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TJ Front Brakes Overhaul

Les, a good friend of mine who I had recently helped with a rear axle swap, found that he had some pulsing in the brake pedal when he applied the brakes.  We took a look at the recently installed rear drums and bled them, just in case.  No help....the pulsing was still there.  A week later, we found ourselves on the trail with another local Jeeper who also just happens to be everyone's front end alignment guy (at least those who can appreciate a Jeeper doing front end alignments on lifted vehicles).  We got to talking about the brakes and he mentioned that he had noticed that a front rotor on Les' TJ was looking a bit warped when he last aligned it, just a couple of weeks ago..  Les came over to borrow my jack stands, the floor jack, and some advice so I took some picture of his TJ while he wrenched on it. 

Be sure to safely support your vehicle when you are doing work near or under the vehicle while the tries are removed.  I keep a pair of 12 ton jack stands (yeah, they are a bit of overkill) for this job and they do very well.  They easily support a lifted TJ's frame with room to spare.  Because of their higher weight rating, they also provide a much better footprint than the smaller 4 or 6 ton jack stands.  I like the increased stability they offer even though they cost a few bucks more.  They are well worth it, in my opinion.  

We raised the side of the TJ with the floor jack (and a block of wood) and then slipped the jack stand under the frame. This was repeated on the other side and we now had the vehicle supported for the brake job.  With the floor jack providing a bit of support, Les removed both front tires.


With the tire removed, remove the two caliper mounting bolts, as shown in the above picture.  These bolts hold the caliper in place while allowing it to move back and forth so it can center itself on the rotor during braking.  If memory serves me, it takes a 13mm socket.  This should be the only wrench you should need for this project.


Before you remove the caliper, take a minute and look at how it sits on the mounting brackets.  When you assemble the caliper, after installing the new pads, you will want it to look the same way.  Now, with the two caliper mounting bolts removed, grab the top of caliper and pull it back and away from the rotor.  The bottom of the caliper will pivot a bit on the mounting bracket as the caliper pulls away from the rotor.  At this point, the brake dust is rather "all over" the place so I always suggest using a rag to help keep things a bit cleaner.  You'll have a chance to use some brake cleaner in a bit.


With the caliper out of the way, the rotor should slip off of the hub.  Of course....this does not always happen, as Les discovered while taking the other rotor off.  That one was stubborn to say the least (now I know how those Jeepers that live in the rust belt must feel when ever they have to remove something from their Jeep).  The rotor was held in place with some rust between the hub and the rotor.  We tried some PB Blaster, letting it sit for a while in hopes that it would break down the rust.  I grabbed a 3 pound hammer and gently tapped around the center area of the rotor.  No luck.  We used some more PB Blaster and got a bit more aggressive with the hammer.  Still no luck.  We tried tapping from the back of the rotor (I don't advise doing it this way) but still had no luck.  Out came the propane torch.  We went through a few cycles of heating the rotor (not the hub) and tapping with the hammer.  It finally let go!


We decided it was a good idea to clean up the rusted surfaces with a die grinder.  Les used a small wheel to get rid of the rust on both the rotor and the hub.  He finished it off with some emery paper, making sure both of the surfaces were relatively clean from rust.  Be sure to wear safety glasses or goggles when using power tools.  Those little grinding stones and wire brushes will not respect your eyes!

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