The Fiesta ST is a barrel of monkeys. But the brakes?? They’re more like a bucket of sh¡t lol. And frankly, the Fiesta ST deserves better.
I’ll die on the hill that the Fiesta ST…
Is one of the most rambunctious, undiluted… biggest grin, best bang-for-the-buck modern cars out there. ESPECIALLY when you consider 1) the price, and 2) how aftermarket-friendly it is. The Fiesta ST was praised by automotive journalists, it was revered by driving enthusiasts… and it was axed from Ford’s lineup so they could build more crossovers and overpriced/overcomplicated E-things. An unjust extinction.
What’s more – I think The Fiesta ST (along with the Focus ST & RS)…
Put companies like Toyota back on their toes a little bit. The FiST will forever be synonymous with Ken Block’s legacy. And in short – the Fiesta ST deserves a standing-O. If you have one, hang onto it, because rowdy little straight-to-the-point hot-hatches are a dying breed. And in this grossly overvalued car market… it’s WORTH investing a little bit into a car like this to keep it fresh, sharp, safe, and fun for the long-haul. So let’s get to the topic of the article…
The Wilwood big brake kit for the Ford Fiesta ST…
Is an absolute game-changer. This is NOT a situation where you install some shiny new parts… and try to convince yourself they actually made a difference. Nah. These Wilwood brakes for the Fiesta ST basically try to pull your eyes out of their sockets. And for the record, just as a trust exercise, these weren’t freebies either. So in other words, I’m not obligated to say any of this lol. But anyway…
My Fiesta ST had what –I thought- was a sticking front brake caliper (more on that at the end). So I took the opportunity to upgrade to the Wilwood big brake kit. They had been on my wishlist for quite some time, plus I believe everything I said in the paragraph above. And honestly, Wilwood’s got this kit priced so well, that by the time you starting ordering standard reman calipers, plus rotors, pads, etc… you’re not too far off in price. The Wilwood kit sells for about $1,000-$1,200 depending on options.
A few years ago, I had both this Fiesta ST, plus a Civic Type-R with upgraded pads.
Now we all know the Type-R is a much more ‘polished’ hot-hatch. But I never really realized how NOT GOOD the Fiesta ST brakes were, until I drove the CTR for a while & then got back in the FiST… and a raccoon jumped out in front of me lol. For the record, the raccoon is fine, but I made him a promise that I would do better. And now – this Fiesta ST will stop on par with a CTR, or ANY of these $50,000 hot-hatches & pony cars with “factory Brembo” bragging rights. And you know what?
That’s one of the things I love so much about the Fiesta ST.
You FEEL every mod – a lot! When it comes to the Fiesta ST… Ford didn’t give you everything from the factory. What they gave you, was a good, scrappy foundation at a good price… and then let you run free in the aftermarket. That’s part of why the FiST’s ownership experience is so infectious.
With these Wilwood brakes, I keep wanting to say, “This is the way it should have been from the factory.” But that’s not true, because that would have robbed us from the process of modding it ourselves… and falling in love with the car over & over again. If you have a Fiesta ST, you really HAVE to put Wilwood brakes on the thing. I’m serious. It’s just a different animal. If you’re interested…
Here’s a link to the Wilwood Big Brake Kit for the Fiesta ST.
Personally – I upgraded the kit with track-ready GT rotors (part numbers 160-12291 & 160-12292). These are a slotted-only rotor that has Wilwood’s Spec37 premium material, directional vane, and they are balanced 100%. Boss stuff! I also upgraded the pads to a street/race pad with Wilwood’s new ceramic BP-Q material (part number 150-Q-6712K). It’s essentially a very aggressive street pad. They are great on a lighter momentum car like the FiST. And they work exceptionally well when combined with grippy tires (like my Toyo R888Rs) that can handle the stopping power. I put Wilwood SS Flexlines on the front. And while I didn’t touch the rear brakes themselves, I did go ahead and also add the Wilwood Flexlines to the rear… just to get rid of the OEM rubber hoses that can swell & lose performance.
Fiesta ST ABS module.
Note: Some problems have surfaced with the Fiesta ST ABS module. It seems like it might be a weak link. So if you’re experiencing brake issues that feel like a slightly sticking caliper that releases slowly, there’s a decent chance your ABS module is on the fritz. Looking at the engine bay, it’s on the left side, behind the engine, near the firewall (2 brake lines go in, and 4 come out). The ABS module performs other functions in addition to ABS… like traction control & curve control for example, which pulses brakes to control oversteer & understeer. In other words, just ‘pulling the fuse’ isn’t an option.
In my case, I felt what I thought was a slightly-sticking caliper on my FiST. I did some basic system checks, then got annoyed & just jumped to the full Wilwood front brake kit because… it’s what I’d been wanting anyway. But – after the Wilwood brake install, my Fiesta was having fits bleeding the brakes. It would lock-down the front/right & rear/left calipers with the touch of the brake pedal. And they would NOT unlock, even after the brake pedal was released. Weird. I have a friend who came over with his diagnostic thingamajig, and he could electronically purge the ABS module to each wheel individually. But the moment you tapped the brake pedal again, that front/right and rear/left caliper would seize-up again. We did some internet research & found other Fiesta ST owners had experienced the exact same problem. So I followed their lead, and bought a used ABS module off eBay. I installed it & re-bled the entire system… and boom problem solved!
So did I even need this Wilwood big brake kit?
Maybe not. But am I happy I got it? Absolutely 100%! Who the hell wants to replace “just an ABS module”? Nobody. It’s not fun. And at the end of the job… your brakes still suck. So if you have to do it, trust me, use the opportunity to upgrade to Wilwood brakes if it’s at all in the budget.