Everything about Servicing the Brakes on an Aston Martin DB9 or Vantage

We all relish in the V12 sound and power of the DB9, but equally important (to our lives) is the ability to haul the nearly 2 tons (3,968 pounds or 1800 Kgs) to a halt.  The DB9 is equipped with some of the best brakes in the industry, and the good news is that servicing them is much the same as working on any average car.   You can take your car to an Aston Martin dealership or really any competent brake shop to get the work done, but at a price to be sure.  I would suggest that you can just as effectively service most any aspect of your brake system yourself as long as you have a modicum of mechanic skills.   In this article and those to follow I plan on taking you through how to inspect your brakes and do a full service if necessary.

WARNING:  These are your Brakes!  Your life (and potentially others) depends upon them.  If you don’t get the cabin air filter changed properly no one will be injured.  Taking shortcuts or not understanding what you are doing here could result in very bad things.  My articles and videos below will show you how it’s done, but ultimately you (not me) are responsible for the work performed.

Optional CCM Brakes

Note:  I will NOT be covering the factory optional Carbon Ceramic Material (CCM) brakes.   My car (like most Aston Martins) is fitted with the traditional steel rotors.   If your car is fitted with the awesome CCM brakes, I’d really suggest the only proper place for service is an official Aston Martin dealership.  Different service techniques are needed to assess and maintain these brakes.  [That said, if someone would like to sponsor (donate) a CCM conversion to me, I will gladly produce a series of articles on the process and their maintenance]

When to Service?

How often will you need to service your brakes?  That’s a tough question and depends a lot on your driving style and quality of components used.  I attend an AMOC track day annually and use the car as my daily driver around town putting on about 5,000 miles per year.  I’ve managed about 15,000 miles per set of pads, and the rotors can probably go 30,000 miles.  The hand brake pads might last the entire life of the car.  Inspecting your brakes regularly is the key to knowing when service is coming up.

Brake Specifications

Time to get to know some of the details of our brake systems.   To start with, they are HUGE by most modern car standards.   The brake systems job is to convert the energy of our cars motion into heat and then dissipate it.  The better it is at conversion, the hotter the brakes can get.  The brakes have to be able to deal with this heat to perform well.  They need to cool quickly, and the brake fluid need to not break down (boil).   Pushed to their limits brakes can reach temperatures up to 500°C (937°F).

Early model (through MY 2012) DB9s and Vantages shared the same brakes.  You will discover that there are a variety of brake pad to choose from, and I think this comes from the fact that Brembo supplied these exact brakes to several carmakers, including the Corvette ZR1, Camero SS, Ford Shelby Mustang and Dodge Viper.  Check out this table:

Some interesting details about them are:

Front Brakes Exploded View
  • Front
    • Rotors
      • 355mm (13.9 in.) diameter
      • 32mm (1.26 in.) thick
      • Made from steel and weigh approximately 26.5 lbs. when new
      • The surfaces are grooved to allow gasses and dust created by the friction under heavy braking to be able to vent away
      • The rotors are vented internally to assist in cooling
    • Calipers

 

Rear Brakes Exploded View

 

  • Rear
    •  Rotors
      • 330mm (12.9 in.) diameter
      • 28mm (1.10 in.) thick when new
      • Made from steel and weigh approximately 20.5 lbs. when new
      • The surfaces are also grooved to allow gasses and dust created by the friction under heavy braking to be able to vent away
      • The rotors are vented internally to assist in cooling
    • Calipers
      • Made by Brembo
      • 4 pistons per caliper
      • Calipers are aluminum
      • The calipers are mounted with ONE TIME USE bolts (keep this in mind)
      • The pads can be changed without removing the calipers

Hand Brake

A completely separate mechanical hand  brake caliper is fitted to each of the rear rotors.  They are linked by a cable to the hand brake lever inside the car.  These are self-adjusting.   While sufficient to hold your car on a hill while parked, or to pull a hand brake maneuver, they are MUCH smaller than the massive Brembo system and will struggle to bring the car to a stop from high speed, but some brakes are better than none.  I will be covering servicing the hand brake system in the articles below.

Hand Brake Exploded View

Antilock and Traction Control

Antilock Brakes

The car has four wheel antilock brakes (at all times).   There is a rotation sensor (and cable) built into each wheel hub that monitors when the wheels are locking up.  The system will then automatically modulate the brake fluid pressure to each wheel to hold it at the verge of lock up, and this is the maximum level of braking.  This allows us to remain in control of the vehicle and steer while in a panic stop.   Keep this in mind while servicing the brakes, there is an entire ABS control system in between the brake master cylinder and each brake caliper.  The control system is located in the drivers side front wheel arch under the plastic arch liner.

Traction Control

Aston Martin recognized that most of us wouldn’t know how to properly deal with the power of a V12 engine and would be doing burn outs and fish tailing much of the time.  As fun as that would be, they opted to include a ‘nanny’ to look after us.  The traction control system also utilizes the wheel sensors to determine when they are spinning.   If it detects one or both rear wheels spinning, it will automatically apply the rear brakes just enough to stop the wheel spin.   If you’ve ever got on the gas hard from a full stop and felt a judder in your acceleration (and seen the traction control light flash on the dash), that’s the system at work.   As a result, if you are a hard charger all the time, your rear brakes can wear out faster than the fronts!   At least we can turn off the Traction Control anytime we want to let our inner hooligan out for a moment.  Just press and hold the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) button on the center console for about 5 seconds until it illuminates, and this turns off the traction control entirely (the ABS is always on though).

Brake Wear Sensors

All four wheels on the DB9 have a brake wear sensor.  It’s purpose is to provide a warning message on the dash when your brake pads wear too thin (about 3/32″ or 2.5mm remaining).  The sensor is actually a replaceable wear item, designed to have a protective surface wear off and create the electrical connection needed to send the signal to the computer.   Once the sensor has been ‘worn’, it needs to be replaced when the brakes are serviced.   You can save a few $$ by inspecting and servicing your brakes before reaching this point.   The idea is to save you from catastrophe if you aren’t paying any attention to servicing.  I will be covering replacing the wear sensors in the articles below.

Brake Fluid

Aston Martin selected a very high performance brake fluid, not something you would typically find at most auto parts stores.   Since our braking systems can generate a huge amount of heat, the brake fluid has to have a very high ‘boiling point’.   If your brake fluid boils, the brakes entirely stop working (this is very bad).  I will be covering how to select the correct brake fluid in the articles below.

Procedures

With that background preamble out of the way, here are links to each of the articles for performing the actual service work. [As I finish each article the link will become active]

  • Inspecting your brakes
  • Parts needed for a brake service
    • Selecting a Brake Pad
    • Selecting a Brake Fluid
    • An Alternative Brake Rotor
  • Simple Brake Service – Changing the Brake Pads Only
  • Full Brake Service
    • Removing the Calipers and Pads
    • Removing the Rotors
    • Resurfacing a Rotor
    • Replacing the wear sensor
    • Installing a Rotor
    • Installing a Caliper
  • Bleeding the Brakes
    • Manual Bleeding
    • Power Bleeding
  • Bedding in the Brakes properly
  • Hand Brake
    • Removing the Caliper and pads
    • Installing the Caliper and pads
    • Adjusting

Video

I’ve made a YouTube playlist of all the videos in the series so you can watch the process from start to finish without having to hunt down each one.  Enjoy!

One thought on “Everything about Servicing the Brakes on an Aston Martin DB9 or Vantage

  1. Greg Miner

    Great stuff. Looking forward to the videos. I have a ‘12 Virage and replacing the front pads without removing the caliper looks a little more challenging.

    Like

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