My 2012 Toyota 86 has just rolled past 40,000 glorious kilometers so it’s time for a bit of an update, and that starts with the maintenance…

…I’VE JUST PUT NEW brakepads and rotors on it. Again. That’s the third set.

Now before you think that the 86 is some sort of brake monster, it is isn’t. It’s a light car, so it is easy on the brakes unless of course you spend your time pushing limits on racetracks, and that is why I go through brake consumables almost as quick as fuel. On the public roads you’re braking once every few minutes, from a maximum of 100km/h to maybe 40 or 50, and never at full stopping capacity. On a racetrack, you’re doing a full-on, ABS-activated stop two or three times a minute, and from much higher speeds than 100 kays. So the brakes have to deal with a lot more energy, meaning much more heat, and less chance to cool down. If you want to try your car on the track, brakes are the first thing to fix.

In my case the mods aren’t extensive. The brake fluid is DOT5.1, which has a higher temperature rating than the standard DOT4. The disadvantage is that it’s more expensive, and needs changing more often. The brakelines are braided, so they don’t expand when heated. And the brakepads are track/street versions from Dixcel, Z spec on the front and ES on the rear. These pads are designed to cope with much higher temperatures than the standard ones. I’ve also got Dixcel rotors front and rear. All that costs around $1500, fitted.

Surprisingly, the modifications do not really improve the car’s ability to brake, because even with the standard gear the limitation with the stock tyres for braking is in fact the tyre grip, not the ability of the brakes to slow the wheels. What has been improved is fade resistance, which means I can keep lapping and lapping without worrying about the brakes overheating. When that happens things get nasty – either you get ‘long pedal’ when you go for the brakes but the pedal goes down, and down and down but nothing happens, or you get ‘hard pedal’ where the pedal feels normal, but the car just doesn’t slow. Long pedal means boiled brake fluid – a complete flush is in order – and hard pedal means a pad problem, glazing or maybe they’re totally worn to the metal. I’ve been there and done that which is why I keep a spare set in my toolbox as I’ve had to use them to get home on more than one occasion!

But enough on trackdays, let’s talk about the road. If you’ve got kids then sooner or later you’ll be playing taxi. Sports, music, school, parties, friends…Google’s self-driving car can’t come soon enough. Did I just say that, me the petrolhead? Actually, no. Scrub that. Why not make the drive enjoyable, seeing as you gotta do it, and then you’ll actually look forwards to being the child chauffeur. This is where the 86 comes in, which turns every little errand into a delight. And there’s other cars that’ll do the same, small and sporty zipmobiles like hot hatches, but not the big powerful cars that are an exercise in restraint on public roads. While I’m on the subject, I reckon ferrying kids is a great time to talk to them. They can’t get away, and it’s a private conversation relatively free of distractions.

Finally, a word on fuel costs. The 86, like many sportscars, prefers 98RON unleaded fuel or 95RON at a minimum. This is, apparently, a lot more expensive than 91RON, so I thought I’d calculate the relative cost of 91 and 98 fuel over the car’s 40,000km, assuming 8.5L/100km and $1.39 / $1.53 for 91 / 98RON. The answer is $476, or $0.012 cents per km. And if you ignore the $0.14c/l difference and think of it as around 10%, then the figures check out. They’re actually even better than that because I didn’t even calculate the lower mileage if you used 95 in a 98-preferred car. So yes, 98RON is more expensive but for the sorts of cars that require it the price difference shouldn’t be much of a factor, and in the case of the 86 it’s definitely worth it!


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