S550 Mustang Brake Improvement Guide
Last Updated: October 13, 2020
Since the Mustang's inception, performance has always been at the center of every component implemented into the legendary American pony car; it has meant the difference between its success and failure. Throughout the last six generations of Mustang, enthusiasts have looked to the aftermarket to push their original pony car to the extreme in horsepower and handling. A key area that tends to get looked over is braking; it is the area in which is vital to increase handling, security, and confidence, no matter if you're daily driving or racing every weekend. Luckily in recent years, Ford made a surge forward to offer greater braking power and components within the last decade of factory-built Mustang models.
This trend started through the Mustang lineup in 2011, when Ford launched the Mustang GT Performance Package. To do this, engineers implemented a plethora of options, including four-piston Brembo calipers, high-temp brake pads, and vented 14-inch rotors. Mustang engineers knew that to keep up with the pack of performance vehicles among its European and Japanese competition, it had to step up its braking game. Fast-forward to 2015, when the S550 Mustang debuted, it took the world by storm, not only for its incredible design, engineering, and modern technology but by the innovation of components the Mustang team thought to inject into the legendary American pony car.
Besides all of its unique technology and engineering features, Ford announced that the latest Mustang GT Performance Package features massive six-piston Brembo calipers, track-capable brake pads, and fifteen-inch vented rotors. Any Mustang generation had never accomplished this before the S550 stepped on the scene from a factory standpoint. While this is great from an OEM perspective, hardcore racers and Mustang enthusiasts look to companies like Steeda to further their pony's braking potential; from calipers, brake pads, brake lines, braking fluid, and rotors, each of these are vital to improving braking performance. To aid our fellow enthusiasts, we have come up with a complete overview to enhance your confidence and knowledge in performance braking for your S550, resulting in gaining the edge against the competition on track or even while you are carving up a favorite country back road!
S550 Mustang Calipers
When enthusiasts think of stopping power, they think of the entire braking system put together as one unit. That mindset is correct, but one particular component ensures your S550 Mustang will come to a screeching halt; this is your calipers. Think of your caliper in the same way you would squeeze an orange or lemon to make juice; you need a tremendous amount of muscle in your hand to push out the fluids to make it. Well, your S550 calipers have a similar task, just in the form of bringing your stallion to a stop. Instead of muscle, your calipers rely on its pistons to implement tremendous clamping power to squeeze down on the rotor, resulting in slowing down your S550 Mustang to a stop.
Like the Ford Focus, most everyday vehicles either have a single or dual-piston caliper; these types of cars don't require extreme braking power because federal regulations only require daily drivers to stop within a certain distance. If you plan to track or autocross your S550 Mustang, you will need more stopping power than the average economy caliper can provide. Thanks to the Mustang team of engineers, they took the initiative to implement better braking than any other factory built Mustang, surpassing the braking performance of the S197 Mustang from 2005-2014. When the S550 Mustang debuted in 2015, engineers introduced the evolution of the original GT Performance Package, first found on the 2011 Mustang GT. The next generation of Performance Package implemented a first-ever six-piston Brembo caliper that provided the best stopping power ever seen on a Mustang GT, helping the S550 Mustang GT stop from 0-60 MPH in under 110 feet.
While Ford's pursuit of unrivaled braking performance is incredible considering what you can get out of an S550 Mustang in a stock application, enthusiasts strive to have the absolute best for various reasons, including daily driving, track days, and weekend canyon carving. The Brembo six-piston calipers are potent from the factory, but hardcore enthusiasts are always looking for even greater stopping power. To aid our fellow enthusiasts, Steeda has been engineering more significant braking components for the better part of thirty-plus years, thanks to our road racing program. We use our racing data to come back and build calipers that will help racers and enthusiasts alike achieve the best braking performance possible. In turn, it will help you gain more confidence, corner harder, handle better, and implement more safety.
To make it happen, we offer either six-piston or four-piston Brembo, Baer, Wilwood, or Steeda calipers that will give your S550 Mustang racecar stopping power, for either the street or track. Note if you already have a Shelby GT350/GT350R or a 2020 Shelby GT500, you can get by without upgrading your calipers. If that isn't enough for then, we suggest going all out for a complete big brake upgrade to get to S550 Mustang GT4 racecar status.
S550 Mustang Rotors
Like your S550 Mustang brake calipers, your rotors are just as important; without either, they can't work together to achieve the same goal, bringing your pony to a complete stop. Think of your rotors as the ground your shoe sole meets; they will wear out over time with continuous use and abuse. For decades, the Mustang has been equipped with sufficient rotors to aid the legendary pony to come to a halt. Unfortunately, during the SN95, New Edge, and S197 Mustang generations, the OEM rotors cannot handle the extreme temperatures and heat cycles that an enthusiast can endure during a track day. Luckily, rotor technology has drastically refined the S550 to an all-time high thanks to companies like Steeda, Ford Performance, and Brembo.
S550 Mustang rotors benefit from an uncompromised approach by implementing racing technology into each rotor. , it will result in better-stopping power, braking distance, and handling. To benefit from these variables, enthusiasts should look to upgrading their S550 rotors with drilled and slotted rotors that will aid in dissipating heat, reducing temperatures during heat cycles, increase ventilation, and allow for a firmer brake pedal. Whether you have a base model GT or Performance Package equipped GT, upgrading your rotors is a cost-effective way to improve braking confidence no matter your situation. Lastly, performance-oriented rotors often have heat-treated materials that will help each rotor last a longer life.
S550 Mustang Brake Pads
As your S550 Mustang calipers and rotors are exceedingly imperative to get your pony to come to a halt, it cannot happen without a proper set of brake pads. Imagine your brake pads as the rubber that meets the road or the bottom of your shoes touching the ground for grip. Without your brake pads' cushion between your rotors and calipers, your Mustang won't do much good on or off the street. While factory brake pads are meant for daily driving use and the occasional track day, they will not hold up very long after a full track session from constant hard braking and heat cycles.
To overcome these issues, many enthusiasts will turn to the aftermarket in search of brake pads that can withstand higher temperatures and denser materials to withstand constant abuse. For example, if you are coming down a back straightaway on the road course, you need the best equipment to come to a screeching halt; well, besides your six-piston calipers and drilled/slotted rotors, your brake pads ultimately make an effort to bring your S550 pony to a stop. To improve brake pad performance, companies like Stop Tech, Baer, Wilwood, and Hawk Performance provide a wide selection of pads that can give your stallion the racecar-like performance it deserves.
Note that your S550 brake pads are the most crucial hard part of your braking system, which means the difference in laps times, braking distance, and overall safety. So you will want to always look for brake pads designed for the application you intend to use them on.
S550 Mustang Brake Lines & Fluid
When enthusiasts think of an S550 Mustang braking system, they think of mainly the hard parts such as the calipers, brake pads, and rotors. Unfortunately, they forget what makes your S550 braking system operate. Crucial components like your brake lines and fluid are just as essential to gain maximum performance at every corner, whether for road racing or even at the local autocross.
The S550 Mustang comes equipped with the latest and most significant OEM Ford brake lines implemented from the factory. Unfortunately, they have their limits, just like the rotors, pads, and calipers. For example, the coolant in your engine is responsible for keeping it cool at all times. The same philosophy goes for your braking system; brake lines and fluid are responsible for delivering sufficient fluid to all four calipers. The OEM brake lines' downfall is that they can heat up faster than a stainless steel brake line can. As a heat cycle happens, the brake line will expand and contract, resulting in a reduced brake pedal and stopping power. Over time throughout a track day, this can result in brake fluid boiling over to excruciating temperatures, which can end in significant consequences.
To ensure your S550 has all the proper brake fluids and lines, Steeda highly recommends upgrading stainless steel brake lines to all four corners. It will solve brake fluid boiling over, which can happen throughout an autocross or road course situation, especially in hard braking on the race track. The resolution to solve this problem is adding a higher quality brake fluid intended to withstand high heat and racing conditions, resulting in more braking confidence, better cornering ability, and reassurance of reliability in your braking system when it counts most!
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