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see also TSB 05-02-96A for 2500HD and 3500 brake relining and repair instructions/diagrams.
 Rotor Removal     Rear relining    Rear Brake Adjustment
 Best Pads and linings     Sticking calipers     Turning Drums and Rotors
  Brake Fluid   Stainless Steel Brake Lines
Bleeding the Brake Lines   Resetting the brake warning lamp

From the Star Center News Vol 29


There has been a change the servicing of the revised brake pads and shoes for the 1994-98 BR/BE 1500 model trucks. You can now order either pads PN 05013814AA and/or shoes 05013813AA separately and are no longer required to order the kit PN 05013447AA. Further testing of these components eliminates the mandatory use of the rear shoes with the pads. However, the maximum overall brake system performance can be achieved when the pads and shoes are utilized together.

To:     RTML


There are many good cheap books on the subject.  Even Chilton is OK for this.  What's really nice about brakes is that you always have a model. While working on one side of the vehicle, you can look at the other side to help guide you in assembling the other.  Just remember that each side is a mirror image.  The more complicated things like brake cylinder work is usually the easiest of all.  In fact, I find that the stretching of the damn springs is the worst.

One note on brake cylinders.  If the bolts are really rusty, take it to a shop.  Clean and do all the other work you need to do, that will save labor costs.  However, busting off brake lines and bleeder valves is a pain in the butt and not something you'll enjoy fixing.

One thing places like Speedy are good for is machine work.  If you do need to have the rotors or drums turned to correct a flaw, the discount shops can usually do the work cheaper and faster than the local machine shop.

Disk brakes are fairly easy systems.  There are two pieces of metal called the caliper which are held together at the piston (or pistons) and hold a pad on each side of the disk.  The caliper is then held to the end of the axle by pins on which the caliper can slide.  That's about it.

Drums are a little more complicated.  There is basically 2 points forcing the shoes apart.  The wheel cylinder is operated by the brake pedal and is the large barrel you see.  The other spreader is the adjuster and has a little wheel on it that looks like a star.  On top of this are a bunch of springs, clips, and other stuff.  So long as you take your time and watch your model, its very easy to figure out what goes where.  Some designs have pieces that can be tough to work with, either a clip or pin that is rusted in place.  Before you spend a long time looking for a way to remove it intact, see if the new shoes came with the piece.  A lot of times, the little PIA pieces are included to make a mechanics life easier.

Whatever you do, don't be afraid of the parts.  Take your time and clean everything out so you can see what you are working with.  the only thing you have to be careful around is the rubber seals.  Don't soak those in any cleaners, and keep sharp tools from them.  If something like a spring or pin bent a little (happens often) bend it back, or leave it alone.  In all actuality, you are likely to do a better job than a professional simply because you will be trying to do everything right.  You'll clean the parts better, you'll assemble them more carefully, and you'll adjust them with care.

Some tips not always covered in books:


Jack up both sides and remove both tires on the same axle.  This requires jack stands (which you should use anyway) and allows you quick access to your 'model'.

Don't get too hung up about touching the brake surfaces with dirty and greasy hands.  Just wipe any stains off.  Any remaining smear will be removed by heat.

So long as you don't break the rubber seals, you don't need to 'bleed' the brakes.  Since brake fluid loves to absorb moisture, don't even open the cap on the master cylinder.

Always clean the parts with a liquid.  Although asbestos is used very sparingly, it is still used.  You don't want to get dust flying.  Auto parts stores sell brake cleaner.  I use an old slab of plywood to catch the drips and lay out the parts on.  It's about 2' by 3' in size.  When I finish my work, I simply hose off the board behind the shed and allow it to dry.  This keeps the gunk and cleaner off the driveway.

A friend, son, or anyone who'll sit with you is a good idea your first time.  Not only do you both get educated, but while one gets dirty, the other can read the book, compare the assembly with the other side, and act as back-up.  Naturally, you switch for the other side so both of you have a chance to get dirty.


If you don't have the proper wrench, or the end is damaged, you can sometimes grab the end of the pin with vise-grips and remove it that way. Since the end of the pins can rust, this is a very useful tip on older vehicles.

You can use a large C-clamp to push the piston back when adding new pads, just be sure the screw is centered in the piston.

Grease the entire back of the new pads, not just the contact points.

Take the rotor off and spray out the little holes around the perimeter with the garden hose.  Cleaning these cooling vanes keep the brakes cool and functional.


Throw away those little clips holding the drum on, they are only required for holding the drum in place while the vehicle is at the factory.

Lube the adjuster with copper based anti-sieze not grease.

Use anti-sieze all over the backing plate at contact points and the hub where the drum mounts.  Be doing so, you'll have no chance of binding, and the parts will come off easier next time.

Use a wire brush to remove scale rust where you find it.

Buy a set of brake pliers, they go a long way to making the removal and installation of springs easier.

A set of needle nose vise-grips can also help to remove stubborn springs. DO NOT use a non-locking regular plier, you'll only get frustrated.

If the drum is worn enough so that the inside surface has a lip on it, you might want to get it machined.

To adjust the brakes properly, adjust it to the point that you can JUST get the drum on.  Then, once the whole vehicle is together again, take a few forward and backward runs for about 8 feet hitting the brakes hard in reverse.  The pedal may drop a little on the first few times, but will then come back to normal.  This is more accurate than adjusting the brakes by
the adjuster alone which is all most shops do.

For the most part, automotive work is very straight forward.  Although a little experience and training is a big plus, it isn't rocket science and most of it is mainly grunt type work.

When I graduated from College, I knew nothing about working on cars.  In fact, I would have had trouble changing a tire.  That was in 1990.  I had an old Jeep CJ then that I gave to the mechanic down the street when it needed work.  Then I got involved in an off-road club.  The first thing I learned was that I knew nothing.  In fact, I was teased because I didn't do
a lot of the work myself.

That year, I went from knowing nothing to installing my own lift kit, and building a custom exhaust system.  The following year I learned how to weld and built a tire carrier.  I kept learning like crazy.  In 1993 I painted my own vehicle.  I learned by trial and error how to replace a clutch.  I swapped a motor.  By 1995 I was designing my current project Jeep.  Now in
1996, I am building a 1953 Jeep CJ-3A with almost nothing from the original Jeep.  The frame is totally boxed and braced.  The motor and transmission mounts are custom fabrications.  The body is a fiberglass replica.  The engine will be a GM 4.3 liter V-6.

The point?  In years, I've gone from knowing nothing to building a vehicle from the ground up.  This is a bit more than the average person would do, but it goes to show that learning the ropes isn't as hard as many think it is.

In the past, I've used Allied Signal brand Carbon Metallic pads and shoes with excellent results.

Christopher Siano 0- |   1B7KF23WxTJ

Subject: RE: [RAM] Brake pad replacement On A 4X4
Date:     Wed, 16 Apr 1997 18:54:00 -0400
From:     "Mercier, Marc" <>
From:     "Jason Eberhard" <>
From:     "Lasich, Mark D." <>
To:         RTML

#1: Jack up vehicle

#2: Take off respective front wheel

#3: Use previously stated 3/8" allen head tool as previously described by myself and loosen the two bolts that hold the caliper on. Pull them out so that the caliper can be easily removed. (Not all the way though)

#4: Have straightened coat hanger ready

#5: Remove caliper from hub assy. Do not pull or put stress on flexible brake line. Hang caliper away from work area, yet don't put stress on brake line.

Once loose, you can remove the caliper from the rotor. At this point I usually turn the caliper up-side-down and just rest it on top of the rotor. Just be careful of the rubber brake line that feeds the brake fluid. You have room to move it around, but don't let the caliper hang by the line.

When you get the caliper off, make sure you get the piston in as far as you can, since the new pads are (obvious statement ahead) THICKER (duh Marc) than the worn ones.

> 1. A couple of co-workers said that there would be a need for a C-Clamp
> to open up the caliper to make room   for the new pad, however this was
> not mentioned in the Chilton manual at all, so I wondered if this was true?

Reply 1:  If you can't get the caliper off/away from the rotor, use a C-clamp to compress the caliper piston by putting one side of the clamp on the tab that comes off of the inner pad and align the other side of clamp on the back side of the caliper. Turn the C-clamp in. It may take 5 minutes or so to get the piston in enough where you can get the caliper off. (you are basically pushing the fluid back into the master cylinder)

Reply 2:  Yes, this is true. I put a small piece of wood over the piston on the caliper and slowly tighten the clamp until the piston has retracted all the way. then remove the clamp and install the pads

Reply 3:  As already indicated, a C-Clamp (or pony clamps in my case - they open wider) REALLY make the job easier. As for me, I just use the old pad to tighten the clamp onto. Don't try to go too fast - tighten the clamp a bit, wait a few seconds for the piston to move back, repeat until the original pad (block of wood) is against the back of the caliper.

New pads just snap into place. Not really too much there.

When reinstalling the caliper, don't worry that the bolts don't seem to go back in as far as they were in when you first took them off. If you notice, the bolt slides inside a sleeve. This is how the caliper adjusts itself as the pads wear. I questioned whether or not I had it properly installed when I did it a few weeks ago, but the list (sorry, I forget who, thanks!) reassured me that this is normal.

If you have access to an air compressor, I like to blast the old dust and rusty pieces out of there before reinstalling the caliper.

Also, as long as the wheel is off, might as well grease the fittings that are right there too!

It's really pretty easy. Once you get comfortable with it, you should be able to change them in a half hour or less, taking your time. I too got only 20K out of my original pads, but I also tow a pop-up camper that doesn't have its own brakes ;-)

#6: Proceed to other side if you have another jack or jack stands.

Subject:   RE: [RAM] Removing Brake Rotors On A 4X4
From:     "Mercier, Marc" <>
To:          RTML

> i beg to differ, on our rams, all you need to do to remove the rotors is to
> remove the caliper and then remove the two little snap lock rings that go
> over a few of the studs and the rotor will come right off, very Unlike the
> older locking hub front axles that needed the whole damn hub taken apart to
> remove the hub ( i did this more than once on a few trucks).

Yes, I posted on how to remove the calipers on a 3/4 ton (2500). You half ton'ers have to go through a bit more to get to your rotors don't you... We 2500'ers just unscrew the pins that hold the calipers on and the rotor almost literally falls out when you take the caliper away. :)


Marc A. Mercier         Bose Corporation (508) 766-1564
Hammond Technical List Admin on 4/21/97 ->

From Steve Belts re: 2500 4x4 hub removal

 If the front rotors need to be turned, this is a bit harder as the front hub nut needs to be removed.  On my truck that nut is 1 3/4" (available at Sears in a 3/4" drive socket).  I used my air impact wrench and some anti-seize to get it off.  I'm not sure I've got enough strength to do it without the impact.  I'd have needed a pretty large breaker bar, since my impact puts out about 300 ft-lbs of torque.  Aside from the hub nut, there are either 3 or 4 inner hub retaining bolts (9/16", 12 point) that need to be removed to get the front rotors off.

Subject:      Re: [RAM] Rotors on 4x4s
From: (K.C. Jackson)
CC:            RTML

> Can the front rotors on 4x4s be replaced without having to replace the
> entire front hub assembly?

When I had my brakes done last year, the Midas shop I used had not worked on a 3500 4x4 yet, so they called a nearby Dodge dealer.  The service department told them that the rotor, hub, and grease seal was one collective unit and quite expensive if screwed up in removal or reattachment, thus they should not remove it to resurface the rotors.

Hope that helps in one regard

KC Jackson
1996 Ram 3500 Club 4x4 Laramie SLT Cummins

Brake pad replacements:

Jason Eberhard <>
Ron Stitt <>
Jim Foster <>
Mikie <>
Joe Donneley<>
Bob Brand <>
Stephen D Belt <>
Bob Berken <>
Ram Brake Pad Part numbers
1500  2500 with 80mm piston 2500 w/ 86mm piston 3500
Front Pads: 3694 3704 4594 4594
Rear Shoes: 462 451 451 452
Note: brake pads and shoes share some sort of universal #.   Every PFC part number ends in a 4.  The first 3 #'s are the universal #.

The Allied Signal/Bendix website  (click on Catalog, then Bendix brakes) allows you to select your year, make, and model of truck and gives you exact parts numbers for it.

My 1995 Performance Friction catalog lists two sets of pads for BR2500s. #3704 is for 80 mm piston, and has 2 ears at the top of the inner pad.   #4594 is for 86 mm piston, inner pad is solid across the top.  The BR2500 2&4wd 7500 GVW and some 2WD Cummins 2500's have an 80mm piston so you need the 3704.

> 2. I purchased the Performance Friction pads based on the recommendations
> from the list. The P/N Auto  Zone gave me was 07363-03694, however I
> don't see this listed for a Dodge Ram on the Performance  Friction Applications
> section of their Web page. Does anyone know if this is the correct P/N?

Yes it is the correct part number. The number you are concerned with are the last 4 - 3694.  Any brand of pads you buy will bear those numbers regardless of whatever each company puts before them. I have the same pads on my 94 Ram and before that the Bendix I had put on were also 3694. I think pads and shoes have some type of universal numbering system as I had looked at other brands of pads and they also had the same numbers.

> I would also  like to hear some opinions on brake part brands, sort of a
> "who's the best, who's the cheapest and who's the best value" sort of
> thing.

Put Performance Friction 04594 pads on your new Cummins Ram.  Throw away the stock Abex pads.  I wonder if they are made of pressed leaves and dried horse dung.  One disintegrated on my 95 and destroyed the rotor.  No more Abex for

I have always gone with Bendix Semi-Metallic.  I was going to try some carbon metallics or maybe even the new Wagner Light Truck pad but I decided against them.  Figured I'd stick with what i know is proven and works.  They cost me $34 for the fronts.

I personally use whatever I can get a lifetime warranty on at Checker Autoparts.  This way I only ever buy them once.  With this in mind, I'm running Bendix branded brakes all around.

the US went away from asbestos because of lung problems with mfg workers and repairmen.  The limitation to these pads is not the asbestos but the binders (resins).  They still faded because the resins "boiled" to the surface and "glazed" the linings/pads under severe use.  Well, folks, I keep hearing about blued rotors and other problems with Ram brakes suggesting such severe use and heating.  Asbestos linings would not help here at all.  The carbon metallic like Performance Friction have advanced binders and material that is even better than asbestos.  I agree that many replacements for asbestos seem to be made of pressed leaves and dried dung, but premium linings and pads are quite good today.  In the old days, I used Velvetouch, the precursor to carbon metallic of today.  However, it did a real poor job of stopping when cold. The new stuff is much better in this regard.

I'll add my .02. I just changed fluid and did the front brake pads (ferodo) and absolutely hate the pads. I was better off with my old pads and pulling a Fred Flintstone to stop. Tonight I'll be putting Performance Friction brakes in. I've had these pads in a couple of my motorcycles and they are great.

BTW the Performance Friction part# is FMSI 7259D3694, my truck is a '95 1500.  This will sure take a load off my feet. They were getting pretty sore not to mention expensive tennis shoe repair. :-)
Also, I am in no way affiliated with Performance Friction... just a happy customer.

P.S. My brakes from the factory worked just fine. Now I'm looking for something with a little more
grab. I will loose longevity with the Performance Friction but gain a lot in the stopping power.
Subject:    DiRT: Performance Friction Update
Date:        17 Sep 98 11:00:01 -0600
From:       Bob Berken <>
To:           DiRT

  Performance Friction Update                  9/17/98

About a month ago I replaced rotors and calipers. The calipers came loaded with pads. Well the pads were crap, poor stopping power and at every stop they squeaked. A couple nights ago I installed the Performance Friction pads. Huge difference. By the seat of the pants test, my stopping distance has been cut dramatically. To top it squeaks.  The pads have the beveled edges to reduce the brakes from chattering. The cost was a bit more than your average binders, coming in at about $50.00 for the front pads. Worth it in my book.

Bob Berken

Subject:    Re: DiRT: brake story
Date:        Sun, 30 Aug 1998 10:17:10 -0500 (CDT)
From: (KC Jackson)
To:           DiRT

Joe D wrote:

> I got my pads from Autozone (performance Friction) for $38 and put
> them on in about a half hour myself.  But, I did not need to machine
> the rotors.

I have heard some good reports about the Bendix commercial-grade semi metallic pads and shoes, and are considering them when I do a full 4 wheel brake job around the end of the year (pads, shoes, resurf rotors and drums on-vehicle at the dealer).  The Allied Signal/Bendix website  (click on Catalog, then Bendix brakes) allows you to select your year, make, and model of truck and gives you exact parts numbers for it.  The description for the Fleet pads and shoes reads:  "are recommended for Heavy Duty use (police, taxi, tow vehicles, etc.)."

KC Jackson
1996 Ram 3500 Club 4x4 Laramie SLT Cummins

Brake Drum Removal and Shoe Replacement

Subject:      Re: [RAM] Ram Brake Maintenance, etc...
From: (jeberhard)
From:         Stephen D Belt <>
From:         KI4CY <my email address>
From:         "vikki" <>
To:             RTML

> My question (after all the rambling) is:  How can I remove a
> stuck brake drum?  Before they remounted the rear wheels, they
> sprayed both drums/hubs with penetrating oil.  Given a few days
> to soak,  will this do the trick?

Reply 1:  I was able to get both my drums off no problem.  the drivers side pulled right off but the passenger was a little more tricky.  I usually take a flat blade screw driver and pry the rotor loose at the back. Once you move it forward a bit you should be able to wiggle it off.  What causes this is the brake shoes wear a groove in to the drum and the shoes sit in this groove. If you back off the star wheel and retract the shoes the drums should also come off easy.  Un fortunately my 94 does not have the star wheel holes punched out on the back plate to allow me to do this.

Reply 2:  Hmmm.  I've removed my rear drums twice in the 35k miles I have.  Both times I didn't need any special equipment.  I just removed the rear wheels and the drums came off easily.  I assume that my dry climate helps with this problem.  I guess you must have some kind of build up (rust) around the wheel studs that is causing the drums not to want to come off.  I'd try some persuasion from a 1-3lb rubber mallet, as well.

Reply 3:  Usually the drums slide off without a problem. If they are frozen to the flange by rust, a  -small-  squirt of penetrating oil such as Liquid Wrench will help loosen the rust after a few minutes.  Take a brass hammer or a wood block and steel hammer and tap all the way around the back of the drum. Then try rocking the drum (by hand if possible, by hammer if necessary) from side to side and top to bottom to walk the drum off of the shoes.  An old drum with a ridge behind the shoe will be tough to remove unless the brake adjuster can be released.

Posted to the TDRoundtable: Jack the rear end up, put it on blocks or jackstands, remove wheels, replace a couple of lug nuts loosely on each side, start then slam on the brakes in forward and reverse. Gets them every time, in fact if you don't replace a couple of lug nuts you may be chasing a drum down the street...

> I intend to replace the shoes myself.  What are the tricks
> and traps I should be aware of?

Reply 1:  For the rears, there are some pretty heavy duty springs that need to be removed.  It isn't overly difficult, and I can get it done with just normal screw drivers.  Your auto parts store will sell special brake drum service tools, if you want to get them.  I'd recommend removing both brake drums and then using one side as a reference for the side being replaced.  The rears will take significantly longer to change out than the fronts.  There is one spring that has a spring hat to it and a stem.  I use a socket or lug nut to compress the spring down and then turn the hat to secure the spring.  This is probably the most difficult assembly step and can get aggravating if it doesn't go quickly.

It's probably a good time to bleed the brake lines.  Use a good quality Dot 3 fluid and brake bleeding kit.  Its awfully handy to have a partner during this step.

Reply 2:  For 25 years I have been "getting by" with vise grip pliers, a needle nose plier, a couple of screwdrivers and determination. The springs are stiff, but can be overcome with perseverance.  Still haven't felt the need to buy the real tools, but they make the job considerably easier.

While you are working, spoon as much fluid from the master cylinder as possible. Refill with clean, fresh fluid and get someone to help flush the old fluid from the lines. Follow the standard bleeding procedure, keep the reservoir full, and bleed until the new fluid appears at each wheel.
Lastly, you might want to invest in a simple DIY book on brake jobs.  Your autoparts store will probably have one for $10 or so.

Rear Brake Adjustment

Subject:      DiRT: Automatic Rear brake adjustment.
Date:          Wed, 2 Sep 1998 12:02:21 -0600
From: (Doug Bloomberg)
To:             DiRT

Read in the service manual the technique to adjust the rear brakes...

The Manual states. This when doing a reline of the rear. To go backwards and brake to a stop, then forwards and brake to a stop.  Use the brakes only do not do a rolling stop. The  Manual states a rolling stop will not actuate the automatic brake adjusters.

(DO NOT get going backwards, brake and put into 1st/drive and motor ahead.  Stop completely via brakes alone.)

Any how with new brakes do the back up/forward stop thing 8 to 10 times.

I have done this,  IT WORKS! ie.. I Had a slight shudder the past couple days when applying brakes. This AM  did the back/forward thing 2 times. Shudder gone!!!

Now older RAM's  (did this on other vehicles)  I would suggest that if the adj does not seem to work, you remove the rear drums. Clean the whole brake assembly with brake cleaner,  and take the star wheel assembly (you will know it when you pull the drum. A shaft type thing extends between the brake shoes, has threads and a star wheel on the piece with the OD threads.)

Anyway, remove the assembly and clean it, Move the threaded part till it is free turning.  I put a little molly grease on the threads, but if you drive in mud and dusty areas I would probably not do that as the grease will hold the dirt.

But the trick is come to a complete stop using the brakes. And no you don't have to back up very fast to do it.

Just come to a complete stop... Then go forward...

Doug Bloomberg  Denver  RAM 1500 4x4

Subject:      DiRT: Re: adjusting brakes
Date:          Wed, 16 Sep 1998 22:41:48 -0400
From:          Scott Altice <>
 To:             dirt

Hint: Before adjusting, but AFTER releasing parking brake, depress brake pedal once to center shoes. Sometimes they don't release dead center on the backing plate, meaning the "adjust just till they drag" method won't give full adjustment. After adjusting star wheel ONLY UNTIL LIGHT drag is heard, again press brake pedal to center shoes. Adjusting the star wheel usually causes either the primary or secondary shoe to move, but not both equally. Pressing the pedal (main service brake) will center the shoes making a more accurate fit.

WARNING!!! Be careful ***NOT*** to over tighten the adjusters! Excessive drag will overheat the brakes, possibly damaging the shoes & brake hardware from excessive heat. Also, the self-adjusters have a one-way ratchet feature which prevents the star wheel from being turned backward (loosened). To loosen, you must insert a thin stiff wire in the adjusting slot, pressing the self-adjust lever off the star-wheel. Then it can be turned backward to loosen; also needed when removing drums (usually). The factory manual for my 95 2500HD says to use a brake caliper (gauge) to measure drum & set shoe diameter. Then, make 8-10 stops while going foward/backward to allow self-adjusters to do the rest. Hmm, nice theory - but never worked on my truck, so once a month it's adjusting time again...    Just MY experience, FWIW -

-Scott Altice

Subject:    DiRT: Rear Brake Self-Adjusters
Date:        Wed, 16 Sep 1998 20:51:33 -0700
From:       Gary Newlin <>
To:           DiRT
For the past 20 odd years I've adjusted the rear brakes the way I was taught; back up at 25MPH, and stomp on the Service Brakes until the vehicle comes to a stop.  Go forward and do the same thing.  Then repeat 3-4 times.  I guess I've been lucky all these years and never had a problem with this technique.  I do it monthly on my truck.  I carry a Spoon, but I hate to have to use it unless it's absolutly nessisary.

Not too long ago, someone posted a slightly different way to do it.  The gist of it was to use the parking brake INSTEAD of the Service Brakes. The very first time I did this, I heard a distinct CLICK-CLICK from the right rear of the truck. I've never heard this before, on any vehicle. Hooray, I've always liked mechanisms that you can actually HEAR when the work. Accelerating forward to 25MPH, I stomped on the parking brakes again.  I was rewarded by a smooth, quick stop with no pulling that ended with a satisfying sound of rubber sliding on asphalt.

I got out and walked to the rear of the truck and found two very uniform six foot long skid marks.  Repeated the proceedure, and got the same result, minus the clicks.  Very Big Grin.

Since then, the truck hasn't had the pulling problem that it's had sporadicly since I bought it two years ago.

Gary C.Newlin -- N6MZX        

Turning the Rotors

General Consensus: Don't turn the rotors unless it is necessary due to rotor damage!

Subject:      Turning Drums and Rotors
From: (jeberhard)
From:         Stephen D Belt <>
From:         KI4CY <my email address>
From:         "vikki" <>
From: (K.C. Jackson)
To:             RTML

> The service department told them that the rotor, hub, and grease seal was
> one collective unit and quite expensive if screwed up in removal or
> reattachment, thus they should not remove it to resurface the rotors.

(Replies are not in any particular order)

Reply 1:  It isn't a bad idea to get the rear drums turned.  I like NAPA Auto parts for this.  My rears were turned last weekend for $25.

Reply 2:  there are 4 bolts on the backside of the rotors... take those guys out and the whole thing slides off... for better or for (probably) worse... mine have been turned twice... don't think my PF pads like it too much when they are... not gonna have them do it next time...

Reply 3:  As for turning, I never turn rotors or drums unless the surface is REALLY ugly.  Just slap the linings/pads on and put it back together.   NOTE: I have had poor results turning warped rotors and drums because as soon as they heat up, they warp again and then you have to take everything back off.   If it is warped, I replace it.

Reply 4:  Brake companies make a heck of a lot of money  selling expensive rotors. And they continue to pump the public with the idea that you HAVE to have the rotors machined every time you change pads.  This is not true.  Small scoring on the rotors is normal, and will not cause any major problems with braking.  The only time you really need to have rotors turned is when there is major scoring, or you have a brake pull problem.

Reply 5:  My rotors still aren't too bad, so I will probably go one more set before I have the rotors resurfaced - I may just let my dealer do that.

Later postings on the same issue:

The first time I had Midas do my front pads, they had never worked on a 3500 4x4 yet, so they called a dealer for advice.  Dealer told them the hub, rotor, and grease seal are one contained unit, so if you screw it up taking it off to resurface the rotor, you're buying a new one.  They micrometer'd the rotor and found it was within spec (no cuts or runout), so they opted to just change the pads.

Sticking Brakes

Subject:       Re: [RAM] Brakes...bad brake line?
Date:           Wed, 21 Jan 1998 13:49:44 -0500
From:          KI4CY <my email address>
To:              RTML

> I am having the brakes worked on today...they already replaced both
> calipers       <   SNIP   >
> but they also told me that my brake lines might be bad  <snip>
> the brakes were sticking when the  nipple on the caliper (bleeding nipple??)
> was tight and when he loosened it the wheel rotated freely rotated.  Something
> is obviously wrong...
> my question is how can a brake line be responsible for a brake not
> releasing....

Believe it or not, this is a common problem in old (20+ years) cars that have not had regular brake fluid changes. I have seen this about a dozen times on old Chevy cars and trucks, and a once on an old Ford truck.  The usual cause is rust flakes in the brake hose.

Over the years, water condensation builds up in the brake fluid and rusts the calipers, brake lines, or brake hoses. Eventually a rust flake gets into the brake hose and works like a check valve when the brake pedal is depressed. Pressure from the master cylinder forces the brake fluid past the flake to apply the brakes. Then when the pedal is released, the flake jams in the hose and holds pressure on the caliper or brake cylinder.

Although the flake usually doesn't hold full pressure to the affected wheel, there is usually enough pressure to overheat the affected wheel.

I'd hate to think that the Ram brake systems are already rusting. It's more likely that a piece of dirt or a metal particle got into the system when the truck was assembled.


Brake Fluid - Dot 3, Dot 4, or Dot 5 silicone?

Subject:      [RAM] Re: RAM Silicone Brake fluid
From:         KI4CY <my email address>

> Another question: Does anyone have any experience with silicone based brake
> fluid? The theory is  the reason there is pitting in calipers and master
> cylinders is that normal brake fluid is hydroscopic and the absorbed water
> is responsible. Silicone fluid is supposed to prevent this and is supposed
> to obviate the need to bleed under normal circumstance.

I used silicone fluid in my Honda CRX for 11 years with no problem, but I did bleed the fluid every three years.

After three years with regular fluid, my 85 F250 used silicone fluid for five years without bleeding and then the master cylinder began bypassing fluid. I don't really know what caused the master cylinder failure, there were too many variables involved.

Regular fluid + water + oxygen = acid, which is the reason for periodic brake bleeding. The chief fault with silicone fluid (as I understand it) is that moisture which gets into the brake system isn't absorbed by the fluid and can accumulate someplace and cause localized pitting, rust, and corrosion. If silicone fluid is bled to remove accumulated water, then you may as well have used regular fluid at 1/2 the cost.

I didn't like the spongy brake pedal "feel" with silicone fluid (the silicone based fluids are more compressible).

I now use DOT 3 synthetic brake fluid in my vehicles and bleed the fluid every two or three years. I read that Dodge warns against the use of silicone fluid in the ABS because of brake system lubrication and viscosity requirements.    Dave

Subject:       [RAM] Re: Dot5 fluid
From:          Scott Pedrotti <>

First: Dot 3 & Dot 4 are compatible.
 Second: Dot 5 + Dot anything else = Jelly

Silicone brake fluids advantages:

  1) Doesn't absorb water
      -brake lines won't rust from inside out
      -calipers won't freeze (important for vehicles that do sit a lot)
      -parts last longer

  2) Silicone fluid won't damage paint as badly
      -but makes it hell to paint something that's had silicone fluid
       dripped on it

Silicone disadvantages:

   1) very expensive

   2) can't just get it anywhere like dot3 or dot4

   3) once you use it, you have to keep using it unless redo system
      just like you did before you put it in (read further down for

   4) Brake fade can be worse and more sudden

   5) Almost need to put lock on reservoir cap so no one but you adds
      any fluid.

   6) Brakes still need to be bled to remove air

 Now that I've covered the main things to think about before deciding if Dot 5 is right for you, take a look at what is involved in switching over.

  Any remnants of dot 3 or dot 4 fluid in the system will cause the dot 5 to turn to gel.  This gel doesn't help braking.  You may flush the system and get lucky, or you may flush the system and not get lucky. That one is your choice and risk.

  The best thing to do to switch over, is replace everything that comes in contact with the fluid.  Of course this is really really big bucks. Second best would be to flush system as thoroughly as you can, flush once more, than add the dot 5.  Now open the banjo (spelling) bolts and gravity bleed system.  This means to let the new dot 5 leak out while adding more.  Also means dumping money out.  If you do this enough though, hopefully the system will clear any of the gel that may be in the lines. Do the calipers by themselves, or better yet get them rebuilt and cleaned.   Scott Pedrotti

Subject:      Re: [RAM] Brake Upgrades
From:         Jim Foster <>

>   Since discussion of brakes has come up, I was wondering if anyone
> has thought of replacing the rubber OEM brake lines with steel braided.
> I had found someone to make a set of steel braided lines to replace
> all 6 OEM rubber connections on my Lebaron. 

Yup.  Braided stainless steel brake lines are almost mandatory when building a race car because of all the reasons that you listed above.  But I wouldn't use them on the street.  We see a lot of the guys in the Porsche club make the modification and we've seen failures.  When was the last time you saw a failure from an OEM line?

Just because something's a good idea in a race car doesn't make it a good idea on the street.  Braided stainless steel brake lines can be better IF they're properly installed and _frequently_ inspected.  This happens after every race but how often do most people check their brake lines?  Abrasion is the big killer of SS lines.  Be absolutely certain that the line never comes in contact with the suspension components.  This can abrade the line over time and cause a failure.  Keep a close eye on those lines.

As to brake fluid.  I wouldn't use a silicone brake fluid in a systems that wasn't engineered for it at the factory.  Especially if it's an ABS system.  Flush your brake system every year with _fresh_ fluid if you really want to be nice to it.  Castrol LMA is a DOT 4 fluid that should be fine for most applications.  ATE Super Blue (also comes in gold, same stuff) is a little bit better but costs ~$12/quart.  This is the Porsche factory fill. The different colors are nice because then you know when you've flushed out all of the old fluid from the system.

We flush the brake fluid in our track cars at the beginning of the season and then bleed the brakes before every track event.  Depending upon the track and the brake cooling system on the car we may need to re-bleed the system after every day on the track.  You can usually tell the condition of the fluid by looking at it as it comes out of the caliper.  Keep bleeding until you see clear (or new) fluid.  I think a DOT 4 fluid is better because it allows you to get the moisture out of the brake system during a bleed.  This isn't true with silicone because the water isn't in suspension, it's sitting at the lowest point in the system.   Jim Foster        

Stainless Steel Brake Lines

Subject:       Re: [RAM] Brake Upgrades
From:          Scott Pedrotti <>

<using selective snipping>
> Yup.  Braided stainless steel brake lines are almost mandatory when
> building a race car because of all the reasons that you listed above.
> But I wouldn't use them on the street.  We see a lot of the guys in
> the Porsche club make the modification and we've seen failures.

   Many have used them in our Shelby club with no failures.

> When was the last time you saw a failure from an OEM line?

   More times than I'd like to see.  Including 2 of my own and I do more under inspecting than most.  Seems the one tore from the connector and other one just ruptured and split.

   Rubber is likely to dry rot, or become brittle as it ages.  This can easily lead to sudden failure, even if looks ok from the outside.

  I guess we'll just disagree on this point.  Oh well at least maintain a diff point of view.  Nothing wrong with that.

> Just because something's a good idea in a race car doesn't make it a
> good idea on the street.

   This is very true and I do realize it.

> Braided stainless steel brake lines can be better IF
> they're properly installed and _frequently_ inspected.  This happens
> after every race but how often do most people check their brake lines?
> Abrasion is the big killer of SS lines.  Be absolutely certain that
> the line never comes in contact with the suspension components.  This
> can abrade the line over time and cause a failure.

  OEM lines can encounter same problems if altered.  It isn't the difference in the material the lines are made out of, it's the installation of them.       <snipped the brake fluid stuff cause I would just be saying same thing>

  I run Castrol Dot4 myself, and bleed brakes at the start of each show season.  I clean and inspect entire undercarriage at least 12 times during the show season.  Before I started showing it, I did this in the spring to clean all the salt off and to check for any problems that might've showed up.  I also cleaned and inspected it every fall.  Again to see how things are holding up and to make sure it's ready for winter.

  I wasn't giving a recommendation to go to Dot5 fluid, but rather was offering what I see as the pluses and minuses of it.  And I think moisture is a problem no matter what fluid you run, but less of a problem with dot5.  Non synthetic fluids draw moisture from the air every time you fill your brake reservoir.    Scott Pedrotti

Bleeding Brakes

Subject:       Re: [RAM] Bleeding Brakes (was Paul's Misfortune)
From:          Drdonnelly <>

I checked my 97 manual, and here are the things that are in addition to the usual bleeding practices:

don't pump the brakes, it compresses the bubbles in the lines and makes it harder to purge them.

bleed in sequence:  right rear, left rear, right front, left front.  If the lines/calipers are empty, open the screw and let them fill, then close the bleeder screw.  make sure the reservoir fluid level is kept up.  then go to the usual bleeding procedure.

98 should be the same, I think.

Resetting the brake warning lamp after fluid loss

Subject:      [RAM] Paul's continuing troubles

As for the brakes, is your brake light still on?

There is a little switch in the proportional valve that moves when one line looses pressure.  It is possible that this switch hasn't returned.  If this is the case, you need to go out and pump the brakes again and again to get it back.  Eventually it will return to where it is supposed to be.

If the brake light is not on, this might not be the issue.  I'd say try it about 20 times (and I do mean MASH the pedal) and see if it helps.  If it doesn't change anything, it might not be the issue.



Last Update September 25, 1998