Author: Todd Marcucci
Before You Start...
Fade, or a "mushy" pedal can come from a number of sources. Under hard braking, the stock brake lines can expand and cause the brake pedal to feel mushy and unresponsive. Stainless steel brakelines help to eliminate this expansion and consequently, the brake pedal feels firmer and gives better feedback. Pads can "outgas" and this gas can be trapped and effectively reduce your coefficient of friction between the pad and the rotor. The pad can also become "glazed" where the surface actually hardens, reducing the friction as well.
The purpose of this writeup will be to show you how to replace your pads and rotors on a 4th gen REGARDLESS of what pad or rotor you choose. Coincidentally, the process for the 4th and 5th gen Preludes is nearly identical, though 4th gens do differ slightly in hardware between Si and VTEC models. The installaton here was performed on a 4th gen VTEC model. In this intance, Powerslot slotted rotors and Axxis Metal Master pads were used. This is a popular and effective combination for improving braking performance, and is a cost-effective alternative to buying stock parts.
This writeup assumes that you have either done some brake work before or ar at least familiar with the general process. For the complete novice, or if you want a very detailed writeup, please visit Trevor Cordes' site. Many thanks to him for his extremely detailed writeup and sharing it with us!
What You Will Need
Front Brakes We will do the front brakes first. After breaking torque on the front lug nuts, jack up the front of the car. Support it with two jack stands on either side of the car at the stock jack points (you will have to jack the car up by the front tow hook to do this). Once you jack it up, remove the front wheels. Using a 14mm socket, remove the lower slide bolt on the first caliper:
Once you remove this bolt you should be able to swing the caliper arm up and away from the rotor. If your brake rotors are well worn there might be a small "lip" formed on it that resists this. With the slider bolt removed, try and "pry" the arm (gently) to give you a little leverage. It should come up with a little effort.
With the caliper arm lifted up you can remove the pads. They "snap" into place in the caliper. Remove them but save any "shims" that come with them (thin metal pieces on either pad). These may be glued on, carefully seperate them from the pad.
Once you remove the pads we can remove the caliper bracket. Using a 17mm socket, remove the bolts shown here:
These may require a LOT of torque to remove and be need a little muscle. Once you remove the bolts you can remove the caliper/bracket as an assembly and lay it on the radius rod for support. BE CAREFUL to not damage the brake line or place undue stress on it. You should never stretch or kink it. If it is cracking, replace them (see our brake line installation page for more help with that.
Here is where the biggest problem people has with the brake job is. Most domestic vehicles and other imports use the force of the lug nuts to hold the brake rotor in place. Not Honda- they use phillips-head screws. Two of these hold the rotor to the hub. The problem people have is that you cannot use a standard (#2) screwdriver to get these off. You need a #3 (larger) bit and you will almost always need an "impact driver" to get them off. This is not some expensive tool, it's a $15 or so tool at Sears and most auto parts stores. This tool works like an impact driver when used with a hammer. Insert the #3 bit into the driver, hold the driver/bit FIRMLY in the screw head while turning it counter-clockwise (unscrewing), then give it a helluva good whack with the hammer. The impact forces the driver to "unscrew" (when held in an "unscrew" motion) with an incredible force. This is usually enough to dislodge the baked-in screws. Repeat for the other screw and pull the rotor towards you:
If you are looking for a dedicated track car, or only drive the car in fair weather (no rain), you can remove the splash/dust shield behind the rotor for better ventilation. Do NOT do this if you drive in the rain as you will increase the probability of warping the rotors (water on hot brakes will warp them almost instantly). To remove the shields, remove the circled screws and cut the shield along the arrow (hacksaw, dremel, etc.):
At this point... you're almost done. Assemble the new rotor like the old one came off. Use the #3 phillips bit to reinstall the rotor but do NOT use the impact driver. Tighten by hand, the heating/cooling cycles of the brakes will insure the screw will remain tight!
Once you get the rotor on, reinstall the caliper/bracket assembly. Torque the two mounting bolts to 80 ft-lbs. Once you do this, use the c-clamp to compress the brake piston slightly. As the pads wear the fluid and piston travel further out to take up the space... since you have new pads going in, the piston needs to be moved back in to fit the extra pad material.
You should only need to compress the piston a quarter to a half inch. Remove the brake master cylinder cap and be sure you don't overflow it as the fluid is forced back into it:
Before you install the new pads, you want to either use a new shim (if provided with the pad) or use the old shims that came off the old ones. Vibration of the pad is what causes squeaking and shims and "stop squeak" compound are used to help prevent this. Your local auto parts store should have something either in a can or a pouch labeled as "Stop Squeak," "No Squeak," etc. Purchase some of this and spread or spray it onto the BACK of the pad:
If you use shims, it's a good idea to spray it on both sides of the shim (pad and piston/ caliper side). Once you spray this goop and let it dry (read the directions), you are ready to install the pads back in the caliper. Note that the wear indicator (bent metal tab) goes on the inboard side of the caliper. Place the pads against the rotor so that the caliper will swing in place over them:
Once you are done, lower the piston back onto the brake pads and install the lower slide bolt and torque it to 40 ft-lbs. Do the other side, and then you're done with the fronts!
Rear Brakes Lower the car off of the jack stands, then raise and support the rear similarly. Once you have it up, remove the rear wheels. The first thing you will need to do is remove the small "cover" on the caliper (two 10mm bolts):
Once you do you can access the slide bolts (12mm):
Both bolts need to be removed due to the parking brake assembly. It will need to be off in order to make the cable slack and move the caliper out of the way. Set it "out of the way" as you did the front one, being careful not to damage the brake line. Inspect the brake line and be sure to replace if there is any cracking. Now you can remove the two bracket bolts (14mm) and the bracket:
From here the process is almost identical to the fronts. Remove the two screws with the impact driver and remove/replace the brake rotor. Put the shims and "no squeak" on the pads and let dry. To push in the rear piston, though, you will need to turn the piston "in" towards the caliper. Your local parts store should have a tool for a ratchet that looks similar to this:
Anything large and flat enough to fit in the slots will work, but it does take some force to turn it. You will notice as you turn it "in" the piston receds into the caliper. Once you are done with that you can torque down the bracket bolts (40 ft-lbs) and then install the pads and slide bolts (17 ft-lbs), and then you're done!
We hope you enjoy your new brakes. As always, feel free to contact the author.
This page last updated 10/1/04.