A few weeks ago at a family gathering my wife's Aunt, who is single and not a car person, showed me a quote from the dealership for a front brake job on her TL SH-AWD ('13 or '14) and asked me if I thought it was reasonable. Being put on the spot and knowing a brake job on a Honda/Acura is straightforward (plus I happen to be very fond of this aunt) I told her, "No. I can do it for hundreds less." I wasn't sure if she'd take me up on the offer or politely decline. She took my offer.
I ordered the parts from Amazon (gotta love Prime). Raybestos premium rotors and Akebono ProACT Ceramic pads. I also picked up fluid in case the system needed to be bled. And I asked her aunt to pick up engine and cabin air filters.
The car arrives on Sun AM. It's windy and the temperature is dropping so I get to it. First I changed the engine air filter which was very dirty. It had been changed last at 25k miles, the car now has 75k miles.
Then I moved to the main act, the brakes, starting with the RF. There's a notable amount rust on the brake and suspension components. Iron appears to be flaking off of the rotor from the edge and the cooling vanes plus there's a noticeable lip at the top of the friction surface.
One of the two screws holding the rotor on the hub is seized (I expected that). I had to drill it out. One of the caliper bolts took me a long time and a lot of effort to free up. I finally got the caliper off and notice the piston boots aren't in great shape, but I let it go because there's nothing to be done about it now.
(this picture of the inside of the rotor was taken the day after. You can see the iron is deteriorating, the inside pad was not making full contact, and the friction surface is glazed)
Then it was time to take the rotor off. It was STUCK. I was banging the it with a hammer, a rubber mallet: nothing. I took a 12mm bolt off of a brake line bracket and used it in one of the threaded pusher holes on the rotor. It finally budges. I put it in the other hole, turn it, and the rotor hat splits in two places radiating from the screw hole! And the rotor still won't come off! I've never had that happen before. Here I am with my wife's aunt's car in the driveway on a Sunday afternoon now in an undriveable condition after I told her, "No problem, I'll change your brakes." I bang it again with the mallet for what seemed like an hour. It would rock a little bit but would not come off. It was time to panic. I text my good buddy who is better with this stuff. He calmed me down and told me to get longer screws to use in the pusher holes, not to give up, and that I wasn't going hurt the hub no matter what I do. I run to Lowes and frantically get two longer M8 1.25 screws. I get back to the car and crank on them. Now the other side of the rotor cracks! Have to keep going. I keep turning the screws and banging the rotor. The cracks are growing but the rotor slowly moves off of the hub and wheel studs. Massive relief. I clean up my defecation from the driveway and get on with it.
New rotor goes on, pads go on, and slide pins cleaned & lubed so I decide to start bleeding. Even though starting with the RF was out-of-sequence, the temp. was dropping and I was racing darkness with a whole other side left to do and three more lines to bleed. The fluid was the color of apple cider.
I get to the LF wondering if the same fate awaits me. After a lot of banging on my impact driver, I was able to get both rotor-hub screws out, the caliper came off relatively easily, and using my two long M8 1.25 screws I was able to get the rotor off. New rotor goes on, pads go on, slide pins cleaned and lubed, line is bled (my wife is on the pedal for me). The LF took a fraction of the time the RF did; this is the way it should be!
Time to bleed the RR. My wife reports a soft pedal. Not sure how air could've gotten in there but the fluid looks good and I don't see bubbles so I button that corner up.
Time to bleed the LR. Starts OK and then my wife reports a soft pedal. We keep going with the fluid coming out at a slow drip. Air bubbles start to come out. OK, progress. Pedal firms up but we keep going because I wasn't satisfied with the color of the fluid yet. Soft pedal again. We keep going and all of a sudden a frothy mass of fluid comes out. I've never seen that before. At this point my wife's Aunt is looking over my shoulder and I play it off like 'no problem' even though that's not what I was thinking. We keep going. More air comes out. Finally, as I was running out of new brake fluid, the pedal firms up again.
I take the car out for a road test and all seems to be OK. Then, as a matter of pride, I cannot let her leave with the engine bay looking like it did (knowing it would also need an exterior wash to remove splash from the front fenders). It is now getting dark but I press on giving the bay a spray of degreaser (P21S Total Auto Wash) and a good rinse with the hose. I prepare my wash water and give the exterior a quick wash and dry.
Her aunt comes out to leave, gets in the car, and it's really
slow to crank. I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me?!" It starts and I tell her it will charge on the way home but to have the battery tested anyway.
I put everything away and go in the house to warm up and relax. I'm barely able to move at this point because my lower back is so sore from crouching down all day wrestling lug nuts, caliper bolts, rotors, etc. In hindsight I feel really good about pulling it off with the obstacles and giving the car some TLC it would not have received at the dealership.
There's a lesson to be learned here. Her Aunt, not being a car person, doesn't really wash her car in the winter when there's salt on the roads (plus it's white so it doesn't *appear* dirty as quickly). Because of that, the brake and suspension components were in a condition I would not expect to see on a 4 year old Acura (maybe a 10 year old Acura or like a 5 year old Subaru :-P).
Hope you enjoyed the story and remember to tell your friends and family, whose cars you may have the pleasure of working one one day, to keep up with maintenance and cleaning year-round!