Adventures in My Garage

Things I’ve learned in the last week while attempting — for the first time EVER — to do a brake job.

REMOVING the calipers, pads, and rotors from the rear end of an Audi A4 isn’t all that hard, if you have all the tools;
RETRACTING the piston in the caliper, however, is tricky, you can’t just compress the piston with a big C-clamp, you have to turn it too;
BUYING the Bentley manual for the car isn’t always enough to know how to fix it;
HEEDING that manual’s advice when it says “use special tool xxxxx” might be a good idea;
EVEN THOUGH you might have researched it on the Internet, and think you know a way to DIY;
BECAUSE both turning and compressing the caliper piston at the same time are required, which means you need, um, a special tool, just like the book says;
BUT you can rent the tool at Autozone for FREE (deposit is fully refunded upon return), and it works great, though I, of course, had to first compress one piston enough, using mostly arm strength, to fit it fully in there;
REALLY wish I’d known all this before starting, to save time and money;
SINCE I did not, I decided to bleed fluid from the rears, on the theory that this would help compress the piston;
IN THE COURSE of doing this I ripped one of the caliper dust boots;
AUDI charges $54 for a caliper rebuild kit which consists of: a couple of rubber dust boots, a couple of rubber O-rings, and a packet of pink goop … FIFTY … FOUR … DOLLARS! ;
IN ORDER to change these out, you have to now extend the pistons, which you’ve just spent time retracting, using the special tool you thought you didn’t need in the first place;
I WAS UNABLE to get this to happen, either because I’m a moron, or because my calipers are seized, or because (as I later found out) of the air in the lines;
IF my calipers are seized, it is probably something I did, because they used to work;
NOW I have to bleed the brakes, to get out the air that I introduced without gaining any other advantages, and I did this yesterday, and hopefully I actually got all the air out (if only fluid is coming out of the bleeder, does that ALWAYS mean you’ve expelled all the air?);
UNFORTUNATELY, as I am to find out, I did not get all the air out, so the pedal goes to the floor and does nothing to stop the car;
THE PARKING BRAKE does work though, so my calipers aren’t seized, and the pads and rotors are probably OK;
FURTHER I decided that since the brake fluid needed to be changed anyway, to flush the whole system, which would also bleed any remaining air out too;
SO I had to once again jack up the car and remove all four wheels to bleed the brakes completely;
DID THIS on Sunday, in about an hour, and voila!, the mushy pedal is gone, and all brakes now work, which is good since I drove it on public roads last night;
REAR brakes are a pain because the parking brake is integral to the way they work, ie, the reason the piston compresses via turning it;
AUDI QUATTRO rear suspensions sure are complicated compared to a standard FWD car – upper and lower control arms, struts instead of shocks, various linkages to sway bars, etc., plus of course CV joints and driveshafts because it is AWD;
MY A4 needs some new bushings and whatnot back there, and maybe new struts, but this will have to wait;
BRAKE cleaner is awesome stuff for degreasing and general cleaning … what is this stuff, kerosene?;
STILL have to put the new caliper dust boots on someday;
IF you need auto parts for an Audi, try blauparts.com, they have lots of parts, a nice website, and helpful, friendly people on the phone;

That’s about it, I think.

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2 comments
  1. Mike said:

    What a revelation: A Cubs team that makes life difficult on opposing pitchers. They did it to Saito last night and then again to Herges tonight.

    I thought the Cubs organization was philosophically opposed to this idea. I see walks, hitting to the opposite field, making pitchers work… a real baseball team. Thank god for Lou. I already wrote at my blog that this is the best Cubs team I’ve ever seen. I don’t care if they lose every game from here on in. This team, as currently assembled, is by far the best I’ve seen. You?

    I temper this positivity with the new of Doug Collins’ hiring by the Bulls. Uy uy uy. Well, on the bright side, at least it guarantees that Avery Johnson isn’t the coach.

  2. Yeah, they’re plenty good … for now. We’ll see if they can do it in October.

    I’ve seen this happen too many times before to get TOO jazzed about it.

    It is fun to watch a team that plays smart, winning baseball though. And you’re so right, Lou is the key to the whole thing. Hendry claims he’s always been an OBP guy; I call bullshit. The whole organization has never in my lifetime, and probably never period, shown an organizational commitment to play the kind of winning baseball we see today.