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smile n nod
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I spent a good while researching brake pads before my first car track day at Thunderhill in northern California a few days ago, so i thought i'd share the experience i had and add to the wealth of info out there.

I have an '02 RSX-S with 100k miles that i've been autoxing for 4 years with good results. It's lightly modded to get the most out of it within a reasonable budget since this is my DD, and i spend all my money/get my speed fix doing motorcycle track days instead. It had the original brakes and i've been running Axxis Metal Master pads. At the end of the '13 autox season the rear rotors were fine and pads were at more than 90%, the front rotors were shot and pads were down to less than 15%. I needed to install new rotors and pads on the front to be ready for the '14 season that starts in Feb. Well a few weeks ago i was basically given a free open format track day at Thunderhill, i've never had the desire to track my car but there's no reason why i would pass on this opportunity. I've done hundreds of laps at Thill on motorcycles, so i know the course well, and i'm a pretty quick autoxer so i knew i wasn't going to be driving miss daisy even though it would be my first HPDE. The weakest link on my RSX-S for an all day track event were definitely the brakes.

I didn't want to spend a whole lotta money on it since tracking it is most likely going to be a once, maybe twice a year thing if i enjoy it enough. I was about to pull the trigger on rear Pmu HC+800 pads, and front Porterfield R4 race pads, as this combo was the most economical of the "track" pads with good heat range. But coincidentally I came across some lightly used '10 TSX front calipers for dirt cheap, so instead i went for the front TSX brake swap and kept the practically new rear Metal Masters. I decided to start with this setup as it's a permanent upgrade (vs consumable pads) and seemed pretty substantial for only the extra cost of the calipers since rotors and most pads cost about the same for an RSX-S or TSX. This would also give me a good baseline of the car's capability for my first HPDE, and then i could make any changes accordingly if i decide to do anymore in the future.

The benefit of the TSX swap are thicker rotors, larger calipers, and much larger pads resulting in a direct bolt on OEM brake system with better heat capacity for track days, with no drawbacks for daily use or reliability, at a really low price.


CAR SETUP:
Tanabe GF springs modified with polyurethane isolators on the dead coils to raise it .5 inch
Koni Yellow inserts F, Tokico blues R
Sways OEM 23mm F, JDM 22mm R
Enkei RPM2 wheels with RE-11 tires, 17x8 225 F / 17x7 215 R
Hondata reflash
ESMM inserts
Brakes
F: TSX calipers, Napa rotors, Stoptech SP pads and braided lines
R: OEM with Axxis Metal Master pads
ATE fluid


TRACK EXPERIENCE:
9am Wet - The conditions in the am were wet with temps in the low 50s. It rained over night and was raining when we left the hotel for the track. It let up to a drizzle during registration and by 9 when the track opened it had stopped but the track was soaked. I was on track at 9:02 with a few more cars taking it very easy just to get a feel for the wet surface. After about 20 minutes and 7 laps my confidence was up, and with several more cars lapping now all the standing water was gone.

On a wet track, not being able to use the slippery rumble strips my pace was at 2:37, i drove non stop until 10:30 completing 27 more laps. During this time there were a few cars that went 4 wheeling, and a couple cars that retired with mechanical issues. From 9:30 to 10 i believe i was the only car out there lol... In these cool/humid conditions the TSX Stoptechs were flawless, with great bite, consistent feel, and i could brake deep into T10, T14, and T1, letting the abs deal with the lack of grip. I came in at 10:30 to check tire pressures and inspect the car as i had just completed about 97 track miles on my first outing! Everything with the car was 100%, no fuss with anything, and only adjusted the tire temps.

11am Damp - It hadn't rained for a little while and it was in the low 60s now. I went back out as things were starting to dry up and more cars were lapping. I did a recon lap, a second warm up lap, and then got to business. Some of the bad ass cars were tearing it up coming out of corners and in the straights (GTRs, GT3s, Z06s, M3/5s, AMG, STi, ISF). There was a race line drying up and plenty of open track.

The rumble strips were still incredibly slippery, so i couldn't push wide and had to keep a tight line which didn't allow for a big drive through 8. Well, that and an RSX-S doesn't exactly have mighty acceleration... I was at ~83mph up the hill, then down to ~54 in 3rd for T9. The downhill from 9 helps pick up speed in a short distance. Braking for T10 was fantastic, this is an exciting section and a good overtaking place because a lot of drivers were not being aggressive in the brake zones. I was going from ~96 to ~58 in 4th, then down to 3rd for T11. The slippery curbs didn't help the drive out of the esses but i was coming up to T14 at ~94 and braking well past the bridge down to ~45 in 3rd, this was definitely the biggest braking zone. The run down the straight would see 100mph and braking to ~70 for T1. Those were the important brake zones where the abs was always engaging, and the TSX Stoptechs didn't fail me. In one hour i completed 23 laps. The last 40 minutes of which i was averaging 2:30, initial bite was reduced, but braking force and abs engagement settled to a consistent level which i thought was perfectly good in these conditions. I pulled off at noon for lunch and to let the car rest and check everything over. The brakes were smelly and the front wheels were covered in dust, but again everything was 100%.

1pm Wet - The track opened again, and unfortunately it started drizzling. From 1:15 to 3:15 I completed another 21 laps in 3 outings doing about 2:37s. The conditions worsened and it was getting so wet that you couldn't drive with the windows down anymore. 26 cars registered, and by the last time i pulled off into the paddock there were only 3 other cars left, 2 Subies and the event organizer. I had driven plenty, had a ton of fun, and was extremely pleased with my little RSX, so i called it a day.


CONCLUSION:
The damp/cool conditions definitely helped with the endurance of the brakes, but i also completed 223 miles which i think is quite a bit! The RSX-S brake bias is so far forward because of its FF nature with 63% of its weight forward that the front pads/rotors get hammered. There was noticeable wear on the new front rotors, and i haven't pulled the wheels to check the pads yet, but i'm sure they're fine. I was a little worried at first about the rear Metal Master pads but they held up great. There is very little braking force happening in the rear, and there doesn't seem to be any extra wear on them at all lol...

In hot/dry conditions pushing the car i don't think the TSX ST SP pads would like it after a long session. But for HPDEs at a moderate pace i believe this setup is pretty awesome, impressive, and a bargain. And if you wanna go full tilt all day then some TSX race pads are the ticket. For me, i still don't know if i'd be satisfied keeping it at a moderate pace or buy race pads. I guess i'll have to go back for a dry day to find out!
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Lakers gonna lake
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sounds like you had alot of fun and seat time.

last time i went to an open test day i kept uping the pace and after 220 miles my brake fluid finally boiled on me :(

whats the differences between the rsx and tsx calipers? whoops nvm i just read more than 2 lines and found my answer lol
 

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sounds like you had alot of fun and seat time.

last time i went to an open test day i kept uping the pace and after 220 miles my brake fluid finally boiled on me :(

whats the differences between the rsx and tsx calipers? whoops nvm i just read more than 2 lines and found my answer lol
lol that sucks

this is a good story.

Was it a paced lap with an instructor?
 

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smile n nod
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
last time i went to an open test day i kept uping the pace and after 220 miles my brake fluid finally boiled on me :(
Well these were cool and wet conditions so it helped, but i did do a lot of laps non stop and everything held up great. What was your brake set up, fluid, and track conditions?


this is a good story.
Was it a paced lap with an instructor?
No instructors in sight, this was a very informal "at your own pace" day, with mostly very experienced drivers, also b/c of the low turn out there was very little traffic. In the late morning when it was drying up, i was driving pretty hard to keep up with an ISF on street tires, he would easily pull on me in the front and back straights, and coming out of 6, but i would gain on him braking as deep as possible everywhere, and in cornering. We were doing 2.28s for about 5 laps before he pulled off, and in those conditions with my setup there wasn't much room for improvement.
 

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Well these were cool and wet conditions so it helped, but i did do a lot of laps non stop and everything held up great. What was your brake set up, fluid, and track conditions?




No instructors in sight, this was a very informal "at your own pace" day, with mostly very experienced drivers, also b/c of the low turn out there was very little traffic. In the late morning when it was drying up, i was driving pretty hard to keep up with an ISF on street tires, he would easily pull on me in the front and back straights, and coming out of 6, but i would gain on him braking as deep as possible everywhere, and in cornering. We were doing 2.28s for about 5 laps before he pulled off, and in those conditions with my setup there wasn't much room for improvement.
Ahh what a story :)

I wish they had events like that out in the East. I can only find a race track near me that has paced lap days. You need an HPDE license or something to go balls to the wall.

You need proof of prior track experience too to do anything above a paced track day.
 

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smile n nod
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ATE certainly isn't the best, but it's really good especially considering the price. I've read those CRs are proper track pads, i just think the problem with the RSX is that so much of the weight/braking is up front and the front pads are so small, that after 200 hard miles it's just too much heat for the front system. It's basically a 2 wheel brake car! The TSX brake setup can take more heat, but one drawback is that you can't get some of the more customized race pads for it...

It'd be nice to track a better balanced car with more evenly distributed brake bias. I rode in a 330ci and STi and man were they impressive. But their operating expense, maintenance and reliability keep me happy with my FF layout challenged-no LSD-ass backwards honda. That's why bikes are the way to go for track days! Tires and your done.
 

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Sorry to bump this, but with the caliper upgrade did the TSX rotors fit fine on the RSX? Considering they are thicker would this increase the offset of the front wheels?
 

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The rotor disc is thicker. The rotor hat is probably the same as the RSX, so it should have no effect on wheel offset.
 

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smile n nod
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey TTercel, sorry I just saw your question. Everything mounts/bolts right up, as Koopa said the rotor hat spec is identical so it does not change your wheel offset. The only modification is having to trim off some of the rotor heat shield as it does not clear the larger calipers.
 

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Hey TTercel, sorry I just saw your question. Everything mounts/bolts right up, as Koopa said the rotor hat spec is identical so it does not change your wheel offset. The only modification is having to trim off some of the rotor heat shield as it does not clear the larger calipers.
Thanks for the info. I will have this setup going on in the spring.
 
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