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Donut Media: Cheap VS Expensive Brakes – Is it Worth the Money?

Donut Media have recently released a video to their YouTube channel comparing expensive brakes to cheap brakes.

At the start of the video the presenter, Zach & Nolan, explain that the expensive brakes they are testing are the AP Racing high performance big brake kit that they purchased for $4,700. The cheap comparison is a Dickase Tech big brake kit that they bought for $850. They wanted to find out in the video whether the AP Racing kit would be six times better than the Dickase Tech kit as they are six times the price.

To test it out, they installed the kits on their Subaru WRXs and then tested them head to head on the track.

Zach explains in the video the importance of brake kits for anyone looking to take their car out on the track. He said:

“Upgrading your brakes is important to anyone who wants to spend time on the track. The intense and constant braking can lead to brake fade, when your brakes get so hot that they become less effective or stop working entirely.

“A big brake kit offers a longer window of performance before you experience brake fade. Less fade means longer and harder racing, which in theory means faster lap times.

It is worth noting that the AP Racing brake kit did not come with brake pads so they bought some Ferodo brake pads for $280.

Before fitting the brake kits, they do a first look comparison. Both rotors are 14 inch, multi-piece, and have the same amount of slots. The AP Racing brake kit has a retainer on every other bolt on the back, this is to give the bolt room to expand when it heats up without putting stress on the rest of the component. The Dickase kit does not have this. Another big difference between the two is that the more expensive brake kit is 5lbs lighter than the cheaper kit.

Once the brake kits were fitted, they headed to Willow Springs to test them out. They planned to do a brake fade test and a lap time test. They tested the lap times first as the brake fade test would put a lot of stress on the brakes.

“On average, everybody was lapping about two seconds faster in Hi car [$4,700 brake kit] compared to Low car [$850 brake kit].

“Even with the one second handicap to account for our better tyres and suspension, it seemed like Hi car was gonna take the cake when it came to brakes. Then Adam, our shop daddy, unsurprisingly put down a screamer of a lap in Low car. – 1:27.72.

“That was a three second improvement of the last time we were at the track, a nine second improvement over the cars when they were stocked, and a full second faster than Hi car’s best lap time up to that point.

“So now Hi team’s $4,700 brakes were losing to Low team’s $850 brakes, but I was not worried. Adam is our fastest driver
and I, and everyone, was confident that as soon as he got in the driver’s seat, he’d be able to put down an even faster lap in Hi car.

“And then this happened.”

Unfortunately, in the last lap in the Hi car, they span off the track and crashed the car, snapping the rear axle. So, they had to purchase a third Subaru and make it exactly the same as the previous one to continue with the tests. Explaining the brake fad test they said:

“First up, brake fade test. We’re gonna run both cars up and down this straightaway, braking from 60 to 0 to induce brake fade.

“We know that both cars with no break fade going 60 miles an hour can start breaking on this line and come to a complete stop
90 feet later at this cone. But as the heat starts creeping in and the brakes start fading, that distance is gonna get longer and longer.

“So we’re gonna put Jimmy here, 30 feet past our current stopping point on this X made out of two
high-vis Donut Media shirts available at And whichever car’s brakes fade first so badly that they run over poor
Jimmy, well that car loses.”

After a few test runs, the Dickase brake kit faded quite quickly and also not consistently. They then repeated the lap time test as the last one ended with the crash. They concluded:

“I think we’ve got a clear winner. Hi car wins. The brakes didn’t kill Jimmy, they didn’t fade as early as the Dickases, and they feel way better on track, pedal feels much nicer. But in the overall, the grand scheme of Hi Low, Hi car is hurting.”

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