Give me a Brake
by Pat Goss
Brakes. Oh so important but they seem so simple. But there’s so much to know about them. Number one, they wear. And that means you need to check them periodically. And if there’s ever a change in the way the brakes feel, or that they make noise or anything like that you get them checked immediately.
Here’s and example of when you don’t do that. Everything is destroyed. Right down to the caliper and the pads the rotors, the whole thing. The driver of this van said he didn’t hear a thing. Maybe his radio was just too loud.
Additionally, brakes need service. Primarily they need to be bled periodically. That means we’re going to flush all the old fluid out of them. And that means we’re going to be dealing with bleeder valves.
Bleeder valves have a nasty habit of seizing into the caliper. So it’d be a good idea to spray them down with a rust penetrant or coat them literally with grease at least once a year. That will prevent them from seizing. When it comes time to loosen these valves, make sure that you use the right type of wrench.
Certainly you wouldn’t use anything this big, but the difference here – this is a 12 point, this is a 6 point. 12 points tend to round these things off. 6 points grab them firmly.
There is a problem thought. Bigger bleeder valves, they tend to round off. Smaller ones tend to break off. And if you manage to break one off there are some things you can do.
You see here we broke this one off. Here we have a set of tools that might work to get that out and save the caliper. These are left handed drill bits. They turn in the opposite direction. They turn down in there and as they’re drilling they are trying to turn it out.
Sometimes that works. If it doesn’t, you may be able to get it out with the extractor that fits the drill bit where you have drilled down in there. It also works in the reverse. And when it comes to bleeding, always make sure you use the proper type of fluid. Here we have a neat kit from Eastwood Tools. This is a set of wrenches. They have this socket, 6 point, to fit down over the bleeder valve.
You put this hose on it. This hose has a check valve so as you push the air out, it doesn’t suck air back in. Really clever idea. Also remember that pads and calipers, they move in there and they need to be lubricated. That’s usually about once a year. Make sure you use the proper brake lubricant. Not some general purpose lubricant. Because brakes get hot.
And brake lubricants withstand heat. That will make your brakes work better. And last longer.
If you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.