Brake Tune Up!


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Brakes are often the neglected piece in the performance of your car. Don’t neglect them! Remember, a matter of a few feet can be the difference between crashing and stopping!

Replacing brakes is not a complicated procedure. It is one that can be accomplished by the average at-home mechanic in an afternoon. If you are replacing your pads make sure that you have the proper tools and/or manuals before you embark on the procedure. A pair of gloves can save your knuckles from getting banged-up and never perform any procedure without undertaking the proper safety precautions including eye and lung protection.

Every car will have different steps that you have to follow, but if you follow the simplified basic steps below you can return your system to good working order:

Working on or under a car can be dangerous. Make sure that you have your car properly jacked, positioned and level. Use a floor jack in combination with good quality jack-stands. Make sure the car is sitting solidly on the stands before starting your work! Remove the front wheels with the lug wrench from your car. Next its time to study the position of all the components you are going to remove and get a good mental image of how they look so you can re-install them properly. Also if you have a camera handy don’t be too proud to take pictures for reference later should you need it.

The disc brake caliper has two socket head bolts that pass through from the back side of the mounting bracket. These bolts locate the disc brake pad and must now be removed. These bolts can be anywhere from 16mm to 19mm depending on your car make and model. You will need to use a breaker bar or an air wrench to remove this bolt. Turning the wheel all the way to one side will give you better access to the bolt. Don’t lose these bolts; they will be needed to re-attach your caliper.

Once out of the way you can now lift the entire caliper up and rotate it so you can now pull both the inside and out side pads from the caliper. Check these pads against the pads you have bought or take them with you to the parts store so they can be matched up exactly when you purchase them. Make sure they are the right ones and do not try to make them work if they are wrong! Clean up any debris and dirt from the components.

Next the piston in the caliper must be pressed back into the caliper. This is easily done with a C-clamp placed onto the piston and caliper housing and tightened down until the piston is flush with the housing. Next you are ready to re-install the disc pads into the caliper and then the caliper back onto the mounting bracket. Align the caliper and re-insert the bolts and tighten equally. Once you have done each side you can bleed each side doing the farthest from the master cylinder first to make sure there is no air in the lines. Bleed the breaks with the help of someone that can press on the breaks for you. There are also many kits available to depress the break pedal for you so that you can bleed brakes without the need for a helper. There are many bleeders and kits available to make your job easier. Crack open the bleed screw so that any trapped air can escape. Knock the caliper a couple of times with a rubber mallet to get any trapped air out.

Finally, check to make sure the caliper is seated down completely in the mounting bracket before installing your wheels and tires. It’s a good idea to replace wheel bearings if your car has more than 80,000 miles on it this will require removing the rotor and seals.

Re-install your wheels and tighten the bolts to 80lbs by using a quality torque wrench.

You now have restored your stopping power. Make sure you reacquaint yourself with the brakes before you do serious driving. This will make sure that you don’t cause an accident by stopping too quickly!
Go to brake / tire care

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