Hi Robbie, Randy here. If you don't know which tools are needed, it suggests you also don't know about all the things you can do to screw up a brake system and cost yourself a lot of money. In particular, do you understand:
that you need to apply special high-temperature grease to all contact points between the calipers and pads, between the calipers and mounts, and on the sliding mounting bolts?
That built-up rust spots on the backside of the center part of the rotors must be cleaned off, THEN the rotors must be machined, or discarded if they are below the minimum legal thickness?
That there must be absolutely no greasy fingerprints left on the rotors or linings?
And very importantly, after prying the caliper pistons into the housings to make room for the new thicker pads, when you're done, you have to pump the brake pedal to push the pistons back out before you will have brakes? The number one thing people do to cause more trouble is to press the pedal all the way to the floor. This will almost always destroy the master cylinder. NEVER ever press the pedal more than half way to the floor unless the master cylinder is very new or freshly rebuilt. You'll be running the lip seals over the crud that builds up in the normally unused areas of the bores and you'll tear them.
Are you aware there are a half dozen tricks professionals do to prevent brake squeal and noise?
If you're aware of all these things, once the wheels are off, you typically need a large flat blade screwdriver to pry the pistons back into the calipers. Pry against the rotors before unbolting the calipers. If you do like most do-it-yourselfers, you'll use a c-clamp to do that after the caliper is removed from its mount. If you find that you MUST use a c-clamp to do this, the pistons have dirt or rust buildup that is catching on the seal. That caliper will need to be replaced which today is not very expensive compared to 20 years ago. You might even consider buying a pair of "loaded" calipers right away. They come with pad-to-caliper contact points cleaned and lubed and the new pads already installed. The bleeder screws will not be rusted tight either.
To unbolt the calipers, you are likely to need a 10mm socket, a 3/8" socket, or a hex / allen head socket of the proper size. A lot of newer cars use torx bits now too. Use some sandpaper on the leading and trailing edges of the pads to remove the sharp edges if they aren't already beveled by the manufacturer. This will eliminate the "fingernails on the blackboard" screeching effect during the break-in period. Be sure to put a light film of high temperature grease on the rotor-to-hub mounting points. This will eliminate a crunching noise when you go around corners. That's a lot more common on older GM front wheel drive cars, but it's still good preventative maintenance.
When the calipers are off, don't let them hang by the rubber hoses. Hang them with wire or set them on the steering knuckle where they won't fall down and tear the hoses internally.
Professionals will not top off the brake fluid in the master cylinder reservoir during routine service such as oil changes. If someone did, the excess fluid will run out the caps when you push the caliper pistons back in. Be sure to wash the fluid off the painted surfaces right away so they don't get damaged. If you have to add any brake fluid, pour it from a clean container and be absolutely certain no petroleum products enter the brake fluid. This includes such things as a simple greasy finger from repacking front wheel bearings on older rear wheel drive cars. If you wipe your hands on a rag, then use your "clean" fingers to push the rubber seals back into the caps, you just contaminated the fluid. A funnel used to add brake fluid after it was used for engine oil or transmission fluid, then thoroughly wiped out will still have oil residue on it. Petroleum products in the brake fluid will soften and swell rubber parts. You will need to replace EVERYTHING in the system with rubber hoses or seals. This can make older cars like what I drive not worth repair.
Check the rubber brake hoses. If the outer casing has cracks, they should be replaced. In the case of a crash, the other guy's lawyers love to find things like that on your car. Even if you weren't at fault, it gives the lawyers something to tell the jury that makes you look partly negligent. This is the kind of stuff professionals have to think about with every car they work on, and it's why we take our cars to them.
Good luck with your project.
Monday, August 24th, 2009 AT 2:02 AM