Changing the brake pads on a 1990 348 - What could be easier?
Changing the pads on a 348 is about the easiest operation you’ll have on the car. This was my first “behind the caliper” experience and it was both fun and educational. First off, if you follow my directions, I take no responsibility for your results, performance, safety or anything else. Brakes are a critical safety item, and if you’re not comfortable taking your life into your own hands,
have a dealer/professional do it for you.
Materials you’ll need
1. New brake pads. I got my EBC Greenstuff pads from Tirerack.com. They arrived in about 2 days and cost around $90 per axle. The front and rear pads are identical, there is no difference in the SKU (pic#1).
2. Nice low-profile floor jack
3. Two jackstands
4. DOT3/4 brake fluid – just a small bottle is probably enough. (About $3.00 from Pep Boys)
5. Some nice pliers and maybe a vice-grip if you’re not too strong
6. A big ol’ flathead screw-driver for pushing the pistons back into the calipers. A word of advice – a buddy loaned me his fancy piston-compressing tool and I was so excited to use it. But guess what, the Ferrari calipers are about 1 micron too small, and the device (he got from Pep Boys) wasn’t used in this process. Get a screwdriver, it’ll work fine.
7. Anti-squeal spray. (About $3.00 from Pep Boys)
8. A brake bleeder kit (About $10 from Pep Boys)
9. A 10mm open ended wrench for the bleeder screws.
10. Rubber gloves, if you dont like your hands to get dirty.
11. Some Diet Coke, Heineken, or whatever floats your boat.
1. Loosen, but do not remove or unscrew the lug nuts on a rear wheel.
I chose to replace the back pads first. This was a good decision because there is no wear sensor wire on the back – and it gave me some “simple” time to see how everything fits together. I’d recommend if this is your first R&R, do the rears first.
Although I realize it’s really a bad idea to jack the car from the cross-brace under the gearbox, I did it anyway. I only needed to get the car into the air long enough to slide a jack-stand under the proper frame section. In retrospect, jack stands aren’t even necessary for this operation and I could have done everything with just the floor jack.
Once the jackstands were in place, I removed the floor jack. I didn't want all that stress on the cross member (pic#2).
2. Release the retaining spring (pic#3).
Use a nice firm pliers. Squeeze the retaining pins in the middle, essentially compressing the spring downward (to release the top portion and swing away. My rotors look rusty – but it’s because I washed the car and put it in the garage without driving anywhere.
3. Remove the old pads.
Just grab onto the pads with a pliers and gently pull them out. It won’t be like butter, but a gentle rocking back and forth will loosen them. I used the vice-grips here because I’m lazy and didn’t want to work that hard with the needle nose pliers! On other wheels around the car, I used a smallish Phillips head screwdriver to simply jimmy the pads out using the pre-drilled holes on their backing plates. Do whatever makes you feel good – just get the pads out.
4. Compare the old pads to the new pads (pics#4-5)
Looking at these old Galfer pads next to my new EBC’s was scary.
The rear pads were about 50% worn… (wait until you see the front pads!!)
5. Put some anti-squeal spray on the backing plate of 2 new pads (pic#6).
Make sure you don’t get this stuff anywhere near the pad material, rotor, or anything that moves. It’s sticky, goopy, and stinky stuff. Just spray it enough to coat… no need to go crazy. The second picture was a bit premature… I ended up putting a little more on the pad (pic#7).
6. Put the coated pads aside, let them get tacky.
7. Draw some brake fluid from the reservoir.
Open the brake fluid reservoir in the front trunk. Liberally cover bodywork and stuff with cruddy towels. Use a turkey baster or something similar to remove a little bit of fluid from the about ½ cup is enough. It’s important to remove some fluid because when the calipers are pressed back into the pistons (next step), we’ll be pushing fluid backwards through the system… it’ll want to come gushing out from the reservoir.
8. Push the 4 pistons back into the caliper.
Gently using s screwdriver or similar implement, push each piston back into the caliper. I wedged the screwdriver through the back of the caliper (where the pads were removed) and pried the pistons in… Hydraulics are so cool. When you push one piston in, the other one will come back out somewhat. Just switch back and forth between the pistons, and eventually they all go back into the caliper. They don’t have to be flush – just enough to slide the new pads in. Once the pistons are in, go check that brake fluid and see if you made a big mess.
9. Put the new pads in (pic#8)
On a 348, all the pads are the same. Just make sure the backer plate is toward the pistons. I put the pads in using a pliers because all the anti-squeel compound is messy. I didn’t want it on my hands or other parts of the braking system. Slide the pads in – just enough to “look right” where the pads are essentially flush with the caliper except for the little nibs.
10. Close the retaining spring.
Hah! Sounds simple, right? It’s a serious pain in the arse. Use a vice grips to compress the spring and make sure it’s properly seated before doing anything else.
11. Bleed the system a little bit.
There’s a chance you’ve introduced a little air into the system during the piston compressing, reservoir reduction, etc. You might want to bleed the system through each of the two nipples on the caliper. Remove the rubber plug, turn the nut about ¼ turn using a 10mm wrench, and attach you bleeder kit. Pump the pedal a few times, check the reservoir, and add a little fluid to keep it toped up. Fluid will drain into your bleeder kit. If there are no bubbles in the bleeder line, consider yourself done with that particular nipple and close it up.
Check out this picture… is that some good camera work, or what? The fluid was just entering the bleeder hose (pic#9).
12. Put the wheel back on.
OK… if you don’t have a wheel hanger, this is probably a serious pain in the rump. A wheel hanger is a simple aluminum threaded rod (about 8 inches long) that goes into the hub before the wheel is attached. Then, fit the wheel on the rod where is gently hangs and screw the lug nuts in. Without a wheel hanger, you’ll sweat buckets while holding those heavy Speedlines against the hub. Gently tightly all the lugs -- do not torque them while the car is still jacked up!
A wheel hanger is your best friend when you're working with the wheels (pics#10-11)
13. Repeat the process for the other wheel, and the front wheels.
14. The front brakes have a wear sensor attached to the inboard pad. You really need to be carefully with this thing because the wires are quite delicate. Everything else is identical to the rear brakes (pics#14-15, pics#12-13 has been deleted).
15. Remove the sensor.
I just used a small flathead screwdriver and pried in backwards (toward the rear of the car). It is sort of “spring loaded” into the slots on the pad’s backing plate (pic#16)
16. The front pads are likely more worn-out than the rear pads. Here’s a comparison of my new EBC pads to the old Galfer pads (pic#17)
15. With all the wheels back on, brakes bled, and car lowered gently to the ground, fully torque the lug nuts.
16. Build pressure in the braking system.
With the brake reservoir closed, start the car in neutral on a flat surface with the parking brake disengaged. Press the brake pedal – wheee!! All the way to the floor it’ll go. Do it again. Do it again. Eventually, you’ll start to build pressure into the system and it will firm up considerably. The ABS and BRAKE lights on your cluster might stay lit for 15-30 seconds while pressure builds. Just stay cool, when pressure builds (assuming you’ve kept everything intact), the lights will turn off.
17. Bedding in the pads.
The following is from Dave Zeckhausen of Zeckhausen Racing:
Caution: When you've just installed new pads/rotors or a big brake kit, the first few applications of the brake pedal will result in almost no braking power. Gently apply the brakes a few times at low speed in order to build up some grip before blasting down the road at high speed. Otherwise, you may be in for a nasty surprise the first time you hit the brakes at 60 mph.
When following these instructions, please avoid doing it in the presence of other vehicles. Breaking in your new pads and rotors is often best done very early in the morning, since other drivers will have no idea what you are up to and will respond in a variety of ways ranging from fear to curiosity to aggression. And an officer of the law will probably not understand when you try to explain why you were driving erratically! Zeckhausen Racing does not endorse speeding on public roads and takes no responsibility for any injuries or tickets you may receive while following these instructions.
18. Final check A.
From a speed of about 60mph, gently apply the brakes to slow the car down to about 45mph, then accelerate back up to 60mph and repeat. Do this about four or five times to bring the brakes up to operating temperature. This prevents you from thermally shocking the rotors and pads in the next steps.
19. Final check B.
Make a series of eight near-stops from 60 to about 10 mph. Do it HARD by pressing on the brakes firmly, just shy of locking the wheels or engaging ABS. At the end of each slowdown, immediately accelerate back to 60mph. DO NOT COME TO A COMPLETE STOP! (Note: With less aggressive street pads and/or stock brake calipers, you may need to do this fewer times. If your pedal gets soft or you feel the brakes going away, then you've done enough. Proceed to the next step.)
20. Final check C.
During this process, you must not come to a complete stop because you will transfer (imprint) pad material onto the hot rotors, which can lead to vibration, uneven braking, and could even ruin the rotors.
21. Final check D.
Depending on the pads you are using, the brakes may begin to fade slightly after the 7th or 8th near-stop. This fade will stabilize, but not completely go away until the brakes have fully cooled. A bad smell from the brakes, and even some smoke, is normal.
22. Final check E.
After the 8th near-stop, accelerate back up to speed and drive around for as long as possible without using the brakes. The brakes will need at least 10 minutes to cool down. Obviously, it's OK to use the brakes to avoid an accident, but try to minimize their use until they have cooled.
23. Final check F.
If club race pads, such as Pagid Orange or Porterfield R4, are being used, add four near-stops from 80 to 10mph. If full race pads, such as Pagid Black, are being used, add four near-stops from 100 to 10 mph.
24. Final check G.
After the break-in cycle, there should be a blue tint and a light gray film on the rotor face. The blue tint tells you the rotor has reached break-in temperature and the gray film is pad material starting to transfer onto the rotor face. This is what you are looking for. The best braking occurs when there is an even layer of of pad material deposited across the face of the rotors. This minimizes squealing, increases braking torque, and maximizes pad and rotor life.
25. Final check H.
After the first break in cycle shown above, the brakes may still not be fully broken in. A second bed-in cycle, AFTER the brakes have cooled down fully from the first cycle, may be necessary before the brakes really start to perform well.