It doesn’t matter whether a truck is brand new or if it’s been in the fleet for years. At some point, most owners consider ways to modify their trucks. Lifting your rig and adding bigger tires is one of the most common practices, as is modifying diesel engines for more power. Sometimes, seeing a completely stock truck is odder than encountering one that’s radically personalized.
But making changes that improve performance or increase tire size actually can make it harder to slow a rig down.
The stock brakes on fullsize ¾- or 1-ton trucks are typically very robust, but they may not be able to efficiently handle the task of bringing the modified mass to a halt within a manufacturer’s advertised stopping distance. Stock binders could also be inadequate for trucks that tow and haul large loads on a normal basis.
| The stock brakes fit snugly inisde the ’17 Ram 2500’s 18-inch wheels. The larger diameter of the six-piston calipers in Wilwood’s TX6R Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit requires a minimum 20-inch wheel. With modern trucks’ ability to easily reach and sustain higher speeds and their larger load-hauling capacities, newer rigs such as Ram’s 2500 and 3500 can benefit from larger brakes. Recognizing this need for greater stopping power, engineers at Wilwood combined their years of knowledge to develop the new TX6R Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit for ’14-to-present Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups (two- and four-wheel drive). The upgrade replaces a truck’s stock dual-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors with much larger forged-aluminum six-piston calipers that clamp down on Spec37 (a proprietary iron alloy developed to withstand extreme temperatures) directional-vane, slotted 16-inch rotors. The calipers’ clamping force is transmitted to the rotors through Wilwood’s high-grip, long-wear, fade-resistant BP-20 compound SmartPads, which are included.
Components and technology used in the TX6R brake system were originally developed for tactical, armored, and extreme-duty specialized vehicles that need an abundance of stopping power. The vehicle-specific brakes are fully compatible with a truck’s chassis (Wilwood’s calipers mount directly to the stock attachment points) and ABS systems. Every kit includes premium-grade hardware and DOT-approved stainless steel flex lines. A note of caution, due to the larger size of the calipers and rotors: A 20-inch wheel is required to clear the new brakes.
Tech Editor John Lehenbauer visited Wilwood’s headquarters in Camarillo, California, to witness and document the installation of the TX6R Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit on a 6.7L Cummins-powered ’17 Ram 2500.
| The four-post lift’s jack system is used to lift up the front axle so the tires can be removed. | Ryan Bushman puts his impact to work, taking off the front wheels to access the brakes. With the wheels out of the way, Ryan removes the brake caliper and mounting bracket. The caliper is hung out of the way and Ryan uses a dead-blow hammer to dislodge the rotor.
| The hard brake line is disconnected from the flex line, and then the caliper assembly and the flex line are removed together. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Ryan Caliper Removal | This is the Wilwood TX6R Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit all laid out. The calipers’ blue color was chosen from 24 different available hues. Lettering on the calipers can also be customized in different colors. | The calipers’ mounting brackets may need to be shimmed to center the calipers on the rotors. | Each rotor is secured to an aluminum hat with the supplied bolts and washers, which must be torqued to specification. The bolts are pre-coated with a thread-locking compound to guarantee they do not come loose. | After assembly, the rotors are installed and held in position with a few lug nuts to make caliper installation easier. | The calipers are installed on their respective mounting bracket studs. There should be an equal amount of space on both sides between the rotor and brake pad. This caliper is a bit off center, so it needs to be shimmed to achieve the correct offset. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Caliper Rotor End | Ryan removes the fastening hardware for the upper and lower mounting brackets, coats the bolts in thread-locking compound, and then reinstalls them with shims that will correct the offset. They are torqued to specifications. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Ryan Torque Wrench Brake pads are installed in the caliper along with their retaining pins and securing clips.
Once the brake pads are secured, their height in relation to the rotors is checked. Adjusting the shim count beneath the caliper (removing one on each side) helps Ryan lower this caliper to achieve the correct height.
| With the caliper in position and tightened down, Ryan installs the 90-degree fitting and the stainless steel DOT-approved flex line. The other end of the hose is connected to a hard-line adapter located in the same place as the factory flex line. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Adaptor Hardline Flexline | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Caliper Top Flexline | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Ram Side Caliper Rotor | This side-by-side comparison of the stock Ram two-piston brake caliper and six-piston TX6R unit clarifies the Wilwood binder’s robustness and ability to provide superior clamping force. | Ryan holds one of the truck’s original 14-inch rotors next to the new caliper and 16-inch-rotor package. The 2-inch size difference in the rotors is pretty dramatic. | Ryan bleeds the air from the front calipers before installing the 20-inch Fuel Off-Road Baja wheels with 35x12.50R20 Falken Tires Wildpeak M/T tires that were ordered to clear the new brakes. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Ryan Wheel Install | As of this writing, Wilwood is developing a rear brake kit for Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks. | After installing the tires and wheels, Ryan properly torques the lug nuts before lowering the rig to the ground. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Ram Blue Building | The ’17 Ram 2500 is taken for a drive in a low-traffic area to go through a sequence of light, medium, and hard brake applications to heat up the rotors and pads (to the point of smoking) to achieve a proper bedding. To ensure brake bedding is done correctly, Wilwood offers customers written guidelines on the procedure. | Wilwood New Tactical Xtreme Front Brake Kit Wheel Brakes
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Increasing the Stopping Power of a 2017 Ram 2500