One car that is starting show up in greater numbers at NASA events is the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86/FRS, and the aftermarket is serving up a bevy of products to help these cars stand up to the rigors of track duty.

The first system to upgrade is almost always brakes. If you have a Subaru BRZ, chances are you have the bigger brakes, so track-ready pads and stainless-steel brake hoses are a good upgrade. All 2013-2016 Subaru BRZ models in Premium and Limited trim, have larger diameter front rotors and vented rear rotors, lifted from the 2008 to 2014 WRX. Adding new rotors is also a good idea if you’re adding track-duty pads.

2017 and newer Subaru BRZ models have the same brakes except for the Performance Package option, which comes equipped with Brembos.

If you have a base model Toyota FRS/GT86, you will have the smaller brakes, but it is possible to upgrade to the larger brakes from the BRZ. Front calipers and rotors should be direct swap. The rear also will need the rear calipers from the Subaru because the upgraded vented rotors are thicker.

When NASA’s sales and marketing manager Aldrin Villanueva wanted to upgrade his BRZ, he turned to NASA partner Raybestos, which supplied the pads and rotors. For brake hoses, he went with StopTech, and to take the upgrade one step further, he opted for a Racer X master cylinder brace.

Villanueva invited Speed News along to photograph the upgrade the morning of Labor Day. As with any upgrade, it turned into more labor and took more of the day than we expected, but the results speak for themselves. A much firmer pedal, better bite and increased braking power. Here’s how the proceedings went.

Start by removing the wheel and caliper. BRZ’s come with dual-piston calipers up front. The system was lifted from the heavier and more powerful Subaru WRX. It’s a lot of brakes for a 2,800-pound car.
Because you’re installing new rotors and pads, you’ll need to compress the pistons. You could use a proper tool, or a comically giant set of Channel Locks.
The Raybestos pads come with new hardware that lets the pads slide freely. When you remove the caliper from the upright, you can turn it around an remove the factory rubber brake hose.
The brake hoses are secured to the chassis with spring clips that you must pry off with a screwdriver. If it launches across the garage into a dark corner, don’t worry. The StopTech kit comes with new clips.
The rear of the caliper has a built-in stop for the hose to rest against when you tighten the banjo bolt. This also is critical to the routing of the hose through the bracket on the strut cartridge and to the hard line on the chassis.
The StopTech stainless-steel brake hose kit is a bolt-on upgrade to offer a firmer pedal and more hydraulic force to the calipers not expansion of the hoses.
It’s easier to thread the hard line into the stainless steel brake hose before you install the retainer clip. We know because we fumbled with it awhile before we figured it out. Duh.
This is a “while you’re in there,” part of the job. A little antiseize lubricant around the hub flange will help you get the rotors more easily off next time.
Reinsert the pads and button up the nuts and bolts. It’s a good idea to turn the steering wheel to full lock left and right to ensure the new stainless hoses have full range of motion.
For the rears, break the hose loose from the hard line with a line wrench so you don’t round it off. Factory torque specs are good and tight.
Remove the hose from the rear of the caliper. The factory hose has a locating pin to make assembly quicker and ensure proper orientation. The aftermarket hoses don’t have the locating pins, so be sure to orient the hoses correctly.
The rear hose is held in place with a spring clip you must pry off with a screwdriver. The StopTech kit supplies new spring clips.
You might have to thread in a bolt to remove the rotors from the front and the rear. This is why you put the antiseize on the hub flange while you’re in there.
Again, compress the piston to make room for the new pads and thicker rotor.
Reinstall the bracket on the upright, insert the pads and lower the caliper back over the bracket.
With everything back in place, you can now start on the other side, and then bleed the brake system.
To further stiffen up the pedal and ensure all the force from the pedal goes toward the caliper pistons, Villanueva installed this master cylinder brace from Racer X.
Image courtesy of Brett Becker


  1. Brent: I tracked a ’13 BRZ Limited for 60 DE days with NASA and PCA in advanced groups.
    I ran Stop Tech Sport brake pads with the stock calipers and rotors. Plus high temp brake fluid.
    Only in summer did I get any significant brake fade.
    I think you should have pointed out that the primary reason to go to larger brakes is to DISSIPATE HEAT better, to reduce fade, not to gain “stopping power”. less heat = less fade.
    Since the tires stop the car, not the brakes, if you go to a stickier tire than stock, especially R compounds, then you are very likely to discover that the base brakes and pads will be overwhelmed by heat generated trying to utilize that extra stopping grip.
    Lastly, going to a track specific brake pad will likely eat rotors much faster. And not be useful right out of pit lane when its cold or wet outside. And maybe be downright unsafe for use on the street.
    Otherwise, great article !
    thanks, Don Regan

    • Brakes fade either because the fluid gets too hot/boils or temperature exceeds what the pads are designed for. Use fluid with as high a dry boiling point as possible. As far as pads, the Raybestos ST compound pads are gentle on rotors, work quite good cold and on the street, but are incredible when they heat up. They bite very hard when hot and would take a very high temp before fading. Bigger rotors do dissipate heat better, but they also provide a bigger clamping surface and can reduce stopping distance. Fade and braking force are two completely separate issues, but you can help one by addressing the other…….more so helping braking force by addressing fade. Next step would be cooling ducts.

      Stopping distance is determined by two things…….brakes/clamping force/friction and tire friction with the pavement. At lower speeds it’s easier to lock a tire, so increasing brake force won’t help nearly as much as at high speeds. But when you’re max braking from say over 80 or 100mph, stronger brakes will help, especially a sticky R Comp, which they may even help from below 60mph. A track like Sears Point isn’t that hard on brakes as far as fade(unless you’re doing the old Nascar 4), but Laguna Seca is the ultimate test…….especially in a heavy and/or higher horsepower car.

  2. The calipers pads and rotors on all USDM scion/Subaru/Toyota except for the brembo equipped ones are the same. Outside the usdm there are differences but same here.

  3. The last step should have been the first. Always flush and bleed all the old fluid out and replace with new fluid. Otherwise, when you compress the pistons you push all that old fluid, and any contaminants, back up the brake line and backwards thru the ABS unit where small dirt can hang up. Not good.

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