You shouldn't have to experience an accident to acquire a fondness for better brakes. We've all had our fair share of close calls when it comes to panic stop situations. Let's face it, the majority of Honda/Acura vehicles were designed by the factory to be driven as commuter cars, not road warriors. Unfortunately, that's the way we like to pilot them. Simply put, any streetcar driven hard suffers from under-braking. And that sensation is multiplied greatly when you add aftermarket performance accessories like turbochargers, nitrous oxide, and the like.
Currently, there are a variety of aftermarket companies offering disc brake upgrade and conversion packages for Honda cars. Advanced Engine Management (AEM), now based in Hawthorne, California, recently entered the mix with a unique twist. Unlike the competition, AEM designed an upgrade that utilizes up-sized 12.1/11.1-inch (307/282mm) race-inspired two-piece rotors that work with your Honda's factory-brake calipers.
Prior to coming to market, AEM researched the available kits and discovered the following. The companies servicing the brake segment of the automotive aftermarket only offered standard-sized drilled and/or slotted rotors or complete conversion packages that used a variety of caliper and rotor components combined. There was nothing in the middle and nothing that was truly affordable that produced a measurable increase in brake performance.
Realizing this, AEM approached the design process with three goals: First, to design a brake upgrade that actually worked. Secondly, the upgrade would have to require a minimal amount of maintenance. And third, the cost factor had to remain low. Thus, the development of AEM oversized rotors that utilize the factory-installed calipers.
An added advantage to utilizing the factory Honda calipers is year-round drivability. Most aftermarket brake packages that utilize race-style calipers do not feature external dust seals on the caliper pistons. These seals are designed into the factory units from Honda to keep the elements out during extended use year-round. Another plus is the fact that Honda brake pads are available over the counter at practically every parts store and dealership nationwide.
For an up-close look at AEM's new four-wheel disc brake upgrade package, we paid the company a visit to witness the advantages ourselves. For our photo installation, the AEM staff provided us with a '97 Acura Integra equipped with aftermarket 17-inch wheels and tires (16-inch required) and an array of underhood performance enhancements. First, the AEM staff invited us to drive the Acura. After a few impromptu brake tests, we returned to the AEM facility for the installation. During the testdrive, we found the factory brakes faded quickly after just three panic stops. After the installation was complete, which took less than an hour, we drove the Integra again. After properly bedding-in the pads, the Integra was impromptu tested again. This time around the car resisted fading, even after repeated panic stops. The pedal travel was the same as stock, but the response time seemed quicker with the AEM rotors and pads installed.
For further information on this unique disc brake upgrade or other performance enhancements contact Advanced Engine Management.