DIY Brake Replacement to Save the Quail

in steemmakers •  2 months ago

After a recent close call that taxed my brakes and nearly wiped out a family of quail, I decided to replace the brakes on my 2011 Honda Accord.

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I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked quail. That reminds me – when I was on my way home from Pennsylvania earlier this year I saw something in the road that looked like a stick with a knob on the end or maybe a snake with a giant head. I had been driving for six hours at that point as was pretty tired; my brain was having trouble figuring out what I was looking at. Some people deliberately run over snakes on the road, but I don’t. On the other hand, I’m not going to swerve and cause an accident to keep from hitting a snake, squirrel, or opossum. Maybe that is callous, but I don’t worry too much about the occasional squirrel that can’t decide which way to run and ends up under the car. In this case, though, just as I was about to hit the thing in the middle of the road, I realized it was a mother quail and a line of about 10 chicks trying to cross right in front of me! It was a good thing there was not a car behind me, because I nearly locked up the brakes trying to stop. It was totally involuntary. I might have driven off the road if that was what was needed to keep from hitting that family of quail. Luckily, the momma quail made the right decision and turned around, which gave me a little extra space in my lane so that I could get by without losing control of my car. Thank you to the clever engineers at Honda that make an excellent anti-lock braking system.

If the brake job goes smoothly, jacking up the car and getting the lug nuts off is the only hard work for the day. The calipers come right off with two small bolts. I hang the caliper from a piece of padded wire to keep the strain off the rubber brake line. Damaging a brake line could be very dangerous.

My mechanic said that the old pads (left) were still safe to use, but you can see how thin they are. One of them had the beginning of a crack down the middle and another was worn down past the tapered leading edge, which makes them squeal. The new pad (right) is twice as thick and is made from a harder material.

I had to jam a piece of wood between the studs to keep the hub from spinning to get the mounting screws out. This one happens to be a piece that I cut for a chair making project from another post.

The mounting bolts for the brakes are big and very tight. I used a screw jack to turn the breaker bar and get them loose. As soon as the mounting bracket is off, the brake rotor slips free.

The old rotors are almost exactly the same thickness as the new ones. The old way to do this job was to replace the pads and turn the rotors on a lathe to renew the braking surface. Now they recommend using a harder brake pad that bites into the rotor and wears it down. You just replace the pads and rotors with every brake job. It seems wasteful, but the parts are cheap (less than $150 per axle) and the labor to turn the rotors is $50 per hour in a typical shop.

I love a job that requires a torque wrench. The mounting bolts take 80 ft-lbs, which is almost the maximum for the torque limiter in my elbow.

A test drive proved that the brakes are working well. The high speed braking vibration is gone. I think that the wild animals on Virginia’s roads are safe now.

Cheers, Professor Bromide

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A simple fix, beats the high price of going to a shop and maybe them saying we needed to replace the brake line also because it was worn. Or not taking the time to break out the torque wrench and set the nuts correctly.


It probably saved about $150 for the labor and $60 on the markup for the parts. The real benefit, though, is that it kept me out of trouble for the afternoon.

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