Sad to say, but this page is a work in progress. I'm sure I'll be adding to it!
On the majority of autos you DO have to remove the caliper, but that's usually just 2 bolts and no big deal. To do the job properly you usually need to resurface or replace the brake rotors anyway. Brake rotors for MOST vehicles have gotten really inexpensive lately, so a lot of people just put on new ones instead of resurfacing or "turning" the rotors.
ON MOST CARS the rotor can be removed VERY easily: they just slide right off once the wheel and caliper are removed. THE EXCEPTION IS THE "CAPTIVE ROTOR!!!!" On SOME vehicles (all of them front wheel drive) the rotor is bolted on THE INSIDE of the axle hub. This means you can't just slide the rotor off: you have to remove the axle, press the hub out of the bearing, then unbolt the rotor, replace or turn it, then press the hub back into the wheel bearing, then replace the axle. Just to remove the axle requires taking apart the lower ball joint and sometimes the tie rod end too. Chances are good that during this process you'll destroy or damage the wheel bearing and possibly the lower ball joint and tie rod end. This means an expense of AT LEAST 2 hours per side, making the rotor replacement cost more than the rest of the brake job. In addition it adds a possible parts expense (ball joints and axle bearings) of hundreds of dollars. THIS IS ALSO NOT A DO-IT-YOURSELF BRAKE JOB! You probably don't have the equipment to pull bearings, axles, and ball joints. They DO make brake lathes that can turn rotors on cars, but today's rotors are so thin when new they probably can't be turned more than once, and not even once if the pads go "metal to metal".
The only "good" reason I can think of for captive rotors on a car is a cynical one: Brakes last about 50,000 miles. If you make a car that needs expensive repairs at 50,000 miles the owners MIGHT get rid of it and buy a new one. A car built to "last forever" would be a "bad thing" for buisness!
Here's a list of vehicles I KNOW have captive rotors.
1998 Chevy k2500 4x4
90-94 Honda Accord
Hyundai Accent, Elantra
Some 1980's Nissans and some Toyota Tercels
Here's a video of how to replace a captive rotor on a Honda
With clear coat paint this won't work! Since it's clear, the ultraviolet rays go all the way through the paint and it deteriorates all the way down to the color coat. You've probably seen cars that have a "milky" or "cloudy" paint, especially on the hood, roof, and trunk. This is the clear coat deteriorating. Sometimes the clear coat begins to peel off in yellowish sheets, making your car look like it has leprosy!
You can wax it, buff it, whatever, but you won't fix it. You might think you could just re-do the clear coat, but that won't work either. The car must be sanded down, removing ALL the deteriorated clear coat, then painted with the base color coat, then clear coated again. You COULD use a single stage paint to re-do the car, but if you want it to be exactly the same color you need to go with the original "base coat/clear coat" system.
This is such a big problem that in the 80's and 90's new cars on dealer lots were having to be re-painted before they could be sold. Clear coats are a lot better than they used to be, but they still don't outlast a single stage paint job.
I have to confess that I really like the DuPont Basemaker paint system: the color coat goes on easily and dries fast, but with a dull finish. It's hard to make it run! The clear coat makes it shine, and it's easy to get good results.
Even so, it seems silly to me to clear coat solid colors. Normally I use a single stage for them, because I know it will last longer. The factory even clear coats white cars: and white is a VERY forgiving color!
Trouble is, unlike house paint, these water based primers didn't work very well on cars. You've probably seen vehicles (Dodge Caravans especially) with huge areas where the paint has peeled off, leaving gray primer. Aftrer a few years the gray turns to rust color as the primer itself wears off. The only permanent solution is to completely strip the vehicle to bare metal and start over with a standard primer.
There's talk of using water based primer again, even water based top coats. Some vehicles are already doing this. Hopefully they have a more rugged product now. Time will tell!
There's another way to make a block however, and a lot of the time it doesn't work well at all. It's called a "wet sleeve" engine. A wet sleeve engine has cylinders that are basically pieces of pipe that sit in the engine block, surrounded by the water jacket. The problem with this design is obvious: there isn't much area for the head gasket to seal the tops of the cylinders. Wet sleeve engines blow head gaskets VERY easily.
In addition, the sleeves can shift at the bottom and cause a leak if you just put a head gasket on them. On some vehicles, especially ones with steel sleeves and an aluminum block, the block can warp and the cylinder sleeves won't seal properly. A wet sleeve motor DOES have some advantages. A wet sleeve motor uses a simpler casting than a one piece engine design. The block is just a "rectangular box" and the cylinders sit in it. On a wet sleeve motor the coolant completely surrounds the cylinder sleeve all the way to the top, whereas a one piece block has about a 1/4 inch area at the top that's solid with the rest of the block. In reality I don't buy this as being an advantage: that 1/4 inch of metal should act as a heat sink, and I doubt it creates a hot area on the cylinder.
Wet sleeve engines are found mostly on imports, especially British stuff. I was at the races at Sebring one year, and I met a bunch of mechanics from the Jaguar racing team. I was hanging out with them, and 2 hours into the race the car started overheating. They finally quit the race. On teardown they discovered a blown head gasket on the V-12 motor. There was a TINY scratch on the aluminum head: it would have been no big thing on a one piece block. But since it was a wet sleeve motor, that tiny scratch DID make a difference, and Team Jaguar was out of the race.
Here's a list of cars that have made me wish I wasn't a mechanic. I call some of them "Plasma Donor Cars" , because after a day of literal pain and literal bleeding over fixing them, I think "Gee, I'd rather just go sell plasma than do a job like this! Just a little prick on my arm, a wait of about an hour in the A/C, and I would have made almost as much per hour as I did fixing the vehicle, and with fewer scratches and cuts, and much less aggravation!"
Here's a "how to" article with pictures showing this job.
This configuration saves space, but a lot of times manufacturers put the engine so close to the rear of the engine compartment that it's next to impossible to work on! Removing the front "dog bone" motor mount can allow the engine to tilt forward a bit: that helps, but sometimes even that's not enough. On several GM vehicles the back spark plug nearest the transaxle is so hard to get to, many "quickie tuneup" shops just leave that plug in. A customer of mine had a car that had a misfire on that rear cylinder even after several tuneups. I put it on my oscilloscope and saw an ignition problem. The spark plug in that cylinder had completely burned its electrode off, and it was a different brand than all the rest of the plugs. His cheap tuneups had only replace 5 of the 6 plugs. I think that plug was the original one from the factory!
"T" Tops just LOVE to leak, and sometimes even with new gaskets you end up being dripped on in the rain. Plus, what do you do with the "T" Top when it's off? Use up your trunk space? Or put them in your garage to get broken? Then when you leave them and it starts raining, what then?
That being said, you DO get a bit more horsepower from adding headers to a car, especially an engine that just has a standard exhaust manifold rather than a factory tuned exhaust.
THERE'S A HEFTY PRICE TO PAY THOUGH!
I once had a customer who wanted headers put on. He had bought a set online. I was a bit uneasy, because the box had a list of about 100 vehicles that these headers supposedly fit. They DID fit his car, but not very well. I had to put dents in the pipes in several places to get them to fit around stuff. I had to cut off (shorten) the studs which held the upper "a" frame of the suspension, plus put a dent in the pipe.
Headers make most everything harder to work on. It's not uncommon to have to use a box end wrench to get the spark plugs out of some cylinders because the header pipe is in the way. Often you have to remove the headers to replace the starter. It's really unusual for most exhaust manifolds to leak or blow a gasket, but on headers it's ALMOST EXPECTED! The cheaper headers have poorly made flanges, and even the good ones don't have much surface to seal to the heads. If you DO get headers, maker sure they're a name brand, and that they are made to fit JUST your car, not every car that has a certain engine in it!
Thank you for visiting the ECONOMECHANIX WEB SITE. Please feel free to comment. We also serve the surrounding communities of Alachua, High Springs, Hawthorne, and Newberry! Gainesville has been my home since 1974, and I've loved Gvl and the Gators since I came here in the fall of 1974 to attend the University of Florida. I loved it so much I stayed and opened my car repair business. Originally it was out of the back of a 1963 Chevrolet wagon, but in 1977 a fellow mechanic and I opened an auto repair shop with actual walls, etc. I stayed in the same location for 26 years, and recently moved my operation to property I bought 15 miles east of Gainesville. I am doing most all the repairs myself now, having reduced my overhead from $1500 per month to practically nothing. I do work by appointment only. I mostly work only on my established customers cars, but I will occasionally take on new clients. E-mail me and I will either make arrangements to look at your car, or I will recommend you to someone who will.
George G. Scott, Jr.
ABS: Anti-Lock Brake Systems
ADVANCE: Car ignition timing
ALTERNATORS and Car Battery
BAD CAR DESIGNS
BATTERIES: Auto, Car or Truck
BELTS AND HOSES
BODY AND BUMPER REPAIRS
BRAKE REPAIRS: Car or Truck
Car Washing and Care
CARBURETORS:Car & Truck
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
CLEANING: Engine Cleaning
CLUTCH REPAIRS: Car & Truck
COMPRESSION: Car Engine
COMPUTER CAR CONTROLS
CV JOINT OR CV AXLES
ELECTRIC WIRING REPAIR
ENGINES: Car & Truck
FUEL AIR MIXTURE
FUEL INJECTION: Car & Truck
FUEL PUMPS: Car & Truck
GAGES AND "IDIOT LIGHTS"
GASKETS AND SEALS
GLASS: WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS
HEADS & HEAD GASKET
HOSES AND BELTS
"IDIOT LIGHTS" AND GAGES
IGNITION TIMING: Car & Truck
AUTO JACKS: lifting cars safely
LEAN "Car runs lean"
LIGHTS: WARNING OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
Limp Home Mode
NO START: Car Won't Start
OIL: What's right for your car?
OIL LIGHT ON OR GAGE LOW
RADIATORS: Car and Truck
RICH: Car runs rich
SEALS AND GASKETS
SERVICE ENGINE SOON LIGHT
STARTERS: Auto, Truck
TIMING: IGNITION TIMING
TIMING BELT & TIMING CHAIN
WARNING LIGHTS OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
Car Washing and Care
WATER PUMP REPAIR
WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS