Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsHow To Wheels Tires
A Firmer Brake Pedal With Hoses and Fresh Fluid From Maximum Motorsports
When driving a car near the limit, feedback from the steering, engine, shifter, and pedals communicate the car's behavior to the driver. Anything that dulls these signals makes it difficult to extract the most from the tires and set a fast lap time. The driver receives braking performance feedback through the brake pedal, and brake hose flex masks the messages the tires send to the driver's foot.
Maximum Motorsports offers a range of Teflon-lined, braided stainless steel brake hoses for late-model Mustangs, including the 1999-2004 Mustang Cobras. These hoses provide a firmer brake pedal for quicker braking response and better brake modulation. During track use, braided stainless hoses are also safer than rubber hoses because the heat generated from high-performance brake pads can damage the OEM rubber hoses.
The Maximum Motorsports braided stainless brake hoses include unique mounting brackets to fit just like the OEM hoses on Cobras with independent rear suspension. The brackets not only ease installation but also properly support the hoses and keep them from rubbing on the axles, suspension arms, and chassis.
Some words of caution from Chuck Schwynoch at Maximum Motorsports about hanging the brake calipers from the hoses: "While stock hoses are pretty forgiving, braided stainless hoses are not. Actually, it is the end fittings that are fragile. I have seen the fittings snap right at the end of the hose when the calipers were dropped. My Techs have strict instructions that if a caliper is dropped on one of our cars they are to immediately replace the hose, even if there is no apparent damage. I don't want a stress crack to lead to a later failure."
To bleed the brake system after installing the hoses, we selected Wilwood's Hi-Temp 570 Racing brake fluid. Schwynoch recommends flushing the brake system with fresh fluid at least every year. "The hygroscopic nature of brake fluid means that by that time, it will have absorbed enough moisture that the dry boiling point no longer applies, and it will be functioning at its lower, ‘wet' boiling point."
To simplify bleeding we used a power bleeder, but you can also bleed the brakes using an extra person to push the pedal (see sidebar).
For details on how we installed the Maximum Motorsports Teflon-lined, braided stainless steel brake hoses and bled the system, follow the photos and captions.
Maximum Motorsports offers a range of Teflon-lined, braided stainless steel brake hoses for late-model Mustangs, including the 2003-2004 Mustang Cobras. These hoses provide a firmer brake pedal for quicker braking response and better brake modulation. We bled the bakes with Wilwood's Hi-Temp 570 Racing brake fluid.
We started by installing the rear brake hoses.
Brake line flare nuts can be stubborn, and using a standard open-ended wrench can round off the flats on the flare nut. Not fun. The way to avoid this frustration is to use a flare nut wrench. It grips the flare nut securely and avoids ruining the flare nut and your day.
Using a 13mm flare nut wrench, we removed the flare nut from the chassis hard line. (Note how the rubber hose framerail bracket is part of the hose fitting).
To avoid leaking fluid everywhere, we capped off the hard line with one of the supplied rubber plugs.
Next, we removed the brake hose support bracket from the upper control arm.
We removed the framerail bracket from the chassis.
The last step in removing the OEM hoses was unscrewing the brake hose fitting from the caliper.
We began installing the Maximum Motorsports rear brake hose by installing the included framerail bracket.
We inserted one of the hoses into the support bracket and secured it with the included retaining clip.
Next, we installed the included control arm brake hose support bracket to the upper control arm.
We secured the Maximum Motorsports braided hose to the bracket.
We loosely installed the banjo fitting between a pair of the supplied copper crush washers.
Before tightening the fittings fully, we adjusted the position of the control arm brackets and orientation of the fittings to gain the most clearance between the braided hose and axle, suspension components, and chassis.
The last step at the rear was tightening the fittings securely. It's important to tighten the banjo bolts to only 14 lb-ft. The banjo bolts will break if tightened to the factory specifications. For the hard line connection, we used a 17mm flare nut wrench on the hose fitting and a 13mm flare nut wrench on the hard line fitting. We repeated the installation steps for the left rear hose.
Up front, we started by removing the hard line from the rubber brake hose fitting with 17mm and 11mm flare nut wrenches.
We used one of the supplied rubber plugs to cap off the line to minimize fluid loss, and removed the OEM retaining clip.
Next, we unscrewed the OEM banjo bolt from the caliper.
We removed the rubber brake hose from the caliper and plugged the hole with another rubber cap to avoid draining the caliper of fluid.
Note that the two front hoses utilize different-sized fittings for each side.
Starting with the hose marked "R," we inserted one of the supplied E-clips into the slot closest to braided hose.
Ford used two different banjo bolt threads for the calipers. The Maximum Motorsports kit includes the same. To identify which bolt is required for our calipers, we picked the bolt that matched the threads of our OEM bolt.
We loosely installed the Maximum Motorsports braided hose's banjo fitting to the caliper using two fresh copper crush washers.
We inserted the Maximum Motorsports hose into the framerail bracket, reinstalled the OEM retaining clip, and installed the hard line by tightening the flare nut using 11/16-inch and 11mm flare nut wrenches.
Before tightening the banjo fitting on the caliper, we checked clearance around the braided brake hose with the steering wheel at full left and right lock. We repeated the installation steps on left side of the car. Again, it's important to tighten the banjo bolts to only 14 lb-ft.
With all four hoses installed, we prepared to bleed the brakes. Brake fluid eats paint, so we protected the area surrounding the master cylinder reservoir from potential spills with rags before removing the cap.
You can bleed the brakes with a human pedal pusher (see sidebar), but we used a power bleeder. We began by attaching the power bleeder adapter to the reservoir.
Next, we poured a couple bottles of fresh Wilwood Hi-Temp 570 Racing brake fluid into the power bleeder canister.
After tightening the cap, we pumped the canister pressure to 15 psi.
Starting at the right rear caliper (furthest from the reservoir), we connected a length of appropriately sized clear PVC hose to the bleeder fitting. We inserted the other end of the hose into a clear bottle, and hung it from one of the lug nuts. When we opened the bleeder screw with a flare nut wrench, the pressure from the power bleeder forced the brake fluid through the hose and into the bottle. Note how the old fluid in the bottle is dark brown and the fresh clear. Continue to bleed the system until bubbles stop coming out with the fluid and the fluid is clear. We repeated the process for the left rear caliper.
We added another bottle of fresh brake fluid to the power bleeder canister and moved our bleeding bottles to the front calipers. Using a larger hose that fit the front caliper bleeder fittings, we started bleeding the front right caliper and finished with the left front caliper.
The Maximum Motorsports Teflon-lined, braided stainless steel brake hoses and bleeding the system with fresh Wilwood Hi-Temp 570 Racing brake fluid treated us with a firmer brake pedal and improved brake feel and response.
Let It Bleed
We used a power bleeder to simplify bleeding the brake system on our 2003 Mustang Cobra, but you can bleed a brake system without one; you just need an extra human to push the brake pedal. Here's how to bleed brakes like professional racers.
1. Starting at the right rear caliper, connect the bleeding bottle and wrench to the bleeder fitting.
2. Make sure the master cylinder reservoir is properly filled with fluid.
3. Have the pedal pusher apply pressure to the brake pedal, and say, "Pressure." (Do not pump the pedal. Doing so can introduce bubbles into the master cylinder.)
4. Open the bleeder fitting with the wrench, and observe the fluid through the hose.
5. When the pedal pusher reaches the bottom of the brake pedal stroke, have him say, "Down," and have him maintain pedal pressure at the bottom of the stroke.
6. Close the bleeder fitting.
7. Say, "Closed," which signals the pedal pusher release pressure on the pedal.
8. Repeat Steps 3 through 7 until the fluid coming out of the bleeder is free of bubbles and clean.
9. Repeat Steps 2 through 8 for the left rear caliper, right front caliper, and left front caliper (in that order).
You can bleed a brake system without a power bleeder; you just need an extra human to push the brake pedal.
Bleed the braking system starting with the caliper farthest from the master cylinder. On Mustangs, start with the right rear and finish with the left front.