Q: I own one of the hottest minitrucks ever made- a ’91 GMC Syclone. People who don’t know what it is are stunned because they think a normal S-10 has just blown their doors off. The turbocharged 4.3L V-6 goes like a rocket, and the truck handles very well. The problem is the stopping department is sadly behind the rest of the truck’s performance. I seem to go through front disc brake pads in a big hurry. I admit that I drive aggressively, but some times I can barely get 10,000 miles out of a set of front pads; the best I’ve ever done is about 15,000 miles. I get about twice the mileage on the rear shoes, but even that isn’t very good. I always buy the best available pads, so this wear rate seems unusual. The truck stops nice and straight, so I don’t think there’s an imbalance in the braking system. Should I have anything in particular checked? Can you recommend a better brand of pads? Or, do I just need to buy disc brake pads in bulk? T. J. Johnson Jr., Chicago, IL
A: You might consider your truck a mini-truck, and, granted, it’s smaller than a f’ullsize Chevy/GMC pickup, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a lightweight. Your truck weighs as much as many musclecars, and the turbocharged V-6 puts out as much horsepower, or more, as the V-8 engines in many musclecars. That means your brake system is doing some heavy-duty stopping with relatively small 10-inch front discs and rear drum brakes. The brake system is not equal to the performance level of the rest of the truck-it’s the same system used on low-performance Chevy/GMC S/T-series trucks (S-series trucks are two-wheel drive, and the T-series is four-wheel drive).
Your chassis is based on the four-wheel- drive T-series platform. That means that you can’t upgrade to larger passenger car front brakes, as you can with the two-wheel drive S-series platform. A company that deals with high-performance brake systems and may help you improve your Syclone’s brakes is Baer Racing (Dept. ST, 3108 W. Thomas Rd., Ste. 1201, Phoenix, AZ 85017, 602/233-1411). Ask about its four-wheel disc brake kits.