As the dominant choice for both front and rear brake systems for the last quarter-century, disc brakes offer a number of advantages over drums, including better serviceability. Without having to deal with return springs and adjustment wheels, a nice clean disc brake rotor and pad replacement should take about half the time a drum brake service requires.
But that’s not to say disc brake service doesn’t benefit from taking your time and paying attention to the details as you go along. Sure, you could breeze through and be back on the road in no time, but with a little bit of forethought you can get the best performance from your new brakes, avoid extensive damage, and make your next brake replacement go much smoother.
We followed along as tech columnist Jim O’Clair got his hands dirty replacing the brakes on a late-model Subaru and pointed out various tips, tricks, and other good advice for servicing pretty much any vehicle with disc brakes.
Hang The Caliper
While you should always inspect the brake hoses and the calipers when taking apart the disc brakes for service, it’s not always necessary to replace the hoses and calipers.
In those instances when you’re replacing just the rotors and pads, make sure to hang the caliper up and away from your workspace rather than just let it dangle by the hose. Brake hoses aren’t meant to be kinked or stretched, and dangling the caliper can do both, leading to damage
.While you could easily buy a caliper hanger set or devise a caliper hanger from zip ties, rope, or an old cloth, Jim fashioned one from a length of chain and a couple of hardware store S-hooks that he had laying around to make an easily adjustable, simple to use hanger. Make sure to hang the caliper from something sturdy and not from a brake line, hose, or fender liner.