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Brembo Brake Upgrade

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8/12/06 Brembo Brake Upgrade

The brakes on my 99? civic were starting to show some wear so I decided now was the time to upgrade some of the components. For the front discs I went with some Brembo Sports Slotted rotors and PBR/Axxis Ultimate ceramic pads. In the rear I stayed with the OEM drums and went with some Enduro metallic shoes. I finished it up with some good synthetic brake fluid. A lot of people upgrade the rear shoes to discs but really this is not needed on this small of a car. Over 60% of the braking force on this Civic coupe is directed toward the front brakes. Adding performance discs to the rear means I would just have to adjust even more brake bias toward the front discs to keep the rears from locking up during heavy braking. I am not saying rear discs can?t be done, and lets face it, rear discs do look ?purdy?, but they are in all actuality not needed if you run a good set of rear shoes.

A few things you should keep your eye on when installing the new brakes. First off, this is the perfect time to inspect your suspension components. Check the tie rod ends and ball joints for play. Inspect the steering linkage and CV joint boots for cracks or leaking. Once your ready to install the new brakes make SURE you install the rotors in the correct direction. Most of the time, the rotation of the rotor is decided by the ?veins? or air passages inside the center of the disc. They are specially deigned to use the rotating motion to cool themselves more efficiently. If you go with slotted or cross drilled rotors this may also be a factor in deciding the proper rotation. Brembo says all of their slotted rotors are directional and should be installed so that the outer most portion of the slot contacts the pad first as shown in the pictures below. Once everything is laid out and you are ready to install. Remove the calipers from the car, usually 2 bolts hold them in place. DO NOT LET THE CALIPERS HANG BY THE BRAKE LINES! Use a long zip tie or string to tie them up to something, the coil spring perhaps? Remove and replace the rotors, you may need to break the old ones loose with a slight tap from a hammer, just don?t hit the studs or you will be in a world of hurt when you try to put your lug nuts back on. Before I install new pads I always like to pull the calipers apart and re-grease the slides. Usually 1 or 2 bolts holds the front part of the caliper in place. You may also want to put a very thin layer of grease on the ends of the pads where they contact the caliper holders. This will quiet any squeaks that may develop. You will also need to press the brake piston back in place before you install the new pads. As the old pads wore down the piston that pressed them against the rotor moved out. Once new thicker pads are in place they will not fit over the rotor if the piston is not pushed back in. To do this I used a special brake caliper tool, but a C clamp works just as well. Be careful when doing this, and put even pressure on the piston so it doesn?t bind. Unless there is a leak, or you were low on fluid you shouldn?t have to bleed the brakes after the new pads are installed although you may want to anyway while you?re down there.

As for the rear shoes, they look more complicated then they are. The main things to watch out for are which shoe is primary and which is secondary. Since almost all rear drum brakes a slightly different I will not go into any detail on this. Any shop manual will have instructions and pictures for drum replacement on your car.