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Attn Gearheads: changing brake pads & rotors?

1085 Views 19 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  big rockpile
My DH is seriously considering doing this by himself and saving about $350. He drives a 2002 Ford Taurus. He wants to replace the front rotors and brake pads, he got all the replacement items for around $136. Does anybody have any tips or suggestions? Like, is it worth $350 to have someone else do it. Any comments will be welcome, thanks in advance. Claudia
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Claudia in NY said:
My DH is seriously considering doing this by himself and saving about $350. He drives a 2002 Ford Taurus. He wants to replace the front rotors and brake pads, he got all the replacement items for around $136. Does anybody have any tips or suggestions? Like, is it worth $350 to have someone else do it. Any comments will be welcome, thanks in advance. Claudia
It's a pretty simple job-get a good manual for the vehicle or find a friend that has done it before. Should take about two hours.. You guys need to find a new mechanic-this guy is taking advantage of you. Daryll in NW FLA
Pretty simple job, agreed. Take the top off the fluid resevoir and dip out some of the brake fluid, so you can squeeze the calipers for install.

Also, go ahead and re-pack the bearings while you're there. High temp bearing grease.

I do all maintenance on my vehicles...Watch your pennies and your dollars take care of themselves.

When I do this job, I always use some emery cloth to remove any rust on the flat portions of the caliper where the pads slide. I then rub some brake grease on these areas. This keeps the pads from sticking and making that grinding or squealing sound that you hear on a lot of cars nowadays.

Also, make sure that he removes some of the brake fluid out of the reservoir before he pushes the pistons back into the calipers. And before he pushes those pistons back in, he should clean them and the boot which surrounds them with some spray brakes cleaner. Otherwise, he will get dirt behind the boots which may cause the pistons to leak after a while.
And unless the rotors have been gouged out due to lack of maintenance, there is no need to replace them. Simply have them turned down at your local parts store or garage.

When the time comes to push the calipers back in before re-installing, suggest to him to use a "C" clamp and one of the used brake pads. You'll sound soooo smart..... ;)
to compress my calipers I use a big C type set of vise grips, used for clamping.

its easy, get a repair manual, its pretty simple. dont overtighten the bering nut, make sure the pin is in the crown nut, test the brales before you put thew wheel back on (turn the rotor and have someone step on the brakes, see if the rotors bind up.
some cars its as easy as one bolt and the caliper hinges back with the pads in it.
most repair books like chiltoons or haynes are good, i prefer hynse if I cant get a factory shop book.

350 bucks???
Man I dont charge enough... a brake job I amm happy with a 20. (you buy the parts). I might insist on dinner. If you are relly nice you'll invite me the week after when your sure I did it right.
If you're near to a decent library they may have the auto repair manual there and you can make copies of the relevant pages for a few cents. Cheaper than buying the book for one repair, and if you put them into one of those three-ring binder clear plastic sleeves and put a small weight on top, they'll lie flat on the ground, stay clean and not blow away. Just keep doing that for every repair you undertake, put them all in a cheapo binder and you'll have a little library of your own of the repairs you commonly do. This way you can make notes that pertain to your specific situation (like, "this part needs replacing next repair" or to let you know what problems the book doesn't mention that you need to anticipate next time).
Be sure to have both S.A.E. and Metric wrenches before you start. Auto companies like to deter the "shade tree mechanic" from doing their own repairs. They will switch back and forth in sizes to frustrate you.
Go for it! It is not that difficult. USE jack stands!!!!! Good Luck
Claudia in NY said:
My DH is seriously considering doing this by himself and saving about $350. He drives a 2002 Ford Taurus. He wants to replace the front rotors and brake pads, he got all the replacement items for around $136. Does anybody have any tips or suggestions? Like, is it worth $350 to have someone else do it. Any comments will be welcome, thanks in advance. Claudia

it's only 2 years old.
keep the job simple.
just change out the rotors and pads.
it hasn't had enuff time to even start rusting yet.
(unlike a chevy)

know what FORD stands for?

annnnk,, wrong!

you got it backwards.

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If I may make a few suggestions.

Do not bother removing fluid from the brake master cylinder reservoir. This will typically add contaminants to the fluid which reduces the boiling point of the fluid and causes premature beakdown of the fluid and promotes corrosion in the system.

I would suggest opening the bleeder while squeezing the caliper piston with a "C" clamp, once it has been squeezed in all the way tighten the bleeder and install the rubber cap once again. (HAVING THE RUBBER CAP BACK ON IS IMPORTANT, IT KEEPS OUT WATER AND DEBRIS MAKING IT EASIER TO REMOVE NEXT TIME)

****Also the reason for releasing the fluid through the bleeder rather than pushing it back up into the reservoir is because antilock brake system failure is generally due to contaminants most of which accumulate in the caliper due to the high heat and condensation that occurs when they cool******

After this is done be sure to add NEW brake fluid to the reservoir to compensate for the fluid drained.

Yes, be sure to lube caliper slides and pins with a good synthetic brake caliper grease.

DO NOT turn the rotors especially if they are warped at all. Back in the day when Cars were built more like tanks "turning" the rotor was a common and accepted procedure. on modern vehicles it is not.

Last but Far from least be sure to pump up the brake pedal after completing the repairs and before you attempt to drive or move the car, as you will not have brake functions until you do so.

Before anyone insults my profession any more or says they can do it "cheaper"
Brakes are not a system to skimp on doing so could result in:
1) more costly future repairs
2) improper braking efficientcy
3) accidents or injury to occupants of the vehicle or other who may be on the road when a shoddy brake job is barreling down the road.

Skimp on the oil change, Skimp on the tune up if you must but do not skimp on your brakes.

ASE cert. Master Auto tech.
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There is also a "special tool" for compressing the calipers. I have one and it is better than the "c" clamp, in my opinion but, either way will work.

I do all my brake work and have since I was a teenager. The best way for me to do it is to take off the front wheels together and then do one side at a time. This way when you are questionable of what goes where, you can always walk around to the other wheel and see where it is suppose to go.

The front wheels are relatively easy but, the back wheels have more parts to replace and no knowing where they go could make your day quite frustrating.

Repacking the bearings and hubs is also a good idea. Also, lube your tie rod ends and all the other points that need lubing at the same time.

When you do the brake work make sure that the car is blocked up, as pulling and tugging at the wheels could cause it to slip off of a jack.

Wow, thanks for all the responses. I'm always amazed how much everyone knows around here. Thanks again.
Okay guys, I'm about to show my ignorance here. I have always done my own brakes jobs...both disk and shoes. Some of you have mentioned that Claudia's dh should grease the bearings on their 2002 Taurus. I've greased front wheel bearings dozens of times on rear wheel drive vehicles.

How do you grease the front bearings on front wheel drive cars?
I am with everyone else...$350????? Sounds like a rip off!!!!!!

Even if it took two full days to replace the brakes, I would do it to save the money. That would be about $175 for each day, and I know alot of folks that don't make $350 for a weeks wages!

I think $136 sounds a little high for pads and rotors too. I drive GM, and have never purchased Ford brake parts, so I don't know. You might call around for pricing with other parts stores.

I think that turning rotors is a toss up. For the older GM A bodies that I drive, new rotors are about $15, and turning the old ones is $9 each. I know you save $6 each, but personally I am not sure that it is worth the savings.

I personally don't care for Autozone. I think they carry cheap junk parts and are often very overpriced. I like several of the mom and pop stores..... they carry great quality parts at better prices and can give you input on your questions.

Just my two cents...
If you repack bearings you will need new seals, good idea I would go ahead and get new bearings too. they are relatively cheap. you will need to grease them . about the only place you can get into trouble on this job would be to over tighten the retaining nut holding the rotor/bearings.if its too tight you can burn the bearings. you don't want that.
As long as your DH is down there he should inspect the CV joint boots for tears and cracking. Replace if damaged.
First of all buy the best parts available, not autozone or advanced junk. You are in NY, rust starts the minute the car is driven so clean all rust. This is 2004 frt. wheel drive vehicles do not have greasable frt. wheel bearings, never have, never will.
Listen to Volsung as he speaks with wisdom. The price of $350 most likely included parts, labor and a warranty.
A very important tip is to torque the wheel lug nuts to the proper torque and with a torque wrench in a star pattern. One of the major causes of brake pulsation is unevenly tightened wheels on disc brake cars, especially with slide on style rotors like your car has.
For people that think $136 for brake parts is high. Many of the 2000 and newer vehicles have brake pads that can cost at least that much.
A better idea on sqeazing the caliper is to open the bleed screw. Not good practice to push used brake fluid back into the master. If there's any debris that travels with it you may loose the cup seal and loose your brakes. Besides the fact that the fluid should should be flushed periodically also.
Well, thank you all for your help. He did it! My DH changed the thingamajigs. He got the manual for the car and read all of your posts, headed out to the garage and fixed it. Of course, I haven't heard from him today yet, but I did increase his life insurance policy just in case the brakes weren't quite exactly done right. :p Thanks again for all your tips.
Claudia your lucky your not in my house where that kind of stuff is womans work.My wife does it all the time. :haha:

big rockpile
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