Almost 2 years ago I wrote my brake pad and rotor replacement 101 post detailing some of the stuff I went through to replace the brake pads and rotors on my 2004 Pontiac Sunfire. A few weeks ago I noticed that the car was pulsing a bit under heavy braking. That’s never a good sign. I took the car into my mechanic for a regular oil change and asked them to take a look at my brakes. With the good luck we recently had on the Pontiac Vibe brakes, I was hoping for the best but really expecting the worst.
Sure enough, my brake rotors are shot. Now, the interesting part – my brake pads were still in fantastic condition.
I actually had to come back home and read my original post to jog my memory about what parts I had put on the Sunfire. Turns out, I put the high quality Monroe brake pads from Canadian Tire on the Sunfire. Unfortunately, I put the cheapest rotors on as that was all they had at my local Canadian Tire the day I went in. I had been looking for the Monroe rotors at the time. Crap. Yes, the rotors lasted about 40,000km but having my mechanic tell me that the pads are still in fantastic shape irritates me.
What I’ve taken from this, and why I’m calling this post “Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement 102”, is that it’s probably better to spend money on good rotors instead of good pads. Well, at least don’t mix and match quality. ;)
Anyways, due to some recent changes in real life, I didn’t have time to do another brake pad and rotor job on the Sunfire myself so I dropped almost $450 at the garage for the brake inspection, adjustment and replacement, my oil change and my tires getting rotated. Barf. Here’s hoping I don’t have to do any brake work for at least 50,000km.
This weekend I attended Jeff’s brake pad and rotor replacement 101 course in his driveway. The donor car was my 2004 Sunfire (since it needed new brake pads and rotors according to my mechanic) and the attendance was rather pathetic – Jeff was there and so was I. Yeah, so Jeff offered to help me do a brake pad and rotor replacement job on my car because I mentioned how much the garage wanted ($250) to do it and he said it was super easy on the Sunfire (or Cavalier in his case) and that he would show me how to do it.
I picked up the parts from good old Canadian Tire which happened to have their Monroe brake pads on sale. Canadian Tire also has this fantastic loan a tool program where you can borrow some of these expensive specialty tools for no cost. I needed a tool to push the caliper piston back in once we replaced the brake pads and it turns out that is tool kit #18. I called around to a couple of the Canadian Tire stores in the Ottawa area (turns out the Kemptville store no longer loans tools as they had a bunch stolen) and finally tracked down kit #18.
Saturday afternoon we show up at Jeff’s place and start the job. Sure enough, the actual brake pad and rotor replacement only took a little over an hour for both front tires. It was quite easy. The problem came with trying to put the lug nuts back on the second wheel after we were pretty much done. See, while trying to remove the rusted on rotor, we had to resort to a hammer to convince the rotor to let go of the wheel bolts. While I was bashing on the rotor, my aim was a little off and I managed to destroy the thread on a couple of the bolts. This resulted in not being able to put the lug nuts back on. Aw crap. Back to Canadian Tire to see what we can do.
It turns out that the bolts are super easy (and super cheap) to replace, as long as you can get loan a tool kit #10 from Canadian Tire. Yeah, so we couldn’t get kit #10 anywhere in the city. I bought a couple new lug nuts to see if that would make any difference. It did because we were able to get 4 of 5 lugs back on. The problem was with that fifth stud. Needless to say, we managed to shear the stud off completely.
Anyhoo, we called it a day after that and I went home. Monday morning I dropped the car off at my mechanic’s garage and it turns out I should have just paid him the $250 to do the brake job in the first place. Almost $150 worth of labour and parts just to replace the studs on one hub. Now my brake job that started out at half the cost of what the mechanic wanted has cost me a case of beer more!