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Old 02-19-2008, 08:28 AM   #1
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Default Brake job advice

Hey all - I searched and searched and cannot find a short how-to on brakes for my '03 SLE. Wasn't sure if I should post it in chat, or in my specific year.

All that being said, I did brakes on my old '66 Mustang and '74 Opel Manta back in the day, and have no idea how things have changed since '83. Is there a write up somewhere that shows or describes the steps and tools involved? I am light on my brakes, and have 50,000 miles on the car. The rotors are fine, just want replace the brake pads.

I am mechanically inclined, just don't want to strand Bonnie on a jack if I miss something.

Thanks for any advice, and mods, sorry if this is in the wrong place!
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:42 AM   #2
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Rear Pads- There'* one bolt, and then a hinged style bolt. The one bolt to undo is on the bottom, where the caliper meets the bracket. Pretty simple.

Fronts- It'* been a while, but it'* either a pretty similar set-up, or it'* two bolts.

Just be sure to compress the pistion'* back into the calipers before trying to re-install the calipers onto the rotors

In all reality, if your out there for more than an hour on all 4 wheels, somethings wrong.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: Brake job advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddorado
Hey all - I searched and searched and cannot find a short how-to on brakes for my '03 SLE. Wasn't sure if I should post it in chat, or in my specific year.

All that being said, I did brakes on my old '66 Mustang and '74 Opel Manta back in the day, and have no idea how things have changed since '83. Is there a write up somewhere that shows or describes the steps and tools involved? I am light on my brakes, and have 50,000 miles on the car. The rotors are fine, just want replace the brake pads.

I am mechanically inclined, just don't want to strand Bonnie on a jack if I miss something.

Thanks for any advice, and mods, sorry if this is in the wrong place!
Have you checked the amount of wear on the pads at all four wheels by looking through the holes in the calipers with the wheels off? You'll probably find the rears are doing fine on remaining depth and the fronts probably are not worn down enough to worrry about.

I would suggest not doing them until the pads get worn down closer. Then you can do just fronts unless the rears need it. That'* what I am doing with mine on an 03.

For the front calipers they operate with two bolts with regular heads on the motor side. Both bolts come out. Open the bleeder screw before pressing in the piston with a clamp of some kind; you don't want to force dirty fluid back through the ABS unit. And you can bleed the dirty fluid after you put the caliper back on the rotor while the wheels are up.

For the rears, the pistons do not compress in; don't squeeze more than 1 mm. They operate on a screw thread and have ridges on the front for tools that you press against the front to turn the piston while pushing inward on it to move it back into the caliper. The tools are spanners, but some people use long/medium nose pliers. Some people grip the edge with various tools to turn the piston--not my choice of methods. I'd be surprised if your rears are worn enough to need replacement. Mine aren't. Be careful about removing rust under the rotors before replacing any that you take off.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:05 PM   #4
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If you've done disk brakes previously, you'll do fine. This is for the fronts.

Remove two-thirds of the brake fluid from the master cylinder. (I seldom do this)
Raise the vehicle and suitably support
Remove the Wheel. Important: Do not use a screwdriver or pry bar to compress the caliper piston into the caliper. Any damage to the piston boot could cause corrosive elements to enter the piston sealing area and lead to the piston seizing in the caliper bore.
Using a large C clamp compress the caliper piston into the caliper bore completely.
Remove the bottom caliper slide pin (The bottom one. However, I like to remove both so that I can inspect the pins, as well as clean and lube them.).
Pivot the caliper body upward.
Remove the inboard and outboard pads from the anchor bracket.
Remove and inspect the pad retainers. (Those are the metal clips at each side of the pads. Clean those up well if you don't get new ones with the pads. Apply just a touch of brakes grease to them)

Installation Procedure

Important: Inspect the caliper bolt suspension boots for cuts, tears, or deterioration. If damaged, replace the pin boots. Inspect the caliper pin bolts for damage or corrosion. Replace if damaged or corroded. Do not attempt to clean away corrosion. Corrosion is typically caused by damaged pin boots. Refer to Brake Caliper Bracket Overhaul Inspect the piston boot for deterioration, replace if damaged.

Install the brake pad retainers into the caliper anchor bracket.
Install both brake pads into the caliper anchor bracket. Important: The caliper piston boot must lay flat. Make sure convolutions are tucked into place.
Use a small plastic or wooden tool to lift the inner edge of the boot next to the piston, and press out any trapped air.
Pivot the caliper down over the brake pads and into the anchor bracket.
Insert the lower caliper slide pin. Tighten the caliper slide pin to 85 Nm (63 ft. lbs.).
Install the tire and wheel assembly.
Lower the vehicle.
Start the vehicle and apply approximately 778 N (175 lbs.) of force three times to the brake pedal to seat the brake caliper piston and brake pads.
Refill the brake fluid.
Burnish the pads and rotors.

For the rears.

When compressing the piston and pads initially, do not exceed more than 1 mm of piston travel. Damage to the internal adjusting mechanism may result.

Using a large C clamp compress the caliper piston into the caliper bore to gain enough clearance to allow the caliper to pivot off the caliper bracket. Compress the piston until resistance is felt, but no more than 1 mm of piston travel.
Remove the park brake bracket from the brake caliper. Leave the park brake cable attached to the cable bracket. (If you remove the cable clamp on the lower control arm, you may be able to swing the caliper up enough to get the pads off without removing that bracket. The problem is that the bolt holding that could fight you, and then the threads in the contol arm may get stripped.)

Remove the bottom caliper slide pin. (This time there is only one bolt.)
Pivot the caliper body upward.
Remove the inboard and outboard pads from the anchor bracket.
Remove and inspect the pad retainers.

Installation Procedure
Retract the caliper piston into the caliper bore. Use a spanner type wrench to turn the piston clockwise until it bottoms out fully in the caliper. (Some use channel locks, or vise grips to do this. Be careful not to damage the piston boot.)
Align the cutouts in the caliper piston to the alignment pins on the back of the brake pads. Important: Inspect the caliper bolt suspension boots for cuts, tears, or deterioration. If damaged, replace the pin boots. Inspect the caliper pin bolts for damage or corrosion. Replace if damaged or corroded. Do not attempt to clean away corrosion. Corrosion is typically caused by damaged pin boots. Inspect the piston boot for deterioration, replace if damaged.
Install the brake pad retainers into the caliper anchor bracket.
Install the inboard and outboard brake pads into the caliper anchor bracket. Important: The caliper piston boot must lay flat. Make sure convolutions are tucked into place.
Use a small plastic or wooden tool to lift the inner edge of the boot next to the piston, and press out any trapped air.
Pivot the caliper down over the brake pads and into the anchor bracket.
Insert the lower caliper slide pin. Tighten the caliper slide pin to 20 ft lbs.
Install the park brake cable and bracket to the brake caliper.
Connect the park brake cable to the park brake lever on the caliper.
Install the tire and wheel assembly.
Lower the vehicle.
Start the vehicle and apply approximately 778 N (175 lbs.) of force three times to the brake pedal to seat the brake caliper piston and the brake pads.
Burnish the pads and rotors.

Burnishing Pads and Rotors
Burnish the new braking surface by making 20 stops from 30 mph.
Use medium to firm pressure on the brake pedal. Do not overheat the brakes.
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Old 02-19-2008, 01:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: Brake job advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by imidazol

For the rears, the pistons do not compress in; don't squeeze more than 1 mm. They operate on a screw thread and have ridges on the front for tools that you press against the front to turn the piston while pushing inward on it to move it back into the caliper. The tools are spanners, but some people use long/medium nose pliers. Some people grip the edge with various tools to turn the piston--not my choice of methods. I'd be surprised if your rears are worn enough to need replacement. Mine aren't. Be careful about removing rust under the rotors before replacing any that you take off.
I should have specified this a bit more. The little cube works awesome at this, or a nice set of needle nose pliers works well too.
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: Brake job advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by imidazol

Open the bleeder screw before pressing in the piston with a clamp of some kind; you don't want to force dirty fluid back through the ABS unit. And you can bleed the dirty fluid after you put the caliper back on the rotor while the wheels are up.
I don't agree. (respectfully) I have never had a issue with 'debris' inside of the caliper, and would highly suspect that there were, you would never push enough volume to have any of the volume of fluid from the caliper get back to the ABS unit.

I do think that messing around with the bleeder can lead to more hassle though. (broken bleeder, letting air into the system etc.)

In a perfect world, I would bleed them. In the world that exists in my garage, push the pistons back in, and call it a day.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:01 PM   #7
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Water, rust, dirt, slime, and abrasive metal oxides fall to the bottom of the caliper piston over years of use. It is the low point in the system. If the brake fluid has not been flushed recently, and you do NOT open the caliper bleeder as you force the piston home in its bore, that dirty fluid is forced back through the metering valves of the master cylinder into the MC reservoir. That'* why Archon suggests to remove some fluid from the reservoir, to prevent the brake fluid from overflowing and taking the paint off anything it touches when it returns from the caliper to the reservoir.

I used to just push the piston home after sucking some fluid out of the reservoir, and over the years, I noticed that I would often experience master cylinder failure within a few months of changing out the front pads. Those failures stopped when I quit pushing contaminated fluid backwards through the master cylinder.

Some guys are afraid to touch a bleeder screw for fear of breaking it, or because they are fearful of introducing air into the system. If you use the Search feature at the top of the page, you will find detailed instructions on how to bleed brakes. Once you understand the process, you need not worry about introducing air into the lines. And, as far as broken bleeder screws, I typically spray the bleeder threads with PB penetrant, give it 30 minutes to soak, and make sure the passage is clear before I try to break a caliper bleeder loose. I have not had much trouble with the larger (10mm) bleeder screws in calipers.

As long as the piston is moving inward or held under inward pressure with a C-clamp while the bleeder is opened and closed, no air will be introduced into the system. And just to make sure there is no air in the system, once you have cycled the bleeder screw, it is a simple enough business to bleed the front brakes when you are done.
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Old 02-20-2008, 12:05 AM   #8
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If in doubt, try it sometime. You'll be amazed at the color of the fluid, and possibly the "gunk" that will come out of it, unless you flush your brake fluid regularly. As Bill said, as long as the piston is compressed, air infiltration is not very likely.
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Old 02-21-2008, 04:07 AM   #9
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I cannot speak for the rear brakes but the front brakes are extremly easy. Including changing a wheel bearing it took around an hour. I did it pretty much as the other posters explained but did not have any C-clamps. When I bought the ceramic pads the parts guy offered me a compressing tool for around $7.00 if I remember correctly. It was basicly just two plates connected with a threaded bolt with a handle on it but made the job easy. I'd post a picture my tools are on the other side of the state. Guy at Napa gave me 10% off the pads and tool also.
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