Sunday, July 14, 2013

grinding noise is a bad thing

So said Proud Hillbilly in comments the other day.
Yes it is.

Wait, there's still a little friction material on that pad.  Belle didn't quite get 100% of her money's worth out that one. This is what's left of the outside pad from the driver's side of the vehicle.
The pad is sitting on wood boxes that originally contained pecan pies.
Mmmm pecan pie.  They were long ago re-purposed for brake caliper support during brake jobs.
Did a number on the rotor as well.
Interesting thing is the passenger side rotor was smooth and shiny as a mirror, and the pads still had quite a bit of friction material on them.
If you, as the driver, are the sole passenger in your vehicle 99% of the time, your front brakes will wear faster than the back, and the front left will wear the fastest of all four.

Belle's '07 Malibu has a caliper assembly I've not seen before. The caliper is separate from the bracket.  The brake pads fit into slots in the bracket.  When I removed the caliper, the pads stayed put. My first reaction was, "hmmmm, this may be much worse than I thought."
Two bolts mount the caliper and two bolts mount the bracket. Caliper bolts were torqued to 26 ft. lb.s, no problem.
Bracket bolts were torqued to 85 ft. lbs., wherein my forward progress was delayed.
I finally managed to maneuver a 24" breaker bar with a socket onto the bolts.

The first wheel always takes me 3/4 of the total time for any shade tree brake job.  By the time I get to the second wheel, I know which socket, wrench, cheater pipe, hammer, etc. I need to get the next step done.
I almost look like I know what I'm doing by that point. ;)

So far the disassembly requires nothing more than a combination of metric sockets and wrenches..and pie boxes to set the caliper on so as to not strain the brake line.

Everything removed, ready for new parts.

Next step, pop the cap on the brake fluid reservoir and check the level.  The fluid level needs to be drawn down in preparation for the next step.
A turkey baster and mason jar work great for this, as long as you can make it out of the kitchen with the turkey baster in hand without getting whacked with a rolling pin.

To get the caliper to fit over the new brake pads, the caliper piston has to be depressed to zero.  A great big C clamp does the job just fine.
If you failed to do the previous step, you will have a corrosive mess in your engine compartment.
Fortunately, the dust seals on the pistons on both calipers were in serviceable condition. So the calipers were not replaced and the brake system did not need bleeding.

And POOF!, just like magic, there it is all put back together with no extra parts or bolts.
I did not have sufficient room to get my big torque wrench on the caliper  bracket bolts with only one wheel lifted at a time. So, I snugged them up as best I could.  When both wheels were back on the car, I drove it up on my rhino-ramps and crawled up underneath to torque the bolts to spec.

$124 in parts and four hours including the trip to the auto parts store.
Hey, I've never claimed to be a fast shade tree mechanic. I apply the Hippocratic oath, well part of it, "first, do no harm".
I go slow and don't force things. (pay no attention to that hammer in the pic).
Doing harm can turn a four hour job into two days.*

* or a turn a twenty minute light fixture change out into two days if you happen to drill through a water pipe :(
Fools tread where angels fear to go.


  1. Here's a Pro Tip:

    Regardless of how funny you think it is in your head.. do not, I repeat DO NOT, put extra emphasis on "extra weight from the driver" being the cause of the uneven wear on your wifes brakes when you explain it to her.

    One of many instances when my sense of humor has caused me pain.

    1. I may have delete this comment.
      I did not write that.
      you, sir, are going to get me into

  2. Damn. Next time I need brakes I'm driving to Houston with a case of whiskey.

    And +500 to Paladin. That, too, can cause scoring of rotors and other things ...

    1. Beer please.
      Fine micro-brews.
      Hard liquor puts a hurt on me I don't like.
      If you were a "little" closer, I'd be in your driveway, loaded down with tools to work on your Jeep some random Saturday morning.

  3. Yeaaaahhhhh, and it costs $$$ to pay a mechanic to do a brake job, which is annoying when you know how little the parts cost.

    I warped a rotor last time. Don't ask Murphy's Law about me and brakes. He makes fun.

    1. I still need a mechanic from time to time. there are some jobs I cannot, or will not do. The shade tree work helps to make the cost of those trips to the mechanic more palatable though.

  4. The minivan is notorious for warping them.

    I think it's actually poor design and cheap material but have no ideal how to find better. I put NAPA on when I replaced them but they warped too.

    1. Try
      I've bought rotors from them in the past. they may have an upgrade rotor for your van.
      Car manufacturers shave the rotors down to bare minimum to reduce weight. Being on the thin side, the OEM rotors overheat quickly and warp.

    2. wierd, I posted a reply and it disappeared...
      try I've bought rotors from them in the past. You may be able to find an upgrade for your van rotors.
      OEM rotors tend to be on the thin side to save weight. they overheat quickly and warp.

    3. So I was wrong. I found my receipts and they were Duralast. Lifetime Pads 2 years rotors that expire in Feb.
      Rotors would have been able to be turned but used the warranty to it's fullest. New Rotors and Pads on the from. Net cost 3 hours personal labor. Drivers side outer pad was a few mils from the backing plate. Passenger side was not worn nearly as bad. Rear was Ok so left those alone.


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