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Solutions Center

  1. Vacuum Pump Will Not Shut Off
  2. Vacuum Pump Will Not Run
  3. Vacuum Brake Booster Testing and Diagnosis
  4. Low or Soft Brake Pedal Diagnosis
  5. How can I identify my axle?
  6. Calipers: what type and why do we use them?
  7. Different types of rotors: one piece or two?
  8. Rear disc brakes: Why do you need them?
  9. Why is application so important in selecting brakes?
  10. Boosters - Do I need one for disc brakes?
  11. How and why do I bench bleed a master cylinder?
  12. When installing brake calipers, lines and hoses, how do I bleed the system?
  13. What amount of pressures are needed to stop my car?
  14. What is the best type of pad for my car?
  15. Why is my brake pedal soft
  16. Why does the car pull to one side
  17. Why does it feel like there is no Power Assist
  18. How do you bench bleed a Master Cylinder
  19. What is the best pad for my vehicle?
  20. How often should brake fluid be changed? (street application only, not racing)
  21. How can I tell which reservoir is the front or rear of the Master Cylinder?
  22. Where is the best place to install a proportioning valve?
  23. Why should the flex hoses be replaced? They look O.K. from the outside.
  24. Will my pedal get harder by replacing the flex hoses?
  25. Are the rubber flex hoses expanding causing a soft pedal?
  26. How much brake pressure does it take to stop my vehicle?
  27. How tight should the wheel bearings be?
  28. What type of differential fluid should I use in my rear axle?
  29. UNIVERSAL FRONT DISC BRAKE CHECKLIST
  30. UNIVERSAL REAR DISC BRAKE CHECKLIST
  31. How should I bed in my new brak pads and rotors?
  32. How much torque should I use when tightening my bolts?

Q: Vacuum Pump Will Not Shut Off

Test procedure will require use of vacuum gauge. Before beginning this test procedure make sure vacuum brake booster is in good working order by following SSBC test procedure. Also check to confirm all vacuum hose connections are sealed tight and not leaking. 1) With pump running remove wire from top of vacuum switch (mounted in metal tee housing). 2) Does pump shut off? 3) If NO locate and repair short to ground in wire from switch to relay terminal #1 or short to ground in black wire from relay terminal #5 to pump motor. 4) If YES re-connect wire to vacuum switch. 5) Remove hose from brake booster and insert pressure gauge into hose end from vacuum pump. 6) Does gauge read 22” vacuum or more? 7) If YES replace vacuum switch. 8) If NO replace vacuum pump and re test.

Q: Vacuum Pump Will Not Run

Procedure will require 12 volt test light. To check for power connect clamp to battery negative. To check for ground connect clamp to battery positive. 1) Visually check all connections as per install instructions. If all appear good proceed to step #2. 2) Apply 12 volts to red wire on pump motor and ground black wire from pump motor. 3) Does pump run? 4) If NO replace pump. 5) If YES re-connect wires as stated in install instructions and go to step #6. 6) Turn on ignition so battery power is supplied to pump and relay. Check for 12 volts at red wire on pump as well as terminal #2 on relay. 7) If 12 volts not present check in line fuse and switched power source and repair as needed. 8) Does pump run? 9) If NO remove single wire connection from top of vacuum switch (metal tee in line of vacuum hose) and touch it to the base of the switch. 10) Does pump run? 11) If YES replace switch and re-test. 12) If NO check and repair ground circuit to switch housing. Retest after gaining ground to switch housing. 13) Does pump run? 14) If NO check to make sure wire from switch to relay terminal #1 is not open. Check connections at switch terminal as well as terminal #1 on relay. Repair as needed and re-test. 15) Does pump run? 16) If NO confirm wire from terminal #3 on relay has good ground. Repair as needed. 17) Does pump run? 18) If NO replace relay and re-test.

Q: Vacuum Brake Booster Testing and Diagnosis

This procedure will require the use of a hand operated vacuum pump with a vacuum gauge. If you do not own one it can often be rented or borrowed from most “big box” parts stores. (Note: 18”HG is the minimum engine vacuum at idle in gear to effectively operate a vacuum booster 1) Remove vacuum hose from check valve on booster. Place hose from vacuum pump onto check valve and draw booster to 20” of vacuum. 2) Let booster sit with vacuum applied for 5 minutes. If vacuum does not stay steady at 20” it is faulty and needs to be replaced. If vacuum does hold steady at 20” proceed to step 3. 3) With 20” of vacuum in booster depress brake pedal once and release it. The booster should transfer some but not the entire vacuum in reserve. Depending on how hard the pedal is depressed it is normal to see 5-10” of vacuum depleted from reserve. The most important thing is to ensure the booster does transfer vacuum but does NOT transfer the entire vacuum in its reserve. If vacuum remains at 20” OR goes to zero the booster is bad and will need to be replaced. If vacuum transfer is within the above parameter proceed to step 4. 4) Once again draw booster down to 20” of vacuum. Go inside car and depress brake pedal and hold down for 30 seconds. You should see the gauge drop slightly and then hold steady. Vacuum should stay steady as long as you are holding the pedal down. If vacuum drops while pedal is being held down the booster is faulty and will need to be replaced.

Q: Low or Soft Brake Pedal Diagnosis

Before beginning the following procedure check to make sure pedal free play is approximately ½” and air gap from booster pushrod to master cylinder piston is approximately .015” 1) Remove both brake lines from master cylinder. Install plugs in both ports of the master cylinder. Take care not to damage brass seats in master cylinder. Plugs with tapered seats can be purchased at your local parts store. 2) Once plugs are installed go into vehicle and press the brake pedal down for 30 seconds using moderate force. The brake pedal should be at the top of its travel and not move at all. 3) If brake pedal seems spongy or pushes back at you while being applied you most likely have air in the master cylinder. Remove the master cylinder from car and re bench bleed following instructions in your kit. 4) If while you are holding pressure on the brake pedal it seems to “sink” or “creep” to the floor you have a faulty master cylinder. It will need to be replaced. Bench bleed new master cylinder and re install in vehicle. Perform steps 1-4 to ensure new master is properly bleed and functioning. If so, hook lines back up to master cylinder and re bleed the rest of the brake system. If pedal feels normal proceed to test drive and pad/rotor bed in procedure. 5) If pedal is at the top of its travel and firm the master cylinder is functioning as designed. Re install the brake lines into master cylinder and re bleed brake system. 6) Clamp off all flex hoses on vehicle. You will have one flex hose at each front wheel and either one from the body to the rear axle OR one at each rear caliper. Take care not to damage lines. The use of hose clamps is recommended. 7) Once again go into the car and press brake pedal. It should feel the same as in step #2. No movement other than mechanical free play in pedal assembly. If this is the case you know the system is good from the master cylinder to the clamps at the flex hoses and you can skip step 8. 8) If the brake pedal is spongy or soft you either have an external fluid leak or air trapped in a point between the master cylinder ports and the clamps. Repair any leaks, Re bleed system and re test by following step 6-8. 9) If pedal feels firm remove one clamp and press the brake pedal. Take note as to how it feels. Re clamp that hose and remove one other clamp and take note as to how the pedal feels again. Work your way around the car testing only one brake circuit at a time. 10) Once you find the circuit that lets the pedal move the most you have found the problem circuit. Inspect the brake circuit in question for either an external fluid leak, excessive mechanical movement of caliper pistons or wheel cylinders, or air trapped in the circuit. Take this time to make sure the brake bleeders are at the top of the caliper so air can escape and all brackets are correctly aligned and in the proper locations. 11) Perform necessary repairs/adjustments and re bleed and re test as needed.

Q: How can I identify my axle?

Information coming soon...

Q: Calipers: what type and why do we use them?

There are 2 type of calipers we use. One is called a fixed mount (right, top) and the other is a floating caliper (right, bottom). These caliper are used on many different type of cars. Most commonly, smaller calipers float, larger calipers are fixed. The larger calipers are commonly used with 12” - 14” rotor diameters. These rotor/calipers require 16” wheels or larger.

Q: Different types of rotors: one piece or two?

One Piece: This type of rotor is used for most applications. The original rotor was a cast 2 piece rotor. We now reproduce this rotor as a one piece “Unicast.” This rotor is better than the original and has improvements to handle more heat. We add slotting to improve rotor life. The slots sweep the pads clean, allowing the rotor to run cooler.

Two Piece: This type of rotor is used for special applications. The addition of an aluminum center section (hat), allows us to make limited or custom applications. This can be bolted on to rotor diameters as large as 15.” This same rotor “hat” is used in racing to reduce sprung weight.

Q: Rear disc brakes: Why do you need them?

Front brakes can only do so much. Most rear drums do very little for stopping power, which is usually why they last 2 - 3 times longer than the front pads. By adding rear disc brakes, you can add as much as 30% more brake force to your braking system.

Q: Why is application so important in selecting brakes?

Many muscle cars had upgraded rear axles as well as larger front spindles. This is due to engine size, suspension upgrades and even mid year model changes. All domestic models have at one time or another experienced this situation. Older vehicles, street rods and muscle cars also may be modified. This is why we offer over 400 different specific applications.

Q: Boosters - Do I need one for disc brakes?

Many of the early muscle cars did not have power brakes. Power brakes were an option on 1967 and later models. Because of the increased valve overlap used in higher horsepower engines developed in many cars, there was not enough vacuum to run the boosters. Many of the restored muscle cars have the same problem. Manual disc brakes work fine. Boosters are designed to use less effort to stop. We offer many kits with manual or power disc brakes.

18” of vacuum is required to allow a booster to operate correctly!

Q: How and why do I bench bleed a master cylinder?

When installing or replacing a master cylinder, it is critical that all air is removed from the master cylinder. This can easily be done by bench bleeding the master cylinder prior to installation. Using the SSBC master cylinder bleeder kit (#0460):

  1. Place your master cylinder in a vise by the ears (not body). Make sure it is level.
  2. Attach a piece of clear plastic hose to the short end of one of the plastic nozzles. Do the same to the other hose and nozzle.
  3. Clip the plastic bridge to the wall and push the ends of the hose through the holes so they are SUBMERGED in the reservoir on either side of the wall.
  4. Press the tapered end of the nozzle FIRMLY into the cylinder port hole with a twisting motion. Repeat this procedure on the other port hole.
  5. Fill the reservoir with CLEAN brake fluid recommended by the manufacturer.
  6. Using full strokes, push the piston in, then release. Do this until ALL the air bubbles have disappeared from the clear plastic hose.

(CAUTION-MASTER CYLINDER WILL NOT BLEED PROPERLY UNLESS HOSES ARE SUBMERGED IN BRAKE FLUID UNTIL THE BLEEDING PROCESS IS COMPLETED.)

Now mount master cylinder and avoid brake fluid leaking out of front and rear ports during installation.

Q: When installing brake calipers, lines and hoses, how do I bleed the system?

When installing brake calipers, lines and hoses, how do I bleed the system?

Always bench bleed master cylinder first, then the system. There are four methods: gravity, pressure, vacuum, and pedal bleeding. The most common is pedal. This process is as follows:

  1. Pedal bleeding is a 2 person job - one person pumps the pedal, and the other operates the valves. Open each bleeder valve individually, then depress the pedal one full stroke. The person watching the valves looks for air bubbles and closes the bleeder valve before the pedal is slowly returned to the released position. (NOTE: To assure that no air is siphoned into the system, a plastic hose should be connected to the valve. The other end of the hose should be submerged in container of brake fluid. Also, the valve must be closed at the end of each stroke before releasing the pedal.)
  2. Continue in this manner until all calipers are bled.
  3. After each caliper is bled, refill the master cylinder and frequently check the reservoir.
  4. Bleed the longest line first, following this order: right-rear-outer, right-rear-inner, left-rear-outer, left-rear-inner, right-front and left-front.

Q: What amount of pressures are needed to stop my car?

Many of the early muscle cars did not have power brakes. Power brakes were an option on 1967 and later models. Because of the increased valve overlap used in higher horsepower engines developed in many cars, there was not enough vacuum to run the boosters. Many of the restored muscle cars have the same problem. Manual disc brakes work fine. Boosters are designed to use less effort to stop. We offer many kits with manual or power disc brakes.

18” of vacuum is required to allow a booster to operate correctly!

Q: What is the best type of pad for my car?

The best type of brake pad for any car will depend on both how the vehicle is being used and the type of vehicle itself. Using a full race type pad on your street car would be just as dangerous as trying to stop a race car with O.E. organic pads. Factors like vehicle weight, brake temperature, and how the vehicle will be used should be considered when choosing the proper brake pad. For this reason, Stainless Steel Brakes stocks multiple brake pad compounds for most popular cars and trucks.

Q: Why is my brake pedal soft

  1. In most cases, Air is trapped in the lines or calipers. Try re-bleeding the system. Do not force new fluid into new brake lines. It may foam and be very difficult to bleed. Make sure that the bleeder screws on the calipers are facing upward!
  2. If all the air is out of the system, the pushrod from the booster may need adjustment, under the dash, to make it longer. Do not extend it too long or it will not allow the fluid to return, causing brakes to drag. Your pushrod may not be adjustable. If the pushrod can be made longer, try ¼ turn adjustments at a time. SSBC stocks adjustable pushrods for many vehicles. In addition, the pushrod between the Booster and the Master Cylinder may need adjustment. Not all Booster to Master pushrods are adjustable.
  3. You may have a bad Master Cylinder. Before you determine this, you should make sure that all the air is out of the system. When installing a new Master Cylinder, always bench bleed first. If you did not, take off the Master Cylinder and bench bleed it. (See Bench Bleeding Instructions below)

Q: Why does the car pull to one side

The side that the car is pulling to is the caliper that is working. Re-bleed the opposite side and try carefully stopping again.

Q: Why does it feel like there is no Power Assist

The Booster may not be getting enough vacuum to operate. On some high lift cams, the engine does not develop enough vacuum. The Booster needs at least 16” of vacuum to operate correctly at idle. If you do not have at least 16 inches of vacuum at idle, you may have to add a vacuum pump to your system.

Check for vacuum leaks. There may be leaks in the intake manifold or hoses that would cause low vacuum.

The Booster may be bad. Do a vacuum test. If the Booster can retain a vacuum for three minutes after the vehicle is shut off, it is not a bad Booster (refer to steps 1 & 2). All Master Cylinders must be bench bled in a vise before being installed on the vehicle.

Q: How do you bench bleed a Master Cylinder

When installing or replacing a master cylinder, it is critical that all air is removed from the master cylinder. This can easily be done by bench bleeding the master cylinder prior to installation. Using the SSBC master cylinder bleeder kit (#0460):

  1. Place your master cylinder in a vise by the ears (not body). Make sure it is level.
  2. Attach a piece of clear plastic hose to the short end of one of the plastic nozzles. Do the same to the other hose and nozzle.
  3. Clip the plastic bridge to the wall and push the ends of the hose through the holes so they are SUBMERGED in the reservoir on either side of the wall.
  4. Press the tapered end of the nozzle FIRMLY into the cylinder port hole with a twisting motion. Repeat this procedure on the other port hole.
  5. Fill the reservoir with CLEAN brake fluid recommended by the manufacturer.
  6. Using full strokes push the piston in, then release. Do this until ALL the air bubbles have disappeared from the clear plastic hose. (CAUTION-MASTER CYLINDER WILL NOT BLEED PROPERLY UNLESS HOSES ARE SUBMERGED IN BRAKE FLUID UNTIL THE BLEEDING PROCESS IS COMPLETED.)

Now mount master cylinder and avoid brake fluid leaking out of front and rear ports during installation.

Bleeding steps for Dual Port Master Cylinder

If you have a master cylinder with dual port holes (4 port holes - 2 on each side), it is necessary to bleed both port sides of the master cylinder. If both sides of the master cylinder are not bled, there will be air trapped in the master cylinder and your brakes will not function properly.

To bleed dual port master cylinders:

  1. Follow steps 1 - 6 above on the side you will be hooking the brake lines to. Plug the other side.
  2. Once the air bubbles are no longer visible in the plastic hose, open the bleeder screws in the supplied plugs and allow the mater cylinder to gravity bleed. DO NOT push the master cylinder piston in while the plugs are gravity bleeding.
  3. When clear, steady streams of fluid are coming out of both bleeders, close and tighten the bleeders. Give the master cylinder piston several strokes, making sure there are still no bubbles present in the clear plastic tubes.
  4. Remove the tubes and plastic fittings and mount the master cylinder on the vehicle being careful not to spill brake fluid on any painted surfaces.

Q: What is the best pad for my vehicle?

Your choice of pads should be determined by how and where you drive the vehicle. If you drive in heavy stop and go traffic you would need a different pad than someone who is road racing. Contact SSBC for the correct application.

Q: How often should brake fluid be changed? (street application only, not racing)

When brake fluid turns brown, it is time to change the fluid. The brown color indicates that the fluid has absorbed water and dirt. D.O.T. #3 & #4 fluids absorb water. Silicone brake fluid is not for track racing.

Q: How can I tell which reservoir is the front or rear of the Master Cylinder?

The front reservoir is usually larger than the rear. In some cases, they are the same size. As a rule, for GM cars & trucks, the rear reservoir is for the rear brakes. On Ford cars & trucks, the front reservoir is for the rear brakes. On front wheel drive vehicles, the brakes are split diagonally. Each bowl of the master cylinder services one front wheel and one rear wheel. This will be important if you are installing a distribution block, proportioning valve, or residual valve. Hint: The larger bowl will feed the disc brakes.

Q: Where is the best place to install a proportioning valve?

The best place to install a proportioning valve is after the distribution block. Do Not install it between the Distribution Bock and the Master Cylinder. You will not be able to get a hard pedal. Anywhere after the Distribution Block and before the rear flex hose is acceptable for installation.

Q: Why should the flex hoses be replaced? They look O.K. from the outside.

Flex hoses should be replaced every time the calipers are serviced. They flex up and down, just like a shock absorber.

They are also under high pressure internally. Flex hoses have a rubber liner that will collapse over time. If it does collapse, it will act as a check valve and not allow fluid to return to the Master Cylinder.

Q: Will my pedal get harder by replacing the flex hoses?

No. When the flex hoses are replaced, re-bleed the brake system. Normally what happens is that bleeding causes a harder brake pedal. A better bleeding job and taking your time will result in the same situation.

Q: Are the rubber flex hoses expanding causing a soft pedal?

Not likely. A soft pedal is usually a sign of air in the system due to poor bleeding. Flex hoses have nylon webbing that is molded into the internal rubber. It is very strong and will hold up to 3,000 P.S.I.

Q: How much brake pressure does it take to stop my vehicle?

Most vehicles, power or non power brake, develop 1,200 P.S.I. When you panic stop or jump on the brakes hard, a surge of 1,400 P.S.I. can be achieved. If a factory proportioning valve installed on the vehicle, the rear brakes are only developing 600 – 700 P.S.I. Drum brakes require lower pressure because they grab more quickly. When rear disc brakes are installed, the rear brake pressure may be increased to 800 – 1,000 P.S.I. or more. A good way to check the pressures and to see if the system is working correctly, use a pressure gauge screwed into the bleeder port (SSBC part # A1704). A vehicle with less than 600 P.S.I will not stop!

Q: How tight should the wheel bearings be?

The front bearings should always be torqued. Not just hand tightened. Bearings usually require 12-15 Ft./Lbs. of torque. Then you will probably need to back off a little to align the cotter pin hole. Do Not over tighten; the bearing life will be shortened. This procedure only applies to rear wheel drive vehicles with separate bearings and races. On vehicles with one piece sealed bearing assemblies or hub assemblies, refer to a service manual.

Q: What type of differential fluid should I use in my rear axle?

If you have positraction, use a Hypoid or Limited Slip additive that is designed for your particular rear end. If you do not have positraction, any type of 80 –90 weight gear lube is acceptable. Fluid should be changed often if you are trailering or any type of extreme usage. This fluid does brake down with time and usage.

Q: UNIVERSAL FRONT DISC BRAKE CHECKLIST

  1. Spindle Properly secured to ball joints and tie rods with castle nut and cotter pin.
  2. All mounting bolts properly tightened.
  3. Wheel bearings properly packed with grease.
  4. Inner bearing must be installed before grease seal.
  5. Rotor / bearings slide onto spindle with ease.
  6. Washer, castle nut properly torqued and cotter pin installed.
  7. Calipers installed and properly torqued.
  8. Spin rotor and check for any interference. (If any interference is found, resolve problem before driving vehicle.)
  9. Flex lines are properly installed with no interference.
  10. Power booster (if applicable) installed properly.
  11. Master cylinder bench bled according to the instructions.
  12. All brake lines are properly tightened and free of leaks.
  13. Turn wheels lock to lock and check for any interference.
  14. Place wheel onto vehicle and spin the wheel to make sure there is no interference between the brakes and wheel.

Q: UNIVERSAL REAR DISC BRAKE CHECKLIST

  1. All bolts on base bracket properly tightened.
  2. All caliper mounting bolts properly tightened.
  3. Rotor slides onto axle with ease.
  4. No interference with rotor and any other parts (splash shield, brackets, etc.).
  5. Caliper is centered over the rotor (because of difference in axle lengths, you may have to shim caliper in or out).
  6. No interference with caliper and rotor.
  7. All brake lines are tight with no leaks.
  8. Parking brake is properly adjusted and not dragging, with vehicle on ground.
  9. Adjustable proportioning valve installed (if applicable).
  10. Distribution block modification made (if applicable).
  11. Brake system properly bled.

Q: How should I bed in my new brak pads and rotors?

WITH EVERY NEW SET OF ROTORS AND PADS, YOU SHOULD GIVE YOUR VEHICLE 200 - 250 MILES OF EASY DRIVING TO PROPERLY SEAT THE PADS TO THE ROTORS. DO NOT TAKE THE VEHICLE UP TO 60 MPH AND JAM ON THE BRAKES BEFORE THE FIRST 200 - 250 MILE BREAK IN PERIOD IS OVER, OR YOU WILL GLAZE THE PADS AND ROTORS.

Q: How much torque should I use when tightening my bolts?