Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Replacing front brake pads on a 2007 Honda Odyssey: When all else fails…

My niece said that the brakes on her 2007 Odyssey minivan were shot. "Are they squealing?" I asked. That was two weeks ago, she said. It's beyond that; now the noise was more like a scraping. She wanted to take it to Chevron to have them do the needful. My dad, who looks 77 though he'll be 92 pretty soon, said it would cost a fortune and they probably wouldn't be able to do it today anyway. He said we could Just Do It, to coin a phrase.

Where's the nearest auto parts…? It was O'Reilly's, where the old Pawaa (later "Cinerama") theater used to be. So I ran down there and bought a set of ceramic pads. I seemed to remember reading something from Ray Magliozzi (of "Car Talk") about how they stopped better and lasted longer than the plain vanilla ones, and were quieter and cost less than the super-deLuxe ones. While the clerk was fetching the parts, I looked at the book rack. There was a Chilton's repair manual for the Odyssey, 2001-2010 or so. How much? $29, she said. I figured it would pay for itself, but I didn't know at the time that payback would be within half an hour.

I returned to the house to find that Dad had brought out an impact driver and a tool box, and was getting ready to remove one wheel. I tracked down the car's jack and started elevating the right front (passenger) quarter of the car.

We removed the wheel and the hubcap promptly fell off. This struck me as weird: the hubcap is held on by the lug bolts. Anyway, Dad pointed out the caliper mounting bolts. I started trying to loosen the top one, but didn't make much headway. I mean, I could whack the far end of my 14mm box wrench with my hand and it would move—either direction!—yet it never got looser. Same with the lower one. Finally, in desperation, I decided to RTFM and discovered two very important things:

  1. Remove only the bottom bolt—don't touch the top one; and
  2. When trying to turn the bolt, use another wrench (19mm open-end) to hold the retaining nut.
Whoa! That was the big surprise. And thank goodness I decided to buy the manual. Without it, I don't know how many advice pages and youtube videos I would have looked at.

As far as other surprises, I forgot to replace the clips on the front-right brakes; when doing the front-left (driver side) I remembered. Naturally I remembered the anti-squeal brakes on the right side but almost forgot it on the left, but Neil mentioned it and I added it.

The manual also had the hint of using a C-clamp to compress the brake pistons. Fine idea, but we didn't need it. My "doing what comes naturally" plan worked fine.

The driver-side pads were definitely shot. The "squeal to alarm the driver when the pad gets too low" indicator had sheared off, and the wear indicator was gone, too, indicating that yes, the pads were toast (the passenger-side pads still had some wear left in them). We didn't replace the rotors as this was a rush job. I told my niece, and her husband: Next time, replace the rotors too.

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