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My dad and my brake caliper

  1. Jul 20, 2007 #1
    I bought another car, a good Chevy Lumina. Not much wrong with it. But the brake caliper doesn't want to come off. It looks like a mess. I'd prefer to buy a new caliper, but my dad says it'll be fine once we get it off and work at it. I'm not confident in him because he doesn't even want to replace the seat belts. They're frayed! Those things won't hold me. I'd rather get it to a professional automechanic, but if he can fix it then that's more money staying in my wallet. :wink:

    I wouldn't be surprised if a bolt breaks as soon as we try to break it down. It's ugly. I had problems with it earlier (wheel wouldn't turn). It's the rear driver side, so that's typical. We even took an air hammer to it. That thing wouldn't budge.

    It's that kind of car that can last a long time without much trouble. I'd rather keep this than buy a brand new one.

    So, do you think what my dad said is right: once we get the caliper off, he can clean it up and it will be fine? Or should I just replace the caliper? (er, assuming we actually get it off)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2007 #2


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    Two things that you absolutely never mess with on a car if you don't know exactly what you're doing are brakes and steering. Take it to a certified mechanic. Your life is worth more than a few hours of shop time. And you're right about the seat belts; even a minor nick in one can cause it to fail in a collision.
  4. Jul 20, 2007 #3
    Usually all you have to do is remove bolts on the lower part of the caliper and you'll be able to pivot the caliper up to gain access to the brake pads.

    If you caliper is leaking this yes replace it. Without looking @ the caliper, it is hard for me to say whether or not you need to replace it.
  5. Jul 20, 2007 #4
    I should mention that my Dad was in the Corps of Engineer, and worked on cars for years. He does just about everything himself. He's qualified enough, I just don't know if I can believe him when he says that a caliper this bad doesn't need to be replaced. He's trying to save me some money, but $75 for a new caliper isn't bad.
  6. Jul 20, 2007 #5


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    Like Danger said, critical safety equipment like brakes really need careful attention, and if the caliper looks that bad and is difficult to remove, it's probably time to replace it.

    I had rear brake piston fail on a Honda Prelude once. I pressed the break and squish - the pedal went to the floor. So I downshifted rapidly, since I was preparing for a left turn on a divided roadway. I then tried the handbreak. Well, the hand break was tied to the same caliper system, and with the collapse of the piston, the calipers pulled out of their positions. No handbreaks either!

    I ended up double clutching into second, and then first. Fortunately there was no oncoming traffic, or I would have had to steer into bushes or trees.

    I ended up driving home (2 miles) very slowly and cautiously - without breaks.
  7. Jul 21, 2007 #6
    :surprised you think that's bad, my friend and i shared a vespa that only had very very poor front brakes for a long time before i replaced the pads
  8. Jul 21, 2007 #7


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    Oh man, the calipers can be really hard to take off. I needed two guys to take it off! We would be trying to pry it off together while one of us would be banging it with a small hammer or wood hammer.

    I put anti-seive stuff before I put it back on in case I have to take it off again.
  9. Jul 21, 2007 #8


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    Liquid Wrench seems to work! WD-40 isn't as good as LW.

    I use a silicone-based lubricant when I reassemble things.
  10. Jul 21, 2007 #9


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    Haven't you guys ever heard of a C-clamp? Works every time.

    And anti-seize stuff usually works better than anti-sieve stuff. :rofl:

    I wouldn't want to diagnose the condition of the calipers over the internet.
  11. Jul 25, 2007 #10
    Rebuilding a caliper is pretty straight forward if its a front caliper. If its a rear caliper your going to need a special tool that will rotate the piston as you compress it if its tied into your e-brake. Basically pull the piston out, use break cleaner to clean out the entire caliper block. Inspect your piston. If its pitted, replace it, some calipers (such as my Saturn) don't have replacement pistons so you will need a new caliper. If the piston is ok, replace the rubber seals, replace the piston and you are good to go.

    Seals around 5-10
    piston under 30
    smarter idea than spending 70 for a caliper that probably isn't pre-loaded?...yeah.

    If the bolt is still stuck, let it soak in PB-Blaster or any penetrating oil for a few hours, if no luck, heat it up with a torch. Brakes can be intimidating but are one of the simplest systems. If you have anti-lock brakes be cautious of what you are doing, most of the systems sensor is near the wheel bearing, but every car is different. Best bet is to go slow, if you are lost get a service manual for the car. Good Luck!
  12. Jul 25, 2007 #11
    Thank you.

    I just bought that tool today. My Dad is set on repairing it. I'll maybe have it replaced behind his back (feeling like a kid again!) once we get it running. And I already started hunting down a service manual.

    We did manage to get the caliper off, and it's looking fine. We'll be checking the piston later. Just bought some new pads, too.

    And that Liquid Wrench did help, too!
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2007
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