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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have what I like to call an "unplanned upgrade opportunity" before me: I'm the new owner of a '98 MKIII Jetta, and 1st on the laundry list of "things that done need fixin'" are the rear brakes. Not just pads & rotors, but calipers & e-brake cables as well.

I'm not going to pay the shop to do the swap; I don't mind doing this sort of stuff myself (I will let them replace the front wheel bearing though). But ... my questions are thus:

1. What upgrade options do I have here? (I'm not talking about 14" 8-pot Brembos - this car is mainly here for winter duties, basically.)
2. What vendors should I look to for parts? (I found Black Forest Industries already ... any opinions?)
3. Are there any good soup-to-nuts rear brake replacement kits out there? (One-stop shopping would be nice)

Put it this way: the shop quoted me $800+T to do the rear brakes. If I can do it myself for half, I'm happy, even if it's OEM stuff. I highly doubt my CFO (mrs.fasterdammit) is going to let me drop $800 on aftermarket upgrades especially if it means I'm doing it myself.

I did see the DIY overhaul write-up thread, too. And I'm considering that as well, but I've half a mind to find a whole new kit to bolt up. (Unless the overhaul is dirt cheap and painless)

All opinions and suggestion greatly appreciated. :)
 

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125whp/125wtrq
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
you can replace the rear drums with the front brake assembly.
Ok, now I'm curious ... because I have discs all around. What was stock on a '98 MKIII GT - drums, or disc? I have a sinking feeling I'm going to wind up taking the rear end apart just to investigate ... and then have to order parts.

Good to know about the VR6 brake m/c & proportioning valve though. I guess we'll see what's what first ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Ok, so I did the full rear brake swap this past weekend. Considering the shape of the car and the kind of mileage I'm most likely going to put on it, I decided to just go with an OEM swap & no upgrades.

I've got a pretty decent tool chest, but I did come away with a couple extra tools I hadn't planned for, but excluding those items, the whole expenses came out to about $450. Here's the parts list:

Parts list:
  • 2ea Remanufactured calipers ($79/ea + $82 core)
  • 2ea 'Premium' rotors (not drilled or slotted, just solid discs) ($26/ea)
  • 2ea inner bearings (races + cups) ($9/ea)
  • 2ea outer bearings (races + cups) (these are smaller than inner bearings) ($8/ea)
  • Set dual-composition pads (inner pad is different from outer) ($52)
  • 2ea emergency brake cables ($21/ea)
  • 2ea E-brake cable guides (route cables through transition from interior of car to exterior) ($18/ea)
  • 4ea new caliper mounting bracket bolts (10x1.25x21mm) ($2.50/ea)

Required & helpful tools:
  • Cling wrap (stop the master cylinder from draining when the calipers are off)
  • DOT4 brake fluid
  • Blue loc-tite (or red if you plan to never take it apart again)
  • Jack stands
  • Wheels chocks
  • 10-15mm sockets and crescent wrenches
  • T-50 Torx <- brake caliper mounting bracket bolts
  • 8mm Allen wrench <- brake caliper mounting bracket bolts (well, one of mine was, anyway)
  • Slot & philips screwdrivers
  • Grease gun w/ bearing cone <- beats the hell out of hand-packing your bearings
  • 28, 32 & 36mm 1/2" drive sockets <- drive the bearings into the rotors
  • 1/2" drive socket extension <- for the 28, 32 & 36mm sockets ;)
  • Hammer
  • 12" brake line w/ adapter to fit the brake line in the caliper (to bench-bleed them)
  • MightyVac hand bleeder or one-way valve
  • 6" zip ties <- hold the brake line out of the way until you're ready to re-mount the caliper

I wound up buying everything from Napa, because a new store just opened about a mile from my house, and not only were they open all weekend, but they were ready to bend over backwards to help because they haven't even been open a month yet. And they gave me a discount. :)

Notes:
  • It's a very straight-forward job; but the most helpful items you can have are a bearing-filler cone w/ a zerc fitting for a grease gun and a hand-bleeder to pre-bleed the calipers before mounting them.
  • The bearing races are a tolerance fit, so unless you have a bearing press, you're going to need those sockets (approximately the same diameter as the bearing races) and a hammer to drive them into the rotors. I used a 4" socket extension so there was less chance of smashing my hand and you had a smaller area to drive w/ the hammer. Helps if you grease the area in the rotor first, too.
  • Pre-bleed/bench bleeding the caliper: this really reduces the hassle of bleeding the system once everything's mounted up. Attach the 12" brake line into the same hole that the car's brake line will go into, and hook up the hand-pump to the bleeder screw. The small diameter of the brake line works a lot better than a tube, and the fitting means you get an air-tight seal. The caliper will fill right up, plus pointing the brake line straight down into the bottle puts the bleed screw on top for the best orientation to get the air out.

Lessons learned/things I should've done:
  • This would've been the perfect time to replace the little 6" rubber brake line which goes from the drop-arm to the caliper. I don't know if stainless steel braided lines are DOT-approved everywhere, but that would've been my choice. I didn't bother, but wish I had, since everything else is new.
  • Called the dealer to order new caliper bracket mounting bolts first: these are grade 10 or 12 hardened bolts, in a very particular size and a fine thread pitch - 10x1.25x21mm. You're not going to get them from Lowes or Home Despot (I don't think those stores carry anything higher than grade 8.8 anyway). Hell, I couldn't even get them from either specialty fastener store in the area (who carries a 21mm bolt?). Even the local VW dealer had to order them ($2.50/ea). But that's the size you need, 4 total. Might as well order the e-brake cable guides as well ($16/ea) - mine were rusted to ****, and there was no getting the old cable out, much less pushing a new one in.
  • Check your original hardware before you mount up anything reman'd. The two calipers I got were different, and one was missing the e-brake catch bracket.
  • Buying reman'd: I have to laugh at the fact that the core charge for each caliper is greater than the replacement. If you buy the parts first, you pay both the part price and the core charge; you get the core charge back when you bring the old part back. So I initially paid $325 for the two calipers, then got back $178 when I brought my crappy old ones back. I guess they really want the cores back ...

I didn't take pictures, but it's really pretty simple; just messy with the bearings and brake fluid. Gotta love that German engineering. But for $450 and a good handful of hours you can do it yourself. For the price of a beer, it is easier to have a buddy come over to help bleed the system, but you can do it yourself with a one-way valve.
 
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