A Critic-Style Brake Job

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Aug 30, 2004
This past weekend, I did a front brake job on a co-worker's 2003 Accord. I decided to take some pictures of the process to share my process with y'all. First of all, the reason for this brake job is pedal pulsation. As you will see below, the pads have plenty of life left. For those of you who have done your homework, you will remember that lateral runout is the primary cause of most pedal pulsation issues - so this will be a focus during this brake job. Before we get started, let's make sure that we have all of our tools ready: Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr Just your typical tools - pad spreader, breaker bar, 3M hub cleaning attachment, torque wrench, 12/17/19mm sockets, torque stick, ratchets and extensions. I will also be doing an oil change on this car, which supports the need for the filter pliers. Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr Impact gun, impact driver (for removing those infamous rotor hat screws), brake clean and drill (for cleaning the hub flange). Now let's check our parts: Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr Here are the new pads and the new caliper hardware. For this job, we are using Akebono's Performance Ceramic Pads and a hardware kit by Centric. Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr These are marketed as "performance" pads that carry a GG rating. From my experience, they offer a bit more bite than the typical factory pad, but the difference is not significant. by thecritic89, on Flickr We will be using Centric 125-series high carbon rotors. The material on these rotors are a bit softer and are intended to be used with semi-metallic pads; according to Centric, the service life will be a bit shorter. However, I like these rotors over the 120-series since they are usually machined a bit better and have less runout. by thecritic89, on Flickr Of course, this is BITOG - so what repair job would be complete without a quality oil service? For this car, we are going with Pennzoil High Mileage 5w-20, a Wix filter and a new crush washer. by thecritic89, on Flickr For this brake job, we will also be needing the proper greases - 3M Silicone Paste for the slide pins and Molykote-77 for the shims and pad ears. Time to get started... Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr Here is the old setup with the caliper and rotor hat screws removed. Note the strange wear pattern on the rotors... Untitled by thecritic89, on Flickr As previously mentioned, these brakes were recently done, but the owner was experiencing a pulsation issue. Note the available holes for the pad springs - some applications using this FMSI number (914) require the pad springs (08-12 Accords), but not this particularly vehicle. I tried to use one of the springs that came with the hardware kit, but the springs were too big. by thecritic89, on Flickr Okay, our rotor is now removed. But look at this rust - this needs to be taken care of. If the issue is left unaddressed, the rotor will not sit flat and this will contribute to excessive lateral runout. So, let's go clean it up... by thecritic89, on Flickr Much better. To accomplish this, I used a 3m hub cleaning tool and an el-cheapo wire wheel from Harbor Freight. As mentioned before, this step is absolutely critical to a proper brake job. Left-front: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/16748202813/ Right-front: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/17342521966/ Please pardon the rushed commentary. Here, I have cleaned the hub flange and have installed the rotor back onto the vehicle using five conical washers and an 80 ft-lbs torque limiting extension. Honda's spec for this vehicle allows up to 0.004" of lateral runout. This is a ridiculously generous spec, which is probably why pulsation issues are not uncommon with this generation of Accords. On later models (08-12), they tightened up the spec to only allow 0.002", which is much more realistic. Some vehicles now only allow for 0.0014". Generally, the less runout you have, the longer that it will take to develop disc thickness variation. I always try to aim for 0.001" or less. In this situation, prior to indexing the rotor, I was getting runout readings of nearly 0.004"! While the reading was technically within spec, that was not acceptable to me. Despite indexing the rotors (trying different mounting positions), the best that I could get on the right-side was just under 0.002". The left side was a bit better at just over 0.001". Ideally, I should have either resurfaced the new right-front rotor using an on-car-lathe or I should have used a runout correction shim. But at this point, we were well within Honda's spec for runout and I did not want to go back to the owner to convince her to buy more parts. wink2 However, it should be noted that the pulsation will probably return much sooner on this car, than if we had gotten the runout down to under 0.001". by thecritic89, on Flickr Prior to installing the new hardware, I manually cleaned up the caliper brackets using a wire brush. The brackets stay pretty clean out here, so I didn't put a lot of time into them. But in areas with a lot of snow/salt, it is critical to clean these areas - rust can build-up and cause the pads to get stuck. After cleaning, I installed new clips - which is an important part of the brake job on Hondas (IMO). The old ones seem to bend easily when they get old, and won't fit correctly once you try to re-install them after removal. At this time, I also lube the caliper slide pins with 3M silicone brake grease and "burp" the boots. by thecritic89, on Flickr All done. Reassembly was simple - installed the bracket and torqued to 80 ft-lbs. The caliper piston was retracted and the caliper was reinstalled. I could not re-install the rotor hat screws since I did not use the intended mounting position for the rotor, but hey, I will take the lower runout value! Now, re-install the wheels using a torque-stick and do 10-15 moderate stops in a row from 30-40 mph to properly seat the pads. Thanks for watching! And IMO, this is what a proper brake job should involve - I read a lot of people saying that pad/rotor replacements are stupid quick and easy...and that is far from the truth IF the job is done properly. - Critic
Very thorough brake job! smile Most shops/tech's wouldn't go this far as there are 100 cars waiting in the parking lot for their turn to be serviced. They'd just slap on new parts(loaded kit) and move on to the next customers car. And of course, charge the poor customer $800-$1000
You da man!! smile I just bought front Centric Rotors for the '98 Saturn from Amazon, but there was no mention of lateral runout. I'd like 0.002" or better. Do you know what Centric specs, in general?? Thanks!
Thank Critic!! You recently responded to a brake thread I had about my 2010 Accord. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I've never once did a brake job. I'm about to tackle my first one. This thread will be invaluable!! Thank you once again. I love your style.
Thank you for the pictures! Don't worry about the rotor screws -- they're absolutely not necessary. They're there to aid in the assembly/manufacturing process. As you know, the wheel will retain the rotor once everything is back together. I do keep them in my cars, just so the rotor stays where it should, but I do use a liberal amount of anti-seize on them.
Just curious (I hope I didn't miss this in the write-up)did you bleed brake fluid out at all to replenish with fresh fluid? The stuff that sits inside the caliper pistons gets particularly nasty since it's on the front lines so to speak.
Great job. I just did a Civic of similar vintage, and had to drill out both factory screws, they were stripped from a previous owner. Not fun! Good job cleaning the hub up, I usually just use a wire brush. A spinning wire brush tool works much better.
Originally Posted By: The Critic
Despite indexing the rotors (trying different mounting positions), the best that I could get on the right-side was just under 0.002". The left side was a bit better at just over 0.001".
Nicely and properly done. There is a big difference between doing it right and shade tree. You are correct the pulsation will return sooner than later but not just because of the 0.002 but more than likely the rust rust returning on the hubs and changing the run out. I did a VW with hubs much worse than this, the only fix was to change the hubs. I would say i end up using a shim on 10% of the brakes i do. On rebuilt calipers that come with a new brackets you need to check pad alignment and possibly shim the bracket as some rebuilders just don't tank and blast the part they grind the flange (sometimes poorly, the minimum wage workers don't realize its a precision fit part).
I concur with others that you did a great job and that not too many mechanics would go into the same level of detail in their work, which is quite sad considering the price they charge for the labor. The only thing I did not catch is if you used any antiseize on the hub. If not, then the rust will inevitably return and mess up the runout again. Having said that, I believe that a simple hub cleaning would bring the runout on the old rotors and pads back to spec, saving the owner money on the new parts.
Would it be smart to rub grease, oil, fluid film, or paint, etc. etc. on the hub after cleaning? You know, to prevent corrosion in the future?
Originally Posted By: Phishin
Would it be smart to rub grease, oil, fluid film, or paint, etc. etc. on the hub after cleaning? You know, to prevent corrosion in the future?
+1 being in NE Ohio I spray the clean hub with G96 firearm lubricant and wipe dry. It leaves a rust preventative film on the face of the hub that slows corrosion considerably. I also bleed all 4 calipers as I open the bleeder when retracting the piston to avoid pushing contamination up into the system. I usually bleed 1-2 pints of fluid with every pad change. I also lube the back of the pads and the contact end points on the pads and clips. I also use anti-seize on all of the fasteners.
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Thank you SO much for this!...I learned a couple of things and re-remembered some other stuff that gets forgotten over time.
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