Funny little auto-repair/auto-parts anecdote:

This is admittedly a pointless story.

I’m drawn to DIY automaintenance even though I don’t have a house NOR a garage----this means I do it right on the street (perhaps risking annoying neighbors.) A triumph can be very…triumphant but when things go wrong, it can be very stressful. You lose your daily driver, you’re not sure where you’re going to get the correct part and/or tool.

Today I had a little bit of a triumph, and a major setback then…hope

So, the 2007 Corolla developed a little steering vibration upon braking. A little internet research points to the brake rotors being the most likely cause. I decided to replace the rotors and pads altogether.

I knew getting the rotors off after being rusted on for 12 years would be a problem but I was prepared (after watching Youtube videos.)

I bought a set of bolts with nuts so I can thread them through the steering knuckle for the purpose of PUSHING the rotor off but, “YIKES! The bolts started to deform and Broke off!” Still enough pressure was applied that the rotor was pushed at a few degrees angle away from the HUB.

After much stress and brainstorming for an hour, I decided to try something: I’m going to jack up the entire front of the car so the front drive wheels are off the ground (FWD car.) With the parking brake on, I’m going to rely on the power of the engine and transmission to spin this thing (thus angling the entire rotor) and VOILA! it worked, the rotor popped off through sheer power!!! I didn’t even watch this on a Youtube video. This is a nice little triumph, I’m beaming!

So, I proceed with the task at hand when I realized another (perhaps much worse problem,) ONE of the caliper slides pins had seized in the caliper bracket. It was impossible to remove. In fact, this was probably the cause of the braking pulsation and steering wheel vibration.

I took the bracket home with me and applied WD40 and Liquid Wrench, nothing works.

I considered my options

DIY videos suggest using a blow torch, and lots of hammering, and pulling. I can’t do that in my apartment!!!

No local AutoZone or Advance Auto carries a caliper bracket in store (not even for a ubiquitous car like a Corolla.) Maybe I’ll go the Toyota Dealership and order the part but they probably don’t have it in stock which means they’ll have to order it (and it’s 175 dollars.) Ordering it from RockAuto will still take about a week (but cost only 33 dollars for a remanufactured CardOne unit.)

Oh boy, it looks increasingly likely that I’ll have to have it towed and/or I won’t have my daily driver for a whole week. So much stress and worry.

So, I spent the next 5 hours worrying about how I’m going to solve this problem as I put all my hope in that penetrating oil.

My little 5th floor apartment is not just built or set up for this type of major work.

I was about to give up and give the local mechanic a call so he can tow it into his shop when I happen upon pictures of caliper parts (in my search for solutions) and I notice that they all seem to come with the caliper brackets. I did a search for calipers (and not specifically for caliper brackets) for my Corolla at AutoZone and Advanced Auto and, “Voila!,” most of the caliper parts come with brackets! I was so worried because I was so fixed on that single part: the caliper bracket----I hadn’t realized that in the auto-parts world a lot of combo parts are sold as single units. All that stress and brainstorming for nothing.

So, not only was the part available for local pickup at Advanced Auto AND AutoZone but it turns out I don’t even need it----because I already have it in my closet. So why do I have this part in my closet in the first place? Well, 2 years ago, the calipers on the OTHER side seized and I ordered the part for that side and did the replacement. So, why do I have the right part for THIS side? I went on a parts buying binge earlier, I do that sometimes just because I’m crazy: it’s that simple. I ordered because I figured it might come in handy. Well, I was HALF right, the calipers were technically fine. I had forgotten that they come as a single unit.

Talk about serendity!

This is ONE time when predicting when a part might go bad and ordering ahead of time worked out!!!

I got a brand new (not remanufactured) Raybestos Opti-Cal, all the hardware is there, I don’t think I even have to lube the guide pins. I only need to mount the entire unit to the steering knuckle and install the brake pads.

Side question: this unit comes with two washers. Am I supposed to use TWO washers on the brake line into the caliper???


EDIT 2: I should add that this rotor removal technique is only for those who wish to replace and discard the old rotors.

If it is a banjo bolt you use a washer on either side of the banjo.


Thank you.

Familiar storyline for ANY apartment dwelling/DIYer/single car owner. You learned one valuable lesson. Buy way more parts than you need 'cause once it comes apart, you may have no way to get to the parts store and/or you might have to wait for it. You can always take the un-needed parts back for a refund.

I have always owned unique or weird cars that the local parts store did not carry parts for. Planning was essential!

Good story, well written! Thanks!

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I also do street DIY.
Luckily, two auto parts stores are within bicycle range.
Only once in 30+ years did I have to make an unplanned trip.

If you are going to do on street repairs, do like a lot of people near me do. Drive to the auto parts store, park in the least conspicuous spot (not in front of the door) and do your repair there. Take some cardboard, a broom and dustpan to clean up with.

I have had 6 Triumphs, and it was hard to be triumphant. I changed a head gasket in the apartment lot. No one noticed, but it only took 2 hours. When I was a mechanic, I changed dozens of TR3 and TR4 head gaskets; so there were no surprises . Around here, working at an auto parts store is a big no no.

Where I live it is probably not allowed by law but we are a pretty tolerant bunch and I have seen employees from one national auto parts stores out in the parking lot trying to help more than one customer. The local police seem to have no interest in enforcing things like that unless someone complains and then you would be told to get you car out of there and clean up any mess.

We have a law about open burning, but if my neighbors have a bonfire, I don’t complain about them and when I have one, they don,t complain about me.

One distant neighbor did complain about my next door neighbor and the police dutifully showed up but informed him that the law exempted cooking fires and gave him time to get some hot dogs from in the house to put on a stick.

That’s because it is private property. When the legal owner complains, they act on it.

I’ve seen people wrenching on cars in the parts store parking lot. I’ve also seen the unfortunate end result more than a few times- oil bottles left laying around, oil spills, various old parts just left there. I can see where the store owner takes a dim view of using the lot to work on your car…it only takes a few bad apples…

Which is why I emphasized bring cardboard and a broom and dustpan. Being poor is no excuse for being rude.

Good story, but I don’t see why the above would “angle the rotor” or free up rotors rusted onto the hubs?

around here, Auto Zone seems to have the busiest parking lots . . . a mix of customers working on their own cars, in addition to the store employees working on the customer’s cars

no wonder you have to wait so long in line inside the store . . . because almost all the employees are in the parking lot working on cars, there’s almost nobody left to man the cash registers :smirk_cat:

The way it works is this: I have two BOLTS pushed through the two bolt holes on the steering knuckle (normally holds the caliper bracket) and with a nut attached, I’m able to ratchet that bolt while holding the nut in place, thus the bolt PUSHES against the rotor. This created enough pressure against the rotor that it started to tilt at a few degrees, not enough to pop it off though.

It finally popped off after putting the car in drive (with the bolts in place----thus we have the rotor spinning against the bolt and popping it off.)

It’s basically this method:

…except in my case, the bolts snapped------

Ok, thanks for the explanation. Good idea actually, I’ll keep that for my own bag of tricks. My confusion was I was thinking you had removed the bolts by that point. That’s what doing my own thinking causes … lol …

Years ago I had to remove a stuck rotor on my VW Rabbit. I pounded and pounded from every direction, 1 lb hammer, 2 lb hammer, 4 lb hammer, wouldn’t budge. I next heated it up as hot as I could get it with a propane torch, still a no go. While lying under the car thinking what to try next, the heat I had prior applied apparently reached the hub area enough to pop it loose, and without any help from me at all, it promptly fell off and onto my leg. Of courses I was wearing short pants. Hot!! Ouch!! :wink:


Happened to me once many years ago. Burned my leg and ruined my pants. Do you know the real reason they used to keep boys in short pants for so many years in the old days?

Skin heals, pants don’t