Dirty Fingernails Again

I was fairly busy today. My sister in law was complaining that she needed brakes on the front of her car and her daughters needed them all the way around and a local shop quoted her $400 just for the front brakes on a 2008 Toyota Corolla and $500 for the brakes on a 90’s something Plymouth Acclaim.


Some “nice guy” where she works quoted her $200 for the front brakes on hers.


I figured I would be working on my POS Sprite today and I know if the rotors aren’t shot or the calipers aren’t leaking that it takes about a half an hour to slap some brake pads on these fuckers.


I had to go to NAPA anyway earlier so I called her and asked if her 18 year old kid was going to be around this weekend.

Yep she says.


Good, drag your narrow ass over here with that kid and your fucking car and I will teach the boy how to change your brakes using my tools.


About an hour later here she comes.

I showed the young man how to loosen the lug nuts BEFORE you jack the car up, where to put the jack so you aren’t tearing shit up and where to put the jack stands so it won’t fall on ya in case the jack slips or fails.


After he pulled the wheels I looked at the rotors and they were fine.

I threw her ass in my rig and took her down to get brake pads.

$60 for the intermediate grade.


I don’t get the “best” grade as I have run into problems of the material being so hard it literally polishes the rotors to a mirror finish and then they won’t grab , which is kinda like not having brakes.


I showed junior what to take off, why and how to push the caliper piston back in and put everything back together.




I even went all out and drug out my $250 Snap On torque wrench and showed him how to use that to tighten the lug nuts back up.


He’s a good kid and he picked it right up.


Of course, now she wants the other car done too.


Go get the fucker.


She comes back, I walk junior through it again and he knocked it right out.


She wanted a bunch of other shit looked at too and I told her not to push her luck.

I didn’t look at the back brakes on that little POS, it isn’t being driven currently and I wanted to get after my own shit.


In a week or two I’ll have her bring it back.

Spent damn near $200 at NAPA, fuck me some of that little crap a guy uses up in a garage is getting fucking spendy.

A quart of good motor oil is nine fucking dollars now.

Even the cheap shit is over five.


I didn’t get a whole lot of wrenching done on the Sprite but I did get the engine compartment cleaned up while I have that sitting empty and sanded down some rusty sheet metal in there and got it primered too.


Lots and lots to do on that miserable thing but I think I am just going to clean things up and put it back together to see if I can at least get it running and driving again this year.


It doesn’t take too long to yank the engine and transmission out so maybe next year I will pull those and strip everything out of the engine compartment, wiring, brake lines, all the hard parts and then clean it up real good and paint it all one color.


Who knows.


This is the first three day weekend I have had in so long I can’t remember so I plan on doing a whole bunch of fucking off too.


Thanks fer stopping by, I hope everyone has a nice weekend and don’t forget what Memorial Day is really all about.


9 thoughts on “Dirty Fingernails Again

  1. Brake jobs aren’t too bad -if they go the way they are supposed to. Changine rotors can be another thing entirely. Also helps if the parts store gives you the correct parts the first time, or you get the right parts -except for one forgotten somewhere in Mexico.

    But yeah, most of the time it’s worth doing your own.

  2. Sixbears, it depends on the car too. Changing rotors on my Jeep is ridiculously easy once you get the caliper off (which is just two bolts) — whack its backside with a rubber mallet, and it pops right off. Slap new one on done. Ain’t exactly talkin’ brain surgery here. I understand that there’s some cars out there that are more difficult, but I’ve never owned one of’em. Good thing that replacing rotors on my Jeep is so easy, BTW — according to a Jeep mechanic of my acquaintance, if you turn these rotors, generally they warp the next time you do heavy braking, because they’re so thin to begin with. Cheap-a$$ American design, sigh.

  3. Yeah, a lot of them are pretty simple, Two bolts or threaded pins and two bolts for the bracket.
    I have seen those bracket bolts be tighter than the hubs of Hell though and had to get out the breaker bar.
    You can use channel locks in a pinch to slide the caliper piston back in but I use a C clamp and one of the old pads,it;s fast.

    The RWD drive cars are usually the ones that are a pain because the rotor and hub are an assembly with the wheel bearings inside.

    That’s why it kills me to see these four and five hundred dollar estimates. I can knock these things out in a half hour all day long.
    Of course there is the huge liability issue and they are covering their asses by replacing everything.

  4. You have earned a handfull of “attaboys” for the brake jobs, plus teaching the kid how to do it.
    Back in the ‘GOOD OLE DAYS”, I pulled the engine and transmission out of my 60 Bugeye Sprite in 30 minutes many times when I was racing it. Of course, I had the hood assembly converted to front hinge and the whole thing came off in 5 minutes. Hope you get a few minutes of lay back after all of your hard work.

  5. 9 bucks for a quart of oil?!! HOLY SHIT! I bought TWO GALLONS of 10w30, 2 filters, and a roll of those blue shop towels just the other day for 50 bucks! I hope that is some Mobil synthetic or some shit you are talking about for nine bucks!

    1. Yeah, it was some extra speshul super duper shit called Royal Purple.


      It’s not a synthetic but it is supposed to be premium stuff with some awesome additives that make it like a hybrid between the two.
      Bought five gallons of solvent, a bunch of Brake Clean Tranny fluid, paint, oil filte,primer, all kinds of shit but still, a hundred and eighty bucks?!

      Like I said, even the cheap oil is five bucks a quart.

      Once in a while you can find some on sale but not very often is it the good stuff.

  6. Yah, C-clamp and old pad are my standard way of doing it too. I do seem to recall that the bearing was part of the assembly when I replaced the rotors on my old Chevy Chevette back in ’89 or so, but it wasn’t brain surgery even for that, it was basically one big-ass nut and the whole rotor / hub assembly came off. In any event, for my Jeep it’s ridiculously easy, the rotor just sits against the drive plate that the lug nuts go through, centered on the hub, and is held on by the lug nuts too. Solid drive axles on both ends, remember :).

    Regarding RedLine, their differential oil is the cat’s meow, but is expensive as $%@!. I used it in my old Jeep because it was the only thing that would quiet the clatter of the Aussie Locker in the front axle. Their motor oil, meh. The guys at BobIsTheOilGuy have done oil analysis on it after it’s been used for a while and it doesn’t even do as well as Mobil 1 (which is a pretty mediocre synthetic, though still better than the conventional stuff). They seem to like the Pennzoil Platinum Synthetic a lot, it’s both a slight bit cheaper than Mobil 1 and lasts better. But it’s still $5/quart…

  7. Ugh! I cannot do anything on my car. I did have guy friend who would help me out with brakes and stuff. my friend said he could no longer fix his own brakes because of age and arthritis. Now, I have to pay for it. Do not suggest I can do it myself. Physically, it would be impossible.

    There is a saying about asking people for help: Don’t ride a good horse to death. I was always careful about asking someone to do too much for me.

  8. Practical, I taught myself how to do a brake job out of a book when I was 11 years old, and then did it on a ’71 Ford Torino. And that was *drum* brakes, which are harder than disc brakes. And don’t suggest that it takes any physicality to do it, I weighed something like 60 pounds at the time. Hint: a long enough lever, and you can move the world. I.e., a big pipe over the handle of a ratchet can let even a 60 pound weakling apply 120 pounds of torque.

    I’ve paid to have a brake job done, but only when I was living in a tiny apartment with no place to do it. Any time I’ve had a garage or driveway, I did it myself. For one thing, I trust my work. I don’t trust the kids that they have doing this stuff in the shops (they put the kids to doing it because it’s too easy to need a master mechanic, at best the master mechanic looks at it after they have it all together again). But then, I know that I’m fastidious and detail-oriented when it comes to my work, and I don’t know jack about the new kid at the auto shop, so …

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