I am far from a mechanic. Looking back, I wish I had taken Auto Shop in school. I am truly clueless about cars. My buddy Jeff was always my “go to” when I had questions about cars. The first time my car needed brakes, he told me that I could save a bunch of money by doing them myself. He also said he’d help me do them. If I am being totally honest, I think I ended up watching him to 90% of the work. The same was true when we had to replace the master cylinders on my old Ford Van.
Sam and I put a lot of miles on our vehicles. She has a 45 minute drive to work and my drive is about an hour and ten minutes. We both do mostly freeway driving, which helps a little. I want to say that my car has 165,000 -170,000 miles on it and had never had the brakes done. It wasn’t until recently that I started to hear the squeal that lets you know you need new pads.
My father-in-law (who is probably the most handy handyman I know), said that he and my brother-in-law would help me with the brakes if I got all the parts. He told me that he had everything we would need as far as tools, and all we had to do was find a day. I began calling around early last week getting prices for pads and rotors. It was no cheap job! The parts ranged anywhere from $400-$700!!
Sam got a call from her dad saying he found the parts for about $275 at the AutoZone by him. I had called the one by me and they quoted me $450 for basic parts and almost $700 for the “gold” parts. I figured he knew somebody and called the one by him to order the parts. They gave me a price of $380. At this point, I just wanted to order the parts so we could get the work done, so I did.
My father-in-law went to pick up the parts and asked why the big difference in price. The manager stated that the price I paid was the correct price. My father-in-law pushed the issue a bit, and when he told him a female had given him the price, the gal next to the manager fessed up and said that she had mistakenly heard “Honda” instead of “Hyundai.” I still don’t understand how she messed it up, as I am sure Honda doesn’t make a Sante Fe!
I got to their house about 10:30 Saturday morning, and we got right to work. We had figured the whole job would take about 3-4 hours. We got the front brakes done pretty quickly and without any real issues. My brother-in-law made an off the cuff comment about how easy the fronts went on. I joked and told him not to jinx us because we still had the back brakes to do! I remembered from watching Jeff that the back brakes could be tricky.
We took a break after the front was done and went in and had lunch. My mother-in-law had whipped up some hot dogs and mac and cheese for us. Afterward, we went out to tackle the back.
Once we got the wheel off the rotor, we began to tap it with a hammer to try to pull the rotor off the hub. As per usual, there was some rust back there, and this rotor, no matter how hard we pounded on it, just would not come off! I think each one of us took whacks at it with a regular hammer and a sledge hammer. This thing would NOT come off.
Little by little, after more whacks with the hammer, we got some wiggle from the rotor. We could ALMOST get it off the hub. It was then that we noticed that the rotor seemed to be attached to something. My father-in-law had mentioned something about the possibility of the emergency brake needing to be adjusted before we took off the rotor. What we ended up doing was causing the emergency brake to seize up inside the rotor, which meant it wasn’t coming off.
We spent about 2 hours on this one rotor! Sam reminded us of a friend who does some work on cars who lived nearby her folks. Once we got him on the phone, he was there in about 5-10 minutes. He walked up with some fancy prybar. He tapped the rotor a few times and worked some magic with the prybar and the rotor was off in like 5 minutes! The way we pounded on that thing and pulled on that thing, I thought it would never come off!
Once the rotor was off, it only took a few minutes and the entire job was completed. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t worried about causing some sort of damage to the car myself. I guess that is why I don’t do a whole lot of work on cars (or other things for that matter). If I screw something up and it winds up costing me a ton of money, it is totally my fault. If someone else does it, well, then they can eat the cost of it!
I was grateful to my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and their mechanic friend, Jay, for helping us get the entire project done. I hope it’s at least another 165,000 miles till we have to get under that thing again!!