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regfootball

Brake Upgrades

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This is actually a serious inquiry.

the Aztek turned 105k this week and I am generally faced with the possibility of needing to keep the vehicle for quite awhile. Good, since its a slight few payments left and its all mine. WOO HOO.

Anyways, it's been great so far. Good on gas (prob avg 21-22 mpg over the life of the vehicle). Immense utility. Great errand hopper and road trip vehicle.

Quiet and comfortable.

Oil changes, one set of tires, one brake job, radiator and tranny flushes for maintenance. Only.....ONLY...... repairs on the vehicle to date have been the two front wheel bearings, done under warranty. Also a recall on a wiring harness.

THAT'S IT.

All this in spite of its 'functional form'.

Now, its a quiet cruiser, and easy enough to drive around town at a sedate pace. But every time i get out of the Aztek and into my Taurus X, I am reminded how low on the food chain the Aztek is as far as steering, handling, engine, tranny, and BRAKING.

The braking of the vehicle can occasionally be at best, SCARY. A loaded vehicle, on a grade, in the rain or wet, full of passengers and cargo can make you actually pray to stop. Frequent hard stops, um, wow, the fade. Just a general unsafe feel to the brakes in general.

I do not have the 4 wheel discs of the AWD version..I have disc/drum and front drive.

If I am forced to keep the vehicle, I have other work to do....new belts, tune up and plugs, fuel filter, maybe even struts. Tires I am sure maybe by 120-125k. A/C charge at some point.

I am just asking those to chime in if there is any ways cost effectively and perhaps with aftermarket parts, to do something, ANYTHING to help the braking performance of this vehicle. Enough so it is noticeable, and restores confidence. The brakes were simply underdesigned. Knowing this, is there any approach to this that is not a waste of money.....and something that could be recommended at the next brake job. Any websites, brands etc.....let me know.

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Well, even just general advice on whether to expect that upgraded pads and rotors / drums would even be worth the cost. I am not keen on the idea say of replacing any brake lines or anything.

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Well, even just general advice on whether to expect that upgraded pads and rotors / drums would even be worth the cost. I am not keen on the idea say of replacing any brake lines or anything.

TireRack has some premium pads and shoes and performance rotors, but not much for the Aztek. They are not too expensive, so I would give some of it a try. Someplace else will likely have some performance pads... somewhere there is somebody racing Azteks, no doubt.

Granted, my Bonneville had better brakes from the factory, but I was still not happy with fade... especially after a few 80-20 mph freeway slow downs in succession. I also didn't care for the dust on my chrome wheels and I was getting some rotor warpage, which I REALLY hate. So I upgraded to Powerslot rotors and Akebono ceramic pads, and I has very happy with the performance change... however, since I got slotted rotors, the ceramic brakes make some noise once warmed up. The ceramics are great for keeping the dust down, but don't give the best performance. When I redo my pads, I'm going to switch to some performance non-ceramics to try to eliminate the noise and improve the braking. Its a shame that Powerslot doesn't seem to be making rotors for the Aztek or that Hawk is not making pads... this is considered to be a pretty good combo.

Likely the Aztek has the really tiny rear brakes, so I doubt they contribute much... on my Bonneville, they don't... in fact, they barely wear... so upgrades won't help as much there.

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You could always see what Brembo makes that might fit your Aztek. Some people over on LHforums have upgraded to brembos and say they are worth every penny.

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thanks.

yeah, the rear drums were barely worn, and you can tell they really do nothing for stopping the vehicle. the brakes all around are GM spec, i.e. cheap, small, undersized.

my tranny has developed a hard thunk when shifting. on the forums it apparently is a solenoid problem in the tranny or much worse. Apparently the issues are common. I did not have this problem ever. Until after i flushed the tranny and all of a sudden, hard shifting.

i'll check out the brembos and hopefully a pad that does not leave soooo much brake dust.

Edited by regfootball
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thanks.

yeah, the rear drums were barely worn, and you can tell they really do nothing for stopping the vehicle. the brakes all around are GM spec, i.e. cheap, small, undersized.

my tranny has developed a hard thunk when shifting. on the forums it apparently is a solenoid problem in the tranny or much worse. Apparently the issues are common. I did not have this problem ever. Until after i flushed the tranny and all of a sudden, hard shifting.

i'll check out the brembos and hopefully a pad that does not leave soooo much brake dust.

That sucks. I've heard that story a lot with many cars, from LH cars to Panthers where the transmission is fine until the itgets flushed and then it goes to hell.

Yes because according to JD...brake dust is now a serious quality problem. :rolleyes::P

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If you want to upgrade on the cheap, you can see if you can find a set of ceramic-metallic pads for the Aztek, and pick up a set of nice high-quality rotors that won't warp with the added heat. Around town my ceramic pads feel about the same as my regular pads did, but on hard stops they really bite and slow the car down faster.

Also, make sure your rear shoes are properly adjusted.

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That sucks. I've heard that story a lot with many cars, from LH cars to Panthers where the transmission is fine until the itgets flushed and then it goes to hell.

What transmission is in the Aztek? Solenoids go bad pretty easily; trans flush most likely coincidental.

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What transmission is in the Aztek? Solenoids go bad pretty easily; trans flush most likely coincidental.

Not necessarily.

My Bonne suffered from, uh, "deferred maintenance" for a while and everyone warned not to change the fluid or flush it... the theory being that that tranny clutches are worn and the clutch material suspended in the fluid are whats keeping the tranny shifting properly. Once you change or flush the fluid, there is not enough clutch material in the fluid, and the clutches finally give up the ghost... once the clutch material reaches a certain wear point, it flakes off and gets stuck in the solenoids... the computer detects this and puts the vehicle in 'limp home mode'... forcing the fluid pressure to max and causing hard shifting... the hard shifting is actually easier on the tranny than those long, soft shifts.

Reg, its odd that you would have this problem at only 105K... my Bonne has 199K, and went 140K without a flush... I asked for the problem. When it started shifting hard, did you get a 'check engine' light? If so, it will continue to shift hard until the condition passes and the light turns off. Generally, the solenoids get a fleck of crap in them and will work again after a little while, so don't panic yet. I "facilitate" the clearing of the solenoid in my Bonne by doing a little hard acceleration... well, ok... a lot. ;-) Usually two or three full throttle runs to 60~70 will clear my particular solenoid and I can feel the car return a bit to normal... then I do three or four driving cycles to clear the 'check engine'.

I'm not sure about the Aztek tranny, but on the 4L60E, I have to basically remove the tranny to get to the solenoids... and apparently if I do replace the solenoid, the new one will just clog... so I am in 'drive (the tranny) until it dies' mode. I am lineing up a prepped 4L65E-HD with a LSD to replace it, as my other mods seem to have upped my horsepower and I'm wearing out my passenger side tire.

Hopefully you just have a fluke here and things will settle down.

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Not necessarily.

My Bonne suffered from, uh, "deferred maintenance" for a while and everyone warned not to change the fluid or flush it... the theory being that that tranny clutches are worn and the clutch material suspended in the fluid are whats keeping the tranny shifting properly. Once you change or flush the fluid, there is not enough clutch material in the fluid, and the clutches finally give up the ghost... once the clutch material reaches a certain wear point, it flakes off and gets stuck in the solenoids...

Yup, I hear this exact thing as well.

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Not necessarily.

My Bonne suffered from, uh, "deferred maintenance" for a while and everyone warned not to change the fluid or flush it... the theory being that that tranny clutches are worn and the clutch material suspended in the fluid are whats keeping the tranny shifting properly. Once you change or flush the fluid, there is not enough clutch material in the fluid, and the clutches finally give up the ghost... once the clutch material reaches a certain wear point, it flakes off and gets stuck in the solenoids... the computer detects this and puts the vehicle in 'limp home mode'... forcing the fluid pressure to max and causing hard shifting... the hard shifting is actually easier on the tranny than those long, soft shifts.

Reg, its odd that you would have this problem at only 105K... my Bonne has 199K, and went 140K without a flush... I asked for the problem. When it started shifting hard, did you get a 'check engine' light? If so, it will continue to shift hard until the condition passes and the light turns off. Generally, the solenoids get a fleck of crap in them and will work again after a little while, so don't panic yet. I "facilitate" the clearing of the solenoid in my Bonne by doing a little hard acceleration... well, ok... a lot. ;-) Usually two or three full throttle runs to 60~70 will clear my particular solenoid and I can feel the car return a bit to normal... then I do three or four driving cycles to clear the 'check engine'.

I'm not sure about the Aztek tranny, but on the 4L60E, I have to basically remove the tranny to get to the solenoids... and apparently if I do replace the solenoid, the new one will just clog... so I am in 'drive (the tranny) until it dies' mode. I am lineing up a prepped 4L65E-HD with a LSD to replace it, as my other mods seem to have upped my horsepower and I'm wearing out my passenger side tire.

Hopefully you just have a fluke here and things will settle down.

I don't think we actually disagree...I was commenting more on the cause-and-effect. The flush didn't cause what leads to hard shifting; that was already occurring.

I drive a 2001 Aurora 3.5...trust me I know a lot about solenoids and hard shifts.

Reg, again, what trans is in your trucklet?

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Can you engage ABS? If so, the brakes are powerful enough... it's brake feel and tire grip you're lacking.

When I had aftermarket low-dust pads and generic rotors on the Passat, brake feel was lousy - very little initial bite and poor sensitivity. While I could engage ABS, I had to mash through a few inches of travel before they would really bite. That's like 50 feet of lost reaction time.

I upgraded to more aggressive pads in the front and OEM-spec Brembo rotors all around. No more pulsing through the pedal (the cheapo rotors were warped), and a much sharper pedal feel overall. I bled the brakes; brake fluid is hygroscopic so its boiling point gets lower through the years. That could be your cause of fade, not the pads themselves.

According to Tirerack, Brembo doesn't make OEM rotor replacements for the Aztek, so you might want to consider slotted aftermarket rotors, which I'm generally weary of, for the hope they might be higher quality than the factory stuff. Same with pads.

As far as wet braking, that has much to do with the tires. Stopping distances in general have to do with tires. Check your tire pressures at the very least.

Edited by pow
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What transmission is in the Aztek? Solenoids go bad pretty easily; trans flush most likely coincidental.

its the 4 T65 or something. a 4 sp auto. thing is, i did full flushes and all that at 50k and 100k specifically to prolong tranny life. my dad was like 'i don't believe in doing tranny flushes, it just makes the problem worse'.

it does seem the issue is fairly common for this vehicle. in fairness, 100k out of an automatic tranny is about all you can ask for most of the time. especially if you owned for example, a chrysler.........

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Not necessarily.

My Bonne suffered from, uh, "deferred maintenance" for a while and everyone warned not to change the fluid or flush it... the theory being that that tranny clutches are worn and the clutch material suspended in the fluid are whats keeping the tranny shifting properly. Once you change or flush the fluid, there is not enough clutch material in the fluid, and the clutches finally give up the ghost... once the clutch material reaches a certain wear point, it flakes off and gets stuck in the solenoids... the computer detects this and puts the vehicle in 'limp home mode'... forcing the fluid pressure to max and causing hard shifting... the hard shifting is actually easier on the tranny than those long, soft shifts.

Reg, its odd that you would have this problem at only 105K... my Bonne has 199K, and went 140K without a flush... I asked for the problem. When it started shifting hard, did you get a 'check engine' light? If so, it will continue to shift hard until the condition passes and the light turns off. Generally, the solenoids get a fleck of crap in them and will work again after a little while, so don't panic yet. I "facilitate" the clearing of the solenoid in my Bonne by doing a little hard acceleration... well, ok... a lot. ;-) Usually two or three full throttle runs to 60~70 will clear my particular solenoid and I can feel the car return a bit to normal... then I do three or four driving cycles to clear the 'check engine'.

I'm not sure about the Aztek tranny, but on the 4L60E, I have to basically remove the tranny to get to the solenoids... and apparently if I do replace the solenoid, the new one will just clog... so I am in 'drive (the tranny) until it dies' mode. I am lineing up a prepped 4L65E-HD with a LSD to replace it, as my other mods seem to have upped my horsepower and I'm wearing out my passenger side tire.

Hopefully you just have a fluke here and things will settle down.

your first paragraph is along the lines of what my dad thought.

i do not get any check engine light yet, however i can run OBD and see if i get any codes and go from there.

i will try to 'air it out' and see if that helps at all. since we got the taurus x the aztek is just an intown errand hopper and we don't get to stretch its legs much.

thing is, i don't want the hard shifting to deteriorate into an issue which requires fixing or makes it tough to sell once i need to. its worth some fair money right now still, i'd have preferred to have ditched it by now in favor of a new ride. but i may be forced to keep it which would force me to do lots of long term maintenance to it, which i have no desire to pay for or amortize.

Edited by regfootball
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Can you engage ABS? If so, the brakes are powerful enough... it's brake feel and tire grip you're lacking.

When I had aftermarket low-dust pads and generic rotors on the Passat, brake feel was lousy - very little initial bite and poor sensitivity. While I could engage ABS, I had to mash through a few inches of travel before they would really bite. That's like 50 feet of lost reaction time.

I upgraded to more aggressive pads in the front and OEM-spec Brembo rotors all around. No more pulsing through the pedal (the cheapo rotors were warped), and a much sharper pedal feel overall. I bled the brakes; brake fluid is hygroscopic so its boiling point gets lower through the years. That could be your cause of fade, not the pads themselves.

According to Tirerack, Brembo doesn't make OEM rotor replacements for the Aztek, so you might want to consider slotted aftermarket rotors, which I'm generally weary of, for the hope they might be higher quality than the factory stuff. Same with pads.

As far as wet braking, that has much to do with the tires. Stopping distances in general have to do with tires. Check your tire pressures at the very least.

ABS has always worked just fine. pure stopping power is the biggest weakness. fade and feel are a part of that.

my tires OEM were Goodyear Fortera, my replacements were Michelin Hydroforce or something like that, one of the higer rated tires on tire rack for wet and snow. In winter i monitor the tire pressure often. Overall i run about 36 psi frequently to keep gas mileage up.

my front rotors are so small they are smaller than the rears on a lot of new cars today......

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ABS has always worked just fine. pure stopping power is the biggest weakness. fade and feel are a part of that.

my tires OEM were Goodyear Fortera, my replacements were Michelin Hydroforce or something like that, one of the higer rated tires on tire rack for wet and snow. In winter i monitor the tire pressure often. Overall i run about 36 psi frequently to keep gas mileage up.

my front rotors are so small they are smaller than the rears on a lot of new cars today......

If ABS is kicking in... then in theory, the brakes are powerful enough to lock the wheels, and increasing stopping power wouldn't do anything.

I'd at least bleed the brakes, if the fluid hasn't been changed before.

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its the 4 T65 or something. a 4 sp auto. thing is, i did full flushes and all that at 50k and 100k specifically to prolong tranny life. my dad was like 'i don't believe in doing tranny flushes, it just makes the problem worse'.

it does seem the issue is fairly common for this vehicle. in fairness, 100k out of an automatic tranny is about all you can ask for most of the time. especially if you owned for example, a chrysler.........

214k, 196k and the transmissions are still going.

I've noticed though that since the 3.5 went in, the transmission has been a lot more responsive. Probably something to do with some of the transmission fluid being changed out with new fluid.

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I'm not sure about the Aztek tranny, but on the 4L60E, I have to basically remove the tranny to get to the solenoids... and apparently if I do replace the solenoid, the new one will just clog... so I am in 'drive (the tranny) until it dies' mode. I am lineing up a prepped 4L65E-HD with a LSD to replace it, as my other mods seem to have upped my horsepower and I'm wearing out my passenger side tire.

Edit: That was supposed to be 4T60E and 4T65E-HD. I am actually more familiar with the 4L60E, and hence, the fingers prefer typing L's over T's, but didn't mean to confuse anybody with what become a very incorrect bit of info. For some reason, I was unable to edit my post.

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its the 4 T65 or something. a 4 sp auto. thing is, i did full flushes and all that at 50k and 100k specifically to prolong tranny life. my dad was like 'i don't believe in doing tranny flushes, it just makes the problem worse'.

it does seem the issue is fairly common for this vehicle. in fairness, 100k out of an automatic tranny is about all you can ask for most of the time. especially if you owned for example, a chrysler.........

4T65E is a respectable tranny... I didn't realise GM put them in the Aztek... with the smaller engine, I would have thought 4T60E... but it seems GM phased them out by the time the Aztek came around.

I disagree with the 100K being about all you can ask for... for an new, OEM tranny, 150K should be minimum... 200K is all you can ask for. I'm at 199.5K and counting with my improperly maintained copy. For alot of cheesy rebuilds 100K is a lot to ask, however.

100K for a Chrysler... that's cold and I know it was targeted to pull DF's chain, but my friend's '99 300M tranny didn't quite make that. I think its on tranny number 3 now.

Concerning your flush... how did they flush it? I ask because I have heard many stories about tranny flushes were the flush is sucked out via the filler tube... yeah, more tranny fluid is changed, but the filter is not. Filter is pretty important to change.

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your first paragraph is along the lines of what my dad thought.

i do not get any check engine light yet, however i can run OBD and see if i get any codes and go from there.

i will try to 'air it out' and see if that helps at all. since we got the taurus x the aztek is just an intown errand hopper and we don't get to stretch its legs much.

thing is, i don't want the hard shifting to deteriorate into an issue which requires fixing or makes it tough to sell once i need to. its worth some fair money right now still, i'd have preferred to have ditched it by now in favor of a new ride. but i may be forced to keep it which would force me to do lots of long term maintenance to it, which i have no desire to pay for or amortize.

I don't think the solenoids will leave a OBD code without a CEL, but I don't have an Aztek FSM (yet...). Mine wouldn't. Still worth a check out.

So the hard shifting is happening all the time, over several driving cycles?

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100K for a Chrysler... that's cold and I know it was targeted to pull DF's chain, but my friend's '99 300M tranny didn't quite make that. I think its on tranny number 3 now.

I know it was. :P

I've certainly encoutered Chrytsle transmission problems. Had a late 90's Voyager's trans quit on me while I was test driving it. Then again, the Grand Marquis doesn't have reverse these days and I know a guy who's N-Body Malibu had to have a new transmission put in. Then there's that Toyota manual that gave out.

It's all relative.

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You could always see what Brembo makes that might fit your Aztek. Some people over on LHforums have upgraded to brembos and say they are worth every penny.

+1 for Brembo's. That's one of the things Hyundai did right on the Genesis coupe with the track pack.

My Miata will upgrade brakes at some point...

Chris

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I know it was. :P

I've certainly encoutered Chrytsle transmission problems. Had a late 90's Voyager's trans quit on me while I was test driving it. Then again, the Grand Marquis doesn't have reverse these days and I know a guy who's N-Body Malibu had to have a new transmission put in. Then there's that Toyota manual that gave out.

It's all relative.

Oddly, from my relative perspective, in my "circle of friends' cars", the Chrysler is the only one with a real tranny "habit". Obviously, my Bonne's tranny is probably going, but at 199.7K, that's not a bad run. The only other car with a tranny problem is a '98 Cavalier... that has this bizarre issue where it feels like it disengages then engages suddenly... but the thing has put probably another 80K on since then (that car must be well north of 250K now) and was still going. Also, I have a '88 Caprice ex-police parts car with 200+K with a tranny with no reverse.

Go back a decade and a half, and I swear about 70% of the "circle" had some sort of serious tranny problem at one time or another... and most of them were GM cars... (where today the only significant GM cars in the "circle" are mine). Tranny reliability has recovered quite a bit from the '80s and '90s.

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