Remembering The Basics Ensures A Quality Job And Eliminates Comebacks
The good news is there is a profitable alternative to the extra time required to restore the performance of a caliper assembly. The availability of affordable loaded or friction-ready calipers for all popular applications are often a better choice for both you and the customer. The customer gets his/her car back, the shop can stay on schedule and you have the piece of mind of installing a quality part with the protection of a warranty for both you and your customer.
The question of loaded versus friction-ready goes to the shop's policy and preferences. While loaded calipers can offer a good value, you want to be sure they include a pad you're comfortable installing on the car. And, in some cases, like when only the caliper needs to be replaced (although I prefer to replace them in pairs), friction-ready units might be the best choice.
If you are replacing a caliper that has locked up and created a great deal of heat, you should also replace the brake hose. This is a good practice anytime, but particularly important with the Honda line as there have been some instances of the hose failing at the caliper fitting after being subjected to the extreme heat.
Many of us made the investment in on-the-car lathes when the captured rotors were popular; it's still a good option as long as the rotors are in good shape, and they're not at minimum thickness. Many of the cars that are so equipped are getting older and, more often than not, you'll find yourself replacing the rotors. It's not difficult and will be made much easier with the use of a hub removal tool. In a perfect world, wheel bearings would be replaced with every rotor replacement. But with a little care, the bearings can be reused. Be sure the bearings are cleaned, packed with grease and the seal is in good shape.
Another upside to replacement versus resurface is that you've restored the mass with a replacement rotor, whereas you remove it with a resurface, making the resurfaced rotor more likely to warp as a result of heat. With either type of rotor, it's critically important that the hub surface where the rotor mounts is clean and free of rust; the rotor should slide onto the hub. If it doesn't, find out why (don't pull the rotor home with the bolts).
Like the lug nuts, the rotor bolts should be clean, lightly lubed and tightened evenly to the torque spec. With knock-off-style rotors, don't overlook the outside diameter of the hub. It's commonplace to find rust buildup that gets disturbed when the rotor is removed. In some cases, it will prevent the new rotor from sliding home. Either way, a few minutes spent removing the rust now is better than having the car kickback with a noise complaint or, worse yet, a damaged ABS sensor.
When faced with the complaint of poor braking performance, ask the customer if the pedal remains hard and solid, or does it fade to the floor? If fading is the problem, suspect that the master cylinder is leaking internally. You can usually duplicate the condition by lightly working the brakes while driving downhill. If the pedal is hard and firm, suspect the calipers or pads are stuck, as was just discussed.
The diagnosis of the booster is the same as on any other car. With the engine off, pump the pedal to empty the booster of vacuum, start the engine with your foot on the brake, and look for the pedal to go down as the vacuum builds. There have been some issues with the boosters leaking vacuum, which can be confirmed with some investigation with your stethoscope.
Pedals with excessive stroke that don't stop well will often go back to what we talked about earlier. If only one of the slider pins is seized, or the pads are flexing in the bracket, the boost-assisted hydraulic system will have no problems forcing things to move. A quick check for this problem is similar to the booster test. With the engine off, stroke the brake pedal to dump the vacuum. If the pedal feels good without boost, but you're able to get excessive stroke with boost, suspect excessive movement somewhere. You could clamp the brake hoses to pinpoint the comer, but why take the chance? You have to take it apart anyway, and if one comer needs to be serviced, you might as well check them all.
I mentioned earlier that a properly maintained brake system is critical to the performance of the anti-lock, traction control and vehicle stability systems. These systems, like the brakes, are very reliable and will give us little trouble but there are some issues we should be aware of.
When replacing a wheel bearing on an ABS-equipped vehicle, be careful that the bearing is installed in the correct direction. With the ABS encoder being internal, if it's installed "backward" you will have a nice quiet car with the ABS lamp lit. You can identify the proper bearing direction by the color of the seal; on most models the brown seal goes toward the axle, but be sure to check.
Another complaint that is often misdiagnosed as a brake problem is a noise when turning from the rear of the popular CR-V and Pilot models. This noise when turning at low speeds is actually coming from the rear differential. On these models, only the Honda "dual pump" oil can be used. Changing the oil will take care of the noise.
We've also had some issues on the CR-Vs with a groaning noise coming from the rear drum brakes. This noise was tracked down to the hardware losing its ability to hold the shoes against the backing plate. We now replace this inexpensive hardware with every shoe replacement.
Speaking of the ABS lamp and diagnosing the systems now associated with the brakes, we have reached the time where you will be hard-pressed to handle these tasks without the proper scanners and required knowledge. While it's hard to justify the cost of a dedicated OEM scanner, you should consider arming yourself with one of the aftermarket alternatives that will give you access to these systems for diagnostics as well as the necessary learning capabilities. They don't just make the job easier; we are at the point where they make the job possible.
For more details on ABS, TCS and VSA systems, check out the website and search ImportCar back issues for Honda ABS. You'll get plenty of good information.
I know this article is basic for many of you, but it never hurts to review some of the jobs we do on a routine basis. Hopefully, it also reminds you to include a thorough brake system inspection whenever a Honda or Acura finds its way into your bay. It will pay dividends for both you and your customer.
Enter your email to receive exclusive offers and discounts directly into your email inbox.
Contact Us