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Discussion Starter #1
I have never done my own brakes before, but my son did his and he was pleased with how easy it was. Everything I have read indicates that it's not difficult. I've read instructions online--both general instructions and model-specific instructions (here and elsewhere)--and I am 90% confident I can do it.

The rotors are clean and not scored, and were replaced the last time I had my brakes done. The main reasons I'm doing it myself this time around, are that just about every garage insists on changing out the rotors every time they replace pads, which I find unnecessary, and even if they didn't, they charge way too much and I want to make sure it's done right (same reason I change my own oil).

I have cleaned out my turkey baster, and it will have been sitting in my garage, disassembled, for four days, so it will be completely dry (don't want any moisture infecting the brake fluid). I have jack stands. The Akebono ceramic pads I purchased came with lubricant for the sliders. I have picked up some CRC brake quiet, a can of of DOT3 Brake fluid, and brake parts cleaner.

I would welcome the advice of the more experienced DIY Brake job veterans. A few questions:

(1) How to use the brake quiet. Should I spray it on the back of the pads a day ahead of time, so it can dry out before I perform the job, or do I spray it on just before installation?
(2) Are there any critical areas to focus on with brake parts cleaner? None of the instructions I have read even refer to use of brake parts cleaner, but I can only assume that there will be brake pad residue in there and I will want to blast out any dirt while I have things apart, for my peace of mind.
(3) Are there any critical areas to avoid with the brake parts cleaner? I don't want to mess anything up.
(4) My biggest fear is stripping a bolt while taking the brake pad housings off. I do not want to be towed out of my garage and be back to paying someone else just because of a stupid bolt. What's the likelihood?

I'd welcome any further advice on "what to watch for" while performing this job on this vehicle (I'm doing the front brake pads, on my Grand Caravan SXT which has 4 wheel disc brakes), as well as further advice on how to use these products. Thanks in advance.
 

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I’ll address two of your concerns:
1/ I wouldn’t worry much about stripping the caliper bolts. They are high quality (strong) bolts from the factory. I usually loosen them initially, by putting the torx socket on a 3/8” breaker bar and tapping it with a rubber mallet. I’d recommend using a torque wrench to tighten them.
2/ To clean the parts: I use compressed air to blow out the dust. (use a paper mask and goggles). The most critical parts to keep free of dirt and oil are the pad surface and the rotor itself. I clean both surfaces before assembly with a little brake cleaner on a rag. After the pads are in place, before applying pedal pressure, I liberally spray down both sides of the rotor, while spinning the rotor. The excess will drip on the floor, but will evaporate off the rotor, and floor very quickly. That will complete the cleaning. If you are using brake cleaner with CFC (the good stuff), don’t breath the fumes for long periods of time.
Two other tips: 1/ When bottoming the piston in the caliper, open the bleeder. There have been reports of problems when forcing fluid backwards through ABS systems.
2/ Be certain you have “good brakes” before moving the car. Check for good pedal feel in Park.
 

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The rotors are clean and not scored, and were replaced the last time I had my brakes done. The main reasons I'm doing it myself this time around, are that just about every garage insists on changing out the rotors every time they replace pads, which I find unnecessary, and even if they didn't, they charge way too much and I want to make sure it's done right (same reason I change my own oil).

I have cleaned out my turkey baster, and it will have been sitting in my garage, disassembled, for four days, so it will be completely dry (don't want any moisture infecting the brake fluid). I have jack stands. The Akebono ceramic pads I purchased came with lubricant for the sliders. I have picked up some CRC brake quiet, a can of of DOT3 Brake fluid, and brake parts cleaner.

I would welcome the advice of the more experienced DIY Brake job veterans. A few questions:

(1) How to use the brake quiet. Should I spray it on the back of the pads a day ahead of time, so it can dry out before I perform the job, or do I spray it on just before installation?
(2) Are there any critical areas to focus on with brake parts cleaner? None of the instructions I have read even refer to use of brake parts cleaner, but I can only assume that there will be brake pad residue in there and I will want to blast out any dirt while I have things apart, for my peace of mind.
(3) Are there any critical areas to avoid with the brake parts cleaner? I don't want to mess anything up.
(4) My biggest fear is stripping a bolt while taking the brake pad housings off. I do not want to be towed out of my garage and be back to paying someone else just because of a stupid bolt. What's the likelihood?

I'd welcome any further advice on "what to watch for" while performing this job on this vehicle (I'm doing the front brake pads, on my Grand Caravan SXT which has 4 wheel disc brakes), as well as further advice on how to use these products. Thanks in advance.
Not a difficult project. Some pointers:
- if piston is difficult to push back into the caliper, your piston will likely start to stick later on, especially so with rear brakes and if the pads are worn down almost to metal (piston has to be compressed further, more chance of sticking).
- outside of rotor does not reflect what the inside of the rotor looks like. The inside could be in bad shape while outside face looks great.
- the rotor(s) likely has a glaze on it so I would reface or replace. It will result in a longer lasting job before the rotor starts to look shaby/groovy.
- when using old rotors, clean the rust lips that form off (chipping/grinding/filing/sanding)
- real old rotors can build up a lot of corrosion between the faces and actually separate. Applies to front rotors.
- use synthetic (my preference) or silicone high temperature disk brake lubricant.
- if original caliper pins, they are likely stainless steel and will clean up with some very fine sand paper. Replacement calipers usually have coated steel pins, I tend to leave those in the box and reuse the OE pins. The caliper pins should be easy to loosen, maybe give the wrench a wack with a hammer, or your hand, to loosen, no problems there.
- for brake quiet you can use the high temperature brake lubricant on the back face of the pads. For other products, follow intructions on container.
- clean/file if necessary/lubricate all sliding surfaces. There shouldn't be much to use brake cleaner on. It evaporates fast, so not a problem. Read instructions on can. Air hose is handy. Your calipers should be wired up out of the way although most shops will let them hang from the hose.
- shops will push the fluid back. So do I, hence the use of the turkey baster. If backing off the bleeder screw instead, no need for baster. This is an opportune time to bleed/replace brake fluid in your system. There are one person kits available but 2 people make for a faster job. Keep an eye on the master cylinder though to ensure no air gets in the system, ie keep it filled up.

Permatex Ultra High Temperature Disk Brake Lube: http://www.permatex.com/documents/tds/automotive/24110.pdf
TYPICAL APPLICATIONS
• Long and short bolts
• Sleeves
• Bushings
• Outboard pad backing plate
• Inboard pad backing plate
• Disc brake calipers
• Caliper pins
• Pistons
Permatex Disk Brake Quiet: http://www.permatex.com/documents/tds/Automotive/80729.pdf
3. Clean the back side of brake pad with Permatex Brake and Parts cleaner and wipe clean.
4. Apply a thin coat of Disc Brake Quiet to the back side of the disc pad.
5. Do not apply on the side that comes into contact with the rotor.
6. Allow to dry a minimum of 10 minutes.
7. Reassemble.
The spray version of the above:
4. Remove dirt or grease from surface with Permatex Brake & Parts Cleaner.
5. Shake can thoroughly until the ball agitator inside the can is free. For best results, aerosol can should be at room temperature before spraying.
6. Holding can 8 to 10 inches from the back side of the disc pad, press the nozzle and apply a light even coat.
Note: Do not apply on the side which comes into contact with the rotor.
7. For consistent coverage, apply one to two additional coats.
8. Allow the product to dry a minimum of 10 minutes per coat, then reassemble.
The coating or lubricant are simpler to use versus the aerosel spray.

That's my $ .02 worth. :)
 

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In addition to the above, you might want to consider replacing the bleeders with Speed Bleeders available at your parts store. Don't cost that much and make brake bleeding much easier. Just my $0.02.

FredB
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for your posts. I knew I could count on you.

Jeepman, thanks for the reminder to check the back of the rotors. I don't expect they are scored, but it will be good to know before I start, whether I should run and get new rotors or not. Also, the burnishing process is an eye opener. This will take a good while, so I'll have to allow for that.

FredB, I plan to bleed the system at a later date, when I have another pair of hands around (Wife is around, but I don't want to ask her to participate in this particular activity). Though I don't know if I'll ever do the brakes on this vehicle again, so I don't know if it's worth spending a penny on speed bleeders.
 

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Invest in a small vacumn pump/tool. If you bleed the brakes manually, DON'T push the brake pedal to the floor. Doing this results in the master cylinder piston traveling where its never gone before, resulting in future failure. Another reason to purchase the vacumn too.

for the rotors, measure the thickness. If ok, I usually just wet sand them with 200 grit...works really well.

ignore the burnishing process...wet sand or have them turned. Be easy on the brakes for your first trip, and make sure they work prior to leaving the driveway. And drive away from the house.
 

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I use a one person bleeder kit similar to this one: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/accessories/OEM-One-man-brake-bleeder-kit/_/N-26qw?itemIdentifier=46839_0_0_

Here's a YouTube video re its use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkd7iq-dIQ0 You don't need to worry about sequence when just replacing brake fluid (not bleeding out air). Remove fluid from Master Cylinder (turkey baster) and replace with new before starting to help speed up the process for new fluid getting into the system. Just put the cover on loosely, no need to tighten it down until finished. Remember, the reservoir is vented anyway.

No doubt you will have to chip/file some rust build-up off the contact area on the rotors. To get the rotors off you will need to remove (front) or rotate (rear) the bracket. Two bolts @ 125 ft.lbs. each for front.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Took the wheels off last weekend and did not see any brake issues. On the front, the pads are less than half worn, and appear to be worn evenly. There is more than 1/8" between the metal wear indicators (that make them squeak when they need changed) and the rotors. All four rotors are clean as glass, both inboard and outboard.

Maybe the noise has always been there, and I just noticed it recently--they are a little loud (slight grinding sound when I apply the brakes). I do now have a set of new front brake pads, waiting for when it finally needs them, but from what I can see, I did not need to change them yet.
 

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Did you check the inner front pads and also the rear pads too? Normally brakes are fairly silent...try applying only the rear brakes (use the emergency pedal and hold up the release handle) to see if that's the source of the noise. Do it in a safe location with no traffic.
 
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