Once you start to modify your vehicle for off-road use, it’s often the parts that you don’t modify that are the first to fail. We’ve done quite a bit of work on our WJ Grand Cherokee by installing a 4-inch BDS suspension kit, trimming the fenders and installing Bushwacker flares, and then stuffing 33-inch tires under the WJ.

Now that the Jeep is up off the trail and less exposed, it has additional travel with the upgraded Fox shocks and better approach and departure angles thanks to the front and rear Trail Ready bumpers. The problem with all these upgrades is weight, and the additional strain it puts on the stock brakes. The WJ platform was produced in model years 1999 to 2004, and in those years there are two different brake types – ATE/TEVES or Akebono. The short explanation on the difference between the two is the ATE/TEVES (stamped with a #4835 on its backside) setup features a metal wire retaining clip to help hold the brake pad in place, and the Akebono (which should be stamped with a #4802) does not.

Shop for StopTech Rotors

The Grands made from 1999-2002 are fitted with ATE brakes, which our ’99 has, and as we and other WJ owners have learned over the years the brakes don’t handle the additional weight of larger tires and other upgrades so well. Our biggest issue was in relation to the retaining clip, which simply fell off on more than one occasion, which meant the brake pad would shift and move providing inconsistent braking or an unsafe condition where the brake pad would lock in place. Hearing consistent complaints of rotor warping on the ATE/TEVES brakes on ‘99-’02 models, Jeep addressed the issue and swapped out the ATE/TEVES setup in favor of an Akebono setup instead on 2003 and 2004 models.

SStop Tech Brake Upgrade 2
StopTech offers everything needed to swap out the ATE stock brakes to an Akebono-style setup, including the calipers, pads and rotors (which fortunately are an upgraded vented rotor). StopTech also offers DOT4 brake fluid as well.

So when we realized we needed to swap out our front brakes on our ’99 WJ, we hunted around for options. StopTech, the high-performance division of Centric Parts, offers all the parts necessary to swap our brakes to an Akebono-style setup and upgrade them in the process. StopTech has been around since before the turn of the century, and it offers a number of brake parts for a wide variety of vehicles. For the swap, we would be adding new Akebono calipers (part # 141.58005/006e), vented rotors (part # 126.67042sl/sr) and a set of Akebono front pads (part # 306.09450).

Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 3
We’d be swapping out our stock ATE brakes for these new Akebono-style StopTech calipers and brake pads.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 4
The StopTech rotors feature directional vents versus straight vents, which aids in reducing heat while braking (especially under heavy loads on the trail).

Installation is fairly straightforward and can be completed in a few hours by the competent garage mechanic. If you don’t have access to good hydraulic jack and jack stands, an automotive shop can knock out the job for you in a few hours, and a reputable place shouldn’t charge any more than a few hundred bucks for labor if you supply the parts.

Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 5
We jacked up the Jeep, set the jack stands in place and removed the wheel to access the stock brakes.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 6
We got started taking apart the stock brakes. Two bolts hold the stock caliper in place, and both can be removed with an 18mm socket.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 7
You’ll want to disconnect the brake line from the caliper using a 14mm socket and bleed the front brake lines from the calipers. So have a container on hand to catch the fluid when you start loosening the brake line fitting. It’s a good idea to have clean fluid going to your brakes as you start to bleed off the old fluid.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 8
Once the brake line and the two mounting bolts are removed the caliper will pull off. At this point the rotor can easily be removed also.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 9
To prep the new caliper for installation, we primed it with brake fluid first.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 10
Once the caliper is primed, the StopTech Akebono-style brake pad is installed. All of the necessary hardware for installation came with the StopTech products. PS: Even when you think you’re fully prepared, expect a little bit of brake fluid mess to clean up. Fortunately brake fluid is relatively thin in comparison to other automotive fluids, but it is pretty good at removing paint so be careful will spills and make sure to remove any excess fluid with brake cleaner.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 11
This is a good look at the key difference, at least in terms of the calipers, between the StopTech Akebono-style caliper and the stock ATE version. Note the thin retaining clip used on the ATE caliper to hold the brake pad in place.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 12
This handy little tool helps ensure that new brake fluid is always in the system to make sure no air bubbles enter the brake lines as the old fluid is bled out and the new fluid enters the system.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 13
We apply a little anti-seize grease before putting the rotor in place. This will help if you need to remove your rotor in the future.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 14
Next, we slide the new StopTech rotor into place.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 15
With our pads securely in place and our caliper primed, we set the new StopTech Akebono-style caliper in place.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 16
Once all the air is bled out of the brake system the bleeder fitting is tightened down.
Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 17
Double check every bolt one last time to make sure everything is properly torqued down, and the only thing left to do is put the wheel back in place.

In the end, what we really liked most about this upgrade is the quality of the parts and the ability to get everything we need from one reputable company. We also like the directional-vented rotors StopTech offers, as they help vent rotor heat more efficiently than a rotor with straight vents. Since swapping out our front brakes we have noticed smoother, more consistent braking and less fade on the trail. The feeling of better, more reliable braking is priceless on a modified vehicle, and it’s something easily overlooked with most modified vehicles. We’ve been very pleased with the upgrade and the quality of the StopTech parts and would recommend the same upgrade to WJ owners.

Stop Tech Brake Upgrade 18
The StopTech brake swap provided our WJ with confident stopping power on the trail and on the highway. This is an upgrade we wish we did sooner.

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.