A few days ago the brakes on the truck started squealing and I knew this meant it was time for a brake job. I was going to take it to the dealers to get it done but thought about it and decided to do it myself. I’ve always worked on my cars and I figured why spend $300 to replace $50 worth of pads AND I saw it as an opportunity to show Syd some car repair skills. Syd loved working on the old cars and understanding the mechanics of how things work. She asks a lot of questions and will research stuff online.
Since she decided she wants to save and buy her own car I know I need to make sure she can do things to the car if she decides to AND if she doesn’t she will know enough about car repair to know when a mechanic is trying to rip her off. I’ve already shown her some things like checking the oil and changing a tire but this is going to be different. She is going to learn how to do a few things at once.
The first thing I did was order the parts and lemme tell you, Amazon is your friend. I got OEM (factory parts) cheaper than if I got them from the dealer not to mention the fact that the same parts at your local parts store are sometimes remanufactured and are not OEM.
I have a 3 ton jack and it weighs about a hundred pounds. It is a beast and will pretty much lift anything including the Escalade. You can’t just stick the jack under the truck and lift it so I showed Sydney how to locate the frame of the vehicle and place the jack in the right position so nothing is damaged on the vehicle. Once she got it under there I had her jack the truck up just enough to release some pressure off the tire. I explained her that this allows you loosen the lug nuts on the rim easier because there is less pressure on the bolts.
I had her remove the center cap and then “break” the lugs. She was having difficulty breaking them as they had been torqued by the tire shop. “Dad, I can’t get them to loosen.” I wanted to do it for her but in the back of my mind I kept hearing, “Let her do it. What if she is by herself and there’s no one to help her change a tire?” I told her to keep trying. She finally broke them loose.
Once she did that I had her jack the truck up and that’s when she felt how heavy the truck was. She was literally putting her weight into the handle to get downward pressure. I had her lift it up until the tire was about a foot off the ground and then I instructed her to place a jack stand under the truck near the jack itself. “Why am I doing this” she asked. “You will be working on the truck without a wheel on it. If the jack fails the truck will fall down on you. The fender will crash on your head and possibly kill you. The jack stand is there to help stabilize the truck.”
She secures the truck, removes the wheel and I begin teaching her how to remove the old parts. I am explaining what the parts are and the how they work. In the meantime Syd is doing the work. The bolts on the calipers are really tight and she can’t break them. She suggests penetrating oil which is a great idea BUT you don’t want to introduce oils to the rotor and pads. This will cause the pads to be slippery and you could have a brake failure. I explain how to use leverage and give her a pipe to insert the ratchet in. By using the leverage you have more power to break the bolts loose. She tries it and “POP” the break loose one by one.
We go through several more steps of parts removal and then begin the reassembly part. I show her a lubricant called brake quiet and explain that we put this on all of the parts that will not touch the rotor. This will prevent brake chatter which is that screeching sound you hear from some cars when the driver applies the brakes. The hardest part was getting her to lift the tire and rim back onto the truck. The combined weight of the rim, tire and air is probably 75-85 lbs. The easiest way to do it is to position the tire so that the holes in the rim line up with the lugs of the rotor. Put your feet under the tire and twist your feet in an outward angle to cause the tire to lift up. Put it on the lugs and use your knees and feet to hold it in place while putting the nuts back on the lugs.
Sydney gets the rim back on the truck, tightens everything up and lowers the truck. The last thing I want her to do is “seat the brakes”. This is where you sit in the vehicle and pump the brakes. I wanted her to feel how mushy the brakes would be from replacing the pads. You have to pump the brakes to seat the calipers and then drive the vehicle and hit the brakes to remove garbage off the new pads. Imagine Sydney accelerating the truck up to 40 miles an hour and then slamming the brakes multiple times. It went against everything she had been taught about driving and braking responsibly but it’s what you have to do to make sure everything is perfect.
It took us a good two hours to do the job but Sydney learned a lot and that is what is most important to me. As fathers it is our job to ensure that our daughters are skilled in all of the things WE know. We have to teach them to be independent and not rely on a man. We cannot let them out into the world and be unprepared for any possibility. If she decides to take her car to a mechanic she has the skillset to know if a mechanic tells her the doomaflogie is broken and needs to be replaced. She can look him in his eye and call b.s. “There is no such thing as a doomaflogie. My brake caliper is just fine. Now put my brake pads on and gimme my car.”
My goal is to teach her everything I know, even the things that most dads would not think to teach their daughters so watch out world, Sydney is coming and she is P.R.E.P.A.R.E.D!!!!!!!!!!