This article has taken its sweet time hasn’t it? One reason why this has taken so long is that I decided to thoroughly sort the braking issue completely before I come to any conclusion. And the little Perodua Myvi 1.3 that the Missus uses now has really, really, really good brakes.
Prior to this the Pink Myvi had brakes. Or some semblance of Brakes in my opinion. It would stop at speeds below 80km/h but at the Malaysian speed limit of 110km/h, the Myvi would basically take its sweet time in trying to slow down. Those that tried jamming its brakes at speeds higher than this would find out that it has terrible response time due to a whole lot of dead travel (this means that the brake pedal travels a whole lot before achieving some bite) and when it does, it just takes its time in slowing down. This is quite bad if you want to come to a dead stop as soon as possible. So with dead travel and lack of bite, the Myvi is actually a terrible car to drive fast. Even the Missus agreed with this statement. Hence the need for an upgrade.
In fact there could have been a need to upgrade the whole car into a Mazda 3, a Ford Fiesta or even a Suzuki Swift but this path wasn’t chosen due to the fact that we chose a Myvi because the Missus’ driving skills were totally rusty and the Myvi was the most affordable small car to fix small knocks and dings whilst she improves her driving. And now, almost two years down the road, she seems pretty adept in driving around town. But one cannot just sell off the car right now as it wouldn’t be economically prudent as a car bought under hire purchase to sell the car less than halfway through the loan arrangement. One would need to settle at least half the term if not one would end up paying the bank for the differential sum. And it does give Yours Truly an excuse to do lots of mods on Malaysia’s favourite hatchback. Sensible mods, mind you.
And so to the brakes.
I did some research on the brakes and came up to the conclusion that Perodua uses the worst sort of front brake pads that one can possibly imagine. I suppose the material used, aside from being dirt cheap, must be made from something that isn’t abrasive or that has friction. Brake pads need friction to generate grip and if it does not grip the discs, a lack of braking power happens. And so a change of pads were in order. I was recommended a set made by IMP, the chaps who sell the IMPROVE brand of shock absorbers. Maybe Perodua should get better suppliers.
Secondly, the stock Perodua Myvi discs are purportedly weak too. According to some parts suppliers the front discs (rears are drums) tend to warp after 20,000km of use. This did not happen to our Myvi but since I was doing this write-up, I may as well get a new set of brake rotors (discs). And the cross drilled, slotted and ventilated rotors from AR Racing were chosen. It looks good and would actually help deglazing the pads every time the brakes are used (in anger). Do not ask me who are AR Racing. Aside from these discs, I don’t know what else they produce. The discs were recommended by a veteran parts supplier and I took his word for it. Isn’t that usually the case?
Now after the two upgrades mentioned above the brakes were so much better than before. There was bite when you wanted it. Prior to this if you did an emergency brake the Myvi would just cruise to a halt but with this upgrade, the Myvi would actually dip its front end forward due to increased bite from the brakes. Braking from 110km/h to 80km/h must have been cut in half as you could actually feel the seatbelts bite into your shoulder. And the noise from slotted and drilled disc rotors is interesting too. Like a generator powering down, going ‘hmmmmmmmmm‘. Like the Death Star before blasting a planet to smithereens. This mod actually adds from character missing from the Myvi too.
One problem that is still lacking is the brakes still suffer from dead travel. The new pads and brake disc rotors do not solve this problem. I was then recommended to try out IMP’s new triple layer braided brake hoses. Steel braided brake hoses are nothing new to those how venture into the realm of motorsports. Most track cars end up having this as an upgrade for two reasons – one is that the steel casing does not allow the brake fluid to expand sideways (as the rubber hosing is soft and flexible) when it gets hot due to repeated hard braking and secondly, it adds to brake feel as like before, it only allows the fluid to travel in one direction instead of trying to expand everywhere else. Of course, one needs to buy good brake hoses as sometimes, while steel braided hoses are good, the joints where it screws to the brakes and piping (to the servo) may give way. The IMP hoses seem pretty solid and I was recommended to give it a shot. Do note that none of these mods were given to me for free. I bought all of the upgrades with my own pocket money. I have to say that I’m extremely happy they work.
And what happened was that the Myvi’s terrible brake feel and dead travel was almost gone. There was very little dead travel and the brakes are easier to modulate. You could feel the brakes already working as soon as you start pressing on the pedal.
These mods are essential to most Myvi owners who want to drive their cars fast. Note that there is a saying that very good brakes can add as much as 20hp to a car on the track. Why so? It’s because that you can brake later and deeper into a corner. Imagine if you are in a car that has better brakes and another similar car in lesser brakes. You can actually brake, for example 10meters later than the other car. This means that if you’re travelling at 100km/h into the corner, you’re still travelling at 100km/h for another 10meters over the other car whereas the car has already slowed down to, say 80km/h by then. Imagine doing this over 10 laps. You’d be pretty much ahead of the similarly powered but lesser braked car.
So there you have it folks. The total and very effective, non-overdosed (i.e no need to change to oversized calipers) brake upgrade for the Myvi. I managed to drive to Ipoh and back via the highway and also the non-tolled roads. The brakes were wonderful on the highway and wonderful on the narrower and more challenging Federal roads. The stopping power is there, the brakes bite more immediate that before and there is more feel in them too. What more can anyone ask? The three items, brake pads, disc rotors and hoses cost somewhere in the region of RM800.00 without labour. Very affordable and very effective. And it looks pretty standard under the stock Myvi wheels.
Now that the brakes are settled, next comes more performance mods. But don’t rush me. Perfection takes time.
Links to Parts I and II can be found here