Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saving Money, Accomplishing Work, and Learning Things

I finished a rear brake job on the BMW today. I’m a bit proud that I did this myself, without help. Hopefully things work ok and I’ll keep an eye on the car for a few weeks, but so far in a short test drive to the gas station and a trip to the gym, things seem to be fine. Nothing overheating, no pulling, no strange marks on the rotors.

A few months ago the Suburban needed brakes. Rear brakes, calipers, rotors, e-brake. The local shop I often go to wanted $1300 to do all that. It’s a lot of work, but I wasn’t sure how much. My wife’s helper said he could do it and used to be a mechanic and it wasn’t bad, so I priced parts. About $300 in parts.

What?!?!?!? $300 is way far from $1300.

I started investigating. I’d changed pads a long time ago as a college student when I was trying to save money and learn about cars, but never rotors. I wasn’t even sure how to change a rotor, much less a caliper. It sounds hard.

Thanks to YouTube I found it wasn’t hard. I pulled the parts off of the Suburban, took some down to the local O’Reilly, and purchased new ones. I wanted to get them from 1AAuto, whose videos helped, but they were out of stock. I’ll go there next time.

I watched the guy do the work and found it wasn’t hard. So when I had a $600 estimate to do the rear brakes (pads and rotors only) for the BMW, I decided to tackle things myself. I found a few videos on YouTube and one blog, ordered parts (around $250) and got ready. The parts were here for a week before I found time, but Monday afternoon I managed to get things going. I had to hit the auto parts store for a few things, and spent another $200, but it was a good learning experience. I managed to get one tire done and ready, but couldn’t loosen a couple lug nuts on the second.


I ran the car up to the local tire guy, going slow with one new set of pads. They used an impact wrench, but couldn’t remove the lug nuts. With a long breaker bar, they could get it off, but the nuts were a mess. I was thinking I’d have to find a way to get to the store, but they called a parts store and had some in about 25 minutes. I had to wait, but I didn’t have to chance a dicey drive.

I got home, and then started to take things apart. The cleaning of the calipers and carrier is slow, so I quit last night to hit the gym. This afternoon I got back to it. With things cleaned, I managed to get the rotors ready.


In a bit of a hurry, I didn’t take more shots since I had gloves on. However, I managed to grease things up and install the pads and rotors.

About a $450 job, so not a lot of savings here, but I learned a few things, and I’m ready to do brakes on the Prius, the Suburban, and Kendall’s Stratus when needed.

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