After my wife and I got back from the 2019 West Coast Cruise I decided to tackle the squealing brakes we were experiencing on the drive. I finally finished the maintenance on what should have been a 1-2 job. Mostly a lack of time was the reason for the delay. Not getting all of the parts and the right parts cost me some time also.
The squeal had me thinking I needed new rotors and/or rear drums. It was difficult to determine exactly from where the noise was emanating. I took off the wheels, removed the front calipers and pads, took off the rear drums and pads, and inspected the drums and rotors. Rear drums were in good shape with plenty of material left on them. The same with the rear brake pads. Not surprised since the majority of the stopping power comes from the front. There was quite a bit of brake dust in the drums when I removed them. The rear brake cylinders were in good shape with no seepage. Front pads looked good as well but the rotors may have been turned a time or two (not by me) because they had a significant lip on the outer edge that you could definitively feel as you ran your finger from the centerline out to the edge. I opted for new rotors but forgot to order a new bearing kit with races.
While I had everything off I noticed a significant amount of brake fluid on the area under the master cylinder. Checked the fluid level and it was almost non-existent. I had topped it off before the trip so I knew I had a problem. Checked the area inside the driver's area by the brake pedal and the carpet was damp. Dang it, now I needed a new master cylinder. Out came the master cylinder.
While the drums were off the axle seals started to leak and dummy me didn't think it was because the 300 ft lbs of torque holding the drums on was not there which allowed some seepage. I bought a new axle seal kit and replaced both sides. Axles were still taking a couple days later. A call to P Downs confirmed my suspicions about the missing drums being the problem.
After I got all the parts I needed the rebuilding process began. Prior to putting it all together I used some 80 grit sandpaper and hand sanded the rear pads, front pads, and the inside lining of the brake drum to remove any glazing. In went the new m/c, assembled the new rotors with the new races and packed the new bearings with grease, installed the new rotors, refit the front calipers, torqued the rear axle nuts, secured them with new cotter tins, bent the pins to keep them in place, and started to bleed the brakes.
I picked up two quarts of Dot 3, located a 2 liter bottle, dug out some clear vinyl tubing from my parts bin, and made a catch for the old brake fluid. I had watched a number of videos on bleeding the brakes by myself but didn't want to chance it. My son came out to help with the pressure application on the pedal. Flushed the system completely of old fluid and air. Repeated the process on all four wheels. I forgot the front calipers had two bleeder valves and that caused me some anguish in trying to determine why the brake pedal was still soft after doing all four corners. Started to bleed it again starting with the right rear and made sure I did both bleeders on the front calipers. Adjusted the parking brake and put the wheels back on. It took a couple tries to get the pedal adjustment correct but eventually I could lock up all four tires without any pulling in any direction.
During all of this I replaced the exhaust manifold on my daughter's Saturn.
The only question I have for the more expert folks on the site is this;
When I bled the front calipers there are two bleeder valves. With the caliper installed in its normal position one valve is at the bottom of the caliper in a much lower position and the other valve is at the top of the caliper in a higher position. Should I have disconnected the caliper and laid it on the top of the rotor so the two bleeder valves would be at the same height when I bled them?