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Black coffee and brake pads

It’s a black coffee and brake pad kind of day. Come join me as I get stupidly filthy in changing the pads over.

So why change your brake pads?

A number of reasons for me really:

  1. I’ve owned the car for roughly two and a half years now and since I haven’t changed the brake pads on it, it’s highly unlikely someone else has ninjaed through the night and quietly changed them over while I slept. As much as I hoped this was the case.
  2. It’s getting wetter around here. Rain’s keeping the roadways nice and busy. Fresh brake pads are that little boost of confidence when things get hairy in the wet weather.
  3. I’ve been stuck in traffic 3 times in as many weeks all due to accidents ahead of me. Not wanting to be involved in one myself, I figured it was high time to freshen up the brakes.
  4. Since I’ve never had the pads changed over since buying it, it’d be a great opportunity to see how easy or possibly difficult it would be to swap them over.
  5. I’m going for a safety certificate to register my wagon next week. By changing the pads over that’s one less thing I might have to worry about come inspection time.

Did they need changing?

According to an brake pad supplier website, when your pads get to only 3mm or less of material it’s time to throw them in the bin. After getting them out I discovered the rears had just 1mm to go before becoming bin worthy and the fronts had 3mm left to get to the same point. So a great time for both front and rears to get replaced in one big hit.

Not long to go..
Brake pads
Time for the bin..

So where’d you get your pads from?

If I had the time I would have tried online to save a bit of coin but running out of time, I hit up Auto One. I usually have better luck with brake pads at the stores that aren’t major chains as they usually have a big supply of everything out the back (where as Supercheap Auto usually have a big gap in their brake pad numbers on the shelves and they’re always the ones I need..)

Of course what I had written down and what they had on their computer for the model were completely different – thankfully the previous owner had written down what he had used so I knew they’d be the right fit.

Car: 2000 Nissan Stagea RS4 Auto, RWD, Turbo

Fronts: DB1696 – Bendix GCT. Decent enough brake pads for my unmodified daily driver. Comes with a Titanium stripe to help with bedding in.

Rears: DB1399 – Ultima brand. I did want a set of Bendix pads to match the front but they were all out, so had to settle for these. Cheaper and without the stripe, time will tell if they’re up to snuff.

Meet the tools:

While the tyre iron is perfectly fine, I much prefer the extra leverage you get with a breaker bar and I find cracking the lug nuts off so much easier with the bar.

The tire iron is there to use the ‘McGuard’ wheel nut that the original owner applied to stop people stealing their…er factory wheels.

High tech anti theft Stagea wheel nut

For the socket wrench I used both a long and short 14mm socket depending on how much room I had to work with to undo part of the caliper.

The G-Clamp is for slowing winding back the brake pistons and while the jack is a little small for this job (I originally bought it to do stuff on my Rx7) it still gets things off the ground just fine.

Not pictured: Hammer. Just a standard claw hammer when when things need a little persuasion to come off. Also a flat head screwdriver comes in hand for prying out stuck brake pads.

If you’re a big Amazon shopper, here’s a few links to help get you started:

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So how hard was it all up?

Not difficult once you have general understanding of how it all works. Usually I remove one bolt on the inner caliper and loosen the other so the caliper swings out but doesn’t drop off the disk but with the Nissan setup here I found the caliper was very easy to remove and put back with the new pads installed. In hindsight I remembered you should rest it on something rather than let it hang.

Slides out easily

Then comes the slow process of winding back the brake piston with the g clamp. You do this slowly so that the fluid in the lines you’re pushing back doesn’t suddenly pop out of your brake reservoir. Gently does it.

Back you go!

From there the new brake pads pop in. Depending on the car and the setup sometimes they slot in easily, sometimes there is a little pushing, shoving and swearing involved.

Ahh much better…

(A quick comparison of old vers new.)

 Now the wheel is back on, drive time?

Almost. Because you pushed the pistons back to fit the new pads, your brake pad will have more give than the Salvation army. Slowly pump the pedal a couple of times to push things through until the pedal returns to it’s normal (or in some cases better) firmness. Don’t back down a steep driveway until you’ve done this. Trust me on this.

Time for bed(ding)

Wait what? Bedding. It’s the art of making your brakes and disc rotor become really good grippy friends. A helpful guide on how to do this can be found right here.

Handy tip – drive around with your in car entertainment system off and the windows down. While your brakes might feel okay, still listen out for any sounds that may need attention. 

And that’s it – all up it took roughly an hour (with plenty of mini coffee sip breaks in between) and then a five minute blurt around a few blocks to make sure everything was bedded comfortably and not squealing for any reason.

Right now that the brakes are done, can’t wait to see what the safety inspection report is going to dredge up instead next week…

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