What Your Repair Manual Didn"t Tell You About Your Brakes Repair

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A lot of do-it-yourselfers grab a repair manual and dive into a brake job as their first repair with little or no experience.
While repairing your brakes is considered one of the more approachable procedures for shadetree mechanics, there are some precautions that your manual may leave out which, if ignored, can result in a messy repair job, an unsafe vehicle, or personal injury during the repairs.
One of the major dangers of repairing your brakes is that it is necessary to lift and support the vehicle.
Your repair manual probably doesn't cover how to lift a vehicle in detail and the importance of this can not be overstated.
You can be severely injured if you are working on the car and it collapses down onto the ground.
Don't try to get by with wooden blocks or other impromptu support devices.
Use weight-rated vehicle supports and be very careful about proper placement (educate yourself ahead of time).
Even when you are sure the vehicle is properly supported, avoid spending unnecessary amounts of time with any part of your body under the vehicle.
Another issue is brake dust and asbestos.
Depending on how old the vehicle is you may be exposed to asbestos while taking apart the brake system.
When this is the case you must follow all precautions pertaining to working around asbestos.
Depending on which brand of repair manual you are working with, you may find that the brakes information is actually not specific to your vehicle but composed of two generalized sections: disc brakes and drum brakes.
Several common variations of each are covered and you will have to choose which one most closely applies to your vehicle.
If this is the case in your manual, you must be extremely careful to note the actual positions of each brake component, especially pesky springs and bolts, one by one as you remove them.
One good method is to draw each component's location on a piece of paper as you remove it, and then set the component on top of "itself" (its drawn representation) on the piece of paper so that you know how all the pieces relate to each other.
Otherwise you may find when reassembling your brakes that the generalized illustration in your repair manual isn't an exact representation of your car's setup and you are up the creek without a paddle.
Hopefully now you have a better idea of what to be prepared for when you pick up a repair manual and embark on your brake repair job.
Sometimes you have to read between the lines when using these books.
Your primary concern must be preparedness and safety, not simply following the instructions.
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