Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How To Make A Brake Job Take A Week

I haven't updated in awhile. Daily Driver Wagon is just about done. Got 1200 miles on the motor with no real hiccups, so that's pretty darn exciting. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about Stoptechs and how not to do a brake job.

DD wagon has a Stoptech ST-40 big brake kit, which is something I was REALLY excited about when I bought the car. I wanted a Stoptech BBK for my old WRX for years and years and could never justify spending the money. Big brakes are pretty. Big brakes look sexy. Big brakes are totally pointless on a daily driver, but who cares? They look cool! That is, until you have to replace the rotors. The original owner of the car bought the BBK in 2004. I have no idea how many miles were on the car when he installed it, but the previous owner put at least 60k on it, and there was one more owner in between. The rotors were pretty much toast, the slots were almost worn away, and the whole car would shake when the brakes were applied at speed. I didn't take a before picture, but trust me when I say it was time.

So I called up my pal Kai at AR Design and had him order me up some Hawk HPS pads and Stoptech replacement rotor rings in the size I assumed I needed. What? Measure? LOL. I set the shiny new rings on top of my old rings after I removed them and everything looked perfect, so I went ahead and started disassembling. Holy rust, Batman. I had to devise a method to get all of the old hardware out of the hats because no amount of hammering would do the trick. I ended up using the old screws to pull the female threaded part out of the hat by sticking it though a 1/4 drive socket that was big enough for the threaded part to fit into. In most cases, it broke the threaded female piece, but once it was broken, I was able to hammer it out of the hat. Pic for clarification:

Here's a close-up photo of the new hardware. This is what I meant by "threaded female part":

Unfortunately when I went to take the above photo was right around the time I realized the rotor rings I had weren't quite right. The holes for the bolts were ever so slightly off. We're talking a matter of millimeters. Everything looked right, but the holes in the hats just wouldn't line up. I also noticed that the rusty old hats were developing hairline cracks around the bolt holes, which could very well have been from me wailing on them with a hammer. At any rate, I knew my car wasn't going back together that day.

I ended up shipping the wrong rotor rings back to Stoptech and ordering pre-assembled rotors with hats. This is very expensive. Do not recommend. List price is $1295. $1295 is a lot of money for rotors. This is why people don't install big brake kits on daily drivers. It was also supposed to take two whole weeks for Stoptech to make them and ship them out. I got lucky and it only took about 5 business days.

This is what a very expensive rotor looks like in my kitchen sink. Stoptech's instructions say to wash with soap and water, then clean with brake clean. I followed directions like a good girl.

This is what happened when I went to install my pads:

In case you can't tell what's going on in this picture, the pads wouldn't quite fit. There are little stainless steel pieces that bolt to the caliper and hold the pad on either end. I ended up calling Stoptech to ask WTF I was supposed to do and the man I spoke with explained that sometimes dirt and corrosion will build up behind those stainless pieces and prevent the pad from fitting properly. Option A would be to remove the stainless pieces (they're held in by a T20 screw) and clean behind them. He didn't recommend that, and I wasn't comfortable with the idea. 99% chance I would have stripped or broken the screw. Option B was to file the pad down on either end. I ended up going with option B. Took quite a bit of filing, but I eventually got the pads to fit. It was a pain. I hope these things last a long, long time.

The following is a very bad picture of a very expensive rotor under a very cheap wheel. Now accepting donations for sweet forged JDM tyte rimz.

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