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Changing the Brakepads

November 15, 2002: Finally got around to doing my brake pads on the caprice. Probably good because it just started to snow today. I picked up my brakepads from NAPA (closest place to my work and they were open on saturday night). I went for the cheapies, and they said they had the next step up for thirty cents more. I guess they've only made these pads for about six months. Either way, I think it ran me like 9.89 plus tax for the pads. For reference, and to see how many miles I can get out of this set of pads, I did this change with 176992 on the odometer. This job took around 45 minutes.

I got home and let it sit a while - brakes can get hot. I broke the lugnuts loose and put it in the air. Remember saftey - I put a jackstand right under the frame. Again, I also put a 2x4 under the rear tire. Once you get the car in the air, turn the steering to the right for the drivers side (left for the passenger) to expose the caliper. Finish taking the tire off.


These calipers use a 3/8" allen wrench. I used a socket with that size on the end. The bolt heads are on the backside of the caliper (another good reason to turn the tire - I smashed one socket wrench by not doing it - there just isn't enough room). There are two bolts - one at the top, one at the bottom. When you pull them out, make sure not to lose the metal spacers or rubber washers (if they come out).


Now pull on the caliper, and it should come off the rotor. I had to use a big screwdriver to pry mine loose. Once it gets loose, flip it upside down and set it on top of the rotor - be careful of the brakeline! One way is easy to flip, the other way puts a kink in the line - so if it doesn't want to flip, try the other way. Once you do this, run your fingers along the front and rear of the rotors. You are checking for any deep scratches or extreme waviness. I have several gouges on the backside of my rotor, and I will have them turned after winter when I get my next set of pads. Pull the pads out of the caliper.


Make sure there isn't extreme unevenness in the way they have worn. They should be more or less equal on the front and the rear, and should roughly also be about the same thickness. Compare them to your new pads to make sure they are the same size and shape, with the same mounting holes. Just for comparison, I took pictures of the new and old pads, and the thickness. The far right is my inside pad - it wore down the rivets, and that is what gouged my rotor. Next time I won't wake three weeks before doing them.


There is a clip on the inside pad. Remove this clip carefully - you need to reuse it on the new pad. I pried the side with two teeth up and it pulled right off. When you install it on the new pad, the single tooth side "hooks" on the bottom of the pad, and the two teeth side snaps into place. Put this clip on the new pad with the squeaker in the same spot (in my case, towards the back).


There is still one use for your old pads. Take the inside pad and put it back in the caliper. Now get a big c-clamp and tighten it against the back of the caliper. The piston needs to be pushed back since there are no longer worn pads in the caliper. If you go up a bit, there is a picture of the piston out. Tighten until the piston is flush with the caliper. Put the new pads in, with the clip going into the piston.


Clean up the bolts your previously pulled out (wirebrush the threads). Also, if the metal spacers came out, grease them. There is actually a rubber washer in the hole that is around this spacer. Mine happen to be missing, but I lubed the spacers before I checked for the washers - yet another thing to replace after winter. These actually keep the calipers from bouncing around. Flip the caliper back around, and slid it back over the rotor. You may need to pry the pads around to get the bolts to go in, but usually it's fairly easy.


Do the other side the same way. When you're done, pump the pedal a few time to seat the pads. Take it around the block and make sure there are no wierd noises or vibrations. Do a few gentle brakes and a few hard brakes to make sure everything is working. Also check the fluid - when you compress the pistons, you push fluid back into the reservoir.

December 29, 2002: I finally got sick and tired of the rattling my brakes made, so I went down to Napa and picked up a set of bushings to go in them. It was around ten bucks for all eight. Needless to say, simple tasks end up being harder than the original. This took me longer to do than my brake pads did. To start, I pulled the tire and caliper off. I then dug the old bushings out. They were flat level with the caliper, giving no support to suppress the rattling. To see the difference, look at the right picture.


I then greased the new bushings and put them in. That was the easy part. Putting the metal sleeves back in the larger holes was horrible. I got one by hand, and the second one refused to go in. I eventually got it with a "Quick Clamp". Since this had soft rubber pads, it helped straighten the metal sleeve out when pressing it in. A c-clamp kept trying to put it in crooked and that would push the bushing back out. The second side was much easier once I figured this out. And it worked - no more rattles.

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