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Silverado 1500 Big Brake Kit Guide

Silverado 1500 Big Brake Kit Guide

For all of the performance and aftermarket additions you give your Silverado 1500, upgrading your brakes is one of the most important. If you’ve ever lifted your truck or installed larger tires, then you’ll need brakes that can provide full stopping power. As Silverado owners, we tend to go big or go home; that’s why we purchased a truck with some of the best towing and hauling capacity on the market. But bigger doesn't always mean better brakes if you don't know what you’re doing. If you’re too haughty than you could end up buying brakes that offset your suspension system. With the information in this guide, you’ll get the right big brake kit for your Silverado and improve your brake life with some massive new rotors and brake pads.

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If you find yourself hauling heavy loads, you'll want to invest in a set of beefier brakes. Truck towing capacities are measured by their ability to stop, not how big the bed is or how much horsepower you make. Make sure your brakes can handle your intended loads.

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What Benefits do a Big Brake Kit Provide?

Your stock brakes are prone to fade overtime because they can't properly expel heat.  While disc brakes helped to solve some of these issues, they were no match for hard or intense braking. Even still, as your stock discs wear, you’ll notice your Silverado has less stopping power and you may begin to feel it each time your brake from a high speed.

Braking distance or braking power is influenced by how much contact your rotor makes with your brake pads. Brake pads absorb most of the heat involved in braking, although much of this heat dissipates throughout the entire brake system.

Heat generated from intense braking and through continued use can actually deform the brake caliper and burn through brake pads. After these parts have worn, this can cause significant damage to your rotors.

Brake fluid can also boil over if pads are worn and too much heat is generated from hard braking. This effectively wears out the mechanical feel and stopping power of your brakes.

Big brake kits, or bigger brakes, help to properly distribute heat by providing more surface area and therefore more contact between brake pads and the rotor. You’ll find that AmericanTrucks offers a selection of big slotted or drilled brakes.

These slots expel heat more effectively from the rotors, therefore preserving the life of your brake parts. They also reduce the time required for your brakes to cool.

With added pistons, Brembo brake pads actually clean the surface layers of your brake pads every use, greatly extending their life. If you are wondering what benefits extra pistons add, they improve brake pressure by providing a more even braking force.

Do Big Brakes Reduce Stopping Distance?

Technically, a larger surface area should entail greater contact with the brake pad and therefore less stopping distance. On the contrary, bigger brakes actually don't increase stopping power because the coefficient of friction does not apply to surface area.

Bigger rotors only spread out the distance which brake pads clamp down on the rotors. The coefficient of friction only applies to the materials involved, meaning that stock disc brakes technically provide equal or sometimes greater stopping power.

It’s important to mark this distinction because big brakes are often purchased under the assumption that they provide stronger brake power. Ideally, you’ll want larger rotors made of more durable and lighter steel that can form contact with the brake pads better to add stopping distance. Aluminum calipers generally transfer heat better as well, which leads us to the main point.

Big brakes are designed to handle heat better. This is why many off-roaders, big-rigs, and stock racers use big brakes because they can handle stopping at higher speeds or with more weight more efficiently.

What we experience as better braking is merely subjective. Larger brake pads grip on the rotors much more firmly, giving the impression that brakes are working better. Yet, this is still important because we like to feel that our brakes are working well, and this gives us better insight into potential braking issues when we can literally feel our brakes wearing over time.

Pros and Cons of Silverado 1500 Big Brake Kits


  • More efficient heat expulsion
  • Greater longevity of brake parts
  • Reduced stopping distance (made with better materials)
  • More reactive suspension system


  • Some owners end up adding too much braking power, which can cause excessive brake drive
  • Increased chance of glazing once parts wear out

What Brake Fluid Should I Use?

There are three types of brake fluids listed by the Department of Transportation:

  • DOT 3
  • DOT 4
  • DOT 5

DOT 5 brake fluid provides brakes with the highest boiling point and is the most resistant to moisture. Unfortunately, DOT 5 is susceptible to swelling when exposed at high temperature. DOT 5 is generally recommended for older cars and more causal drivers because its hydrophobic.

Moisture degrades brake fluid over time because the mixture is hygroscopic. DOT 5 is a silicon-based fluid that is less hygroscopic than DOT 3 or 4, giving it longer use life.

DOT 3 and 4 fluid perform best at high temperatures and are recommended for big brake kits. DOT 4 reacts best at high temperatures or hard braking, although it’s more expensive than DOT 3 fluid.

Will Big Brakes Fit Under My Silverado 1500’s Tires?

At AmericanTrucks, we will help you size your tires and determine the most appropriate big brake kit for your Silverado. We’ll also figure out if your brake kit is compatible with your ABS system.

Generally, most big brake kits require tire sizes of at least 15 inches. If you have a lift or large tires, it’s important to properly size your brake kit so you don’t offset the axle flange and damage your suspension.

Maintaining Rear Track Width

Big brakes mean more weight for your Silverado 1500, which can impact its balance or level. This is immediately evident if you only purchase big brake kits for your front end tires.

With less weight distribution in the rear of your truck, your rear tire traction can be compromised. One easy fix is to simply move some of your static weight distribution from the front of your truck to the rear. You can also consider lowering your truck, if the tires allow.

Work with a mechanic who will help you to reduce your offsets. You can also offset weight distribution by installing big brakes into your rear end tires.

Brakes Are Only as Good as Their Tires

We often forget that brakes are only as good as the tread and traction of your tires. While big brakes can preserve the life of your brake parts, they can’t aid your stopping power if you have worn out tires. Don’t forget, tires are the most important component of your braking system.

Fitment includes: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Hybrid, LS, LT, LTZ, WT, XFE, Custom, HighCountry