Paul Watson, an experienced Porsche tech with Porsche Australia, had some interesting things to say about carbon ceramic brake discs in a recent interview with Australia’s Wheels Magazine.
According to Watson, Porsche always suggests iron brakes for those owners who do track days, as the carbon discs can degrade when punished and are extremely expensive to replace.
Some track day veterans may already know this, but those who are less experienced when it comes to performance driving, this may be a surprise. Especially when you consider that carbon ceramic brakes are used in top-tier racing categories like Formula 1.
“Yes, ceramic discs can degrade if you’re hard on the brakes,” explained Watson. “Heat build-up will degrade the carbon fibres in the disc, so if you’re doing club days we’d always recommend iron discs.”
The first General Motors production car to offer carbon fiber brake discs was the C6 Corvette ZR1, which used the same Brembo carbon ceramic discs as the Ferrari Enzo. These brakes are standard equipment on the C6 ZR1 – an important fact to consider if you are thinking about picking up a ‘Blue Devil’ second-hand some time in the future.
A more surprising recipient of the high-priced rotors was the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, which also featured massive Brembo carbon ceramic rotors. The Camaro Z/28 achieved up to 1.5g in deceleration during Chevy’s testing, so these Brembos are still quite strong, even if they aren’t ideal for sustained track punishment.
As you may already know, the only GM cars to offer carbon rotors today are the C7 Corvette Z06 with the Z07 Performance Package and the C7 Corvette ZR1.
There is one other benefit to carbon ceramic rotors: they don’t give off any brake dust. So it seems these performance-focused brakes are better suited to those who hate cleaning dirt and grime off their wheels, rather than those who like to go fast.
In conclusion, if you plan on picking up a GM performance car with carbon rotors, do yourself a favor and swap out those pricy and slightly flimsy discs for some iron ones. Carbon ceramic rotors can last a long time on the road, look cool and prevent brake dust, but don’t hold up well when things get a little hot.