Author Topic: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it  (Read 4442 times)

jmusic

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DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« on: March 02, 2015, 10:26:18 AM »
So last August, I bought a 2008 Honda Fit stick shift.  Overall, the car is pretty nice though I probably paid too much for it.  Already I've had to replace two tires and the battery.  Anyway, since I bought it the brakes haven't worked well.  They didn't make any noise, but I could tell the rotors were warped because the brakes were "shaky."  The ABS also activated anytime I hit any road irregularities. 

So anyway, I decided to go ahead and replace the front brakes anyway with new ceramic pads and a rotor from NAPA.  I've done the job before on an older car, and it's actually pretty easy.  Unfortunately, Honda in their infinite wisdom decided to screw the rotors to the wheel hubs at the factory (sarcasm), and they were thoroughly rusted so I was unable to get the screws out.  I finally had to get my drill out and drill the heads off. 

Anyway, the brakes now feel much nicer, and while I could've suffered with the old ones for another 5-10K miles, I'm enjoying the car much more with the new rotors. 

Now if only I can fix the seat squeaking from the side airbag...

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2015, 11:50:57 AM »
Nice!  Did you try loosening the crud on those stuck screws with some PB blaster or liquid wrench?

paddedhat

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2015, 12:27:33 PM »
Couple of things come to mind that may help. First the screws. Yea, Honda should be shot for that. There are several ways to get them out without drilling. First step is to hit them with liquid wrench, or PB Blaster and let them soak for a few hours. Next step is an hand held impact screwdriver. This is a great tool that is available for $8 at Harbor Freight. You install the big phillips tip on the end, and place it in the screw head. Then you take a big hammer and whack the other end of the tool. The blow is transferred to a turning motion and can unstick some amazingly rotten screws and nuts.
The other thing is that, when I comes to parts, any worthy 'stach needs to do a quick look at rockauto.com before dropping any coin locally. They literally have pads for your car for $8 and rotors for $10. Now they also have better grades of parts for more $, but generally you can't touch their prices on replacement parts.
Finally, give some thought to flushing your brake fluid. It's probably safe to assume that it wasn't done on your car, and it can make an amazing difference. I have had cars that went from a mushy pedal to sticking you to the seatbelt when you hit the brakes, all because I removed the filthy fluid. 

Good job, don't stop wrenching, it can be fun and save you a pile of cash.

Smokeydave

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2015, 01:47:33 PM »
[The other thing is that, when I comes to parts, any worthy 'stach needs to do a quick look at rockauto.com before dropping any coin locally. They literally have pads for your car for $8 and rotors for $10. Now they also have better grades of parts for more $, but generally you can't touch their prices on replacement parts.
[/quote]

You beat me to it.  First thing I thought of when I read NAPA!

jmusic

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2015, 02:31:41 PM »
I've gone the cheap route with Autozone parts before, and I've often wound up regretting it, being why I went with NAPA this time.  I took a look at RockAuto just now and was amazed to find brands I've actually heard of too!  That's an awesome tip.  I'd probably still spend more than $8/10 for pads/rotors, but probably about $60 or so less than I did.

Re: the screws, I did try WD40, tried the center punch method with hammer, but I didn't get an impact driver (I was aware of them, but Harbor Freight is a 40 minute drive).  The threads are still in the hub, but I'm not worried about it now...   


Any tips for the brake flush, or should I have a shop do it?  The brake pedal is slightly mushier now than it was before the new pads/rotors, though it's not "bad."

Edit: brake flush, not brake bleed...
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 02:34:28 PM by jmusic »

paddedhat

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2015, 04:02:53 PM »
Should be some tutorials or videos about flushing, but I'll try to cover it here.  You need a partner, a container of fluid, a turkey baster syringe, a box wrench that fits the bleeder nipples, a piece of vinyl tubing about 2' long that snaps on to the nipple and an old soda bottle. 
#1 Open the master cylinder reservoir and use the baster to suck as much old fluid as possible out. Replace it with fresh fluid. Caution, this shit will destroy everything it drips on! especially paint.
#2 Go to the right rear wheel and put the hose on the bleeder. Put the other end in the bottle. Now have your helper pump the brakes and hold pressure. You then crack the bleeder open until there is fluid shooting out the hose. (If the car was never serviced this will be an alarming mix of dirty fluid and gunk that looks like old grille scrapings.) As you are releasing the fluid your partners foot is rapidly heading to the floor, their job is to yell stop before they hit the floor. You then tighten the bleeder and repeat the procedure. Continue this until the fluid looks like the stuff in the new bottle.
#3 Repeat on the other side, then move up front, always work from the wheel furthest from the master to the closest one. Always monitor your master cylinder to confirm that you are keeping it full while draining the lines.

Once you scrounge the tools up, the whole job only costs a few bucks for a qt. of fluid, and it has many benefits. The pedal feel improves and the whole system, particularly calipers, tend to last a lot longer with fresh juice in the system.

HipGnosis

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2015, 09:28:40 AM »
Some addition and clarification to paddlehat's post;

It's easiest with a partner, but there are devices that allow one person to do it - even some DIY methods (google is your partner).
You do NOT want to 'remove all the fluid' from the master cylinder reservoir.  ALWAYS leave a little in the bottom.  Removing all of the fluid means air going in, and that is a bad thing with brakes.
If it's really dirty in the bottom of the resv., add some clean fluid and remove most of it.
It is critical that you keep adding fluid to the resv. during the process.  You don't have to keep it 'full', but you absolutely do NOT want it to ever get empty.   
I believe paddlehat mis'spoke' when he said "while draining".  You are not draining.  There is no draining in flushing.

You also really should label the bottle you put the used brake fluid in.  It can not be thrown out.  It needs to go to a collection center.

Forcus

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2015, 10:45:52 AM »
x2 on the impact screwdriver. Here is the rust belt it gets quite a workout. Just make sure you understand how it works or you'll be inadvertantly tightening the screws or just staring at it because it's "not doing anything" lol.

jmusic

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2015, 12:04:07 PM »
Some addition and clarification to paddlehat's post;

It's easiest with a partner, but there are devices that allow one person to do it - even some DIY methods (google is your partner).
You do NOT want to 'remove all the fluid' from the master cylinder reservoir.  ALWAYS leave a little in the bottom.  Removing all of the fluid means air going in, and that is a bad thing with brakes.
If it's really dirty in the bottom of the resv., add some clean fluid and remove most of it.
It is critical that you keep adding fluid to the resv. during the process.  You don't have to keep it 'full', but you absolutely do NOT want it to ever get empty.   
I believe paddlehat mis'spoke' when he said "while draining".  You are not draining.  There is no draining in flushing.

You also really should label the bottle you put the used brake fluid in.  It can not be thrown out.  It needs to go to a collection center.

I looked up some youtube videos on this, and I understand what PaddedHat meant.  He said to remove all the old brake fluid from the reservoir, then add new fluid and begin the flush.  You're correct regarding keeping the reservoir below EDIT: ABOVE! 0. 

I haven't yet done the job, as I don't have a helper easily available. 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 12:17:36 PM by jmusic »

Greg

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2015, 12:16:16 PM »
A rotor or both?  Usually it's a good idea to replace brake parts as sets, i.e. both front or both rear.  Replacing one rotor, even with new pads for both, could result in uneven braking.  If that's not what you meant, disregard. :)

jmusic

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Re: DIY Brake job - not technically needed, but totally worth it
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2015, 12:20:29 PM »
A rotor or both?  Usually it's a good idea to replace brake parts as sets, i.e. both front or both rear.  Replacing one rotor, even with new pads for both, could result in uneven braking.  If that's not what you meant, disregard. :)

I installed new pads and rotors for the front axle. 

I've done drums once before and getting the shoes resprung was a total PITA (many curse words were uttered that day!), so I'll probably never do those again.  Thankfully, rear brakes usually last 3x as long as the front...