The Comprehensive Guide To Brake Upgrades For 5th Gen Camaros

5THGENBRAKEGUIDELEADART_1After a long hiatus from development between the fourth and fifth-generation Camaros, General Motors had plenty of time on its hands to take what was lacking about the ’90s and early ’00s F-body and craft it into a masterpiece. Patience and effort paid off, however.

2011 Chevrolet Camaro

Fans of the Camaro quickly found ways to turn it into the dream car they wanted for use in drag racing, road racing, autocross as more viable routes were available to modify the platform. But for all the ways to make it go fast, it’s important to take into account the ways to make it come to a stop.

With this guide, we’re taking a look at several options for when it comes to upgrading brakes and their components. Our overview will include offerings by Baer Brakes, Chevy Performance, SLP, and DBA, with a focus on V8 Camaros and some supplemental information on V6 versions as well.

Baer Brakes

Pfadt-Camaro-3

Starting us off is Baer Brakes. We zeroed in on Rick Elam for some big questions about what sets the company’s kits apart. For the 5th Gen Camaro, there are some great selections to choose from, starting with the Extreme+ front (PN 4301392) and rear (PN 4302246) systems. These kits work on both V8 and V6 models.

BB15inchFrontExtreme+kit_1

The Extreme+ kit offers six-piston calipers to boost braking performance on the front and rear of 5th-Gen Camaros.

“The Extreme+ is Baer’s flagship system, and features our forged six-piston monoblock caliper,” said Elam. “The Extreme+ can also be upgraded to 6R Calipers, which are race versions that have additional machine work done to take roughly two pounds out of the caliper. The 6R calipers allow for top-loaded pads, feature a notched stainless piston to help with cooling, and are nickel-plated.”

Using six pistons makes for an important consideration against other options, and plays a big part in how well the brakes perform overall once installed on a Camaro. “The idea is basically control of the pad,” explained Elam. “The longer the pad shape, the more pistons we can use to cover the backing plate of the pad and control pad taper. We have found with most modern pad shapes, six pistons work best.”

A Baer Sport rotor being installed to improve braking performance.

A Baer Sport rotor and caliper bracket being installed to improve braking performance.

When it comes to installation, brakes are no small matter. Precision fitment is vital, and takes extreme attention and care to come out correctly on the other side. Breaking in brakes is a part of this, and Elam recommends installers drive normally for the first 300 to 500 miles. During this time, the signature zinc plating on the rotors’ surface is worn down in a gradual, comfortable rate to ensure proper bedding.

“If the car is being worked on by someone other than the owner, like a performance shop for example, they will not be responsible for any of the break-in,” commented Elam. “This would be handled by the owner of the vehicle, after some time and mileage is put on the brake system. We recommend our customers look online for tips on rotor seasoning and pad bedding.”

Baer's caliper colors run a wide range across the spectrum.

Another area of the braking spectrum covered by Baer is brake rotors. The Sport series constitutes direct replacement pieces for any 5th Gen Camaro, using the same dimensions as the stock units. They come with a three-year limited warranty against warping and cracking.

All Sport rotors are a slotted, drilled, and one-piece design. Installation is a bolt-on process that requires no bleeding afterwards, since they carry the same dimensions as stock rotors.

All Sport rotors are a one-piece design that is slotted and drilled. Installation is a bolt-on process that requires no bleeding afterwards, since they carry the same dimensions as stock rotors.

“These are direct replacement, stock size, cosmetically upgraded rotors,” said Elam. “The Sport rotors are intended for customers that are happy with their stock brake performance, but are looking for a better quality, better looking rotor.  Due to these rotors being the same size as stock, there is no substantial brake improvement, but matched with Baer Sport Pads, we can see improvements of 7-10 feet from 60 to zero miles per hour.”

Between V6 and V8 offerings, the rotors differ only in size. The V8 versions measure 13.97 and 14.30 inches in diameter for the front and rear, respectively, while the V6 versions measure 12.63 and 12.40 inches for the front rear. All of them are slotted, drilled, and made from a one-piece design.

Lastly, Baer’s Sport pads are replacements for factory pads, but improve over them thanks to high-friction material. They also create less dust and noise. “It’s definitely a noticeable improvement,” commented Elam.

Chevy Performance

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SSChevy Performance is a name that hardly needs an introduction. As the racing and competition branch of the Bow Tie brand, it draws from some of GM’s greatest minds, and fans of the Camaro have had their fair share of heroic automobiles to choose from, like the street assassin SS to the track-scorching Z/28.

It is a well-known practice to take an ordinary, base model V8 Camaro and improve its performance with parts from upriver models like the ZL1 and Z/28, and brakes are no different when one approaches Chevy Performance for the next big upgrade. There are several options to choose from in the catalog, but we will focus on a select few for this guide. Doctor Jamie Meyer and his team from Chevy Performance provided insight to enlighten us.

The SS to ZL1 Brembo Conversion Kit (PN 22959672) works on the V8 Camaros, and takes the base SS front’s brakes to the high-performance braking likeness of its ZL1 brother. An increased rotor size – from 14 inches to 14.6 inches – and additional piston count – from four pistons to six pistons – are just a couple of the improvements in this kit.

The front kit (left) and rear kit (right) take the SS to ZL1 levels of braking performance on 5th Gen V8 Camaros.

Other benefits include reduced weight, as well as a design feature that uses a cast iron rotor brake ring with an aluminum hat. The two components fluctuate temperatures at different rates, which lets the rotor dissipate heat more efficiently. Buying the rear kit (PN 23104466) makes sense to give users the full package and improved stopping response on all fours. Meyer cautions customers to make sure their wheels are at least 20 inches to achieve clearance for the calipers, and advises consideration of how much track time the car will see, since this is the main objective of the ZL1 brakes.

CPZ28brakeducts_1

Z/28 brake ducts direct air flow over the rear of the rotors to reduce brake fade and increase cooling efficiency.

As an “icing on the cake” option, so to speak, there are also Z/28 brake ducts (PN 23252398) that fit 2014-15 SS and 1LE models. These parts direct air flow over the back end of the rotors, dropping front brake temperatures and increasing the lifespan. Reduced brake fade, better cooling of brake fluid, and optimized pedal response round out the features of the brake ducts.

“We took lessons learned from the Corvette and applied them to the design of the Z/28’s ducts,” explained Meyer. “Nevertheless, these ducts were crafted to work with the aerodynamic shape, brake configuration, and cooling needs of the Camaro.”

V6 users, fret not. For a simple improvement, the SS Brake Upgrade Kit (PN 23120542) increases the front rotor size from 12.6 inches to 14 inches, while the rear rotors go from 12.4 inches to 14.4 inches. The calipers receive four-piston Brembos on all four corners, too. For the user who needs something better than the factory setup, this kit is a step in the right direction.

V6 applications can use the SS upgrade kit (left) or ZL1 upgrade kit (right) to put a boost to braking power on all fours.

For the premium option, the ZL1’s top-end braking can be had for V6 applications, too. Armed with the V6 to ZL1 Brake Conversion Kit (PN 22989384), your six-pot pony car will see an increase in rotor size for both the front and rear – 12.6 inches to 14.6 inches and 12.4 inches to 14.4 inches, respectively – as well as additional pistons to call upon when the moment demands it.

Street Legal Performance (SLP)

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Street Legal Performance has its headquarters in Plymouth Township, Michigan, but its appeal to performance enthusiasts reaches far and wide. When it comes to 5th-Gen Camaros, the company offers everything from wheels to superchargers to headers.

SLPbrakecontrol_1

SLP’s brake control package holds a line lock on the brakes to help with burnouts.

Where it concerns brakes, SLP offers a single component that comes in handy for burnouts. The brake control package (PN 25005) does the trick for situations when running in place is a must. SLP’s David Buckshaw was on hand to explain the finer features of the product and its purpose.

“Our customers who enjoy drag racing are the main target with the brake control package,” he said. “It’s useful to hold the car at the starting line, cook the tires, and ultimately launch when the light goes green.”

Ease of installation was a concern that SLP addressed during development of the kit, making sure that shadetree gearheads the world over could handle the task in the comfort of their garage. “Our brake control package can be installed by most do-it-yourself owners who are comfortable bleeding brakes,” said Buckshaw. “Alternatively, a shop which performs quality brake repair can do the kit, too.”

Disc Brakes Australia (DBA)

Chevrolet_Camaro_ZL1

Our Aussie friends are no strangers to the LS and its powerful potential, which is all the more reason to invest in a set of top-shelf equipment when driving a beast like the 5th-Gen Camaro around. One company out of Silverwater, New South Wales, Australia is providing such products: Disc Brakes Australia.

T3 4000 Series brake rotors were installed onto Project LS350Z.

T3 4000 Series brake rotors were installed onto Project LS350Z.

Our talk with Yoni Kellman shed some light on a select few brakes and pads that would find good use in the late model F-body. First, however, we established what types of DBA products would be best suited for the late model musclecar, those being the Street Series, which break down into the T2 Slotted and XGold Slotted/Drilled subtypes; the 4000 Series, which break down into the T3 Slotted and XS Slotted/Drilled subtypes; and the 5000 Series T3 Slotted and XS Slotted/Drilled subtypes.

The Street Series cover the casual street car owner, and the T2 Slotted brakes tout DBA’s famous Kangaroo Paw ventilation for more rigidity and cooling. “The T2 Slotted brakes have paint protection on non-friction areas and non-directional slotting,” explained Kellman. “These rotors do great to cover the basics and offer a step upward from stock rotors.”

DBAXGold_1

Glitz and glamor comes standard with DBA’s XGold drilled and slotted brake rotors.

The XGold design, meanwhile, offers drilled and non-directional slotting, as well as a stylish appearance with its bright yellow finish on the rotor hats. Both the T2 and XGold are made using a cubic boron nitride (CBN) machining process to create symmetry in disc thicknesses for less brake pedal judder.

Stepping up from the Street Series, the 4000 Series constitutes DBA’s most popular choice among customers. “They’re intended for street and moderate track use,” said Kellman. “They incorporate all of our most advanced features, including TSP heat treating, a high carbon alloyed iron, CBN machine turning, and more.” The 4000 Series splits into the T3 and XS subtypes, with the T3 using tri-symmetrical, non-directional slotting, while the XS uses non-directional slotting and drilling cutouts.

Up one more step is the 5000 Series, the premium option for use on high-end applications. “These are two-piece rotors as opposed to the single-piece Street and 4000 Series,” said Kellman. “This offers reduced weight, better heat dissipation, and lower replacement costs after the initial purchase.”

The 4000 Series (left) are upriver from the Street Series, but are still a one-piece design. The 5000 Series (right) top all other DBA offerings thanks to their lightweight, heat-dissipating two-piece design.

DBA stands by its work, and its testing procedures ensure a quality product is what winds up in the hands of customers. “We have used independent test firms like Link Engineering to verify results and guide our design improvements,” said Kellman. “This type of testing verifies all of our findings with regard to the quality and performance of our designs and materials.”

Put A Stop To The Wayward Searches

2015 Chevrolet Camaro with available 1LE Package

We hope our guide has been useful in helping you narrow down the scope of your search when it comes to braking add-ons and upgrades for your 5th-Gen Camaro. Make no mistake, the late model Camaro is a powerful platform to work on, and each of the companies we discussed in this article is ready, willing, and able to answer your questions.

We encourage you to check out Baer, Chevy Performance, SLP, and DBA on your own with the contact information provided below. Let us know what brake upgrades you have installed (or have planned to install) on your 5th-Gen Camaro in the comments below.

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About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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