Intro: My Top 14 Brake Replacement Tips
Video tutorial on the top 14 brake tips for both drum and disc brake assemblies on vehicles. This is a list of tips that I find important when maintaining the brakes on your vehicle. Please feel free to share your own tips as well in the comments below. These tips are extremely important as they will ensure the vehicle remains safe, while maximizing your braking performance.
Step 1: Tip #1
Determine your vehicle’s equipment, which can be found from the dealer, car forums, physically checking your vehicle's equipment or decoding a vehicle identification number. Does the vehicle equipped with abs, what diameter are the rotors and drums, thickness of the rotors, etc.
Step 2: Tip #2
Inspect the braking surfaces, this will determine if the drums or rotors require a replacement or need to be turned on a brake lathe. There will be a certain allowable thickness on drums and rotors so if there is enough material they can be turned down. Depending on your vehicle, sometimes it maybe cheaper to have the rotors or drums turned but keep in mind this may affect the durability.
Step 3: Tip #3
This is a convenient time to check any suspension components. Inspect for any play, cracked or deteriorated boots and bushing, and any broken components. If you have found faulty parts, this will be next on the list for replacement.
Step 4: Tip #4
Crack the master cylinder reservoir which will reduce the chance of unwanted pressure build up, then use a c-clamp or larger interlocking pliers to push the piston back in the caliper. This will help get the brake pads past a lip in the rotor if there is one and save the step of having to push the piston back after.
Step 5: Tip #5
Turn the wheel to help gain leverage on those caliper or carrier bolts. Beyond using a ratchet, use the assistance of a johnson bar for even more leverage.
Step 6: Tip #6
Tie back the caliper using a bungie cord or wire to the strut, coil string, or some other secure location. This is intended to keep strain off the flex line. Excessive strain can cause premature failure, either creating a leak or having the line rupture completely.
Step 7: Tip #7
Some rotors are equipped with a retaining bolt which can seize or become filled with dirt and in the end they can be easily stripped, especially when they have a shallow head. Use a pick to clean up dirt which would prevent the screw bit from fitting securely in the hole. Then using an impact driver, remove the fastener. These can provide a shock when being hit with a hammer to break the faster free, the force is pushed into the fastener’s head preventing them from being stripped, while creating a twisting motion.
Step 8: Tip #8
Use brake specific tools for drum brake disassembly and reassembly. I would recommend purchasing brake return spring pliers and return spring tool. These are fairly inexpensive and will pay themselves off in one brake replacement.
Step 9: Tip #9
A commonly overlooked area which can cause brake performance issues is the sliding pins. These should be removed, cleaned, and then have new brake compatible grease applied. Replace the boots if damaged and if the pins are too far gone, replace those as well.
Step 10: Tip #10
Clean up the locations where the brake pads sit if they are meant to fit into a slot. Another overlooked area, these can become rusty or filled with debris, creating an extremely tight fit and again causing brake performance issues. Use a file or wire brush, depending on the severity.
Step 11: Tip #11
When working with drum brakes, clean up those automatic adjusters. If too far gone, then replace. Clean them up using a wire brush, remove the hold lubricant and apply new brake specific lubricant.
Step 12: Tip #12
When installing new drums or rotors, make sure you clean up the packaging oil. This must be cleaned, otherwise this will damage the braking surfaces. Use a brake specific cleaner to remove the coating and this will ensure no residue is left on the braking surface.
Step 13: Tip #13
If you are reusing those drum or rotors, give the surface a sand using 160 grit sandpaper. This is required to remove any baked on dust or mild glazing. If not done, we can risk damaging the new brake pads and in the end braking performance will be jeopardized.
Step 14: Tip #14
Tighten up the master cylinder reservoir cap and pump the brake pedal before starting the vehicle. This will push the caliper pistons back into place and prevent the vehicle’s computer from detecting a false fault.
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