One thing that has baffled me when I first joined the Saab community was: “If we love our Saabs so much, why do so many of us expend so much energy with upgrades and modifications”? But one day of driving Lars-Erik around town: it hit me. While Saab has opened our eyes to how much our cars can provide for us, they have also taught us to strive for perfection. There is something about the Saab experience that gives us the burning desire to make our car reach their full potential. One big step towards that goal was the MapTun software upgrade, which has unleashed the fury of Lars-Erik’s 2.0T engine. But, when it comes to bringing everything to a complete stop, the powerful brakes of the 9-3 Sport Sedan really were just begging for some brake pads with a bit more grip. Well, during my previous visit at the local service center in San Francisco, it was clear that my front brakes were due for maintenance. So it was time: I ordered a pair of EBC Green Stuff from State of Nine (distributed through MapTun). Upon delivery, the first thing that struck me was how heavy brake pads are. I suppose that this shouldn’t be surprising as brake pads need to be capable of stopping about 3,200 lbs (1,452 kg) of weight. Once they are installed, the improved grip of these high performance brake pads is immediately apparent. With less pressure on the brake pedal, I can keep the car from moving at a stop-light (Yes, I drive an automatic: but remember — San Francisco traffic). Furthermore, hard stops from high speeds are met with more immediacy as these brake pads will grab onto those discs like a pit bull. Yes, these brake pads are amazing: better brake feel and great performance. EBC Green Stuff pads are intended for drivers who spend most of the time on the highways and/or surface streets where heavy traffic is a regular occurrence. Perhaps, if I lived in a less populated area or make frequent visits to a race-track, I would have went for the EBC Red Stuff, but do bear in mind that those brake pads require slotted/vented brake discs. This is needed for the inevitable build-up of gases, during hard-breaking, to be properly expelled. At one point, I actually considered springing for a complete set of Ultimax Brake Discs and Red Stuff brake pads but after careful consideration of my particular use-case: Green Stuff just made the most sense for me.
While my experience with these pads has been quite positive, I have to admit there is one thing that I have found to be rather annoying: brake squeak. In doing some research: it’s not at all uncommon for high performance brake pads, such as these, to make some squeaking noises. Brake pads such of these are made out of a particularly hard material, and can have a tendency to resonate at a frequency that is audible to us humans. That is why the squeak occurs at a fixed pitch (with amplitude that varies, depending on braking pressure). The funny thing is, many folks may never experience this, so your mileage may vary. But for those that do: the trick is to dampen that vibration. According to the folks at MapTun: the bracket that holds these pads needs to be cleaned to the point of looking brand new, in order to prevent such vibration. It’s times like these that I wish I had the facility and equipment to try this myself: but alas, I have no garage and just enough tools to fill half of Lars-Erik’s glovebox. So, I will need to resort to my local service shop to do perform the cleaning. But, until then, I plan on continuing to enjoy the wonderful grip of these pads knowing all well that if the need ever arrises, as the old American expression goes: I can stop on a dime.