Challenge #1 – How to fix my brakes?

So after a few weeks of testing myself with the stick shift, driving around my neighborhood and local areas, I was finally ready to really venture out. One Sunday afternoon I decided to drive to my boyfriend’s house. Before I left my home, I did everything a good new driver is supposed to do –

1.) Checked my tires and oil – everything checked out.

2.) Checked under the car to make sure there were no leaks, not so good. On the rear passenger side, a little ways from the rear tire, there was a small amount of fluid. I could not recognize what it was so I assumed and hoped all was good.

With that I proceeded to drive to my boyfriend’s. That night when I left all was not as I had hoped. What was a tiny amount of fluid near one tire turned into a large amount of fluid near and running down both passenger tires. I immediately checked my brake fluid and it was half way empty. I still needed to get home, so my boyfriend got into his car and followed behind me to make sure I got home safe. I survived.

I made it home safely and the next day set to work figuring out what was wrong. I spoke to my brother, who has a history with VW and cars in general. My brother was a crew chief for an Arciero race team, has worked on cars that have raced in things such as the Baja 500, and has done complete wiring on many race cars including the VW Toureag. As far as classic VWs he learned everything he knew from my dad. I also spoke to a family friend who restores classic cars. After all this I came to the conclusion that me wheel cylinders needed to be replaced. Never having had to work on a car alone, I convinced my brother to do the work for me.

Well common sense, along with all research I had done told me that if a car had been sitting stagnant for three years, if one side of the brakes went out the other was soon to follow. I felt that all wheel cylinders and brake shoes should be replaced. My brother thought differently and when he returned the car to me three days later he had only replaced the passenger wheel cylinders. By the next weekend the driver’s side had gone out. Rather than hassling other people I decided it was time to do my own research and try things out for myself.  That weekend by boyfriend and I set out to fix my brakes.

We planned on it being a one day adventure, it turned into a long two day project. Both days starting early in the morning and finishing well after dark. It wasn’t that replacing the brakes were hard we just ran into a lot of obstacles.  We started on the drivers side, since that was the side my brother hadn’t touched. The front tire went relatively smoothly, was just really dirty and took a lot of cleaning. The rear tire is where the issues began. From sitting so long the nut had rusted on and we could not get the tire off. We did as all the manuals said, using different wrenches and Dirty Rear Brake Druma large bar for leverage. We broke three wrenches, including one pretty expensive heavy duty wrench, before we finally moved to and power wrench. After that things went smoothly. However, we had taken so long getting it off that our day one ended there.

Freshly Cleaned and Replaced Rear BrakeDay two began by us finishing up the driver’s rear tire, cleaning and remounting,  and then moving on to my passenger’s side that my brother had previously worked on. He is either an idiot or cares nothing about my safety.  After he had done his work he told my that my brake shoes needed to be replaced soon, but would be ok for a while. He lied! The shoes were chipped, cracked, in spots thinner than a 1/4 of a centimeter, and falling off. I was disgusted.

Since we had already faced all the issues on the driver’s side that the passenger side went fairly smoothly, just lots of Front Brake Drumcleaning. Problems arouse again went it came to the brake adjustments. When all was done, I went to test the brakes. We had taken our time and been very careful bleeding and adjusting the brakes. I went to drive down the driveway and…nothing. I had no brakes. No big issue we just went back through and readjusted everything and in the end it turned out just fine.


About Simply Alex

A graduate of CSUF with my BA in Communications - Entertainment and Tourism Studies. I love food, photography, music, and writing. New to Hawaii by way of sunny SoCal.
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One Response to Challenge #1 – How to fix my brakes?

  1. Pingback: I Have Brake Lights! | Little Bug

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