibration and harshness. And as ceramic brakes, you'll experience less brake dust, too.

Read more about the Akebono ProACT™ ceramic disc brake pads, then search our brakes online to see which products fit your vehicle.

Brake Pads and Rotors at the Tire Rack, Customize Your Brake System

Thursday, February 18, 2010 by Chad Hocker
Ever thought to buy brake pads and rotors online? With Tire Rack you can buy brake pads and brake rotors of your choice shipped to you, or your installer. Tire Rack has brake components to fit your vehicle broken down into four performance categories to help with the selection process. About a year ago, I noticed my Chevy Impala's brake system was not performing like I remembered. The Impala is used to get me back and forth to work in an efficient manor. All I needed was an Original Equipment replacement level brake product. I selected the Akebono ProACT Ceramic Brake Pads from the Premium Brake Pad category. I always like to use the products  Tire Rack carries to see for myself how they work in the field, so I made the purchase and got to work updating the Impala with my new Akebono ProACT Ceramic Pads.

The Akebono ProAct Ceramic Pads have met my expectations. They work well in rain and dry conditions and do not make a lot of dust. One thing I did notice during winter driving is the Akebono ProAct Ceramic Pads do have a little more initial bite as the front wheels have locked up a few more times than last winter with my O.E. brake pads (no ABS on the Impala). No worries; a small change to my braking style and I'm happy with the overall performance of the brake system on Centric Premium Brake Rotormy car.

Not to forget the brake rotors, as its always a great time to replace brake rotors and brake pads at the same time. The Centric Premium Rotor is a great Original Equipment replacement rotor. One thing I really like about the Centric Premium Rotor is the Electrocoating (E-coating) black finish. The finish really makes the rotors look sharp especially if you have a wheel that shows the rotors or, have a winter wheel that shows the rotor more than the summer wheels.

Check to see which rotors or brake pads work best for your car at Tire Rack. Tire Rack has many brake system options to chose from. I just wanted something like the Original Equipment brake system.  You may want to step it up for some additional performance. Tire Rack can offer you the custom brake pad and rotor package to meet your needs.

Are car and SUV brakes the same?

Thursday, February 18, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Technically speaking, the answer is no. They're very different.

It's fairly obvious that an SUV is larger and therefore weighs more than a car. To reference Sir Isaac Newton, that means a greater force will be needed to stop an SUV when it is in motion. It's the law of physics, and we've made it the law of brakes, too.

SUV brakes take into account stop and go traffic in a larger, heavier vehicle. Also towing, and the fact that SUV wheels and tires are usually larger than those on passenger vehicles. It's important to note, however, that not all Original Equipment or high ceramic pads are capable of handling these factors. And that's why SUV brake pads are so important—because they were designed with all of these factors in mind.

They were designed to reduce stopping distance and pedal effort, which makes vehicle operation even safer.

Outfit your light truck or SUV with SUV-specific brake components to increase your margin of safety and to improve your vehicle's stopping performance. Shop by vehicle, and Tire Rack will produce a list of suitable options.

Hawk Brake Options at the Tire Rack

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 by Chad Hocker
Hawk Performance BrakesLike the many tire options available at the Tire Rack.  There are quite a few brake pads available.  Tire Rack carries Hawk brake pads.  Hawk brakes do a good job offering brake pads in each performance category to enhance your brake system.
  • Hawk HPS Brake Pads
    • For high-speed driving, or repetitive heavy braking.  Offering 20-40% more stopping power and higher resistance to brake fade than most Original Equipment brake pads.
Check the Hawk Brake products by clicking the links above.  Tire Rack also has brake survey reviews if you would like to view them as well as a red colored dot system showing the Stopping Power rating, Low Noise Rating, and Low Dust Rating of each brake pad we carry.

Performance Brake Pads: Which Category Does Your Vehicle Fall Under?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
Performance brake pads aren't just performance brake pads—and that's because brakes aren't as simple as they seem. Different vehicles require different braking systems, and that's why we've grouped our performance brake pads into subsequent categories. Take a look:

Premium: Excellent stopping power for the everyday driver. Premium brake pads lower braking noise levels, and they reduce dust accumulation. Most Original Equipment brake pads fall within this category.

Performance Street: A step up from the Premium category, Performance Street brake pads provide the ultimate in stopping power while resisting fading. If you upgrade to performance tires, you'll want these brake pads, too.

Autocross/Track: Frequent high-speed stopping needs high stopping power, which is the objective of these performance brake pads. They are uniquely formulated to withstand high heat and to resist brake fade.

Truck & SUV: These brake pads are built to withstand stop and go traffic on a bigger vehicle. In addition, they adapt to towing and larger-sized wheels and tires.

See which products fit into these categories:
Passenger Cars
Light Trucks/SUVs

Shop for performance brake pads.

SUV Brakes

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
If you drive an SUV, odds are you have bigger than average wheels and tires. But, have you considered that a bigger vehicle with bigger wheels needs enhanced braking power to bring it to a complete stop? SUV brakes and rotors designed for durability are the answer. Increase overall braking performance with larger rotors and SUV or truck brake pads.

Sound complicated? It's really not. Start your upgrade by selecting a pad that was designed for a truck or SUV, like Hawk LTS brake pads. Then, you'll want to take a look at PowerSlot's Cryo rotors or Brembo's Turismo brake kit which take durability to an entirely different level and contribute to a more aggressive appearance.

      Brembo Turismo Kit

Yes, you can find brake pads online.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
At Tire Rack, all the tools you need to find brake pads online are at your fingertips.

Understand the four performance categories that are available:

• Premium
• Performance Street
• Autocross/Track
• Truck & SUV

Each category serves a distinct purpose for a specific type of vehicle. Check to see what type of brakes you currently have, then asses what it is you'd like to improve. You may want to upgrade your rotors, too. 

There is helpful information in Brakes Tech to outline the performance aspects of braking.

But what makes it easy is that you simply search by vehicle to see a complete list of brake pads and other brake components that will perfectly fit your vehicle. No guesswork is involved.

Performance isn't only about speed. It's about controlling speed.


Why Ceramic Brake Pads?

Friday, August 28, 2009 by BJ Joines

Replacing the brakes on your car or truck can be a costly venture. Picking out the right brake components is a very important decision. The pads you choose can make the biggest difference in stopping power, cleanliness, noise and longevity. 

Ceramic brake pads have changed the standards for brakes today. Compared to the semi-metallic pads found on most vehicles as original equipment, the ceramic pads are much quieter and produce less dust while not sacrificing any stopping power. For owners that wash their car religiously, the lower dust level alone can save you time and headaches! 

In addition, the ceramic compound is actually less abrasive on the rotor. That reduces the wear on both the pads and rotors. Replacing your brakes less often is always a good thing!

Here are the best ceramic brake pads that we carry:

Disc Brake Challenge Part V: Bleeding The Brakes And Bedding-In The Pads

Friday, August 21, 2009 by David Horvath
With the new brake pads and rotors installed, it's time for Samuel to bleed any air out of the brake lines. The first step is to check the condition of the brake fluid currently in the lines.

Step 1: Checking the fluid

Brake fluid is an interesting substance. It's actually a specialized type of hydraulic fluid and it does require inspection and or replacement over time.

You can't just top it off and forget about it. It should be checked regularly and flushed/replaced at least every 18-24 months depending on the condition of the fluid.

The brake fluid used in most automotive applications is hygroscopic. This simply means that over time, it will absorb moisture from its surroundings. It literally soaks up moisture from the atmosphere like a sponge.  The rubber brake lines on most cars and trucks can allow small amounts of moisture from the surrounding atmosphere to penetrate through their walls and into your brake fluid.

That can be extremely dangerous because of the high heat generated by the braking process. The fluid inside your calipers and wheel cylinders will be exposed to intense heat and any moisture trapped in the fluid can boil off forming gas bubbles inside your brake lines.

Any air or gas bubbles in your brake lines can compress and cause your brakes to fade or even fail to stop the vehicle under hard braking conditions.  

Checking your fluid is a simple matter of looking at it. Most normal brake fluid starts out as a clear liquid. As it absorbs moisture it will start to turn dark over time.

If your fluid looks like strong tea or coffee, it's time to change it ASAP.

Start by finding the brake master cylinder. It's typically located somewhere on the vehicle's firewall just behind the engine. 

The engineer that designed the location of the brake master cylinder on the 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan should be run out of town coated in tar and feathers. This has to be the worst location I have ever seen on a modern vehicle.  It's way up under the windshield cowl and you can barely access the filler cap.

master cylinder

The brake fluid reservoir sits on top of your master cylinder and it's translucent. That's so you can see the color of the fluid without actually opening the cap. If it looks like it's full of coffee or strong tea, it's time for a fluid change.

I sucked out some fluid using a clean syringe and hose to check the color. 

I did this part because brake fluid is a very caustic substance. You want to wear eye protection and you need to be careful not to let it drip. It will damage your car's paint and it will eat a hole in your clothes too! 

Our fluid didn't look all that bad. This is about what you would expect if the brakes haven't been looked at for a couple of years. This had ATE SL-6 fluid in it to begin with and it had a very light amber color to it. This is only a shade darker.

The fluid Samuel later drained from the lines was a different story.

STEP 2: Draining The Master Cylinder Reservoir

The next step was to suck out as much of the old fluid as possible from the master cylinder reservoir using the syringe and tube. Samuel dumped the old fluid into a clean gallon container that formally contained washer fluid.

All of the old fluid was taken to the local hazardous waste recycling facility and he clearly marked the bottle USED BRAKE FLUID.  

Then he topped off the reservoir with brand new ATE SL.6 brake fluid.

We have used this fluid before and it works well with the ABS brake system on the van. Even with the sticking caliper it held up very well to the excessive heat and abuse.

Samuel had to use a spare section of PVC drain pipe I had in my plumbing spares box to reach the filler neck.

Once again, my sincere thanks to whoever engineered the location of this reservoir! You can get a good idea of where it sits in this photo.  Jeesh! Obviously, ease of maintenance was the last thing on their mind when they decided to place this up under the windshield apron!!

filler neck

STEP 3: Bleeding The Brake Lines

Samuel then took our brake fluid bottle and a section of polyethylene hose and started to bleed the brakes while his sister sat in the van, pumping the brakes when prompted.

This led to some wonderful big brother, little sister banter as they attempted to synchronize their activities.

You want to use a clear or translucent hose and container so you can see the fluid as it is forced out of the brake bleeders. This is critical.

Following the instructions in the shop manual, he started with the rear passenger's side brake drum.

He worked his way from the bleeder furthest away from the master cylinder up to the driver's front caliper as he bled all four lines.


You can see here how much darker the fluid was in the actual brake lines. It looked just like coffee!

The bleeding procedure is pretty much the same on all vehicles.

  • The first step is to remove the rubber covers from all four brake bleeders. These just pull off the nipple.

  • Clean down the bleeder valve and surrounding area with brake cleaner spray. This will help keep dirt or other contaminants out of your calipers and wheel cylinders.

  • You want to attach your hose to the brake bleeder nipple after you place a small wrench on the bleeder.

  • Next, have the person in the vehicle pump up the brakes until the pedal is firm and then hold the pedal down. This keeps the fluid pressurized in the lines.

  • Then, as they are holding the pedal down, the person bleeding the brakes gently turns the wrench to open the bleeder valve.  This forces the old fluid out  into the line and into your recycling container.

  • At first you will see very dark fluid and perhaps some air bubbles in the fluid. Some of the bubbles are from air moving through the threads of the loosened bleeder valve.  A drop of clean brake fluid on the threads will stop that and you may need to do that a few times during the bleeding process.

  • Once the pressure forces out the fluid and the flow stops, the person bleeding the brakes turns the bleeder valve shut and instructs the person in the vehicle to pump it up again.

  • The cycle repeats until you no longer see bubbles or dark fluid coming through the translucent tube.

  • You then move on to the next brake line until they are all flushed and filled with clean fluid.

Once the fluid was changed out, Samuel put the wheels back on and torqued the lug nuts to the recommended spec in the owner's manual.

Step 4: Burnishing/Bedding-in The New Pads:

We then took the van out for a test drive (with me driving of course) and we bedded in the Hawk HPS pads following the burnishing/bed-in instructions printed on the box.

The bedding-in process is extremely important with new brake pads. It allows the pad compound to properly mate with the rotor surface and when done properly, it creates a nice, even, transfer film of pad compound on the rotor surface. Here's a handy link explaining the importance of properly bedding in your brake pads:

Bedding-in Brake Pads and Rotors

Step 5: Letting The Brakes Rest

After performing the in ital bed-in procedure, it's important to let the brakes completely cool down. We parked the van and let it sit for a few hours before driving it again. Samuel was very happy and proud of himself. He was a bit uneasy when he started, but it went off with only a few hitches and the van's brakes work great now! Great job son! Now you can help me tackle the body work on my car!

Give me a brake ....

Monday, August 10, 2009 by Luke Pavlick
Yes, I meant  to spell it that way because, today I am blogging about brakes.

Everyday I get to field questions from people about all types of performance and aesthetic upgrades but, many times the unintended consequences are not even seen.

Brakes are often over looked when upgrading wheels and tires and it's easy to understand why. A wheel and tire package can dramatically improve the appearance of any car or truck. Brakes, on the other hand, do not have nearly as much visual impact so, they aren't considered as important from a "looks" perspective.

Yeah, you can paint the calipers and add some drilled or slotted rotors but, that just isn't as sexy as those large diameter wheels and cool looking tires.

But, there's more than "it looks cool" when it comes to modifying a vehicle.

In addition to what we have learned in our own testing program, one of the magazines The Tire Rack advertises in recently published an article that stated "People who install a basic 20-inch wheel and tire package onto their truck may notice diminished braking performance. A typical truck may require 50-percent additional braking distance or more. So, if your 60-to-0-mph braking distance is 100 feet with stock tires and wheels, you may need upward of 150 feet to stop with heavier 20-inch wheels."

I am not saying don't upgrade your wheels. I am also not saying that in order to improve braking you need some $5,000.00 big brake kit. Many gains in braking effectiveness can be achieved with a simple brake pad change. Better brake pads with a higher friction coefficient can make a world of difference in your stopping distances.

I run Hawk Performance brake pads in most of the vehicles at our house. Hawk offers a wide range of friction materials designed to meet just about any requirement from full on racing to spirited street driving to your daily commute. Personally, I want stand it on it's nose grip and initial bite when I am at a track day or an AutoX. The HP Plus brake pads offer enough stopping power to put your nose into the windshield and I can still  drive home without changing the brake pads. My daily driver sports the HPS Street brake pads which are a fantastic all-around pad with more initial bite than the OE pads. Hawk also offers the Performance Ceramic brake pads which are a low dust, super quiet brake pad which are perfect for my wife's Odyssey. You name a need and odds are Hawk has a brake pad that can meet it.

My name is Luke Pavlick and I am a Car Guy


Pull Those Stud Cips!

Friday, July 31, 2009 by David Horvath
One of the most common issues we hear about is wheel vibrations after new tires and aftermarket alloy wheels are installed.

More often than not, the vibrations are caused by little washers attached to the brake rotor or brake drum. These locking washers are called stud clips.

These are found mostly on domestic vehicles produced by GM, Ford, Chrysler, Saturn, and even on some imports like Jaguar.

They seem innocent enough but they need to be removed before installing aftermarket wheels.

During vehicle assembly, these little clips are installed to hold the drum or rotor in place against the hub as the vehicle moves down the assembly line in the factory.

They do a great job of keeping the rotor from falling off before the caliper and brake pads are installed but once the car or truck is assembled, they serve no important function. The clamping force of the wheel and lug hardware is what keeps the assembly together after that point.

Here's what they look like on the hub. They are the small, toothed washers placed around the base of  the studs.  Notice they are only on one or two of the studs:

stud clips

They are easy to miss and if they are left on there when you install new alloy wheels, they will cause big problems! Any rust or debris on the surface should also be cleaned off with a wire brush. This rotor surface needs a little bit  of prep work before a wheel can be installed on it.

Although they are pretty thin (approx 2-3mm), they will keep the wheel mounting pad from sitting flat on the brake rotor or brake drum. Typically the factory only uses one or two on each hub so the flat mounting pad of the wheel will only make contact with one side of the hub once the lug nuts are torqued. It will feel like the wheel is mounted securely but once you start driving on it, the forces on the wheel from rotating, turning and braking will cause the wheel to rock back and forth on those stud clips.

Imagine trying to stand and balance on a flat metal disc that's sitting on two golf balls. You would have a difficult time staying balanced as you shifted your weight back and forth across the disc wouldn't you? Now you're getting the picture right?

Since the stud clips are normally made from stainless steel, they are harder than the alloy wheel. As the wheel rocks back and forth, the stud clips will quickly dig into the back of the alloy wheel's mounting pad.

The clips actually wear round indents or recesses in the back of the wheel and the resulting gap also creates a space between the lug nuts and the lug seats on the wheel face. The lug nuts are no longer torqued tight against the wheel!

You will soon notice a vibration while you drive the vehicle, especially when you turn or when you apply the brakes. The forces on the wheels change dramatically as you turn or brake and the wheel will rock back and forth violently on the now loose lug nuts and studs.

If allowed to continue, the vibration and rocking back and forth can damage the wheel and the studs. Here's a severe example. You can see the indents from the stud clips highlighted in red, as well as the damage to the lug openings of the wheel highlighted in green. The lug holes are actually elongated and chewed up from the violent vibrations against the studs. stud clip damage

The imprints of the stud clips can be seen at the 9 o-clock and 3 o-clock positions. If driven on long enough, this could cause severe damage and even failure of the studs! Once the lug seats are damaged, the wheel is ruined. 

It is critical to remove the clips before installing any aftermarket alloy wheel.

It's a simple process to remove them. You just pry them up with a flat bladed screw driver and cut them off with tin snips or twist them off with a pair of pliers.

This important little step can save you a lot of heartache.  It will also save your vehicle and wheels from damage.  Here is a handy link for wheel and tire installation. Check it out before you install your new aftermarket wheels.