With the ability to move faster comes the need to stop better. This is where improvements to the brake system comes in. The stock brake setup, although very good for the daily driver, is not good enough for repeated hard braking, as is the case in racing. I already experience brake fade during my regular bouts of aggressive STREET racing. Therefore, I consider brake mods a necessity. The following are AE102 brake upgrades I know of so far:
TRD carries two types of carbon metallic brake pads for the AE102, the HP pads (part # 00602-04491-019) and the HP-Z pads (part # 00602-04491-020), the latter being the pricier better performer. From the 1998 catalog, the HP pads cost $55.95, and the HP-Z pads cost $95.95 for a complete front set (does not come with shims). According to TRD, both are streetable (i.e., do not require heating up). These pads are actually manufactured by Performance Friction. TRD does not carry shoes for the rear. Here's a pic of the TRD HP-Z pads (could've shot a better pic...darn). They weigh approximately 3 lbs.
Repco/PBR manufactures Metal Master brand brake pads for the AE102. A number of people I've spoken to recommend the Repco pads over the TRD pads. Toysport sells a front set for $75. Repco does not manufacture shoes for the rear.
Braided stainless steel brake lines are also available. Unlike the stock lines, braided stainless steel lines expand less when subjected to the high line pressures that occur during hard braking. Less line expansion allows fluid pressure at the caliper to rise faster and quickly apply braking force to the pad. Stainless steel lines should be readily available. Toysport carries a set for $125.
Rotor upgrades are available from the following vendors (as of 1999):
Toysport carries cross-drilled rotors made by SMC for $225 a pair. These rotors are also hardened.
Best Price (1-888-782-3788) carries Brembo rotors for $75 each ($150 pair) with the choice of cross-drilled or gas-slotted.
KVR Performance (1-800-636-0854), based in Canada, also carries Brembo rotors for $87 each with the choice of cross-drilled or gas-slotted (weighs approximately 12 lbs, about the same as stock). The actual machining is done in-house by KVR. They also offer optional cadmium plating in black, silver, or gold for an extra $15 each. They carry slotted drums for the rear for $123 each and semi-metallic shoes for $28.49 a set (weighs approximately 2 lbs). KVR stands out from those above by providing custom applications. A custom KVR Big Brake Kit is available for $2600 (ouch!). It consists of 4-piston calipers, the choice of 12.4" or 13" rotors (requires 16" or 17" wheels, respectively), braided stainless steel lines, and all necessary components. They can probably get parts to match your custom specifications as well. My recommendation goes to KVR Performance.
For my car, I chose to go with gas-slotted rotors from KVR Performance. The consensus on the Toyota Mods mailing list is that gas-slotted is the preferred option primarily since cross-drilled rotors are more likely to develop cracks. The main purpose of either design is to combat brake fade by 1) reducing brake temperatures and 2) channeling away the gases generated during braking. Slots also "clean" the brake pads each time they pass with their scraping action. I actually ended up getting KVR's cross-drilled rotors due to an order error, and since I really needed brakes at the time, I didn't send them back. I also got the rotors cadmium plated in gold, primarily for looks (pics for this site! =) but secondarily as a rust inhibitor. I finished the front brakes with TRD's HP-Z pads. For the rear, I just installed euro rotor's semi-metallic shoes from KVR. I'm currently looking into the possibility of converting the rear drums to discs by swapping in the rear discs (and necessary components) from an AE92 Corolla GTS. I'll write more on the process as I obtain more information (haven't really looked into the details yet). For now, the rear should be fine. As a side note, it's a BITCH working on drum brakes! I'm going to do the drum-to-disc conversion just so I don't have to work on drums again! =) So how does this new brake setup look and feel? Well, it looks great, as you can see for yourself. =) It feels even better. Actually, you won't notice much difference under ordinary braking conditions, as is expected, except that it's a bit louder than stock, especially in the beginning. The pads also tend to squeal when cold. Under hard braking, however, I definitely noticed an improvement. Braking in the wet has improved as well since the holes in the rotor help to channel water away from the rotor surface.
Fresh out o' the box.
euro rotor shoes
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