I Replaced My Brakes And You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next!
Thanks for falling for my clickbait title, you’re a peach. Let me tell you the story of my weekend and the struggle I endured while replacing the brakes on my Civic.
I started bright and early at 8:30 AM on Saturday. The sun was already blazing as I walked outside. Confident this would be quick work, I carried several boxes of parts outside and stacked them neatly on our patio table.
I jacked the car up and removed the wheels. I forgot that Honda screws their rotors to the hubs. Great, screws + Michigan winters should guarantee these won’t come out. I tried a regular screw driver but as I feared they weren’t budging. This called for an impact screwdriver but I don’t have one of those.
Off to Sears! Luckily I live about a half mile from one. The screwdriver was on sale, $10 off! Now I’m only $15 poorer but also I’m richer by one impact screwdriver so that’s something. I rushed home to dominate those screws.
I may have been a bit too cocky, only a couple screws came out, the rest still wouldn’t move. I mangled the threads on one so bad I have no choice but to drill it out. Oh joy.
About now I realize if these screws are all mangled and/or rusted, I probably need to replace them with new ones. What else can I do? I’m headed to the nearest Honda dealer!
OK, I’m back with 8 new screws. I also found a YouTube video that said placing a ball-peen hammer against the screw, then smacking that hammer with another hammer would loosen the rust. What do you know, it actually worked! Well, it mostly worked. I mangled another screw so badly it needs to be drilled out. I guess 2 out of 8 isn’t so bad.
Finally, hours after I started, I remove the driver side front caliper. I’m replacing the front brakes with the parts from a 2008 Acura TSX because they’re larger and will provide better braking performance. With the caliper removed, I realize there’s a part I didn’t think of, the caliper bracket. Do I need a different bracket for the TSX calipers? Yes I do. Did I order the calipers that come with brackets? Nope.
I’m ready to throw in the towel but I decide to check the local auto parts stores. I bought the calipers from Autozone so I check their website and sure enough, a few local Autozone stores have the brackets in stock. I head to the Lincoln Park store hoping they have 2 in stock.
They only have one. I buy it but I need another so they call the Taylor store and reserve it. I can handle this, it’s only a few miles away.
I get to the Taylor Autozone. No, not the one by Heritage Hospital, the other one. Yes I stopped at that one first, I didn’t know there were two stores in Taylor. Now I’m at the right one so I’ll just grab the bracket and be on my way.
The guy starts ringing me up when he asks if I need caliper pins.
I don’t know, do I?
I didn’t even think of those. I bet the Civic pins won’t work, I probably need TSX pins. Of course Autozone doesn’t have them in stock at any of the local stores. I guess I’ll try to make the Civic pins work.
There’s an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store on the way home so I stop to see if they have the pins. They don’t have them but the store on Van Born Road does. I’ve come this far, why not go a little further?
I find the Van Born O’Reilly’s and buy the pins, I’m all set, nothing can stop me now! The wife wants ice cream, I make that happen like a boss.
Guess what? The remanufactured TSX calipers came with pins, I didn’t need these after all. That’s 45 minutes I’ll never get back. Oh well, at least I can return them.
I now have everything I could possibly need, let’s get these brakes done! It’s almost 2pm now, I’ve been on the road longer today than I’ve been under the car.
I knew the front dust shields would need trimming to fit the TSX brakes but I never stopped to question whether I had snips.
I don’t own snips. I head to Sears for the second time.
Snips in hand, I cut the shields and install the front rotors, calipers, and pads. They go on as easily as I expected. The rears are just as painless.
I stop to think about how easily this would have been if only I had all the right parts and tools in the first place. It’s about 3:30 PM, I expected the job to take about 2 hours. I was way off.
Time to bleed the brakes, I enlist the wife’s help. The finish line is in sight.
The wheels are on, the car is on the ground. I start it up, back down the driveway and… the brake pedal is super spongy. I have to go to my nephew’s birthday party, I’m already an hour late so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
Fast-forward to Sunday; of course it’s raining.
The rain lets up around 1pm and by 2 it’s dry enough to get back to work. Once again the wife has control of the brake pedal and this time I find a bunch of air in the passenger side front line. No air anywhere else, we’ve run plenty of fluid (ATE Type 200 Amber) through the lines, I think we’re good.
I drop the jack-stands and set the car on the ground, hopefully for the last time. Next is the step most people don’t know about, burnishing the pads. I head across Southfield Road to the old Farmer Jack’s and use the parking lot to make a bunch of stops from 35-45 mph. This heats the pads up and bakes the oils out of them. It’s a pretty important step.
I’m not satisfied with the pedal, it feels too low but I can lock the brakes up hard enough to trigger the ABS so I’m guessing it’s ok. I’ll circle back and bleed them again next week after a few days of normal driving. Finally, a job I expected to take a few hours is complete.
If you’re not a human who loves cars, I bet you’re shaking your head right now. How could someone screw up this much? How did I forget so many things? Am I new to this?
I assure you I’m not. I might be scatter brained or a little forgetful but I think this is a normal occurrence. Go find your favorite car nut and show them this story. I bet dollars to donuts (I don’t know what that phrase means) that they’ll relate and even have a story of their own that rivals mine.
The moral is, no matter how prepared you think you are, you aren’t. Ever. The car always wins.