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Brake Pads and Rotors
Dodge Caravan

How hard is it to replace front brake pads on 1997 Dodge Caravan?

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2011-09-12 23:41:36
2011-09-12 23:41:36

A big plus of disc brakes is how easy they are to work on. Replacing pads is about twice the effort of changing a tire with only slightly more opportunity to mess things up. Never having worked on '97 Caravan doesn't intimidate me in the least because this is an fix that's extremely universal.

Jack the vehicle up and for safeties sake lower onto jack stands.

Remove the wheel.

For cars with ABS, open (turn counter clockwise) then close (turn clockwise) the caliper's bleeder valve.

Remove the caliper bolts - some vehicles have Alan heads, some torx but all to my knowledge have the heads inboard.

Slide the caliper off the rotor - here's a place bad things can happen. If you're working on a heap there's a good chance the flex line is going to break while you let it support the weight of the caliper. If it does, thank your lucky stars because it's a lot better happening while the car's not moving rather than when you really need to stop.

Remove the outboard pad.

If the vehicle has ABS, place a snug fitting piece of tubing on caliper's bleeder valve, stick the other end into container that will soon have brake fluid in it and open the bleeder valve. If you don't have ABS don't do this because air can be introduced into the system and these are hydralic brakes not neumatic.Place a C-clamp on the caliper and inboard pad and compress the slave cylinder, this presses the brake fluid out of the cylinder.ABS owners - close the bleeder, non-ABS owners - check to see if any brake fluid squirted out of the master cylinder and clean it up.

Remove the inboard pad.

Replace pads with new.

Put caliper back into original position.

Replace caliper bolts.

Replace wheel.

Lower vehicle off of jack stands.

  • * * MOST EXTREMELY VERY IMPORTANT * * *

PUMP DOWN THE BRAKES

This can be done by any child who can reach the brake pedal with their foot. Sit in the drivers seat and slowly press the brake pedal as far down as it will go and release several times until it no longer goes to the floor. If after 8 to 10 pumps the pedal still goes to the floor, clean up the brake fluid you squirted over God's half acre, find the opening in the system and deal with it. If the pedal "firms up", start the engine and repeat.

Put the vehicle in gear assuming you have no brakes. Be ready to throw the shifter into neutral. You will be pleasantly suprised by how well the brakes work.

It's taken me longer to write this than changing pads takes - don't be afraid but please be careful. There are few things as exciting as realizing you've forgotten to pump down the brakes when you're twenty feet from a steep hill that leads to a deep lake and you're headed in the wrong direction.

It's a good idea to leave the keys inside the house with a tag attached saying "Did you pump down the brakes?".

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