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mk4 big brake upgrade chart for VW Jetta, Golf, NB

Mar 14, 2014
mk4 big brake upgrade chart for VW Jetta, Golf, NB
  • mk4 Jetta, Golf, New Beetle big brake upgrades

    Difficulty 3/5 The more complex brake conversions are 3/5, the easier ones are 2/5.

    Introduction
    related links: 1000q: TDI conversion to TT/R32 spindle and LCA and 1000q: detailed "how to" swap big brakes onto the non TDI spindle

    The brakes on the a4 platform can be upgraded to larger rotors and/or pistons to give you better braking but you may need to use some non-TDI suspension parts, see below for detailed information. Before you spend money on big brakes, try using different brake pads, it may give you better braking feel, and it's cheaper and might be all that you want. Also make sure that the brake fluid is flushed, clean, and has no air bubbles. If you have to press twice on the brake pedal to get sufficient braking action, there may be an air bubble in the lines. Also remember that greater braking power is totally useless without tire traction and proper suspension/balance to take advantage of more braking. Below is more detailed information on big brake kit conversions.

    Because it is so important to know some general braking info, please read 1000 answered questions: brake FAQ and busting big brake myths. It includes brake pad/rotor info applicable to all cars, such as race vs. street brake pads, drilled vs. plain rotors, which direction the brake slots should point, and lightweight rotors. It may also show you why you may not want a big brake upgrade!

    The suspension is another major factor in braking performance. A worn suspension changes the way the brakes will behave. A4 VW TDI suspensions are soft and after age and use, get even softer. New struts, strut bearings, mount, control arm bushings, and anti-sway bar bushings in the front will do a lot to restore the handling and braking bias on your VW. The rears need new mounts and struts. If your car feels like a heaving hovercraft then a big brake kit won't do much. See 1000q: strut installation for "how to" articles on replacing the struts and some of the bushings.

    Disclaimer: Before you attempt any brake work on your car, refer to the factory service manual and follow all precautions. Any and all information presented on this website is superseded by the official service manual and is not a substitute for the services or advice of a certified professional mechanic. See the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer. If the brakes are faulty or not working correctly, tow it to a mechanic and do not attempt to drive the car. Faulty brakes can result in an accident or loss of control so have your local garage do it if you're not qualified to work on the brakes.
    Big brake upgrade FAQ for Jetta, Golf, New Beetle

    The brakes on VW TDI and gasoline VW with the 2.0L engine are part of the spindle (steering knuckle/hub assembly) and can't be separated. To upgrade to larger brake rotors or calipers, you must first replace the spindle which includes larger, removable brake carriers, and then you can mix/match the larger rotors/calipers/carriers. Your original "FSIII" front brake calipers on the TDI cannot be reused in the larger brake kits (they were also used on the 2.0L engine cars). The caliper is physically smaller, does not have a removable carrier, and uses a small brake pad. Your front conversion must use the "FN3" used on all 1.8T/VR6 cars which includes any special edition 337/20th anniversary, GLI, GTI (except the golf R32 which uses a 2 piston caliper). If you already have a 1.8T/VR6, you just need to change the rotor and carrier.

    All modern VW passenger car brakes use floating calipers. These are calipers that float and move on slider pins. The piston is on one side only and it lets the rear caliper double as the parking brake. The advantages are: simple, light, and cheap. Fixed calipers are in a fixed position with pistons that push on each side of the rotor. These tend to be heavier and more expensive and are found on more performance oriented car's 4 or 6 piston calipers and the aftermarket kits linked below. They cannot be used on the rear with the stock parking brake mechanism since the caliper is different.

    Pictured below are a few brake parts. If you want +1 size larger rotors/calipers, you want a spindle/hub, carrier, caliper and brake dust shield. Other parts are pictured for reference. These parts can also be found on the GTI, 337, GLI, 20th anniv, 25th anniv, etc, the spindle is all the same. A direct bolt on spindle should be from the 1.8T or VR6 engine cars, all you have to do is remove your existing spindle and press your existing hub and a new wheel bearing into your 1.8T/VR6 replacement spindle. Some GLI/special ed. 1.8T/R32 Golf use an axle bolt instead of a nut. These have slightly shorter axle splines. Since you're putting your existing hub and a new wheel bearing into a 1.8T/VR6 spindle, you can use any 1.8T/VR6 spindle. You must use a hub from a car that uses axle nuts if your car has those or axle bolts if your car has those. I recommend new wheel bearings and your existing hub on the spindle. You cannot use Audi TT or VW Golf R32 spindles unless you also modify the ball joints to fit the mk4 lower control arm OR add TT/R32 lower control arms (LCA) and the necessary supporting pieces.

    The big advantage of converting to the TT/R32 suspension is adjustable camber on the LCA and bigger/stiffer bushings. Also note that although you cannot use the TT/R32 spindle without modification, it has nothing to do with the TT brakes, they are direct bolt on to the 1.8T/VR6 spindle. See 1000q: TDI conversion to TT/R32 spindle and LCA for a how to and more details.

    Because of the need to convert the spindle to 1.8T/VR6 parts for big brake kits, the most basic upgrade would be using performance brake pads to change braking feel and is suggested before trying larger/more expensive brake conversions. Also read 1000q: basic brake tips and busting big brake myths to see if you really want/need a big brake kit since your suspension probably needs work. If you choose a conversion and remove the spindle, inspect the sway bar bushings, wheel bearings, ball joints, LCA bushings, and tie rod ends too. Whether or not to replace these components is up to you. The stock sway bar endlinks are pretty good and don't wear out much.

    Lastly, the stock brake bias is about 70/30. Adding larger brake components and using more aggressive pads/rotors will change this. A +1 or +2 size larger rotor to a TDI in the front only will change the bias by about 3-5%, acceptable for a street driven car. Pads will also effect this. During light braking, the electronic brake distribution (standard on North American TDIs) will apply the rear brakes more than the front brakes. This reduces dive and distributes brake force more evenly. During hard braking, the ABS will prevent wheel lockup and the bias shifts toward the front.
    Upgraded brake/rotor chart for mk4 TDI Jetta, New beetle, Golf

    +1 size: If you still want more braking power after trying more aggressive brake pads, first get 1.8T or VR6 brakes and spindles with their removable carriers. These stock brakes have slightly larger front rotors and pads.

    +2 size: The next size larger brakes involve swapping the removable brake carrier from the 1.8T/VR6 spindle for Audi TT brake carriers. This moves the brake caliper out and will let you use larger Audi TT brake rotors. This costs about $800 plus minimum 16" wheels for brake clearance.

    +3 size: The max size OEM brake upgrade is from the 6 cylinder Audi TT and VW R32 golf. the Audi TT VR6 quattro and VW R32 are all wheel drive and used 6 cylinder engines. As a result, they were heavier than the TDI and using their brakes will be overkill for most TDI drivers. The larger, heavier brake components will reduce handling/comfort, acceleration, and mileage. If you don't have enough tire traction/suspension to take advantage of bigger brakes, you will not increase braking performance vs. a smaller kit.

    You need at least 17" wheels and possibly 18" wheels because some 17" wheels may not have sufficient inside clearance to clear the brakes. The TT/R32 use 2 piston calipers which take up less space but aren't as large as 4 piston calipers found in many other performance cars. If you want 4 piston calipers, you have to use non-VW brake kits. For best results when using brakes this large, a rear brake conversion is also recommended to keep the brake system balanced but in a street driven car, the difference may not be noticeable. This costs about $1000-1300 plus minimum 17" wheels for brake clearance, some 17" wheels may not fit.

    +3 size and larger aftermarket: There are even bigger brake kits available from various vendors that use Porsche Boxter, 993, and Cayenne calipers. Some have custom rotors, so you have to buy replacement rotors from the vendor. These typically use a caliper mounting bracket to attach to the 1.8T/VR6 spindle and some need wheel spacers. There are also kits from Brembo and Stoptech listed below.

    Below is a table organized by ascending stock brake sizes and the cars that they are found on. Below is a table of aftermarket caliper kits and parts. To give you an idea of what you my need, here is a picture of autotech's front and rear brake kits. The TDI may need rear dust shields if you increase the size too much.

    VW 1.4 (euro only, -1 size)
    rotor specs caliper specs notes OEM part number Vendors/links
    Front: 256mm x 22mm (10.1" x .87") vented rotor Single piston caliper Euro only car, not available in North America, Brakes are smaller than TDI size . .
    Rear: 232mm x 9mm (9.1" x .35") solid rotor Single piston caliper . Rear rotor: 1J0-615-601-C .

    (Note: To upgrade to most front aftermarket or OEM brakes you need to change the hub carriers (spindles) to 1.8T or VR6 specifications, DIY kit available from dealer, Performance cafe's full TDI conversion kit to 1.8T/VR6 spindle (with hubs, bearings, ABS rings, bolt hardware, and calipers of your choice), ECS tuning's full TDI-1.8T/VR6 spindle conversion kit (with hubs, bearings, ABS rings, ball joints, spindle/housing)
    VW 1.6, 2.0, TDI
    rotor specs caliper specs notes OEM part number Vendors/links
    Front: 280mm x 22mm (11.0" x .87") vented rotor Small 2.0/TDI single piston caliper, cannot be swapped to other cars/spindle. To upgrade the front brakes to any other size, you must first change the hub carriers (spindle) to 1.8T/VR6 parts because the carriers are not removable
    Front rotors: # 1J0-615-301-M
    Caliper: #1J0615123A (left)
    Caliper: #1J0615124A (right)
    Front pads: #D191R / 1J0698151G
    .
    Rear: 232mm x 9mm (9.1" x .35") Solid Rotor Single piston caliper The rears can be swapped to larger OEM 256mm or 308mm brakes (see below, not advised without larger front brakes)
    Rear rotor: # 1J0-615-601-C
    Rear padsD104R / 1J0698451E
    .

    VW 1.8T, VR6 (+1 size)
    rotor specs caliper specs notes OEM part number Vendors/links
    Front: 288mm x 25mm (11.3" x .98") vented rotor Single piston caliper Will fit under most 15" wheels
    Front brake rotor and pad are both slightly larger than the stock TDI sized brakes
    must use 1.8T/VR6 spindle
    Left caliper: #3A0-615-123
    Right caliper: #3A0-615-124 Front rotor: 1J0-615-301C
    .
    Rear: 232mm x 9mm (9.1" x .35") w/solid Rotor Single piston caliper Rear is same as stock TDI Rear rotor: 1J0-615-601-C .

    Audi TT 1.8T 180hp FWD and AWD coupe and roadster (+2 size)
    Front: 312mm x 25mm (12.3" x .98") vented 1 piece rotors
    aftermarket ECS tuning 2 piece rotor also available, 23% lighter (4 lbs lighter), see links on right
    Single piston caliper uses the 312mm brake carrier
    must use 1.8T/VR6 spindle or R32/TT spindle
    Front rotor: 8L0-615-301 (cross drilled) or 8N0-615-301-A .
    Rear: 232mm x 9mm (9.1" x .35") w/solid rotor Single piston caliper Rear is same as stock TDI Rear rotor: 1J0-615-601-C .

    (Note: Below model front calipers are the same as stock 1.8T/VR6 calipers but are some are painted red. They are bigger because they use a larger carrier/rotor.) (Some cars were also 6 speed and may have used an axle bolt.)
    Audi TT 1.8T (225hp AWD coupe and roadster) (+2 size, also larger in rear)
    VW Jetta/Bora GLI
    VW GTI: 20th AE, 25th anniversary ed., 337
    VW Golf and Jetta/Bora 4 motion
    VW New beetle VR5
    Front: 312mm x 25mm (12.3" x .98") vented Rotors
    aftermarket ECS tuning 2 piece rotor also available, 23% lighter (4 lbs lighter), see links on right
    Single piston caliper, some are painted red Same front calipers as 1.8T/VR6 but are painted red and because of the color, have different part numbers. Also uses the 312mm brake carrier
    must use 1.8T/VR6 spindle or R32/TT spindle
    Front rotor: 8L0-615-301 (cross drilled) or 8N0-615-301-A
    12.3" Carrier: 8N0 615 125
    8NO 615 301 A S/D
    RP005
    .
    Rear: 256mm x 22mm (10.1" x .87") vented Rotors Single piston caliper Minor trimming of the stock 9.1" splash shield req. when put on as a conversion.
    To replace the 9.1" with taller/wider 10.1" rotors, rear calipers, splash shields, rear hub & wheels bearings need to be replaced.
    Rear: 8N0-615-601B .

    VW Golf R32, New Beetle RSi, Audi TT 3.2 V6 (250hp) (+3 size)
    Front" 334mm x 32mm (13.15" x 1.26") dir. vented 1 piece rotors, also available in ECS lighter 2 piece dir. rotor 2 piston calipers painted jazz blue 17" wheels min., 18" wheels may be needed. Known 17's that will fit, VW OEM Monte Carlo, VW OEM Long Beach, SSR Competition
    must use 1.8T/VR6 spindle or R32/TT spindle

    Right rotor: 1JO-615-302A
    Left rotor: 1JO-615-301AA
    .
    Rear 256mm x 22mm (10.1"x.87") vented rotors single piston calipers painted jazz blue Minor trimming of the stock 9.1" splash shield req. when put on as a conversion.
    To replace the 9.1" with taller/wider 10.1" rotors, rear calipers, splash shields, rear hub & wheels bearings need to be replaced.
    Rear rotor: 8N0-615-601B .

    Aftermarket caliper/rotor components: Front
    Sorted by overall brake rotor size rotor specs caliper specs notes model fitment where
    280mm (11") 280mm (11") cross drilled and slotted Wilwood Billet Dynalite II 4-piston aluminum calipers with Ferodo DS2500 pads 15" wheels minimum . RPI equipped
    310mm (12.19") 310mm (12.19") Wilwood Forged Billet DynaPro 4 Piston caliper 16" wheels min . RPI equipped
    312mm x 25mm (12.3" x .98") 2 piece directional vented rotor . 13.5 lbs vs. OEM 17.5 lbs All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning
    312mm x 25mm (12.3" x .98") single piece rotor 4 Piston Brembo comes with relocation brackets, 16" wheels min, may need wheel spacers All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle H2sport brembo kit
    312mm x 25mm (12.3") single piece rotor 4 Piston Brembo comes with relocation brackets, 16" wheels min, may need wheel spacers All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning
    312mm x 25mm (12.3") 2 piece rotor Porsche Boxter monobloc 4 piston caliper comes with relocation brackets, 16" wheels min, may need wheel spacers All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning
    312mm x 25mm (12.3") single piece rotor Porsche Boxter monobloc 4 piston caliper comes with relocation brackets, 17" wheels min, should not need wheel spacers All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Neuspeed
    322mm x 32mm (12.6") 2 piece rotor, directional vents, custom fit hats included Porsche 993TT 4 piston slight modification to spindle required, otherwise direct bolt on, 17" wheel min. All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning
    322mm x 32mm (12.6") 2 piece rotor, directional vents, need hardware kit to fit Porsche 993TT 4 piston must buy hardware kit to use, see RPI website for wheel fitment, probably need wheel spacers All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle RPI equipped
    323mm x 28mm (12.7") single piece rotor 4 piston red Neuspeed by Brembo calipers or Brembo comes with relocation brackets, 17" wheels min All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Neuspeed
    328mm x 28mm (12.9") 2 piece rotor, directional vents Brembo aluminum 4 piston comes with relocation brackets, 17" wheels min. All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle New Dimensions
    328mm x 28mm (12.9") ALCON 2 piece rotor, directional vents ALCON 4 Piston Monobloc Calipers comes with relocation brackets, 17" wheels min. All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Stasis Engineering
    328mm x 28mm (12.9") 2 piece AeroRotor, directional vents 4 piston ST-40 calipers check template for wheel fitment, part number: 83-886-4300 All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle New Dimensions
    328mm x 28mm (12.9") 2 piece AeroRotor, directional vents 4 piston ST-40 calipers check template for wheel fitment, part number: 83-100-4300 All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle New Dimensions
    330mm x 32mm (13" x 1.25") 2 piece rotor Wilwood 4-piston caliper with Ferodo DS2500 17" wheels minimum, comes with relocation brackets All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle RPI equipped
    330mm (13") 1 piece rotor AP racing 5200 4 piston caliper comes with relocation brackets All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Eurospec
    330mm (13") 2 piece rotor, directional vents AP racing 5200 4 piston caliper, uses Mintex FSMI #594 Porsche brake pad comes with relocation brackets All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Eurospec
    330mm x 30mm (13") 2 piece rotor, directional vents 4-Piston Caliper ceramic pads All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Rotora
    332mm x 26mm (13.1") 2 piece rotor, directional vents stock relocated caliper comes with relocation brackets All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning stage 1
    334mm x 32mm (13.15") Stock Golf R32 sized rotor but lighter 2 piece construction . 15% lighter than OEM 1 piece rotor Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 ECS tuning R32 brakes
    334mm x 32mm (13.15") 2 piece rotor directional vanes, stock R32 size Brembo 4 piston calipers 17" wheels min, comes with relocation brackets Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 Brembo Gran tursimo # 1B1.8043A
    355mm x 32mm (14") ALCON 2 piece rotor, directional vents ALCON 4 Piston Monobloc Calipers comes with relocation brackets, 18" wheels min All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Stasis Engineering
    355mm x 32mm (14") 2 piece rotor directional vanes Brembo 4 piston calipers 17" wheels min, comes with relocation brackets Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 Brembo Gran tursimo # 1B2.8043A
    355mm x 32mm (14") 2 piece rotor directional vanes Brembo 4 piston calipers 17" wheels min, comes with relocation brackets Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 Brembo Gran tursimo # 1M1.8026A
    355mm x 32mm (14") 2 piece rotor directional vanes Brembo 6 piston calipers 17" wheels min, comes with relocation brackets Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 Brembo Gran tursimo # 1M2.8026A
    355x 35mm (14") 2 piece rotor, directional vents 4 piston Porsche monobloc OEM calipers comes with relocation brackets All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning stage 4 porsche kit
    356mm (14.1") 2 piece rotor, directional vents AP racing 5555 6 piston caliper comes with relocation brackets , 18" wheels min Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 Eurospec part #: EBK 698 356 A4-5TR
    358mm x 32mm (14.1") 2 piece rotor directional vanes, custom hat 6 piston Porsche Cayenne monobloc OEM calipers comes with relocation brackets , 18" wheels min Audi TT, mk4 R32, 5 lug Golf/Jetta mk3 ECS tuning Porsche Cayenne kit
    358mm x 32mm (14.1") 2 piece rotor directional vanes, custom hat 6 piston Porsche Cayenne monobloc OEM calipers comes with relocation brackets , 18" wheels min All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle ECS tuning Porsche Cayenne kit
    370mm x 28mm (14.5") ALCON 2 piece rotor, directional vents ALCON 4 Piston Monobloc Calipers comes with relocation brackets All Golf/Jetta/NB with 1.8T/Vr6 spindle Stasis engineering

    Aftermarket caliper/rotor kits: Rear
    Sorted by overall brake rotor size rotor specs caliper specs notes model fitment where
    305mm (12") 2 piece rotor AP racing 5100 calipers includes relocation bracket All mk4 Jetta, Golf, NB Eurospec Sport # EBK 698 305 A4-RRP
    308mm x 22mm (12.1") 2 piece rotor, directional vanes keeps stock calipers/carrier with relocation bracket some R32s will require grinding of the housing surface of the spindle, 16" wheels min, no wheel spacers needed mk4 R32, mk4 gli, 337/20th AE, Audi TT mk1 225hp or 3.2L quattro ECS tuning R32 rear kit
    308mm x 22mm (12.1") 2 piece rotor keeps stock calipers/carrier with relocation bracket . All mk4 Jetta, Golf, NB ECS tuning mk4 rear kit
    308mm x 22mm (12.1") 2 piece rotor, directional vanes new OEM rear calipers/carrier with relocation bracket includes replacement rear OEM red calipers All mk4 Jetta, Golf, NB ECS tuning mk4 rear kit version 2