Brakes, Hood Prop Mod and Battery Hold-down

When I did the 60,000 mile service I planned to do the brakes too. But at the time they looked fine, so I skipped it and saved a few bucks on an  expensive service interval. Here we are 5,000 miles later with a heavier truck and bigger tires in the near future; so it seems like good time to go ahead with these and hopefully get a little more stopping power in the process. But man alive — had I only known what was in store for me.

Before I started what would become the brake service from hell — I “warmed-up” by putting a few things on that had been sitting in the garage. First up was a gas strut kit to do away with the loathed hod prop rod. The kit is sold by Off-road Gorilla and installation is stupid easy.

Next was a Xterra themed battery hold-down and new hardware. About six months ago before our 5,000 mile trip I noticed that my not-quite-two-year-old Diehard Platinum was “crushed and cracked” at both edges of the battery hold-down. The result no doubt of maybe a little over-tightening and a lot of vibrations and hits off-road. The OEM hold-down places all of the stress on two inches of the very edge of the battery top. So why it looks awesome, the new hold-down is also quite functional and will hopefully keep this battery from cracking more and the next from cracking at all.

Feeling confident — I moved right in to the rear brakes. Part of the motivation for doing the brakes was the fact that I was out of adjustment on my e-brake and it still wasn’t working to spec. I thought it was time for new shoes — and to pull those all apart and not replace the pads while you’re in there seems like a waste. This is where our troubles begin.

The passenger rear shoes and pads with clean-up took all of seven minutes. The driver’s side? Two and a half hours. The rotor/drum was stuck. Only after hours of cursing, rubber-mallet-sledging, an entire can of brake cleaner, and copious amounts of PB Blaster did that son of a bitch finally come off. Replacing the shoes and pads and reinstalling? All of five more minutes.

The drum from hell that refused to come off.
The drum from hell that refused to come off.

With the rears done and lunch in my belly — I moved to the front. This would go even faster I told myself. We’re just changing pads… it will be easy!

Oh how I was wrong.

The driver’s side was easy… it took all of five minutes. The passenger’s side was one slide bolt away from being complete when… the slide bolt sheared off in the slide. That started a wild goose chase around town at too many auto part stores and dealers to list.

I hate you.
I hate you.

After paying $8 for a 20mm long bolt, I was headed home and finished up with a brake flush using OEM fluid. Praise baby Jesus nothing else went sideways.

As far as parts — I went with EBC Green Stuff 6000 series pads. The reviews online all seem to note good life, low dust, and increased stopping power (EBC says a 15% reduction in stopping distance). EBC recommends 200 miles of urban driving before performing their bed-in procedure. So we’re a ways out from a review at this point. But oh so glad to have this completed and behind us now.

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