A year or so ago, the wife and I paid about four hundred bucks for some jokers at a shop to replace the brakes on our Mazda. The next day, the car was making a horrible noise, so we took it back. They claimed “defective brake pads” and replaced them again. In the past twelve months, it’s been back for brake work another two times, most recently a couple weeks ago. I’m hoping they finally got it right this time. I’m tired of waiting around a boring, fluorescent-lit waiting room to get my car back for a “warranty service” that shouldn’t have had to happen.
Meanwhile, lately, our Honda has been making the “fork scraping across a ceramic dinner plate” sound. The last thing I planned to do was take it to the idiots who’ve been dealing with the Mazda for all of 2013. Researching shops and figuring out how to get it in around my work and commute schedule was feeling like a major pain in the ass though. Oh, and I’ll be damned if I’m spending my day off waiting for a brake job.
This afternoon, the Honda made the plate-scraping sound all the way home from work. All the way across the Bay Bridge. All the way from the middle of San Francisco to the top of the Oakland Hills. All the way 21.3 miles. Ugh.
So, I got a wild hair up my backside and stopped at Autozone on the way home. It’s “hare” isn’t it? That makes so much more sense than “hair”. Anyway, I bought brake pads and rotors (those round disk-looking things). I also bought a trolley jack, jack stands, brake cleaner, grease, and a brake piston compressor. All of this was a little under two hundred bucks. About half what I paid those assholes who’ve been jacking around with the Mazda. If I already had the tools and stuff, it’d been $100.
Oh, and I didn’t buy the crappy pads either. I had a choice of “organic” (which apparently means “metal”), ceramic, or Kevlar. Since I didn’t wanna be a cheap ass, but I don’t need bulletproof brake pads, I went with the ceramic. Ceramic are badass. Ceramic are appropriate for a California Honda. Maybe I should have looked for a cold-air induction setup and some sticker graphics while I was there.
The second I got home, I changed into my nastiest clothes, jacked up the car, pulled off the wheels, and started disassembling brake calipers. I got completely covered in grease, which took a while to clean, but I finished the job in a couple of hours. That included scrubbing the wheels, tires, hubcaps, and lug nuts clean, which the monkeys at the fix-it place wouldn’t have done. It also includes my trying to break free that one goddamned stubborn bolt on the back of the driver’s-side caliper that I couldn’t get a decent angle on with a wrench ’cause the godforsaken strut was in the way. I also included time to stop and take some pictures… and I scrubbed the working bits of the calipers with an old toothbrush.
The bonus I got out of this exercise is that I got to feel so much like a man! Seriously, I haven’t wrenched on a car since I helped a friend swap batteries in his GTi (hotrod-ish VW Rabbit) back in 2006. Oh, and Volkswagen does all kind of crazy crap like put the fuse block on top the battery and make you remove all kinds of complicated tie-downs that are integrated with the ignition cable. If you have a VW, just take the damned thing to the shop… or trade it for a simpler car to work on. Digression.
Like I said, I hadn’t wrenched on a car in years. I’ve NEVER done any work to this Honda save for replacing the wiper blades. Not having to do work is why I bought it after all… before that I’d had a couple Mustangs, one old, one new, that I was constantly jacking around with. I kind miss that jacking around. It connects me to my inner troglodyte.
I took the car out for a test run and realized that, WOW, I had been driving a dangerous car. Apparently I’d been stopping via the Fred Flintstone heel stomp maneuver without realizing it. The car stops like it should now. I guess that had something to do with the pads almost being worn down to look like panty liners. It also doesn’t make the ugly noises any more. Maybe I should change the oil. I think it’s been like a year.