Brakes are often neglected in the performance formula. Sometimes you come across a vehicle with a 400+ hp
engine with stock brakes. A mistake of not keeping the proper power to stopping ratio could prove disastrous. Don’t neglect your brakes, because
remember a matter of a few feet can be the difference between crashing and swerving.
Upgrading and replacing your brakes is not a complicated procedure. It is one that can be accomplished by the average at-home mechanic in an
afternoon. If you are upgrading your brakes, make sure that you follow the manufacture’s recommendations. If you are doing more than just replacing
your break pads make sure that you have the proper break removing tools and/or manuals before you embark on the procedure. A pair of Mechanix M-pact
Gloves can save your knuckles from getting banged-up. Never perform any procedure without undertaking the proper safety precautions.
A Big Brake System shouldn’t be applied to both the front and rear unless you have a serious performance machine. Generally, only the front system is
upgraded to larger brakes. Upgrading the rear could have adverse effects and cause the system to lockup. If you would like to improve the rear then go
for some slotted or cross-drilled rotors and some decent brake pads.
Every Cadillac will have different steps that you have to follow, but below are the simplified basic steps of installing a big brake system:
1. Working on or under a Cadillac can be dangerous. Make sure that you have your Cadillac properly jacked and properly positioned. Use a floor jack in
combination with good quality jack-stands. Remove the front wheels with the Quick-Off lug nut Removal Tool. This tool has a fluted design which gives
the socket a tight grip to remove the most difficult lug nuts from the wheel and easy removal of the lug nut from the socket.
2. Remove the brake pad sensor warning cables or any other electronic
monitoring wires. You will have to strip the sensor wire again and replace it. If a warning light is displayed, without starting the Cadillac, try
putting the ignition into the acc position for at least a minute. Usually this will reset the warning light.
3. Remove the stock brake lines. In order to do this you must have the proper tools. A flare wrench is used to loosen the brake line located
inboard of the shock. Using an open wrench for this bolt could strip it and then you will seriously have a problem.
4. There is a metal fitting at the end of the brake line where it passes
through the fender; a spring clip is squeezed between these two fittings. Place a drain pan below to catch any liquid that main drain when you loosen
the nut below the spring clip. Sometimes this nut is locked tight, so you may need to use considerable force to break it free. Once you do break it
free, you a short flare wrench to remove it. There won’t be much room for a standard length wrench to move around. (Hint: try removing a bleed screw cap
from one of the calipers and snap it on to the end of the hydraulic line. This will prevent all of the brake fluid from draining from the reservoir.)
5. Removal of the caliper and rotor. The caliper assembly is held in place
from behind by 2 bolts. Using a Torx Brake Cylinder Wrench makes this job much easier because of the angle of the tool. This bolt can be anywhere from
16mm to 19mm depending on your Cadillac make and model. You will need to use a breaker bar or an air wrench to remove this bolt. Turning the wheel all
the way to one side will give you better access to the bolt. Don’t lose these bolts; they will be needed to attach your caliper adapter.
6. Remove the rotor retaining screw then turn the wheel as far to the left
as possible (all the way to the right for the driver’s side). Give the rotor a good hard hit with a hammer. Don’t go pounding away on the rotor though.
It does have a resell value, and every hit could decrease its value. If the rotor is not coming off, try using some penetrating spray.
7. The hub on most Cadillac's will have a fair amount of rust on it. Remove
any evidence of rust with a wire brush attachment used with an air drill. Once you have removed all the rust, apply some anti-seizing agent to the
surface. This will ensure that future removal will not be as difficult as the current. It will also help to prevent rust from resurfacing.
8. It’s a good idea to replace wheel bearings if your Cadillac has more than
80,000 miles on it.
9. Install the caliper adapter bracket. These adapters have the letters A and AB engraved into them for Cadillac orientation. Use the bracket with A
on the left side and AB on the right. Always place the engraved side towards the inside of the Cadillac.
10. Install any shims if your kit includes them. Many kits like the Brembo kit do not require the use of shims.
11. Use the previously removed bolts to reinstall the caliper brackets to the steering knuckle. Tighten these bolts to a snug fit but do not torque
12. Install the rotor over the hub. Hold the rotor in place by using a couple of wheels lugs. Make sure that the rotor is seated flat and not at an
angle, otherwise it will be difficult to get the caliper installed.
13. Install the new big brake calipers with the bleeding screws facing up to the adapter. The longer of the bolt goes into the bottom hole. Again,
tighten the bolt up but do not torque it. The calipers have to be centered.
Use the shims to center the caliper on the rotor. When you have properly centered the caliper, use some Loctite on the adapter bolts and torque them
to 75lbs. Now reinstall the caliper and torque that to 60lbs.
14. Better big brake kits come with new stainless steel brake lines. The longer lines are for the front and the shorter lines are for the rear. When
you are finished installing the lines, wipe them down clean so that when you bleed the breaks you can see any leaks.
15. Lastly bleed the breaks with the help of someone that can press on the breaks for you. There are also many kits available to depress the break
pedal for you so that you can bleed brakes without the need for a helper. There are many bleeders and kits available to make your job easier. Crack open the bleed screw so that any trapped air can escape. Knock the caliper a
couple of times with a rubber mallet to get any trapped air out.
16. Reinstall your wheels and tighten the bolts to 88lbs by using a quality torque wrench.
You now have some advanced stopping power. Make sure you reacquaint yourself with the brakes before you do serious driving. This will make sure that you
don’t cause an accident by stopping too quickly!