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TCBRacer77

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So I’ve been putting this off way too long, but I finally need to address my brakes. I plan on replacing all 4 corners but I was looking for some guidance before I pull the trigger. My brakes pulse really bad when I am coming to a stop, like rotors are warped or something? I just don’t want to bandaid fix with new pads and shoes but have the same issue in 6 months. Also, can anyone recommend good replacement parts? I see the kits on rock auto but don’t have any idea if they are good products or not. Thanks for any input!
 

df2x4

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My brakes pulse really bad when I am coming to a stop, like rotors are warped or something?

In my experience this is pretty much always caused by warped rotors or drums. You can help determine which by going to a parking lot or similar open area and using the parking brake to stop from a slow roll. The parking brake only activates the rear brakes, so if you feel the pulsation during this test then the drums are most likely warped. The rotors on the front could be messed up too, but this is a good place to start IMO.

Post some details on your truck. Year/model and brake RPO code would be helpful, I can recommend some stuff I've had good experiences with but I want to make sure it will fit your setup.
 

TCBRacer77

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In my experience this is pretty much always caused by warped rotors or drums. You can help determine which by going to a parking lot or similar open area and using the parking brake to stop from a slow roll. The parking brake only activates the rear brakes, so if you feel the pulsation during this test then the drums are most likely warped. The rotors on the front could be messed up too, but this is a good place to start IMO.

Post some details on your truck. Year/model and brake RPO code would be helpful, I can recommend some stuff I've had good experiences with but I want to make sure it will fit your setup.
1997 c1500 4.3
 

Schurkey

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The bigger, better brakes were typically used on heavier trucks. Converting a C1500 is not as straight-forward as a K1500, due to the 5-lug wheels you have. The bigger brakes generally used 6-lug wheels. There's ways around this, including aftermarket axles.

Essentially, you're replacing 254mm (10") rear brakes of crappy design with 11.x" brakes of normal, popular design. The Treasure Yard is your friend.
 

df2x4

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1997 c1500 4.3

Guessing you have JB5 brakes then? That's what my red truck has and it's the same configuration/year. You can confirm this by checking the RPO code sticker inside your glove box if it's still intact. If it's not, you can verify by running the VIN on compnine.com (or PM @1ton-o-fun, he has a CompNine subscription and will run VIN checks for other members).

If you do have the JB5 brakes then IMO you can get them working very well without swapping any major parts. Making sure the entire system (including the ABS module) is properly bled with fresh fluid is the best place to start IMO. Unfortunately bleeding the ABS module requires a GM Tech-2 or comparable scan tool that can command the module to open during the bleeding process, so if you don't have the proper tools you may be better off taking it to a shop for this.

Once that's dealt with, selecting some aggressive pads and shoes will make a big difference in stopping power. I did some research on this subject, and with the help of other members here discovered that all brake pads and shoes sold in the US have a two letter code printed on them which indicates the coefficient of friction. Long story short the first letter is cold performance and the second letter is hot. The farther the letters advance towards Z, the more aggressive the friction material is and therefore the faster it will stop you. More info here:

https://www.motortrend.com/how-to/disc-brake-pad-friction-codes-explained/

The most aggressive pads I could find for my red truck ('97 C1500 4.3L, JB5) were the Raybestos EHT369H. They're around $30 on RockAuto and carry an HH friction code, which is more aggressive than any offerings from Hawk or EBC that are much more expensive.

Unfortunately the most aggressive shoes I could find were only FF code, but the bias still feels good to me. I used Raybestos 675PG.

Regarding rotors and drums... I used Raybestos R6258PER slotted rotors on this truck and I've been happy with them so far, but next time they get replaced I'm going back to blank face rotors. I don't think the slotted surface really has any performance benefit, and in fact I think they may not stop as well as a blank face due to less surface area in contact with the pads. Next time I'll probably go with the standard Raybestos 56258.

I also used Raybestos 2572R drums. I did a lot of research comparing pictures, and I'm fairly sure that Raybestos is supplying a lot of brake parts to GM for these trucks. The Raybestos drums I used look identical to current OEM GM ones with a different name on the box. Regardless of what you choose here, make sure to have them checked for roundness before you install them! I've had multiple sets show up out of spec regardless of the brand.

Upgrading the factory soft brake hoses to braided stainless lines will also help firm up the feel of your brake pedal. I used the Russell kit, part number 672340.

FWIW I also used PowerStop S4299 calipers, ACDelco 172-1514 wheel cylinders, Wilwood HI-TEMP 572 brake fluid, and ACDelco 18K600 drum brake hardware kit on this truck. No complaints with any of it.

EDIT - These choices were all the result of many nights of research and discussion with other members here. I wanted to select the best parts I could to get the best performance possible out of the factory JB5 brakes. The results have impressed me. My dad ordered this truck new and he says he never remembers the brakes being as good as they are now.
 
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1ton-o-fun

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Yep. My subscription is still active, lol!
Whole process takes me about 90 seconds once I get the VIN. Occasionally, I might get too involved with other things and go a day w/o checking in on the forum, but it's not that often...
 
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