Posted by Justin on 12 12th, 2012
Hi all, Richard from the CARiD.com staff here. My 2003 Volvo V70 was in desperate need of front pads and rotors. While I had gotten good service life from the factory pads and rotors, I was tired of the tremendous amount of brake dust collecting on the alloy wheels. The wheels would turn black from brake dust within a week of washing them! I was looking for a solution to this problem.
We at CARiD recently began selling brake components from EBC Brakes, a well-known and respected company making brakes for all kinds of vehicles. One item of theirs which caught my eye was their “EBC Redstuff Ceramic Low Dust Brake Pads”. For high-end European cars like my Volvo, they promise a significant reduction in brake dust. EBC recommended that the Redstuff pads be mated with their “USR” (slotted) rotors, so I ordered up a set, and had the parts within a few days. Yesterday was rainy, but was as good a day as any to pull my car into the garage and get it done! Oh, and just ignore the ‘57 BMW Isetta lurking in the background!
NOTE! This blog entry is NOT intended to serve as a complete set of instructions for replacing the brake pads and rotors. While there are some helpful hints, you should read all the instructions and heed all safety and other warnings when working on your car. Most importantly, if you feel the job is beyond your mechanical capabilities, PLEASE seek the help of a professional technician!
When doing any kind of service, repair, or replacement work on your vehicle, “the key” to a job well-done is the preparation. Just like painting a room in your house, the prep work you put in ahead of time will show up as a professional-looking job at the end.
First on the prep list? SAFETY! The car was put on jack stands (NEVER work on a car supported only by a floor jack!). Adequate lighting was used, and I made sure that I had all the proper tools and equipment on hand before starting the work.
Next, I opened up the boxes from EBC and verified that I had the correct pieces. I removed one wheel/tire (in this case, the right side), and as you can see in this photo, this rotor is toast! While not scored, the rotor is showing a thick “lip” both outside and inside, meaning, the pads have done a great job wearing away a lot of the rotor material.
Time to get to work. To remove the rotor, one must first unbolt the caliper (for the uninitiated, it’s right in the picture).
The caliper was unbolted by removing 4 bolts, 2 holding the sliding portion and 2 holding the fixed portion. There is no need to disconnect the hydraulic line! However, to protect that line, hang the caliper using a stiff wire (a coat hanger works great) from the spring. With the caliper out of the way, the rotor easily came off the car. Look at the other side! Here, again you can see how worn the rotor is, and you can also see all the rust on the inside.
This part of the job didn’t take long at all, and we are almost ready to install the new rotor from EBC!
Before mounting the rotor to the hub, clean that mating surface! Remember, prep work is key, and sometimes, the prep work is done in the middle of a job! Using a solvent like Brakleen or similar, and a wire brush, clean away all signs of rust, grease, corrosion, etc. on the hub. This way, you help ensure that the new rotor will sit firmly and solidly against the hub surface. Failure to perform this step may result in the brake vibration, premature pad or rotor wear, or even worse! Do it! It takes 3 minutes!
Because the rotors are slotted, they are directional. EBC does a nice job of clearly marking the boxes so that it is obvious to the installer that there is a left rotor and a right rotor. In this picture, you can also see the dark protective coating that is applied to the entire rotor. This will wear away from the friction surface after a very short amount of driving.
Here you can see the new EBC slotted rotor mounted on the car, with the fixed portion of the caliper also bolted back in place. (Also note the jack stand – I practice what I preach!) I must admit, that rotor looks sharp! It’s already time to install the brake pads, but not before taking care of a few more important “prep” steps.
Remember that my pads and rotors were very worn. How worn? One pad on each side had about 1mm of pad material remaining, when the recommendation is to replace the pad with 2mm of material left.
One neat thing about disc brakes is that as the pads wear, the caliper “self-adjusts” by allowing the piston to travel further out of the caliper. The problem is that the new thicker pads cannot be installed unless we push that piston back into the caliper.
I use a special spreader tool, and as you can see in the photo, I use the old pads to give the tool something to press against. The piston (red arrow) is being pushed back in (to the left), which will allow the new pads to fit.
It is also a good practice to loosen or remove the brake master cylinder cap when retracting the piston. This way, any brake fluid which is pushed back has space to move into. I ALWAYS put a rag around the top of the master cylinder to catch any fluid which might spill. Don’t forget to tighten the cap when you’re done!
Here are the front and back of the new “Redstuff” pads, conveniently painted red for identification! The pads of course, are slotted and chamfered, as many new pads are. Also, note that they are made of a ceramic material, and that is how they help gain their “low dust” property.
The piston has been fully pushed back into the caliper, the new pads are located in the caliper, and the caliper is ready to be bolted back onto the hub. Again, note the jack stand (peeking out at you in the lower left), and also note the wire which was used to hang the caliper out of the way.
This is what DONE looks like! Pads, rotor, and caliper have all been returned to their rightful places. For this side of the car, I need to reinstall the wheel/tire, then repeat on the other side.
A thorough job means ensuring that you do ALL the following:
EBC has an “early use – bedding in” procedure which they include with their instructions. Follow it, and you will get maximum performance and life from your new brakes.
FINAL NOTE: I drove the car to work this morning, and I was AMAZED at how quiet and firm-feeling the new 2003 Volvo V70 Brakes were! I have every expectation that my new EBC brakes will also meet my needs when it comes to low brake dust!
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