- 7 Min Read
- By: Nathan Brown
The Definitive Guide To First-Generation Porsche Cayenne Brakes (955 & 957)
Porsche has always been known for equipping their cars with great brakes. From the earliest 911s and 944s to the latest and greatest Cayenne, Panamera, Macan, Cayman, or Boxster, Porsche is synonymous with strong stopping power. The first-generation 9PA Porsche 955 and 957 Cayenne models are no exception and are equipped with components befitting the Porsche name. Although there are several different models, the majority of 955 and 957 Cayennes have the same basic braking system.
In this article, we’ll cover the parts of the Cayenne braking system, common Cayenne braking problems, and best practices when it comes to servicing your Cayenne’s brakes.
The Porsche Cayenne Braking System Technical Specs (955/957)
- Front Brake caliper: Brembo 6-piston
- Rear Brake caliper: Brembo 4-piston
- Front brake disc:
- 330mm (Porsche Cayenne base)
- 350mm (Porsche Cayenne S, GTS, Turbo)
- 380mm (Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, Turbo w/ E81 Power Kit)
- Rear brake disc:
- Parking brake: Drum, integral to the rear brake disc
At around 5,000lbs, the first-generation Porsche Cayenne is a large and heavy vehicle with a substantial 7,716lb towing capacity to go along with it, so big brakes with big stopping power were always going to be a necessity. All 955 and 957 Porsche Cayenne models feature an aluminum 6-piston Brembo front brake caliper and aluminum 4-piston Brembo rear brake caliper. Multi-piston calipers normally used on sports cars and race cars may seem like an unusual choice for an SUV, but to provide the stopping power needed for a fast 2.5 ton SUV, Porsche needed to equip the Cayenne with plenty of brake pad. A multi-piston caliper provides more even pressure over a large brake pad surface area, and therefore has better braking performance and more even brake pad wear. Multi-piston brake calipers also feature improved cooling and improved brake pedal feel for the driver. All of these benefits make them a natural choice for use on the Porsche Cayenne.
Both the 955 and 957 Porsche Cayenne brake disc rotors are made of steel, and the size will depend on the exact model, option package, and the size of the wheels that it came with from the factory. Basically, the entry-level models have Brembo 17z calipers with a 330mm front brake disc, while the majority feature Brembo 18z calipers and 350mm brake discs. The Cayenne Turbo S and select rare E81 Power Kit-equipped Porsche Cayenne Turbo models feature a 380mm front brake disc. Porsche Cayennes with 330mm or 350mm front brakes will feature a 330mm rear brake disc, while those equipped with a 380mm front brake disc have a 358mm rear brake disc.
The Cayenne 955 and 957 are the first Porsches to have a foot-operated parking brake or emergency brake. Like most other Porsche models with a multi-piston rear brake caliper, the Porsche Cayenne features a drum-type parking brake, integrated with the rear brake discs. The Parking brake does not wear very much in normal use and operation, so replacement will be fairly rare. The exception will be if you forget to disengage the parking brake and continue to drive your Cayenne with the parking brake still applied. There is a warning that will appear on the dash if you do this, so it is a rare problem.
All 955 and 957 Porsche Cayennes feature advanced ABS braking systems with wheel speed sensors at all four corners. The ABS wheel speed sensors are used to provide crucial vehicle and wheel speed information to the braking system, as well as the Cayenne’s four-wheel-drive Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), and self-leveling air suspension. Because of this, if you have a failure in your ABS system or if a wheel speed sensor is damaged or disconnected, multiple systems in your Cayenne will no longer work. Because of this, it’s crucial to make sure your Cayenne’s braking system is in proper working order and any needed repairs are handled quickly.
Recommended Service Intervals For Porsche Cayenne Brakes (955/957 )
- Visual inspection of pads and rotors: Every 5,000 miles
- Replacement of brake pads and rotors: 20,000 to 50,000 miles, variable
- Brake fluid flush: Every 2 years regardless of mileage
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Long do Porsche Cayenne Brake Pads Last? (955/957)
Although the Porsche Cayenne has strong brakes for an SUV of its size and weight, there is a downside: brake pad life. Every driver will experience different brake pad life depending on how fast they drive and how they use the brakes, but Porsche Cayenne brake pads usually last between 20,000 and 50,00 miles, depending on use. If you primarily drive on the highway with very little city or sporty driving, you may be able to stretch that upper number beyond that range. If you have a heavy right foot and tend to drive fast and drive in areas with lots of stop and go traffic, you will be on the lower end of that mileage range. Porsche Cayennes feature a brake pad wear indicator, giving you a warning notice when your brake pads are getting low. Once the Porsche Cayenne brake pad indicator warning comes on you typically have 5,000 miles, or about one oil change, before you should expect to replace them.
You should replace your Porsche Cayenne brake rotors or discs whenever you install new brake pads. Installing new brake pads on old brake rotors can result in a number of potential problems. The most common of which is shorter brake pad life, decreased stopping power, and an increase in squealing or brake noise.
What do Porsche Cayenne Brake Pads & Rotors Cost? (955/957)
Porsche Cayenne brake pads and rotor replacement costs will depend on whether you are replacing the front or the rear brakes, whether you are doing the work yourself or paying a shop and the size of the brake rotors. You can save $150-$250 in labor charges by replacing your Cayenne’s brakes yourself.
While it is true that genuine Porsche brake parts can be very expensive compared to less prestigious makes, purchasing high-quality OE or OEM Cayenne brake kits can save you hundreds of dollars over the parts that come in a Porsche box. Most Porsche Cayenne brake kits from FCP Euro will cost between $265 and $400 for OE-equivalent brake pads and rotors. Performance brake pads and rotors are available for a slightly higher cost. Brake pads and rotors for the Cayenne Turbo S and Cayenne Turbo with the E81 Power Kit will be the most expensive brake pad kits because of the larger and less common 380mm front brake discs. This is important to consider if you’re still shopping for your Cayenne, as replacement costs will be higher for those models. Of course, all Porsche Cayenne brake parts purchased from FCP Euro feature the Lifetime Replacement Guarantee, which means after you’ve bought your first set, we’ll take care of the replacements under warranty for as long as you own your car.
Porsche Cayenne Brake System Problems (955/957)
Although generally very reliable, it is possible to have to deal with some common Porsche Cayenne brake problems from time to time. Most common problems are minor and often come down to either the quality of the parts being used or a general lack of service and neglect.
Brake Pad Deposits, AKA “Warped Rotors”
One of the more frequent Porsche Cayenne brake problems is going to be some kind of pulsation or vibration under braking. Typically this can happen for a few different reasons. First, because the Cayenne is heavy, if you do a lot of heavy braking in short periods of time, the brakes can get quite hot. If this happens and you then sit stationary with your foot on the brakes, it will transfer a thicker layer of brake pad material in that one spot and create an uneven braking surface. This is what people usually refer to when they say they have warped brake rotors.
Another way that this can happen is if you use lower quality brake rotors and pads on your Porsche Cayenne. Cheap brake rotors often use less carbon content in their steel and cut corners in terms of design. This results in a less stable brake disc that is more likely to heat and cool unevenly, and again develop uneven pad deposits and create braking issues.
Symptoms of warped brake rotors include a noticeable pulsation or kick back in the brake pedal, as well as vibration under braking. The vibration can sometimes come through the chassis of the car, steering wheel, or both. You can also tell if your Cayenne has a problem with brake pad deposits if you maintain constant pedal pressure and notice uneven stopping power, especially as you’re coming to a stop. Using the best quality brake rotors and pads, like the Zimmerman discs available at FCP Euro, is one of the easiest ways to avoid brake pad deposits.
Parking Brake Faults
The Porsche Cayenne is the first Porsche to have a foot-operated parking brake, but the parking brake itself is the same as nearly every other Porsche ever made. The parking brake is a dedicated drum brake set up that integrates into the rear brake rotors. Because of the tendency to not be used all that often, plus with the Cayenne’s status as being a great daily driver and all-weather machine, it is possible that the parking brake shoes and mechanism can freeze up and will no longer work. Likewise, they can wear to the point of needing replacement, so you should always give them a quick look whenever you are changing rear brake discs to make sure they’re working properly.
If you have a faulty Cayenne parking brake, you will typically get an error message on your instrument cluster, and the parking brake will not work. You’ll need to verify the condition of the rear shoes and drum area inside the rear disc to make sure they’re functioning correctly.
ABS Wheel Speed Sensor
The ABS wheel speed sensors are one of the most important sensors on your Porsche Cayenne. They feedback information to the ABS braking system, a crucial safety system, and feed information to the 955 and 957 Porsche Cayenne’s Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive system PASM suspension system, and traction control systems. Wheel speed information is crucial for all of these systems, and if any of the four sensors go bad, none of those systems will work correctly.
Porsche Cayenne ABS sensors can go bad in a number of ways. First, because they are located behind the brake disc area in the hub, they’re subject to potential damage from road debris, snow, ice, and dirt. They’re also magnetic, so brake dust and other debris can sometimes stick to the sensor, causing it to give a false reading. If you do have Cayenne ABS faults, be sure to check and clean the sensor before replacing it. The wheel bearings on the Porsche Cayenne contain the magnetic ABS ring integrated into the inside seal, so if the wheel bearing or that ring is damaged or breaks, it can also give an ABS fault.
If you have a bad ABS wheel speed sensor, you will have a Porsche Cayenne ABS light on, as well as other fault messages. You’ll need to read the codes with a scan tool in order to check which wheel speed sensor may be bad and then diagnose and potentially replace the sensor.
Ultimately the 955 and 957 Porsche Cayennes have a fairly trouble-free braking system. While there are some normal problems and wear items such as brake pads and rotors that you’ll need to replace, keeping up on normal Porsche Cayenne brake service intervals such as brake fluid flushes and visual brake inspections should keep you stopping without any issue.
If you found this guide useful, you can find more guides like this for your Porsche Cayenne at porsche.fcpeuro.com. If you have any questions or comments about this guide, leave them in the comments below.
FCP Euro's Event Director by day, writer and contributor by night, and wanna-be race car driver on the weekends. Nathan has been working in the VW and Audi performance aftermarket for nearly two decades, and dabbled with Porsche and BMW. He also used to write under the pen-name of Alex Rogan for magazines like Eurotuner, Performance VW, Total 911, and European Car. He has a Cornflower Blue Rabbit Edition GTI daily driver which is surprisingly still mostly stock, and a Mk5 GTI track car which is mostly not. ••• Instagram: @njbrown55