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B5.5 Passat GLS 1.8T, Stage 3 K04
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a B5.5 FWD. I replaced the brake calipers, rotors, and pads all the way around, as well as the lines in the front, when I first got the car almost exactly a year ago. Even with all that, I strongly dislike the feel of the brake pedal. It's not necessarily spongy like it needs bled more, and it stops the car adequately, but it just lacks character or bite. I came from a GD3 Honda Fit with a much lighter curb weight of around 2500 lbs, which may explain most of the issue, but the pedal feel in the VW is just dismal next to so many other cars I've driven. Obviously the car was never designed to be something like a GTI, but I want more. I have my eyes on a set of Brembo 17z calipers and I'll buy a good set of pads and slotted rotors (which I really love on my Honda), but my concern is none of that is really going to change the pedal feel. So I've started reading about master cylinder size to change the pressure in the brake lines with the same pedal travel. Which brings me to my question: does anyone know of a swap (I assume from another VAG car, but I'm willing to branch out) that would change the fluid pressure for a better pedal feel? Or am I wasting my time trying to get a 20 year old luxury sedan perform like a Golf R? All thoughts are welcomed. Thanks!
 

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Sometimes the pad material makes all the difference.

What kind of pads are you using? Something standard like a Duralast, or something more performance oriented or Euro branded?


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I don't know about feel, but mine stops considerably better with MK1 Audi TT caliper carrier brackets (using your stock caliper) and Audi D2 A8 312mm rotors up front.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have also considered the TT bracket upgrade. I wasn't sure how much a difference that would bring though, and I also assumed I wouldn't be as satisfied with them knowing the 17z exist (although they may be out of budget for now).
 

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Not yet mentioned is the brake booster; if that was marginal it would cause weak brake feel. Perhaps braided stainless steel brake hoses would help too.

But I go with the crowd here - try different pads. I once had a set of Mintex pads on my B5 A4 that had such weak friction that I threw them away. Pagid brand pads have worked fine for me, but currently I have Bosch Quietcast pads all around on my 3.0 A4, and have all the stopping force I need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Long time coming, but I got my hands on the Touareg Brembos. I have my eye on adapter brackets from Apikol, but I does anyone here still run a B5 with Brembos? I'm interested in other bracket options. It seems like options are pretty scarce, but I am curious to hear what people went with.
 

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The other option is to go with S4 uprights. I don't know of any cheaper brackets as many places have stopped making parts for the B5.
 

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I know the feeling. Although I don’t have the answer, I think it mostly has to do with the booster, for two reasons:

1. When you bleed brakes with the car off (booster off) you can get to a rock hard pedal

2. Mercedes has a “brake assist” feature that changes pedal and brake response based on sensing how hard you jump on the brake pedal. It’s all in the booster, but when it’s active you feel a much more solid pedal:

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The other option is to go with S4 uprights. I don't know of any cheaper brackets as many places have stopped making parts for the B5.
That's what it seems like. I was hoping someone on here was still running them and could give some detailed pictures or other info. I have access to a machine shop and it would be easy to fab up with the right dimensions. The S4 uprights look near impossible to find for my price range.

I know the feeling. Although I don’t have the answer, I think it mostly has to do with the booster, for two reasons:

1. When you bleed brakes with the car off (booster off) you can get to a rock hard pedal

2. Mercedes has a “brake assist” feature that changes pedal and brake response based on sensing how hard you jump on the brake pedal. It’s all in the booster, but when it’s active you feel a much more solid pedal:

I'm pretty sure I'll need a master cylinder swap for the new calipers and I thought about replacing the booster while I was in there. I also considered running booster-less. I heard it can be done and would give an insanely hard pedal, but I think that might step too far over the line of safety. At that point I'm getting pedal feel, but probably losing caliper piston movement, which sounds a little sketchy.
 

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I wouldn’t go boosterless - pretty much vital for modern day disc brakes.

If you change the booster, don’t expect drastic improvement - it is designed to have a fair bit of play. I wasn’t trying to say the booster is defective, just many have spent a lot of time chasing down pedal travel and it’s basically designed in.

In this thread there are some mods that suggest improvement, but I wouldn’t recommend them.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey, I'm back again. Life doesn't slow down so I'm just putting up my new brake system. I'm hoping to bleed this week, but I'm hoping to avoid any mistakes from my first go over a year ago now with a few clarifying questions:

1.) Can anyone tell me the order to bleed them? I assume it's farthest to closest to ABS, but I'm covering my bases here.

2.) Can the old school foot method be used to bleed instead of the Motive Power Bleeder? I've got an extra set of hands to help and I'm not too interested in another $50+ for a tool I'll use maybe twice.

3.) I also have VCDS capabilities but my understanding is that the B5.5 Passat doesn't have the programming to allow for bleeding with VCDS and the ABS pump. Is this correct?

Thanks for your help; I'm really excited to get this wrapped up and see how it feels.
 

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Hey, I'm back again. Life doesn't slow down so I'm just putting up my new brake system. I'm hoping to bleed this week, but I'm hoping to avoid any mistakes from my first go over a year ago now with a few clarifying questions:

1.) Can anyone tell me the order to bleed them? I assume it's farthest to closest to ABS, but I'm covering my bases here.
Correct. Farthest to closest. Right rear, Left rear, Right front, Left front.

2.) Can the old school foot method be used to bleed instead of the Motive Power Bleeder? I've got an extra set of hands to help and I'm not too interested in another $50+ for a tool I'll use maybe twice.
Yes the 'old school' method works just fine.

3.) I also have VCDS capabilities but my understanding is that the B5.5 Passat doesn't have the programming to allow for bleeding with VCDS and the ABS pump. Is this correct?

Thanks for your help; I'm really excited to get this wrapped up and see how it feels.
The VCDS is not needed to bleed the brakes on the B5.5 (or B5 for that matter).

You may need to bleed the ABS unit first in order to get good flow of brake fluid through to the brake lines.
Over the years, I've found from personal experience air in the ABS hinders the process of bleeding the brakes.
Bleeding the ABS first, all is required is that you crack the lines loose on the 'outlet' sides of the ABS unit and pump the brakes like a normal bleeding procedure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the response!

VCDS isn't "needed" but is it useful? The A4 owners seem to come back with reports of a better pedal feel with the VCDS procedure, but also their cars seem to be set up to where VCDS does the heavy lifting and they just crack bleeders open and hold pedals in sequence.
 

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Can't speak at all on the Audi, but with all of my B5 - B5.5's, I've never needed VCDS for ABS bleeding. I don't see any benefit from it. Tried it once on my 2004 V6 GLX. Didn't do a hill of beans for me.
None of my cars are rock hard on the pedal feel, because of the vacuum booster, but the pedal feels very solid and confident.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok, thanks for the info. I'll probably use VCDS to make sure the ABS pump is free of air and then foot bleed. I'm hoping the weather cooperates for me to bleed tonight and I'll come back and post a final (and hopefully positive) update.

Since you brought up the vacuum booster....what exactly does it do and how does it work? My understanding is it aids the regular power brake booster, but I'd never heard of it before I researched the brakes on my VW and I'm curious why it exists and how it functions with the power booster.
 

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The vacuum booster lowers the air pressure in the power brake assembly (therefore increasing the atmospheric pressure force), and is based on the venturi effect. Air passing through the constricted 'throat' of the venturi moves faster but with less air pressure than either side of the throat. A hose fitted to the low-pressure throat will pull a stronger vacuum than that in the intake manifold, especially when the engine is ingesting a lot of air and at higher manifold pressure.
 

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To add to that, the booster exists because disc brakes require a lot of force so it amplifies your foot pressure. The vacuum booster is the power booster just as the power booster is the vacuum booster. Two names for the same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Got them bled and tested and wow. I'm happy to report the original issue of the lousy pedal feel is splendidly remedied. I am going to attribute the old problem to crummy pads and perhaps some air in the ABS pump (and consequently some air elsewhere in the line as a result). The commonly reported "dead zone" in the pedal travel found in this generation VW is still present, but now when the pads bite in, the feel is immense. I went with a Power Stop Z26 pad with their drilled and slotted rotors (mostly for looks) and added a Stop Tech SS line in the front. The rears are still stock Bendix pads and rubber lines. I haven't done a brake stand above 35 mph yet to see how they will perform, but at all speeds so far the braking is so much more confident. I run a fairly impressive Firestone Firehawk tire and these brakes made them chirp a bit at a 30 mph stomp. I'm in love, and it doesn't hurt they look great too :) Thanks everybody for your help along the way!
 

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Glad you got it sorted. Since this is a fresh build, do you mind detailing the specs on the calipers, pads, and rotors so some of us (ok, maybe me ;) ) can look into possibly doing the same?
 
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