How to Fit a Hydraulic E-Brake in a Subaru WRX for Rally Driving?

June 13, 2024

Rally driving is an adrenaline-charged sport that demands the highest performance from both the driver and the vehicle. One essential component that can dramatically enhance your performance on the track is the hydraulic e-brake. This device allows you to execute sharper turns and maintain better control over your vehicle, particularly in a rally car like the Subaru WRX. This article aims to guide you on how to fit a hydraulic e-brake in a Subaru WRX.

Understanding the Importance of the E-Brake

Before we dive into the intricacies of fitting a hydraulic e-brake, it is useful to understand why this device is critical for rally driving. The e-brake, also known as the handbrake, is a secondary braking system independent of the main hydraulic brake system of a car. In regular vehicles, it is primarily used to secure the car in a parked position.

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However, in rally driving, the handbrake is a tool for precise manoeuvring. A hydraulic e-brake, unlike the typical cable-actuated system, uses hydraulic pressure to engage the rear brakes. This design gives the driver better modulation and a more direct feel. For a car like the Subaru WRX, renowned for its rally pedigree, a hydraulic e-brake can significantly enhance its cornering capabilities.

Choosing the Right Hydraulic E-Brake Kit

Every good job starts with the right tools, and fitting a hydraulic e-brake to your Subaru WRX is no exception. The market is flooded with various hydraulic e-brake kits, but not all are created equal. This is where a little research can go a long way.

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When shopping for a hydraulic e-brake kit, look for features that align with your needs. Look for kits that come with a hydraulic handbrake, master cylinder, and brake fluid. Additionally, you may want to look for a kit that includes brake lines and fittings, as these can be challenging to source separately.

Forum members and posts can be an invaluable resource during this stage. Many members on forums like the Subaru WRX STi forum have been through this process before and can offer advice on what works best.

Preparing Your Subaru WRX

With the right kit in hand, the next step is to prepare your car. This involves draining the brake fluid and disconnecting the rear brake lines. Removing the old brake master cylinder may be necessary, depending on the kit you've chosen.

For the Subaru WRX, the brake master cylinder is located in the engine bay, and it is the reservoir that holds the brake fluid. Drain the brake fluid into a container and be careful when disconnecting the brake lines from the cylinder not to spill any fluid, as it can damage paintwork.

Installing the Hydraulic E-Brake

Installing a hydraulic e-brake can be a complex task, particularly if you're not mechanically inclined. However, with patience and dedication, it's certainly achievable.

Start by mounting the hydraulic handbrake in a location that is easily accessible from the driver's seat. It needs to be positioned such that it operates in the same plane as the master cylinder. Once the handbrake is securely mounted, connect the new brake lines to the handbrake and thread them through to the rear of the car where they will connect to the rear brake calipers.

Ensure that the brake lines are firmly attached and clear of any moving parts that could cause damage over time. Once everything is connected, you can fill the master cylinder with brake fluid and bleed the system to remove any air bubbles.

Adjusting the E-Brake and Test Drive

After installing the hydraulic e-brake, it's time to adjust it. Proper adjustment of the handbrake ensures it works effectively and doesn't interfere with the main braking system.

To adjust, you will need to tighten the brake cable until you feel a slight drag on the rear wheels when the handbrake lever is in its lowest position. Then, with the handbrake applied, ensure the rear wheels cannot rotate. You may need to repeat this process a few times until you find the right balance.

Once you're satisfied with the handbrake's performance during stationary tests, it's time for a test drive. Start slowly, checking the operation of both the main brakes and the e-brake. Gradually increase the speed while continuing to test the brakes until you're confident they're operating correctly.

Remember, fitting a hydraulic e-brake to your Subaru WRX is not a task to be rushed. Take your time, follow the instructions, and if in doubt, seek advice from experienced members on forums or professional mechanics. With the right approach, you'll be ready to take on the rally circuit with your newly fitted hydraulic e-brake in no time.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Understandably, you'll need to maintain your new hydraulic e-brake to ensure it continues to perform at its best. While the maintenance needs may vary depending on the specific brake kit you've installed, there are few general tips you can follow.

First, regularly check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder. The fluid level can drop due to leaks or normal brake wear. If you notice the fluid level dropping regularly or if the hand brake becomes less effective, inspect the system for leaks. Leaks can occur in the master cylinder, brake lines, or rear caliper.

Next, keep an eye on the condition of your brake lines. Look out for any signs of wear or damage, such as kinks or fraying. These could lead to leaks, which would impact the performance of the e-brake. If you find any issues, replace the brake lines as soon as possible.

When facing issues, you can also turn to forum members for help. Many threads and itinerant users will be more than willing to assist you in troubleshooting common problems, especially on platforms like the Subaru WRX STi forum. The wealth of likes posts and received likes these users have can attest to the reliability and value of their advice.

Finally, don’t forget to regularly test the hydraulic handbrake, especially before a race. The last thing you want is to discover a problem with your e-brake on the day of the race!

Conclusion

Installing a hydraulic e-brake in a Subaru WRX for rally driving is a process that requires patience, precision, and perhaps a bit of guidance from experienced rally drivers or mechanics. The task involves choosing the right brake kit, preparing your vehicle, installing the new system, and making the necessary adjustments.

While it may seem daunting, with careful planning, the right tools, and a step-by-step approach, you can successfully fit a hydraulic e-brake in your Subaru WRX. This upgrade will enhance your vehicle's performance, giving you the edge you need on the rally track.

Remember, while the process may be complex, the satisfaction of knowing you've improved your vehicle's performance is immeasurable. And when you finally get behind the wheel, with the hydraulic handbrake within reach, you will truly appreciate the difference it makes in your rally driving experience. So, take a deep breath, get your tools ready, and improve your Subaru WRX like a true scooby regular.