The Best Brakes for your Audi, BMW, or VW Explained with HAWK Performance

For most people, a trip to the shop or dealership and a few hours wait is all they ever think about their brakes until they have to slam them on mid-text message when they miss their exit. For the enthusiasts, brake service is a moment of catharsis like any routine service for which we have a habit. The most difficult part of servicing your brakes comes down to which components to use. The average driver needs one style while the performance driver needs another. This article will help the aspiring or confident at-home mechanic choose the right braking components for their needs and gain a better understanding of what physically happens during the time you depress the middle pedal and expect the car to stop.

Modern Disc Brakes

Disc brakes today are fairly universal for each of their applications and all work around the same principles. Disc brakes receive their nomenclature since they are a physical disc, or rotor, that is stopped by a caliper and pads which squeeze together against the friction surface. Brakes stop your car based on their coefficient of friction over a temperature range. They consist of your caliper, which has pistons that clamp the pads to the rotor, and are operated hydraulically through brake lines that lead up to your brake master cylinder. While all disc brakes are essentially the same parts, when we start looking for performance options, things become more complicated.

Coefficient of Friction

Let’s take a step back and look at exactly what is happening over the course of you pressing your brake pedal and coming to the site. The coefficient of friction is basically how much bite your brakes have at a certain temperature.

On a normal street car like the family hauler, you need brake pads with a high friction coefficient at a low temperature. Since your brakes will basically be cold all the time, you don’t want to wait for them to gain temperature to be grabby enough to stop. The trade-off is that the brakes lose grabbiness as the temperature climbs. So if you ride your brakes down a long, steep, hill, you will notice what is called ‘brake fade’ as the pads leave their operating temperature range. This is why you would want to gear down rather than riding the brakes so you don’t boil your fluid in the calipers or lose your brakes entirely.

For a performance street car, you will want a pad compound that offers a high initial bite force and has a wide operating temperature so you can maintain brake force as the temperature climbs. The graph would be more like a flat line. While these pads may not have as high of an initial bite as basic passenger car economy brakes, they will significantly outperform those standard pads at high temperatures seen in hard driving and will resist fading. HAWK performance pads have a number of options for performance pad upgrade that are perfect for daily street driving and some moderate track use or aggressive driving, which we highly recommend for nearly all modified cars that see any road time.

Racing brakes have a graph that looks like the inverse of a standard economy car’s brakes. Racing brakes need their peak friction at much higher temperatures and require a good bit of heat to provide the stopping force necessary for competitive race cars. These brake pads are ill-advisable on the street, however, as you will not keep enough heat in the pads during standard driving to achieve adequate stopping force when you need it.


HAWK Performance is our go-to source for brake pads that are capable on the track and street without interchanging compounds. Your next brake service should include HAWK pads that will stop you on the street and perform under the hard-driving that your car will coax out of you.

HAWK HPS pads are the original compound HAWK developed to provide added performance for your brakes on the street. These pads are a Ferro-Carbon compound and offer a wide temperature range that allows you to drive them with performance benefits on the street or some mild track use. They offer a smooth feel and bite with a remarkably controllable torque so you have the feedback you need without an overly aggressive bite force or ‘spongy’ lack of responsiveness.

The newly added HPS 5.0 pads are a step up from the HPS, but not a true replacement. These high-performance pads offer an incredibly tight tolerance right at the line between the most torque you can have without kicking on the ABS and enough torque to provide a substantial increase in performance. They are also a Ferro-Carbon compound and will give your car better pedal feedback, low noise, low dust, and are also designed for street and track use. HPS 5.0 pads are the new go-to for a performance car driver who sees a wide range of driving conditions on the street and track. Everything from a simple trip to the store to a canyon-carving togue can be easily handled by these pads with greater performance and less fade than competitive street going pads.

Finally, the Street Race pads are the racing pads that allow you to drive your car on the track and back off with the ultimate in crossover braking performance. These pads use HAWK’s mechanical bond retention system, slotted friction, hot bod shim, and pad chamfer to improve your handling characteristics and braking characteristics on and off the track. These are the highest rated pads HAWK offers for both street and track use and are the best all-around pad for anyone driving in multiple scenarios that needs the absolute highest performance from their pads.


Brake pads are clamped by calipers. The brake calipers, which are operated hydraulically, use an inner and outer pad to press against the rotor and provide friction that is turned into heat as the car stops. The performance of your calipers is dependent upon the size, force, and the number of pistons pressing the pads together, the ability for the caliper to resist temperature increases and to dispel heat quickly.

Standard disc brake calipers are generally a single or dual piston, cast iron, caliper. Improving your brakes generally can be left to better pads, like the HAWK pads outlined above, and with more capable rotors. In some cases, however, extreme brake performance is necessary and a greater friction surface with more bite force and better cooling properties is necessary. The theory behind big brakes is simple: adding surface area increases the amount of friction, adding pistons increases the bite force, and floating designs offer improved cooling to resist fade with the faster increase in temperatures from the larger brake components. Big brakes allow you to improve your stopping power well beyond the capabilities of your factory calipers and rotors for street use and racing use but are generally not considered necessary for anyone beginning their build. Advanced drivers and drivers of high-horsepower cars are the ones who will receive the biggest benefits from these ultra-high performance brake systems.


The rotor is the disc that spins with your wheel on the hub and receives the clamping force of the pads by the calipers. The dual purposes of the brake rotor is to provide a friction face and to dispel heat as quickly as possible. For the street driver, the biggest three concerns should be the brake rotor’s performance, ability to control temperature, and their lifespan. HAWK’s Sector 27 rotors are a prime example of upgraded rotors that offer those properties for the performance minded driver. The Sector 27 rotors offer improved performance, lowered temperatures, a predictable torque control to match the HAWK pads, consistent pedal feel, and an exceptionally long life. They are available in drilled and slotted or just slotted for your preference, which transitions nicely into our next area.

Drilled and Slotted vs. Slotted vs. Full Face

Rotors are traditionally full faces that are just a spinning friction disc for your pads to clamp against and stop the car. The flat face offers the largest surface area, so full face rotors are actually the highest initial bite force rotors and would be recommended for the best performance on a street car.

Slotted rotors have channels that allow heat gas and brake dust to escape, which will reduce temperatures quickly and resists brake fade. As we mentioned earlier, though, only during competition do these benefit you the most since they actually have less surface area than full face rotors. They do, however, hold up over a wider range than full face rotors by resisting that fade and maintaining a consistent pedal feel for a variety of driving conditions. The slotted design is excellent for anyone looking for a performance upgrade that will allow them to take full advantage of their car during aggressive driving by resisting fade and allowing for a wide temperature range for optimal operation.

Drilled and Slotted rotors are just for show. That’s it! The holes and slots further reduce the surface area of the rotors and dramatically decrease the temperatures of the rotors. While they are perfectly capable on the street and do resist temperature increase more than any other style of rotors, we do not recommend drilled and slotted rotors for anything besides street and show use.

Brake Lines

Your brake lines deliver fluid to the brake calipers which hydraulically clamp against the rotors and stop your vehicle. Brake lines are traditionally rubber lines with metal fittings, which are perfectly fine for daily driving and even some hard driving. However, as your demands for performance increase, it is important to receive as much feedback from your pedal inputs as possible and for your fluid lines to have as much insulation as they can to resist temperature increases. Braided steel brake lines offer firmer pedal feel by resisting ‘stretching’ under fluid pressure and are better insulated than their rubber cousins which means your brake fluid stays cooler longer for higher performance driving.


Interested in purchasing?

HAWK Performance Braking Solutions


DIY: How to Bleed Your Brakes the Right Way


This article will give you all the information you need to successfully bleed your brake system. The following topics will be covered:

  • When and why you need to bleed your brakes

  • The different methods you can use

  • The different tools that are available

  • The different types of brake fluid and why it is important to keep it sealed

Bleeding the brakes on your car is quite often thought of as one of the most annoying and confidence-shaking tasks that you can face. The fact is, it is actually one of the most misunderstood processes. All it requires is a little bit of patience and you will find that it is rather simple. Once you read and understand these processes, you will be able to successfully bleed a brake system with ease.

Brake Fluid Warnings

Brake fluid can be extremely dangerous. Always use caution and wear safety glasses when working with brake fluid. All brake fluid containers will have safety and emergency information printed on the label.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it will absorb water from the atmosphere. This absorption will alter its chemical characteristics and reduce its effectiveness. It is critical to keep brake fluid containers sealed at all times and only open them when adding fluid.

Brake fluid is extremely damaging to paint, even if it only contacts the surface for a brief moment. We recommend using protective fender covers wherever possible. It is also a very good idea to keep water, a quick detail spray or cleaner, and a soft rag close by. In the event that brake fluid contacts the paint on your car, rinse it off immediately, followed by spraying a detail spray or cleaner on the surface and wiping it clean with a soft rag.

General Preparation and Safety Information

ECS Tuning cares about your health and safety. Please read the following safety information. This information pertains to automotive service in general, and while it may not pertain to every job you do, please remember and share these important safety tips.

Park your car in a safe, well lit, level area.
Shut the engine off and remove the key from the ignition switch.
Make sure any remote start devices are properly disabled.
ALWAYS wear safety glasses.
Make sure the parking brake is applied until the vehicle is safely lifted and supported.
If using an automotive lift, be sure and utilize the factory specified lift points. Lifting a vehicle incorrectly can cause damage to the suspension/running gear.

When lifting a vehicle using a jack, always utilize the factory specified lift points. Lifting a vehicle incorrectly can cause damage to the suspension/running gear. ALWAYS support the vehicle with jack stands.
ALWAYS read and follow all safety information and warnings for the equipment you are using.
Brake Bleeding Tools:
Brake Fluid Catch Bottle

The most essential of bleeding tools, brake fluid catch bottles are available in a couple of different styles. The Schwaben Brake Bleeder Catch Bottle is ideal for manual bleeding or pressure bleeding. It is easy to hold and easy to see through. The 90-degree bleeder nipple is easy to grip and is made of a soft yet resilient rubber which will easily push on and seal to all sizes of bleeder screws. The angle of the bleeder nipple also keeps the weight of the hose off the bleeder screw, preventing it from falling off. The clear tubing allows you to see brake fluid flow, and more importantly, the presence of air bubbles.

The Schwaben Power Bleeder Catch Bottles are ideal for gravity bleeding or manual bleeding when you are working solo. They are easy to hold and see through. The key feature of these bottles is a stainless steel lanyard which allows you to hang them from the suspension, allowing the bottle to remain connected while you perform other tasks.

Pressure Bleeder

The Schwaben Pressure Bleeder is very useful for many brake bleeding applications. They are a quick and efficient way of bleeding brakes, and very helpful when you are working solo. It features a high strength plastic bottle with an easily readable gauge on the side and a built-in hand pump in the

lid. A machined aluminum cap which fits most European master cylinder reservoirs is attached to the flexible brake fluid supply hose.

Vacuum Bleeder

The Schwaben Professional Vacuum Bleeder is also very useful when working solo. It features a high capacity plastic tank with an easily readable gauge on the side and a built-in vacuum pump in the lid. The added value of a vacuum bleeder such as this is that it can be used for evacuating any fluid on your car, which makes it a very versatile, valuable tool.

Bleeder Wrench

All wrenches are not created equal. Bleeder screws by nature are in tight locations, and quite often they are rusty. They are always very small, so it doesn’t take too much rust or corrosion to weaken their structure. Using a 12 point wrench can easily “round” them and give you nothing to grip.

The Bleeder Wrench features 11mm (a very common size for European cars) 6-point boxed ends. The six-point ends will firmly grip bleeder screws, allowing the twisting force to be applied evenly to the threads. A different angle on each end allows for easy access to the bleeders, and on some cars even with the wheels installed.

Pressure Bleeding Kit

Complete brake bleeding kits are also available on our website. We offer different kits which are specifically tailored to your car depending on the brake fluid type. This kit shown here includes a pressure bleeder with a high strength plastic bottle, an easy to read gauge, a built-in hand pump, and a pressure port all on the lid. Two brake fluid catch bottles, a Schwaben Brake Bleeder Wrench, and Pentosin Super DOT 4 Brake Fluid is also included. Look up your car at to find the complete brake bleeding kit for you.

Here is a helpful video demonstrating these tools and techniques:

Brake Fluid Types:

There are different types of brake fluid and it can be a very involved topic, but for all practical purposes, we only need to concentrate on the
basics. Why are there different types of fluid? The greater the demand of your braking system, the greater the requirements of your brake fluid. As automobile and braking technology changed over the years, brake fluid had to change as well. The most common fluid types are DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, and DOT 5.1. Here is an overview:

Brake Bleeding Theory:

In order to understand why you need to bleed your brake system, you must first understand the basics of a hydraulic brake system. In a hydraulic brake system, the mechanical input force from the brake pedal is converted to hydraulic pressure within the master cylinder. The hydraulic pressure is distributed through the brake lines to the brake calipers or wheel cylinders. Since the brake fluid does not compress, the hydraulic pressure created in the master cylinder is therefore transmitted to each wheel.

In a brake system that has air in it, when you apply force to the brake pedal, the force is converted to hydraulic pressure, however, the hydraulic pressure acts on the air in the system. The air compresses and as a result, the reduced hydraulic pressure is transmitted to each wheel, producing a brake pedal that feels “spongy” and brakes that are ineffective.

It is important to understand the different bleeding procedures and also to realize that it is not uncommon, due to the complexity of today’s braking systems as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method of bleeding, to have to use more than one procedure to remove all the air from the system.

Regardless of the method you use, the goal of each is the same: Force the air out of the brake system.

How often should a brake system be bled? Your brake system will need to be bled every time it is opened, such as when you are replacing a worn out hydraulic component, or when you are installing performance parts, such as one of our Big Brake Kits.

Flushing a brake system should be performed every two years regardless of mileage. Normal wear of the internal components of the brake system will begin to contaminate the fluid, and moisture is also absorbed by the fluid over time, even from opening the cap to fill or check the fluid. Even small amounts of moisture will react with the brake fluid and be very damaging to the expensive components of your brake system. Flushing a brake system can be performed using any of the bleeding procedures described here.

General Bleeding Procedure:

Gravity Bleeding:

Gravity bleeding uses the natural gravity flow of the fluid to force the air through the system.

Advantages of Gravity Bleeding:
• You can perform this type of bleeding by yourself.
• The pressure is so low that it will not affect any metering valves and fluid flow will not be restricted.
• You can let one wheel bleed while you work on another, so it can same time.
• It is a very clean way of bleeding with little mess.

Disadvantages of Gravity Bleeding:
• It can be slow.
• In some cases, it is not as effective due to brake system design.

The Procedure:

It is as simple as it sounds. Fill the brake fluid reservoir, connect a bleeder bottle to a bleeder screw, open the screw, and let the system bleed. If you have more than one bleeder bottle you can bleed more than one wheel at a time. Keep an eye on the reservoir to make sure it does not run dry and watch the fluid levels in the bleeder bottles. You will see the level in the bleeder bottles increase as the fluid flows out of the system, bringing the air along with it.

Manual Bleeding:

Manual bleeding uses the help of an assistant to depress the brake pedal while you open and close the bleeder screws.

Advantages of Manual Bleeding:
• This is one of the most effective methods the majority of the time.
• Your assistant can let you know how the feel of the pedal is improving during the process, saving you from getting in and out of the car.

Disadvantages of Manual Bleeding:
• It requires an assistant (which may not always be available).

The Procedure:

Fill the brake fluid reservoir and have your assistant pump the brake pedal three or four times, then hold pressure on the pedal. Connect a bleeder bottle and open one of the bleeder screws. Have your assistant tell you when the brake pedal sinks to the floor. Make sure they hold the pedal to the floor while you tighten the bleeder screw. Repeat this procedure until no air bubbles are visible in the hose when the bleeder screw is opened, then repeat for the remaining wheels. Have your assistant pump the pedal up and check for pedal firmness in between wheels.

There is an alternate procedure for manual bleeding in which you leave the bleeder screw open while your assistant slowly pumps the brake pedal
up and down. This procedure is equally as effective, but you must make sure that the end of the hose which is attached to the bleeder screw remains submerged in brake fluid at all times or air will be drawn back into the brake system.

Pressure Bleeding:

Pressure bleeding uses a pressurized tank of brake fluid to apply pressure and force the fluid through the brake system.

Advantages of Pressure Bleeding:
• You can perform this procedure by yourself.
• The pressure bleeder will keep the brake fluid reservoir full at all times during the procedure.
• This method is very effective on most vehicles.
• This is an excellent method of flushing brake fluid.

Disadvantages of Pressure Bleeding:
• On some vehicles, the pressure may not be high enough to bypass some metering valves or ABS valving.
• It can be messy where the pressure bleeder connects to the reservoir. Use extra caution not to allow brake fluid to drip on the car while installing or removing the bleeder on the master cylinder reservoir.
• The master cylinder is usually overfull when the procedure is complete. You will have to draw the extra fluid out.

The Procedure:

Connect the pressure bleeder to the brake fluid reservoir and pressurize it according to the bleeder manufacturer’s instructions. Connect a bleeder bottle to one wheel at a time and open the bleeder screw. When the fluids flow with no bubbles present, bleeding is complete. Repeat the procedure for the remaining wheels.

Vacuum Bleeding:

Vacuum bleeding uses vacuum in a tank to draw the brake fluid through the system.

Advantages of Vacuum Bleeding:

• It is a very clean method of bleeding. All fluid is drawn out at the bleeder screws, preventing the leaks that can occur between the bleeder bottle hose and the bleeder screw.
• You can perform this procedure by yourself.
• This method is effective on most vehicles.
• Bleeder catch bottles are not required.

Disadvantages of Vacuum Bleeding:
• There is an increased risk of running the master cylinder dry since the fluid may pull through quicker than you expect. • On some vehicles, the vacuum may not draw the fluid past some metering valves of ABS valving.

The Procedure:

Draw a vacuum in the tank using the vacuum bleeder manufacturer’s instructions. Connect the vacuum bleeder hose to one of the bleeder screws and open it. When the fluid flows with no more air bubbles, bleeding is complete. Repeat the procedure for the remaining wheels.

Proper service and repair procedures are vital to the safe, reliable operation of all motor vehicles
as well as the personal safety of those performing the repairs. Standard safety procedures and precautions (including the use of safety goggles and proper tools and equipment) should be followed at all times to eliminate the possibility of personal injury or improper service which could damage the vehicle or compromise its safety.

Although this material has been prepared with the intent to provide reliable information, no warranty (express or implied) is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither is any liability assumed for loss or damage resulting from reliance on this material. SPECIFICALLY, NO WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR ANY OTHER WARRANTY IS MADE OR TO BE IMPLIED WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL. In no event will ECS Tuning, Incorporated or its affiliates will be liable for any damages, direct or indirect, consequential or compensatory, arising out of the use of this material.

Vendor Spotlight: Sparta Evolution Big Brakes for your BMW

For most BMW owners, your cars are more than something that fills a necessity. Your BMW is a source of enjoyment. Whether you take your BMW to an occasional track event or just enjoy a spirited drive blasting tunes down your favorite road, having a brake system capable of providing sufficient force is critical. From Seattle, Washington, Sparta Evolution is a recent breakout success who manufacture high-performance big brake kits to compete with the biggest names in racing brake solutions. Their specially designed big brake conversion kits for your BMW are meticulously engineered to bring precise stopping power to your street performance car, a weekend track toy, or dedicated competitive race car.

Triton R

For those of you who spend every free minute driving your BMW on the track, the Sparta Evolution Triton R Big Brake Kits were designed with dedicated track performance in mind. The front and rear calipers are forged aluminum for strength and weight savings, offering a 15% weight reduction over the standard Triton models. The Triton R calipers are available in 4 or 6 piston variants housed in their larger frame for better ventilation of the castellated pistons. The Triton R calipers use a through bolt system for durability and offer fast pad changes with quick release pad retainer pins to give you more time on the track and less working on your car.


Their mid-range kit is the Triton Big Brake Kit, that offers similar characteristics to its big brother, the Triton R, but at a lower cost. This kit is available in both 4 or 6 piston variations for most models and features the same Sparta Evolution DSS (dual seal system) as their other brake calipers. This kit is excellent if you enjoy track days as well as daily driving your BMW, but do not need the additional weight savings seen in the more aggressive Triton R kit.


Sparta Evolution’s street-oriented upgrade solution is the Saturn Big Brake Kit. These calipers are forged aluminum like the others but are a solid caliper design. With 4 or 6 piston options like the Triton and Triton R calipers, these brakes still provide significant improvements over the factory or even upgraded brakes as they still feature the same larger frame for efficient ventilation and excellent durability. The calipers function similarly to the Triton and Triton R, but are the heaviest of the three aluminum caliper choices, making them more appropriate for street use and some mild track use. These calipers are also powder-coated rather than anodized like the other options for cost savings, but can be anodized optionally.

The Sparta Evolution Big Brake Kits all include Pegasus S-Groove 2-Piece Rotors that offer both longevity and predictable braking. Their ten S-Slot grooves contact the brake pad with a leading edge which offers a fresh friction surface for consistent pedal feel and even pad wear over the life of the SPP 1.5 performance pads also provided in their kits. These pads have a high initial bite in a low-temperature range to be used in daily or spirited driving so you can install and use these big brake kits on the street straight out of the box. All kits do include the upgraded stainless steel braided brake lines, which are Teflon-coated, for improved pedal feel and better durability.

With no more work than a standard brake service, your BMW can benefit from the most capable brakes available and do it for less by choosing Sparta Evolution. These kits are light, thanks to the forged aluminum calipers, are drivable on and off the track and are simple to install to provide improved braking feel and performance. Make your BMW drive the way you imagined on the road and perform the way you want on the track with Sparta Evolution Big Brake solutions.


Interested in purchasing?

Stop your BMW with Sparta Evolution Big Brakes!



Spotlight: StopTech Trophy Big Brake Kits for your BMW

BMW equipped most of their cars with brake systems capable of performing incredibly well on the street under normal and even spirited driving conditions. If you want to be more aggressive or even competitive, you will need to address the stopping power and heat dissipation issues that will likely arise with the stock system. StopTech is a leading producer of upgraded brake solutions for street and track vehicles designed for the ultimate braking performance.

StopTech Trophy Big Brake Kits are excellent choices with which to outfit your BMW for either street performance or track use. Each type is specifically designed for their individual use so you will make no compromises for either your street car or race car when it comes to StopTech Trophy Big Brakes.

Included in the kit are the forged, lightweight StopTech STR calipers, floating, slotted AeroRotors, stainless steel brake lines. The kits are based around two, four, and six-piston calipers that were designed around the ST-60, ST-40, and ST-22 calipers. They feature the same composition and design but are engineered with a 20% reduction in weight. This weight reduction does not affect stiffness or performance, making them exceptional for the weight-conscious track driver.

The Trophy Race Big Brake Kits for dedicated track performance features full-float mounting hardware, which takes care of the pad knock-back and eliminates dust boots for the caliper. This maximizes the potential of the brakes to give consistent feedback and pedal response through corners.

The Trophy Sport Big Brake Kits are intended for high-performance use on the street. These use similar technology to the race kits, but have silicone dust boots for extended life and give the assembly a quieter operation for comfort during daily driving. The high-performance street brake pads included in the kit are excellent for street and mild track use, making this kit the best choice for someone who likes to drive their car to the store and the track.

The kits are available with specific fitment and diameters for your BMW, no matter what wheels or setup your car requires. The consistent pedal feedback, overall durability, and exceptional performance of the StopTech Trophy Big Brake Kits are the reason we actually chose them for our MK7.5 GTI we will be giving away this summer. Grab a set of these brakes for your BMW and snag multiple entries to win this one-of-a-kind VW GTI Facelift MK7.

Best Mods for the BMW E36 3 – Series 1991-1999

If you have a BMW E36, you most likely have already begun to modify it in some way. The E36, which was produced from 1991 through 1999, was the successor to the highly-praised E30 chassis. The E36 featured a range of engines; the most desirable in America being the M5x line or the S5x line. The six-cylinder inline engines have been popularized by their steady power bands, high potential for modification, and incredibly balanced performance. We have devised a list of the best modifications you can make to get the most out of your E36.


If you haven’t already, taking full advantage of your engine’s potential is as easy as a plug-and-play software chip for your ECU. The Shark Injector Performance Software is designed to raise the rev limit, improve throttle response, remove the top speed governor, and improve the overall power output. If you have a stock vehicle or if you have hotter cams and an M50 OBD1 manifold you can select an appropriate software tune to maximize the output of your engine.


We highly suggest addressing the brakes on your E36, especially if you just purchased the vehicle. Our Performance Front and Rear Brake Service Kits adapts your E36 brakes to the floating 2-piece rotors and calipers found on the CSL E46 M3. These lighter weight rotors significantly reduce unsprung weight on each corner, which adds to the handling ability of your E36, while greatly improving your ability to stop effectively. Remember, more power means you need more stopping power, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to give your E36 beefier brakes.


The best way to make the most out of your Shark Injector Software is to equip your E36 with a high-flow performance cold air intake and switch your OBD2 Intake Manifold for the OBD1 version, which improves torque and horsepower dramatically. Both the addition of the OBD1 Manifold and the Cold Air Intake are taken into account with a specific tune and allow you to achieve the most reliable and consistent power from your modifications. The overall horsepower gains can be upwards of 30HP to the crank, so these are definitely highly suggested and inexpensive ways to improve your power drastically. We carry a range of intakes on the site as well as offering OEM manifolds and gaskets to ensure you are receiving the highest quality parts. DINAN has been the preferred choice by many to improve the induction capabilities of their BMW and bring years of excellence to the BMW tuning community.


The biggest visual difference that can completely change the profile and stance of your E36. Our own Alzor Wheels brand offers several BMW fitments for improving the visual appearance of your BMW and lowering unsprung weight. With myriad styles, sizes, and offsets, Alzor Wheels offer a great upgrade to your car’s aesthetics while being relatively inexpensive. Alternatively, Apex Wheels are known for their dedication to providing lightweight and trackable wheels specifically designed for BMWs. The incredibly popular Apex ARC8 wheels are featured on many track and street BMWs and have been dubbed as one of the best wheel choices around to improve your BMW.


Without going into a full exhaust setup that can get incredibly pricey, the best way to gain some power and increase the volume of your engine is to equip a cat-back exhaust. UUC, a premier BMW performance company, offers a stainless, true-dual, lightweight dual exhaust that is 2.38 inches in diameter as opposed to the smaller diameter factory exhaust. This eliminates back pressure and allows the exhaust gas to be expelled more quickly, which increases your performance slightly. Paired with software tuning and supporting modifications, you can expect noticeable power gains and a throaty growl to put a smile on your face at any RPM. The System U Exhaust runs from the midsection all the way to the exhaust tips and includes a muffler that mounts identically to your factory exhaust to provide the easiest and most secure fitment.


With the above modifications to your E36 complete, you can expect dramatic increases in both power and driving pleasure while enjoying a unique look with the aftermarket wheels and a more enjoyable exhaust note thanks to that UUC cat-back. The lighter weight components help increase what the performance gains will actually do for your acceleration, and the lower unsprung weight from the improved brakes will improve your cornering ability noticeably. Make sure to grab all this and more right here at ECS to build the perfect E36 for the street or track!

Interested in our other products for your BMW E36 3-Series? Shop by car here!


Stage 3 Big Brake Kit Installation Instructions (MKV, VI, Jetta, EOS, Golf/GTI, and Audi A3)

The ECS Big Brake Kit provides big improvements in braking power with a specially packaged kit containing quality brake components from the best names in the business.

Start with large diameter ECS two-piece, drilled and slotted floating rotors that dampen lateral vibration for smooth, strong stops.

Add ECS premium calipers, stainless reinforced brake lines, and upgraded Hawk pads, and your modified ride will brake with sure-footed authority.

This post will take you through the installation process and help you install more aggressive brakes on your VW MK5 or MK6.

Red Calipers can be found here,

Blue Calipers are here,

And Black Calipers can be purchased at this link.

Here is what you will find in the package once you unbox your new Big Brake Kit:

  • Two-piece semi- floating rotors – assembled, trued, and balanced (2)
  • ECS Tuning Exact-Fit stainless steel reinforced brake lines (2)
  • 1 liter ATE Super Blue brake uid
  • ECS Tuning 993T Big Brake Calipers (2)
  • Caliper-to-carrier bolts (4)
  • Hawk Performance brake pads
  • ECS Tuning caliper carriers (2)
  • Brake pad dampers (8)

High temp brake lube


  • 3/8-inch ratchet • T30 Torx© driver • T55 Torx driver
    M6 hex driver
  • 11mm brake line wrench
  • 14mm combination wrench/socket
  • 17mm combination wrench
  • 19mm socket
  • 21mm socket
  • 10-150 ft lb torque wrench (ES2221244)
  • inch-pound torque wrench (for banjo bolt)
  • impact driver with Phillips driver (ES11416) or Phillips screwdriver • common screwdriver

Step 1

Safely raise and support the car.

Remove the wheel bolt trim caps.

Loosen the wheel bolts and remove the wheel and tire.

Step 2

Using a common screwdriver, pry the u-shaped retainer clip from the brake hose bracket at the strut knuckle.

Step 3

Follow the brake hose to the chassis. Using the same common screwdriver or similar tool, pry the u-shaped retainer clip from the chassis support bracket.

Step 4

Using an 11mm brake line wrench and a 17mm backing wrench, loosen and disconnect the rigid brake line from the brake hose.

Tip: Transfer the rubber cap from the caliper brake bleeder screw to the end of the disconnected rigid brake line. This will keep brake fluid from draining onto the floor.

Step 5

Using an 21mm socket and ratchet, loosen and remove the caliper retaining bolts from the knuckle. Keep the bolts handy; we’ll need them to attach the new caliper carrier.

Step 6

Slide the caliper forward, o the rotor.

Remove the caliper and flexible hose together.

Step 7

Remove the Phillips-head rotor set screw (arrow).

Step 8

For rusted set screws, an impact driver (ES11416) with a Phillips-head bit is far more e ective than a common Phillips screwdriver. (As you strike the head of the driver, it forces the bit against the screw head and rotates it in a single motion to prevent rounding.)

Note: If you round out the screw head, you will have to drill out the old screw.

Step 9

• Remove the old rotor.

• Clean away any heavy rust or scale from the face of the rotor hub. A drill or die grinder with a mild abrasive disk works well.

Step 10

Remove the three T30 Torx head screws from the brake rotor shield.

Remove the shield.

Note: If you live in an area where the car is exposed to road salt or ocean spay, you may wish to reinstall and tighten the rotor shield bolts in their holes with a dab of anti-seize compound. Doing so will keep the threaded holes in the knuckle clean, should you need them in the future.

Step 11

Using the two caliper bolts removed in Step 5, bolt the caliper carrier to the knuckle, as shown here.

The carriers are identical; no left or right to worry about.

Step 12

Using a 21 mm socket, torque the caliper carrier-to-knuckle bolts to 142 ft-lb (190 Nm).

Step 13

Install the new rotor on the hub. Use brake cleaner (or a similar) to remove the thin lm of oil applied to the rotor braking faces.

Install the set screw and hand tighten with a screwdriver.

Note: ECS Tuning has replacement set screws made of stainless steel to resist corrosion better than the original plain steel screws. (ES257461)

Step 14

Your kit contains brake damper discs in two di erent diameters to match the large and small brake pistons.

Install two large and two small disks in the matching pistons in each caliper.

Step 15

Install the calipers onto the caliper carrier studs.

Extremely Important: The brake calipers must be installed with the brake bleeder screws at the top; install them upside down and you won’t be able to properly bleed the brakes.

Make sure both attachment nuts are screwed in hand-tight before torquing either to specification. This will ensure that the caliper seats flush against the carrier.

Step 16

Using a 12-point 14mm socket, tighten the caliper attachment nuts to 88 ft-lb (120 Nm).

Step 17

Your Hawk Performance brake pads are packaged with a 7 gram packet of brake paste. This paste is used to reduce pad noise, when applied properly.

Apply 1-2 grams of brake paste to each brake pad metal backing plate. Spread a thin lm of paste over the metal surface of each pad, concentrating on the general areas where the pad will contact the caliper pistons.

CAUTION: Do not apply too much paste, and NEVER allow any paste to get onto the friction surface.

Step 18

Slide the brake pads into the caliper with the slotted friction lining facing toward the rotor.

If you wish, you may wipe a thin lm of brake paste onto the upper and lower edges of the metal backers (arrows) to help them slide freely and reduce brake noise.

Apply the paste sparingly, and DO NOT allow any paste to get onto the friction surface.

Step 19

Install the brake shim over the brake pads, as shown. The “v” in the stamped metal shield should engage the notches in the pads.

Insert the caliper bolt tubes against the brake shim. Press inward on the tubes as you slide the long pad retainer bolts through them.

Screw the long bolts into the caliper body threaded holes, and hand tighten them.

Step 20

Attach the new ECS Tuning Exact Fit brake lines to the calipers.

Your new brake lines come complete with a banjo bolt and two new copper sealing washers. Make sure you have one copper washer on either side of the hose fitting, as shown.

Step 21

Insert the banjo bolt through the washers and hose tting.

Thread the bolt into the fluid hole in the rear of the caliper body.

Snug the the banjo bolt using a 14mm wrench, then final torque to 12 ft-lb (144 inch-pounds). Use a small torque wrench, calibrated in inch-pounds instead of a larger, general purpose torque wrench adjusted to its lowest setting.

Step 22

Route the new brake hose over the knuckle and attach it to the support bracket with the u-shaped clip removed in Step 2.

Make sure the clip straddles the groove in the hose collar.

Push the clip all the way down until it snaps in place in the support bracket.

Step 23

Make your nal brake hose connection by screwing the rigid brake line at the chassis into the Exact-Fit brake hose.

Reinstall the u-shaped retainer clip, then hand-tighten the fitting.

Step 24

Have an assistant turn the steering wheel back and forth as you watch the hose and speed sensor cables. Make sure the brake hoses do not rub or bind as the steering is turned back and forth.

Repeat all steps shown so far to install the opposite side brake kit.

Step 25

Bleed the brake hydraulic system.
Your kit includes a 1 liter container of brake uid.

Add uid to the brake reservoir, then pedal or power bleed the system to remove all air. Be sure to bleed at both bleeder screws on each caliper.

(ECS Tuning has a video demonstrating general brake bleeding procedures, available free online.)

Step 26

Here’s a final quality control list to ensure trouble free braking.

After bleeding the system, correct the fluid level in the brake fluid reservoir. Pump the brake pedal several times. The pedal should be hard, and stay hard as you maintain pedal pressure. Check for fluid leaks. Even if the pedal feels good, visually inspect all hose connections for leaks.

Turn the steering from side to side one more time. Make sure the brake lines do not rub or contact any components.

Reinstall the wheels. Tighten the wheel bolts on a star pattern to 89 ft-lb (120 Nm). Make sure your wheels spin freely and that they do not contact the brake caliper.

Your brake installation is not complete until you bed the brakes. Bedding makes your brakes work as they should. Use the instructions on the brake box, or follow the steps below.

1) Test your brakes before going out on the highway. The pedal should feel rm and responsive. If it is soft or spongy, check that all air has been removed by the bleeding process, and that there are no uid leaks.

2) Take the car out on the road. At vehicle speeds of 50-60mph, gently apply the brakes several times to slow, but not stop, the vehicle. This warms the brakes.

3) Make 6-10 stops from 35 mph to 5 mph, applying moderate pedal pressure.

3) Cruise for several minutes without applying the brakes, allowing them to cool.

4) Make 2-3 moderately hard stops from 45 to 5 mph. Brake aggressively, but not hard enough to trigger the ABS.

5) Do not ride the pedal. Either apply the brakes to slow the vehicle or fully release them.

Let the brakes cool for 10-15 minutes. Then drive normally.


Thank you for purchasing an ECS Tuning Big Brake Kit. We appreciate your business, and hope this installation

guide has been helpful.


Power Stop Performance Brakes: The Right Choice

Similarities between performance cars and everyday commuter cars are incredibly limited. One crossover area that tends to hold uniform importance across all forms of motoring is the ability to brake properly. Put in simple terms, cars of all types need to match their braking force with how much power they produce. In this regard, choosing the right brakes is equally important; whether you are maintaining the grocery getter or improving your track fighter. PowerStop Brakes give you confidence in all situations.

Since 1995, PowerStop Brakes has provided excellent performance brake upgrades for an extensive range of vehicles. With focuses on providing OEM quality, copper-free, improved brake products, their customers can feel confident every time they mash the middle pedal.

When you know you are using quality parts, you experience a difference in confidence behind the wheel. When it comes to brakes, that feeling is expounded by the peace of mind you sense by using components you can be certain will keep your car out of sticky situations. PowerStop Performance Brakes not only allow you to experience that confidence but give you significant ethical advantages over similar replacement compounds. PowerStop Brakes produce their pads consciously of the environment!

PowerStop Brakes give you more than performance advantages in their makeup. All their pads are 100% Copper-Free. Copper and other heavy metals are known to cause major problems for fish and other aquatic wildlife when it is introduced to their environment in the form of brake dust. With the copper-free PowerStop pads, you know every time you hit the brakes you are making a difference by supporting companies who express an ethical drive to mitigate climate and ecosystem disaster.

Make the right choice when you go to service your brakes this season. Make the PowerStop Brakes choice and experience the advantages of quality, reliable, ethical, performance.

Interested in purchasing?

Power Stop Brake Products

Better stopping power, improved lifespan, and no copper!

HAWK Performance Pads for Your Performance Car

“Which brakes should I use” is a question we hear all too often. For most people, stopping by the local brake shop or even the dealership are sufficient options. For the enthusiast, however, brakes that hold up under aggressive driving conditions on the street or track are paramount to a well handling and enjoyable car. HAWK Performance provides premium friction products for tuned a range of competitive uses; from daily drivers up to dedicated motorsport vehicles.

HAWK products are engineered to give drivers more control over their vehicles and allow them to attack the street or track with confidence. They develop different compounds down to specific motorsport events, so if you spend your time on the drag strip, at a circle track, or on a road course, there are unique compounds ready to help you maximize your brake effectiveness. You can even select options for aggressiveness within those categories, so you will always have the right pads for the right use.

In motorsports, as with anything, the more specialized a product becomes, the more limited its usability is. HAWK has more generalized street performance options which suit the weekend warrior or a beefed up daily by giving a higher torque bite and reduced fade so you can stop more confidently for longer. 

Before you go to wade through different manufacturers of brake pads and worrying about which ones to use, look at the full catalog of HAWK Performance pads available here at ECS. We have the right pads for you that are sure to improve your driving experience, no matter the driving style. With HAWK pads, you can improve your braking over the factory standard in both power and durability across the board from their High-Performance Street Pad Upgrade all the way to their Sector 27 Full race inspired pad setup.

You can find HAWK products for your European car here at our site:


Schwaben Professional VAG Scan Tool: Electronic Parking Brake Retract

In order to change the rear brake pads on the newer VWs and Audis with electronic parking brakes the internal parking brake mechanism must be retracted. With our Schwaben professional scan tool you can retract the rear calipers with out damaging them. We are performing this on our 2011 Audi B8 A4, and the procedure will be the same or very similar on most VAG models with electronic parking 

Note: Procedure may vary form model to model

Applies to:

B8 and B8.5 Models

C6 and C7 Models

Q3, Q5, and 4L Q7 Models

8v Models

D3 Models

CC Models

B6 Passat Models

MK7 Golf R and E-golf

VW Tiguan 

1: Switch the ignition on (do not start engine) and plug the scanner into the OBDII port

2: Select “VAG”

3: Select “Audi”

4: Select “Common Special Functions”

5: Select “Electronic Parking Brake(EPB)”

6: If you are not working on a Audi A8 then select “no”

7: Release the parking brake then select “ok” 

8: Select “Open Parking Brake”

9: Select “Start”

10: Press the “Back” button

11: Install the new brake pads

12: Repeat steps up until step 7

13: Select “Close Parking Brake”

14: Select “Start”

15: Click the “Back” button

16: Select “Parking Brake Test”

17: Select “Start”

18: Wait till the test is done

19: Parking brake procedure is now complete

Interested in Purchasing?

The Schwaben Professional VAG Scan Tool gives you the ability to scan, read codes, and customize your VW or Audi with the same precision and quality as a professional garage.



Spotlight: Harley’s Supercharged Corrado Build

Sometimes, the cars we own sort of ‘end up’ (for better or worse) in our garages and we look to ourselves and think: “When did I start becoming interested in this?” For Harley, this is very much not the case. Originally from the UK, Harley has always held a great appreciation for European hatchbacks. Specifically, Volkswagens. The appeal began for him when he modified a 1998 VW Polo 16v with his brother.

During that time, Harley’s father rekindled his interest in VW’s and purchased a 1995 Corrado VR6. A supercharger found its way under the hood along with several hard to find OE components offered on unique production models. That sound, exclusive to the VR6 motor layout paired with a supercharger whine, stuck Cupid’s Corrado-shaped arrow deeply into Harley forever.


Four years ago, Harley found himself living in the United States. Over here, the eclectic car communities range dramatically from JDM imports to mud-boggers, but are heavily dominated by muscle cars and modified trucks.  Harley didn’t stray from the European vehicles he grew up with and purchased a MK5 GTI with the DSG transmission. While he enjoyed it and modified it lightly, the mechanical and connected appeal found in older German performance vehicles was just not present. He found himself searching for the car which had cemented his love for VW ownership: a VR6 Corrado.

Eight months of searching culminated in a nail-biting eBay ‘buy it now’ gamble and the need to drive 10 hours one-way from his home in Michigan to Pennsylvania, where his new VR6 was waiting.

With help from a friend he knew was down to embark on a lengthy road trip for a sight-unseen car purchase, Harley drove the twenty-hour round trip with little drama and soon had his prize sitting exactly where he dreamed: right at home.


While he had originally planned to leave the incredibly clean and unmolested example of European performance completely factory, the appeal of his father’s modified VR6 was too strong and soon a Milltek Sport exhaust found its way under the car, which was quickly followed by coilovers.

After enjoyable driving, the Corrado was parked inside for its first winter in Harley’s possession. Unfortunately, when he parked the car, he noticed the heart-sinking sound of timing chain rattle, signifying the guides were not long for this world.

The exposed Timing Chain ready for service

Harley had never delved into an in-depth internal engine service before, and thought of it as an opportunity to not only gain valuable experience in working with his motor, but also to take the performance aspect of his Corrado and dramatically improve it.



Only the finest shop towels for blocking intake runners

With a V3 supercharger kit, bigger injectors, cams, a performance clutch, and host of other modifications, Harley found himself with the product of extensive, yet rewarding, hard work which presented him with an excellent Corrado reminiscent of his dad’s from previous years.

Harley’s Corrado is remarkable; both incredibly clean for an aging European late model car, and  unbelievably quick, this car is one that certainly captures the attention of anyone remotely interested in European Hot Hatchbacks and the tuning culture which so gracefully surrounds them.



Beauty covers, accessories, and of course the supercharger, all at home in the bay

Harley does have plans to continue improving the tune, finding more capable injectors, and E85 conversion to begin with. We all look forward to seeing where this build continues here at ECS.

ECS Exact-Fit Stainless Braided Brake Cables found their way into Harley’s build





Interested in overhauling your engine or need performance parts like some of the ones seen here?

ECS Tuning offers a wide range of performance-oriented and OEM replacement parts for nearly every major European car. Take on your next project with ECS Tuning!