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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, I'm getting some squeaking in my front right tire. I need to replace the pads, for sure. This isn't too tough. How do I know if my rotors need to be replaced?

If I look through the rims at the rotors, I see metal, not rust. Do I measure, eyeball it or what? Is installing rotors difficult?

What If I don't do the rotors and just do the pads? Is it the end of the world to use new brakes on old rotors? Meinekie wants over 400$ for the job, which I can probably do myself for less than half. I've replaced pads in other cars, just not the saab.

-Durden7
97 saab 900 Turbo SE 2.0
120K
 

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Front discs should measure 25 mm new, 22 mm minimum before replacement. No harm in keeping them if they are smooth and above the minimum thickness. There are a lot of choices in rotors and pads, another advantage of doing it yourself is that you can buy the type of brake you want. Get a pair of set screws with the rotors, sometimes those don't come out intact.
 

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Most of the time I replaced the pads only - back in the 60s,70s there was more appreciation for operating economy.

Hopefully you have reacted quickly enough to the screech of the low pad thickness warning device..Certainly beats not knowing until the pad backing plate gouges the rotor..
IMO, providing the thickness is still within specs and the rotors are straight and true, there is no reason not to reuse them.
Also, now is the time to renew the brake fluid if it has not been done during a prior ( 60 or 90K ) service...
Lubricate the sliding pins as necessary..
 

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Most of my experience is with Hondas, but when I changed rotors, the screws were not necessary. They were used just to keep the rotor on the hub during assembly. With Saabs lug bolts, I can see how going without the screws would mean the rotor would slide around without these screws. Is there any reason to buy them, other than a slight hassle lining up the holes when putting the wheel back on?
 

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DFroelich said:
Is there any reason to buy them, other than a slight hassle lining up the holes when putting the wheel back on?
The set screws are only about $2 each. The reason for buying new ones is that the torx head strips easily while taking them out. Putting the stripped screw back in might make it impossible to get it out the next time. You are correct, in a pinch you could put the wheel on without the set screw. The problem would come later in taking the wheel off, if the rotor stuck to the wheel because of rust or any other reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Did the Job last night

Hi Gang. :D The Rotors were a little worn, but not too bad. I just replaced the front pads and all is well.

Relatively simple.

1. Loosen bolts with car still on ground (may need breaker bar). Never do when jacked - you'll be working against the transmission.

2. Jack and secure Car

3. Chock rear wheel for safety. Use block of wood or brick. I used one of those individual car ramps I drive up on to do Exhaust work.

4. Unscrew and take off tire. Hopefully you already own one of thise "X"-wrenches that make taking off tires fun. THey only cost a few bucks and are totally worth it.

5. Take off retaining spring. Make sure you note how it's on. I put my first side on wrong at first. Take a picture with a digital camera if you have to. It's easy to get off and a bit more crappy to get on.

6. Remove dust plugs (on back) to access 2 caliper bolts.

7. Unscrew bolts that are an insanely odd Allen-Wrench size..7mm, I think. I went searching through a TON of sizes, before I found a bit from one of those cheap multi-bit screwdrivers. It was actually the reverse side of a bit... the back side was the right size. I'm pretty sure it was 7mm. It was definitely not 8, and definitely not 6. Bizaare. It helps if you use a stubby handle socket wrench too. I bought an awesome adjustible one at VIP for 9.99$ Total bargain. Perfect size for working on the brakes.

8. After bolts are unscrewed, you need to work them further out with a pair of plyers or your fingers. They're covered in a rubber housing, so you can't just screw them out. Just push them partway back through the housing to give yourself more room. I wouldn't take them out all the way.

9. Okay. We need to take off the caliper next. It's a little heavy, and has a tube coming from it... the brake fluid. Do not let this thing hang or pull out. I balanced my caliper on top of the rotor. Easy enough. So... take off the Caliper. Depending on the wear of the rotor, it may be tricky. I had to tap mine with a hammer and work it off with a screwdriver. It will probably pop off with only one brake pad, the one on the backside. The front one is considered fixed because it fits, in notches, next to the rotor. You'll see.

10. With the caliper off and balanced, remove the fixed brake pad from the rotor. Marvel at how worn it is. Depending on the temperature of the day, you may want go get a soda or a beer - you decide.

11. Unplug the adjustible pad from the piston inside the caliper (the caliper is still plugged into the brake line). The Piston is this 2-2.5 inch open cylinder inside the caliper. It has a rubber cover around it.

12. Take a brush or towel and clean the caliper. Maybe use dw40. I did, but make sure to not leave it dripping. Clean it out good. Get out as much dirt and stuff as you can. They say not to breathe this stuff - makes sense. The plug from the back of the brake pad may have broken off in the caliper. Pull it out. Look at the new brake pad if you're confused.

13. After it's been cleaned, you need to push the piston back into the caliper. This is the piece that the brake fluid pushes on to push the brake pad onto the rotor to get you to stop. I do not think this can be pushed in by hand. I used a flat piece of metal and a big "C" clamp. Put the piece of metal (or piece of small wood) inside the caliper, over the piston, set the clamp and turn it to force the piston back into its housing. The resistance you feel is the piston pushing the brake fluid back through the hose and into the fluid reservoir. Crank until it's all the way in.

13. Plug in the new brake pad (only one brake pad has a plug on its back) into the piston opening, inside the caliper.

14. Plug the fixed brake pad into its spot on the rotor. You can use brake lubricant at this point if you want. Some pads come with it. Mine came with a miniscule tube, but I didn't bother. It would wear away pretty quick anyway.

15. Slide the caliper back into position over the rotor and fixed brake pad.

16. Screw the hex bolts back in (7mm crap).

17. Stick dust plugs back in.

18. Place wire, retaining, springy thing back into place. They say it's a spring, but it doesn't feel like one to me. Make sure it's in the right position. I did mine wrong the first time and had to re-do a wheel. It's a little tricky to get back in. I think I ended plugging in the ends and pulling the spring from the middle, back into position. If you took a good digital picture, you're all set.

19. If you were to try and move the caliper, it should probably feel a little loose.

20. Press down on the brake pedal a few times to get pressure built and move the piston in the caliper. The piston, which has the inside pad plugged into it, will push out and press the brake pad against the rotor.

21. If you try to shake the caliper, it should have firmed up. If not, press on the brake a few more times.

22. Put the wheel back on. Tighten bolts.

23. Lower car. Repeat on opposite side.

24. Push on the brake to build pressure and then go for a short drive to test.

Brake pads have to wear in a little, so they may feel a little "Spongey", depending on the quality of the rotors. After a couple presses to build the pressure behind the piston, the brakes should be there. And they'll brake in pretty soon.

In the above process, we have not broken the brake fluid circuit... and therefore, you should not need to bleed the brake lines for air.

I only wish that I took photos. Maybe I will next month. I may do the rotors.

ALSO - I did this for two reasons. One, I like to do things myself. Two, it was lots cheaper. Meinekie wanted over 400$ to do the brakes and rotors. I kept the rotors and did the brakes myself. Pads cost me 29.99 at VIP Auto.

That's right..... 29.99$ versus over 400$.

I actually spent 41$, but only because I spent 10 bucks on that adjustible, stubby ratchet handle and a screwdriver. The ratchet handle cab also be adjusted to work at angles... it's killer. Don't forget to get a 7mm allen wrench (hex wrench) for the caliper bolts. I'm pretty sure it's 7mm.

Thanks gang.

-Durden7
97 saab 900 turbo se 2.0 120K:D
 

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Great post durden.

I was quoted $360 for the same job - bought the parts online for $110 shipped, though could have saved $20 by gettting cheap pads.

Right now I'm debating between doing the pads and rotors myself, or paying $40 to the guy down the street (Mufflers4Less on Clark in Rogers Park), as I don't have a good place to work on the car. Given that today's forecast is for 96F, I expect to find my wallet lighter by the end of the day.

By the way - if you live in Chicago, I cannot possibly recommend these guys too highly. Buy your own exhaust parts, and pay about $30 an hour for labor, cash and carry. Or for a beater car, pay $140-200 or so for a cheap cat back exhaust, including cat. Muffler only, "For you my friend, $40."
 

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Discussion Starter #8
40$ for labor. Not bad

40$ for labor seems pretty darned reasonable.

The first tire I did took about an hour and a half. I had to prep the area and get my bearings and the right tools. The 7mm socket was amazing. I was nervous that I wouldn't have the right bit... a stupid 5$ screwdriver set with multiple bits did the trick. Crazy. The second tire took about a half hour. Well... it was hot and sticky.... I may have had a better time if it was cooler. This is also considering I've never done brakes on a saab.

So... if you figure on an outside time of 2 hours to do the brakes, and rotors were only 2 more bolts away from the job I did... youre paying 20$ an hour. That's pretty much a bargain. It saves you the time and effort.

I wish I had mechanics around here like that.

I'll start documenting my procedures with photos. Would be great content for a web site. I have a few other jobs on the horizon too. Rotors, Suspension, Stereo installation, Aux input for the stereo... cool.
 

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For those special men who are willing to work for very fair pay, I would definitely and generously tip them !

Also do some free advertising for these good men..

With a good attitude and reasonable intelligence, just about anyone can do these mechanical repairs on the car and around the house..

Remember that the brake fluid should be changed about every 3 years, 50K miles(these are NOT the official Saab numbers) BUT these correspond more closely with the pad replacement and are easy to remember..

And how many owners really do this anyway ? They should, of course, I do think the brakes will work better and last longer(calipers and cylinders)..And it is so easy to do after all the wheels are removed.
And then the "emergency" brake can be checked and adjusted and all the chassis can be inspected..
 

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Good write-up. I think the guide bolts may need a little lubrication on assembly. Not 100% sure on this car. I noticed mine had traces of rubber sticking to the bolt when I had them apart. I plan to rebuild mine with new seals (one of these days).
 

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earthworm said:
For those special men who are willing to work for very fair pay, I would definitely and generously tip them !

Also do some free advertising for these good men..
The guy who runs the place is from coastal Mexico (near Acapulco), and I've already bought the Mexican beer he'll be getting with the $40.

If only he was a SAAB specialist who knew a thing or two about convertible tops...
 

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MMMM, me likes the ***** Modelo or the Dos equis.

Once its time to do the rotors your pretty much prepared for the worst of it, another two hexes to remove the caliper bracket (perhaps a 10 mm?) and the hex that holds the rotor retaining screw in place (perhaps a 4 mm?). The front rotors are a lot less annoying than the rear rotors since you don't have to mess with the emergency/parking brake system.

I did the front pads and rotors a few weeks ago, overall, 45 mins to an hour on the first side, 30 minutes on the second side (would have been even faster had it not been for the second rotor being stuck in place).

I definitely need the front rotors done quite badly, had about a 2 mm lip forming on each side between the pad surface and the outer edge of the rotor.
 
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