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Thread: ZJ Brake Upgrades

  1. #1
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    Default ZJ Brake Upgrades

    Since the ZJ is in such nice condition, and I cant seem to find a bigger vehicle in the same price range to tow my boat, my ZJ will be sticking around for a while. However, it needs better brakes to tow my boat.

    So is there any upgrades out there? Like a big brake kit or something? Which would you guys consider the best?

    Thanks in advance
    John
    John Peacock
    Deland FL

    It's not leaking oil, its marking its territory.
    Mod it til the wife is scared to drive it

    95 YJ, white, 4.0, 5sp.
    74 CJ5, lifted, V8 (sold)

  2. #2

    Icon316

    depends on how much you want to spend. I know a cheaper way might be to reuse the stock calipers and get some decent aftermarket sloted rotors and some carbon-metallic pads. I use stock rotors and ceramic pads but I only tow a jetski so it works fine. But the Raybestos performance friction carbone metallic pads are supposed to be good. Also, on my old roomate's TJ with 37.5" tires, he used the top end NAPA Gold pads. They are supposed to be made by Raybestos at a cheaper price but I can't verify this. Otherwise you are looking at some cash...I am sure Brembo makes some for the ZJ but I bet they cost at least 600 or more.

  3. #3
    Registered RazorZJ's Avatar
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    you can swap to the WJ knuckles and use the WJ calipers. and I believe that some models of mustang calipers will fit the WJ knuckles as well, but you may want to research that.

    the downside to that is that the WJ calipers don't clear 15" wheels, so depending on what you're running you might have to change wheels/tires.

  4. #4
    wine taster kjk's Avatar
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    I think these guys have one of the best set-ups in terms of price/performance. I'm going to order up a set for my ZJ.
    5.9 ZJ SCT tuned PCM/ KJK CAI/ Thorley headers with 3" Magnaflow cat and muffler/ Modded kegger/ TransGo shift kit/ Vanco brake kit/ Braided steel brake lines/ Mopar cupholder insert!

  5. #5
    Registered Johnny V's Avatar
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    Best Regards,

    John V.

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    1995 ZJ Laredo I-6 4L Auto
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    Exclamation

    I've been extremely happy with my Stillens! One of the best mods I've ever done, and they LAST!!! Overall, they've been much cheaper in the long-run, and they don't warp! I've towed a boat with them MANY times, too...
    ((-My 5.9-)) K&N FIPK II, Mopar PCM, Flowmaster 70, Carsound Cat, Angelus Tip, Stillen Rotors Front & Rear, PF C/M Pads, Addco Swaybars front & rear, Energy Bushings, Accel Ignition Coil, RS 180 Stat, OME SD40 Stabilizer, Trail Guide 245/70R-16s, Clear Corners, Long Trans Cooler, Monroe Sensa-Traks, Append ski rack
    ______

  7. #7
    Registered Moparman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjk View Post
    I think these guys have one of the best set-ups in terms of price/performance. I'm going to order up a set for my ZJ.
    What size are the rotors, are they bigger? Doesn't look any bigger in the pics but its hard to tell.
    Dave St.Louis
    98 Platinum Gr.Cherokee 5.9 Ltd.
    3in exhaust/Flowmaster,K&N,Airbox mods,Skids,Hooks,Bilsteins,265/70/16 Toyos,Chrome 5 spoke wheels,2in BB,WJ lower arms
    ASE Cert. JEEP Tech

    Pics at http://community.webshots.com/user/davestlouis-reg

  8. #8
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    I used the Wagner full cast iron ones, put em on at 40K and now at 98K still not warped.
    If you're towing a boat, make sure you have good trailer brakes, that alone will make a much bigger difference than any upgrade you can do to the ZJ brakes.
    The top of the shelf system in boat trailers today is electric over hydraulic, which uses an electric brake controller to control hydraulic trailer brakes. It adds a lot of cost though compared to regular surge brakes.
    Most boat trailer experts seem to think that Kodaik disc brakes are the best out there. I found my trailering experience was greatly improved by a set of 10" Tie Down drum brakes on the trailer. If you have a tandem trailer, consider putting brakes on both axles, that will make a huge difference and is required in some states.
    How much weight are you towing? 20' Chap with a 5.7 if on a tandem could be as much as 5000 lbs. So brakes on all axles are your best bet.
    for trailer brake info:
    www.championtrailers.com
    www.easternmarine.com
    Lou C

    98 ZJ Laredo 4.0 Selectrac
    H-4/ECE Headlights, Painless Wiring Harness, Hella 450 fogs
    Front and rear tow hitches, Air Lift, Bilsteins
    Dynomax Cat Back Exhaust
    B&M Supercooler

    07 WK Limited 5.7 HEMI Quadradrive II


    1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
    4.3 OMC/Cobra Drive

  9. #9

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    I use the Chinese rotors from the local parts house which are cheaper than the Wagners. They are supposed to be made by wagner actually though anyway. They used to warp on some sets I had like 4-5 years agao, but every set since then has been solid. I am convinced this new generation rotor in the house brand is as good as the onces in the Wagner box. Now where I do not go cheap is the pads...I recently switched to the Wagner ceramics and they are the quietest pads I have ever owned and have zero brake dust! And surprising ly, they do not appear as hard on the cheaper rotors as I thought they'd be. I almost got the Wagner name brand rotors because I wanted the best OEM replacement stuff I could get, but these rotors that are made from melted down AK-47 rifles seem to do a surprisngly good job for less than 20.00 a piece. I can actually afford to keep 2 setts for each axle on hand so when I do brakes I can have the other set turned later and have a fresh set ready to go immediately.

  10. #10
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    As far as trailer brakes, my experiance in the past has been that they are a huge waste of time. They work great the first couple times, but when you pull the boat out of salt water, and park it for a couple weeks they lock and it takes an act of God to get them loosened up. So trailer brakes are not an option. And the ramps I use you have to put the wheels in the water to launch.

    Where do you find Stillens?

    I am looking for a major upgrade, not something that doesnt warp under normal use or simply last longer. I wanted to spend under $1000. I am looking to make it safer to tow my boat.
    John Peacock
    Deland FL

    It's not leaking oil, its marking its territory.
    Mod it til the wife is scared to drive it

    95 YJ, white, 4.0, 5sp.
    74 CJ5, lifted, V8 (sold)

  11. #11
    wine taster kjk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moparman View Post
    What size are the rotors, are they bigger? Doesn't look any bigger in the pics but its hard to tell.
    The rotors are only slightly larger and thicker. The greatest gain seems to come from the much better clamping forces provided by the better caliper design.
    He has a lot of testimonials to back up the claims.
    5.9 ZJ SCT tuned PCM/ KJK CAI/ Thorley headers with 3" Magnaflow cat and muffler/ Modded kegger/ TransGo shift kit/ Vanco brake kit/ Braided steel brake lines/ Mopar cupholder insert!

  12. #12
    Registered RazorZJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnypitjeep View Post
    As far as trailer brakes, my experiance in the past has been that they are a huge waste of time. They work great the first couple times, but when you pull the boat out of salt water, and park it for a couple weeks they lock and it takes an act of God to get them loosened up. So trailer brakes are not an option. And the ramps I use you have to put the wheels in the water to launch.
    If you can't do proper maintenance then you shouldn't be pulling something that heavy.

    either use the proper equipment or don't even hook it up, I don't want to bee the poor SOB that gets killed when you cant stop, and I don't think anyone else does either.

  13. #13
    Registered Moparman's Avatar
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    Any idea how much bigger, or what they are OE fitment from?
    Dave St.Louis
    98 Platinum Gr.Cherokee 5.9 Ltd.
    3in exhaust/Flowmaster,K&N,Airbox mods,Skids,Hooks,Bilsteins,265/70/16 Toyos,Chrome 5 spoke wheels,2in BB,WJ lower arms
    ASE Cert. JEEP Tech

    Pics at http://community.webshots.com/user/davestlouis-reg

  14. #14
    Registered louc's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=mnypitjeep;7416398]As far as trailer brakes, my experiance in the past has been that they are a huge waste of time. They work great the first couple times, but when you pull the boat out of salt water, and park it for a couple weeks they lock and it takes an act of God to get them loosened up. So trailer brakes are not an option. And the ramps I use you have to put the wheels in the water to launch.

    Not an option? What will happen to you if you hit someone, and they find you have no trailer brakes? They are required on trailers over 3000 lbs by state law. I have the galvanized backing plates, zinc plated drums and the flush system for the brakes. 3 seasons and they work fine and I am in salt water too. If you want brakes that will stand up to salt, you can go with the silver cad Kodiaks or the top of the line stainless. I made a flush tank out of a winterizing tank and a baitwell pump so I can flush em anywhere. You can upgrade the Grand brakes but they are not meant to stop close to 8000 lbs. That is where you are exposing yourself to liability.
    Lou C

    98 ZJ Laredo 4.0 Selectrac
    H-4/ECE Headlights, Painless Wiring Harness, Hella 450 fogs
    Front and rear tow hitches, Air Lift, Bilsteins
    Dynomax Cat Back Exhaust
    B&M Supercooler

    07 WK Limited 5.7 HEMI Quadradrive II


    1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
    4.3 OMC/Cobra Drive

  15. #15
    wine taster kjk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moparman View Post
    Any idea how much bigger, or what they are OE fitment from?
    Rotors and calipers are from a '98 4X4 Ford Explorer.
    Calipers are twin piston sliding. They apparently are much more powerful than the Jeep ones and the pads ride on replaceable rails unlike the Jeep ones.
    5.9 ZJ SCT tuned PCM/ KJK CAI/ Thorley headers with 3" Magnaflow cat and muffler/ Modded kegger/ TransGo shift kit/ Vanco brake kit/ Braided steel brake lines/ Mopar cupholder insert!

  16. #16
    Registered Moparman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjk View Post
    Rotors and calipers are from a '98 4X4 Ford Explorer.
    Calipers are twin piston sliding. They apparently are much more powerful than the Jeep ones and the pads ride on replaceable rails unlike the Jeep ones.
    Cool thanks!
    Dave St.Louis
    98 Platinum Gr.Cherokee 5.9 Ltd.
    3in exhaust/Flowmaster,K&N,Airbox mods,Skids,Hooks,Bilsteins,265/70/16 Toyos,Chrome 5 spoke wheels,2in BB,WJ lower arms
    ASE Cert. JEEP Tech

    Pics at http://community.webshots.com/user/davestlouis-reg

  17. #17
    wine taster kjk's Avatar
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    There's a lot of info. and pics linked from that site. Scroll down to the reviews and start clicking links.
    5.9 ZJ SCT tuned PCM/ KJK CAI/ Thorley headers with 3" Magnaflow cat and muffler/ Modded kegger/ TransGo shift kit/ Vanco brake kit/ Braided steel brake lines/ Mopar cupholder insert!

  18. #18
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    I doubt it is state law because the dealer we bought the boat from would not have been able to sell it to us. I have had the brakes on other trailers like you describe, and when you use it in salt twice a week they just dont hold up. I am not the only one with these problems. The trailer I have now has no brakes and never did. I bought the trailer that way, and imagine that, it was totally legal for the dealer to sell it to me. I am totally legal according to not only the owners manual for the ZJ, but also according to the Chapparal dealer.

    Oh yeah, by the way I didnt ask for criticizm, I asked for ZJ brake upgrade ideas, so butt out unless you have worthwhile advice to my specific question. I really cant stand when people do that. Did you check the owners manual before you criticized me?? Obviously not. According to the owners manual with a class III hitch the ZJ can tow 5000lbs, and requires sway control and equalizing hitch over 3500lbs and brakes over 2000lbs. I am told it is not that heavy.


    I had to make a panic stop when some moron ran a red light last time I towed. I stopped in time, but it was a bit scary. Thats why I asked. The guy behind me, not towing a boat, ended up in the median sideways, so dont lecture me about driving unsafely. I just wanted to be a little safer, so I asked about a brake upgrade. Not criticizm.

    Thanks to all that have given good advice and some suggestions.
    John Peacock
    Deland FL

    It's not leaking oil, its marking its territory.
    Mod it til the wife is scared to drive it

    95 YJ, white, 4.0, 5sp.
    74 CJ5, lifted, V8 (sold)

  19. #19
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    OH and by the way, I maintain the crap out of both my boat, trailer and tow vehicle. So please dont pretend to know what you are talking about if you dont. I have had boats all my life, trailers with and without brakes and if you believe trailer brakes make you that much safer, then you are the danger, because you have a false sense of security. The fact is salt water destroys things and no matter how much you flush things, they rott and stick. Have you ever had a trailer brake lock up a 55mph? I have. Not fun. And on a brand new trailer, second time out.
    John Peacock
    Deland FL

    It's not leaking oil, its marking its territory.
    Mod it til the wife is scared to drive it

    95 YJ, white, 4.0, 5sp.
    74 CJ5, lifted, V8 (sold)

  20. #20
    Registered louc's Avatar
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    "I am told it is not that heavy" You can look it up on NADA boats for a rough idea--about 3000, plus trailer (600) plus gas (250 if full tank)

    Dude nobody is criticizing, go on any trailer manufacturer website and/or www.trailerboats.com you will find out that your rig is totally illegal in Fla, if something bad happens the dealer who sold it to you will feign ignorance, and you will be stuck trying to explain why you were in violation of state law, why you tried to stop about 8000 lbs, with a brake system designed to stop a vehicle with 5300 lbs max (the GVWR of a ZJ). IF you think a 20' Chap with a V8 + the trailer weighs less than 2000 lbs, you really don't have a clue what you are talking about. The ZJ onwers manual plainly states you need trailer brakes over 2000 lbs. On NADA boats a 91 20' sterndrive Chap is about 3000. Add trailer (at least 600 for a single) and you are at 3600lbs, even more because boats weigh more than what they say. Plus gas, plus all the stuff in the boat. So you are at least 1600 over what ChryCo says is safe, probably closer to 2000. And unless you weigh it you will not know for sure.
    www.trailerboats.com
    look in towing, under road rules "state tow laws" it says clear as day, in Fla anything over 3000 lbs has to have brakes! So if you want to be safe and legal, put a set of silver cad or stainless Kodaiks on your rig and be safe. If not take out more insurance!
    Oh and if you don't think I know what I'm talking about go over to www.thehulltruth.com and ask them.
    They are salt water boaters who haul rigs double the weight of yours and you will get the same answer from them. The dealer will not back you up one bit if you have a problem. YOU are the operator and you are responsible to know the laws where you live.

    You can try to upgrade the ZJ brake system, but I really doubt that it gives the capacity to stop at least 3600 more pounds. Look at a truck with a GVWR of 8000 llbs, and see what size brakes it has! Not puny little 11" discs front and rear, for sure. My boat weighs about the same as yours. With new brakes on the ZJ and no trailer brakes (when I first got it) it was pushing me through stop signs if I had to stop fast. I have not had trouble with the Tie Down drum brakes, they have an aluminum wheel cylinder to keep them from seizing up. The cast iron wheel cylinders do seize up and lock the brakes. The zinc plated drums do not rust like the regular ones do. I know trailer brakes are a pain in salt water but I am trying to help you avoid having a serious legal problem one day. For what that big brake kit for the ZJ costs, you could have the sliver cad Kodiak discs and a good surge actuator.
    Lou C

    98 ZJ Laredo 4.0 Selectrac
    H-4/ECE Headlights, Painless Wiring Harness, Hella 450 fogs
    Front and rear tow hitches, Air Lift, Bilsteins
    Dynomax Cat Back Exhaust
    B&M Supercooler

    07 WK Limited 5.7 HEMI Quadradrive II


    1988 Four Winns 200 Horizon
    4.3 OMC/Cobra Drive

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