Brake Replacement

Last updated: March 24, 2000


Date: Tue, 09 Sep 1997 15:06:27 -0400
From: Brian Corin

I just did the brakes on mine. It was the first time I ever did any work on this car. I have changed brakes and just about everything else on other cars but was reluctant to mess with this one. The front brakes were extremely easy. This is basically a race car that is street legal. I was able to change the front pads with out any tools. You just remove the clips, pull out the old pads and slip in the new ones. Its about as complicated as making toast.


Date: Wed, 10 Sep 97 07:43:28 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

This is close but not quite right. 1st, get the factory service manual and read it.

General: Unscrew the cap on the brake resv. so it is not sealed and pressure can escape. Do NOT add fluid until pad have been changed since putting in new pad which are thicker than the worn ones you remove makes you push the pistons back on all 4 wheels. This forces brake fluid back into the resv. and can cause it to overflow. When done top off fluid needed and tighten cap.

Front brakes. You are only going to be able to slide in/out the old/new pads if they happen to be exactly the same size. usually you leave the old pads in and use their steel backing plate and large channel locks to push the pistons back far enought to get the old pad out and the new ones in. Do this with old pads in place, depressing one piston at at time can pop the other one out, requiring removal of the caliper to fix. Mazda has a special tool for about $20 to make this easier.

Spraying down the calipers & pistons with BrakeClean makes it all easier as does wearing disposable latex gloves to keep your hands clean. If you have trouble getting a piston to retract, try opening the bleed valve for that caliper slightly whild you press on the piston.


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 98 14:13:53 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Most people have trouble with the phillips screw that holds the front rotor at the hub, it can be a job to get out. I would recommend getting a few extra ones in case you have to drill it out. It doen't actually hold the rotor, torquing the wheel lug nuts with the wheel on holds the rotor, the screw is to hold it in postion while you are mounting and dismounting the wheel.

You need to get some high temp disk brake caliper grease to grease the upper and lower bolts that the rear calipers slide on, Pay close attention to these bolts on the rear brakes, they are marked and are NOT interchangeable.

Get some LARGE channel lock plyers for retracting the front caliper pistons - it makes the job much easier.

I would not tackle the all 4 wheels at once unless you have another car and garage space.


Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 21:10:06 -0500
From: Sandy Linthicum

I have been channel lock pliers for several years and they certainly DO work. I'm NOT saying its easy.

Get BIG ones (open 5-6 inches, handles about 18inches). Do steps one and two (2 is optional). remove pad on use plyers to work pistons back and forth on the outside two pistons until you can get the new pad in. Then do the same on the inside pad.

If they do not want to retract fully, do one at a time, turning the old pad sideways to and reinserting it to keep one piston from poping out while working on the other one. use shims, pry bar, etc to keep piston you have pushed back from coming out again, Then do other piston, insert new pad and you are done.

Most of the time you do not have to got to this extent and the pistons retract enought to put in the other pads without lots of trouble. However sometimes its a bitch, no question. I have tried using two screwdrivers on opposite side of the piston but without success.

The factory tool is worthless, do not waste your money.


Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 16:47:58 -0800 (PST)
From: NetBlazer

I use a med->small size C clamp with very good success. The problem with most methods if the pistons are extended very far is the un-even pressure on them causes them to jam and not want to go in. With the C clamp, it is directing the force in the correct direction, plus has a large enough base to cover both sides of the piston.


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 17:38:48 -0500
From: "John Levy"

Use a manual impact driver. One hit with a good hammer and the screws loosen right up.

> Get some LARGE channel lock plyers for retracting the front
>caliper pistons - it makes the job much easier.

I would respectfully disagree with Sandy. If one applies pressure to the pistons at two points 180 degrees across from each other they will retract easily. Simply use two screwdrivers. The trick is to remove only one pad at a time and to use something to hold one piston from exiting the caliper while you retract the other.


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 17:52:20 -0500
From: "Nick Riefner"

I use an impact screwdriver. The type that you hit with a hammer, and while it applies downward(sideways in this case) pressure, the phillips part turns in which ever direction you have it set to. Makes it much easier.

>Go to NAPA and get a disk brake caliper tool for screwing
>in/retracting the rear brake pistons

I use a pair of needle nose pliers for this, and it works great.


Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 14:02:07 -0500
From: "Brad.Barber" (

Hand Impact Screwdriver

$4.99 from Harbor Freight...

Stop the rotor from spinning by;

a) Having a helper stand on the brakes

b) Using a long broomstick, breaker bar, whatever between the wheel studs against the ground to prevent the hub from turning

c) Use an impact screwdriver which doesn't care if the hub spins


Date: Mon, 16 Mar 98 07:17:44 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Yes, I used needle nose plyer also, and they do work OK. However, a few slips with them and you are likely to cut up the outer O ring at the piston and then have to pull the caliper to replace it. Actually, the special service tool for this is only about $15 from Mazda Comp and makes this simple job easier and safer.


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 11:12:27 -0800
From: Spencer Hutchings

The main problem you will likely have is the two phillips screws that hold on each front rotor. The first time I took mine off, at 21k, it took an impact driver to get two of them off and I had to drill and tap the other two. I would be prepared to replace all four and use anti-sieze compound when installing the new screws.


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 13:38:00 -0600
From: "Westbrook, Chuck"

The tough part is removing the two very soft iron machine Philips head bolts that hold the front disk to the hub. You need an impact tool, else the metal can deform. I ended up drilling them out and replacing them with new ones.


Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 23:56:08 EST
From: Mooogmn Mike Keiser

If your pressing the piston back on a car with ABS, you might want to make sure the bleeder is cracked to avoid sending dirty fluid (especially near the caliper) back towards the ABS unit...It doesn't respond well to it.......Just my .02....


Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 06:01:46 -0400
From: "John Levy"

Examine the rotors for minimum thickness of 20 mm. Then look closely for very small heat cracks which look like thin little lines in the rotor surface. Finally, if the rotors are not smooth and you use the brakes aggressively I doubt whether the rotors will make it through two more events.


Date: Thu, 09 Apr 98 08:40:41 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Machined the rotors for the pads??????????? Big mistake. First, not necessary - pads will wear in very quickly to rotor. Second, stock rotors are thin to start with, machining/turning them leave them so thin they tend to warp - the consensus is if they are bad enought to need machining, you need to replace them.


Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 21:13:30 -0500
From: Sandy Linthicum

Note: I wouldn't recommend using brake grease on the front calipers at all. You need them on the rear caliper bolts because they are "floating" calipers but the front pins only serve to keep the pads in place and neither need nor should have any lub on them. Likewise the backing plates. Any oil or grease that gets on the pads or rotor will ruin both and distroy braking effectiveness on that brake.


Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 11:51:30 -0700
From: "Lou Young" (
Subject: (rx7) [3] Brake Trouble Update

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice on my compound brake piston-out-too-far and seized problem.

The piston came out so far that the bottom of it was level or near the identation where the seal goes. When I tried to push the piston back in with the caliper still on the car, it cocked the piston to the side and the corner went into the seal indentation. Further efforts to work the piston back into the chamber just seized the piston worse.

Ways to avoid the situation:

  1. Leave one brake pad in the caliper to block the pistons from extending when another piston is being retracted. Probably also want to try to block the third piston from extending.

  2. If you're too stupid to do the above (like me) and a piston does come out too far, do not try to work the piston back into the chamber with the brake rotor in the way. This prevents you from exerting an even force to both sides of the piston. Instead, remove the caliper from the car, or remove one mounting bolt, loosen the other, and rotate the caliper away from the brake rotor to get more clearence to push the piston back in.

  3. If you're still too stupid to do the above (like me) and the piston does get cocked sideways in the chamber, stop everything. Do NOT try to force the piston. Remove the caliper from the car and try to straigten the piston or completely remove and reinsert the piston.

  4. If you're still like me and really, really stupid, you've jammed the piston in the chamber so tight that only Superman (or a really impressive selection of Craftsman tools) would allow you to get the piston out of the chamber without removing the bridge bolts and splitting the piston. Continue reading for my solution.

What I did to fix it:

  1. Call MazdaComp and have a rebuilt kit shipped overnight.

  2. Remove caliper from car.

  3. Split caliper by remove the four bridge bolts. This step is a bad idea, strongly urged against by me and the service manual. If you do this, you're taking a risk that the caliper will never seal properly and will need replacing. Don't do this step. I did it. There are two flat, square-cut, rubber seals that go in between the caliper halves. I wasn't sure if these would be replaced by the rebuild kit. I suspected not since you're not supposed to split the caliper, so I put these seals in a cup of brake fluid to keep them moist and lubed.

  4. Put half of caliper with the seized piston in a vise. I don't have one. I used an enormous borrowed channel lock pliers to grip caliper half. I had a friend (my father) do this.

  5. Grip the normally exposed part of the piston (not the part normally covered by the dust boot) with a medium channel lock pliers and exert a huge amount of rotation force in the direction that will straighten the piston. When it broke loose, the piston seized in the other direction, but was easy to straighten.

  6. Once straightened, remove piston.

  7. Next day, 10am, take delivery of the rebuild kit.

  8. I recommend re-assembling the split caliper before rebuilding it. Reasons for this follow. Rebuild each piston/chamber one at a time.

  9. Use a small flat-head screwdriver to pry up the spring that holds on the dust boot.

  10. Pull dust boot off of piston. Mine came off in pieces.

    Your step 11) Get a small piece of wood to place over the opposite-side pistons and position a c-clamp over the wood to hold pistons in place. I put the c-clamp over the wood in such a way as to make sure that the piston being extracted would not impact the c-clamp. I jammed a socket between the c-clamp and the third piston to keep it in its cylinder. With your air compressor regulated to 30 psi, put a blow nozzle in the brake fluid line and pull the trigger. The compressed air will force the piston out of its chamber.

    My step 11) I decided to rebuild the first caliper while it was still halved as I knew this would give me more room to work. I put a piece of wood over the other piston and c-clamped it in place. I put my thumb over the exposed brake fluid hole and positioned my knee over the piston being extracted to keep it from flying through a window. My compressor was still set at 120 psi from the night before when I tried using compressed air to extract the seized piston. I put the nozzle at the other brake fluid hole and pulled the trigger. The piston came out of its chamber like a f*cking rocket and impacted my knee with the force of a thousand mad trampling goats. I jumped up into the air and grabbed my knee and hopped around in the driveway like a lunatic. Just then, one of my neighbors drove down the street, probably laughing. I hopped around clutching my knee for another 2 to 3 minutes. Your time may vary. I picked up the caliper and now extracted piston and limped back to the garage to proceed to step 12.

  11. Use a clean paper towel or rag to wipe down the piston. Inspect for cracks or wear. Inspect the chamber for cracks, wear, or debris.

  12. While taking special note to remember that the caliper is aluminum, carefully use a small flat screwdriver to remove the seal from its slot. I try to complete this step without allowing the screwdriver to ever contact the chamber walls. By concentrating on this, odds are greatly reduced that I will carelessly ruin my brake caliper.

  13. Take a new seal from the kit and work it into the seal slot.

  14. Put piston back into chamber and retract it about halfway.

  15. Take a new dust boot from the kit and stretch it around the top of the piston.

  16. Fully retract the piston.

  17. Work the outside edge of the dust boot around the lip on the chamber.

  18. Take a new ring and work it around the outside edge of the dust boot. This is a bit tedious. The eighth time you do it, you'll think its easy. The first time you do it, you'll swear at least once. I speak like a sailor in normal conversation, so I swore a LOT.

  19. Repeat steps 9 through 19 for the remaining seven pistons.

  20. Obviously, remember to bleed the brakes when you're done. Even *I* didn't forget this one.


Date: Tue, 09 Sep 1997 15:06:27 -0400
From: Brian Corin

The back (brakes) required a wrench to remove some bolts and a clamp to depress the piston. One word of caution, when you depress the pistons open the bleeder valve so any particles that may be in the lines dont backup and mess up your ABS system. Also remove both wheels on the axle you are replacing and only disassemble one side at a time so you can refer to the opposite side if you need to when putting the caliper back together.


Date: Wed, 10 Sep 97 07:43:28 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

General: Unscrew the cap on the brake resv. so it is not sealed and pressure can escape. Do NOT add fluid until pad have been changed since putting in new pad which are thicker than the worn ones you remove makes you push the pistons back on all 4 wheels. This forces brake fluid back into the resv. and can cause it to overflow. When done top off fluid needed and tighten cap.

Rears: Rear piston is designed to be screwed in to retract it (see service manual for details). You can use Mazda's special tool, a universal tool from NAPA/etc, or the ends of a large pair of needle nose plyers or wire cutters. Without pushing the piston in, it can be IMPOSSIBLE to reattach the emergency brake cable, even if the new pads slide in without doing anything. You should only have to remove the bottom caliper bolt - you can then swing it up, use a bungie cord to keep it in place, do your stuff & put everything back together.

Spraying down the calipers & pistons with BrakeClean makes it all easier as does wearing disposable latex gloves to keep your hands clean. If you have trouble getting a piston to retract, try opening the bleed valve for that caliper slightly whild you press on the piston.


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 98 14:13:53 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Go to NAPA and get a disk brake caliper tool for screwing in/retracting the rear brake pistons. About 4 full turns does it for me. You may need more since your pads are probably worn out.


Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 21:26:05 -0400
From: Rich

Well, I finished the rear brakes today on my 3rd gen without any problems. The car stops a lot quicker now. The pads were beyond 50% worn in the rear.

For anyone attempting this job, a few tips:

1. The bolt(s) that you need to remove to get the caliper off the rotor to get at the pads are not the ones with the little rubber boots on them. The service manual picture is deceptive. They are only about 1-1/2 inches long, and are 14 mm. Disconect the brake cable from the caliper.

2. Once you get the caliper off, (you can either slide it up or take it off by removing both bolts) the pads slip out if you push them from the outside towards the center of the caliper. The two little springs that holds them in place are under the pads as viewed from the open end of the caliper, and there are two little holes on each pad that the spring connects to.

3. I used some anti squell spray to hold the shims on the pads, and after using the special tool to turn the caliper piston back in to the caliper (3 turns clockwise - open the reservoir, and make sure the level is not lower or higher than 3/4), I put the new pads in place.

4. It is a little tricky to get the springs in place on the reinstall due to the fact that you can't see the holes on the pads. I found that if you mount one of the pads in place while holding the springs in place, you can get the other pad in its slot after locating the springs in the respective holes and then pushing it into its slot. After getting one side in, it took me 5 minutes to do the other side.

5. I didn't have to take the pad clips out at all. The Mazda Factory Service Manual does not give you any information other than the sequence of removal and reinstall, except telling you to turn the caliper clockwise and make sure it aligns up properly.

The front brakes were easier in comparison, but once you have done it once, it is easy to do again.


Date: Tue, 16 Dec 97 07:58:22 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Original question from: Sandy's response below Dave's questions.

>I'm preparing to change the rear brake pads on my
>3rd gen. and after looking over the shop manual have
>a few questions to members who have done this before. If
>I am inferring from the manual illustration correctly to
>get at the pads I need to: >

>1) Disconnect the rear parking brake cable from the caliper

Remove locking clip and pull on cable to free it from groove. Pay attention to clip attachment so you remember which side of the bracket to put it back on.

>2) Remove the Lock pin (which is the bottom bolt that
>secures the caliper)

Yep. It will be tight. Alternately you can takeout the top pin/bolt and let it pivot down instead.

>3) Pivot the caliper upwards on the Guide pin (which is
>the top bolt that secures the caliper). The manual
>shows the caliper to be pivoted nearly 180 deg.

Get a small bungie cord or something to hold it up while you are working.

>Am I reading this correctly?


>Does the Guide pin (top caliper bolt) need to be
>loosened at all? The manual makes no mention of it.


>The manual indicates the Lock pin requires some sort
>of lubrication. Suggestions on what should be used to lube

It should have grease on the smooth part of the bolt already. One side of the caliper slides on these to bolts to apply force to the rotor a and stop you.



Block wheel and start with parking brake off.

Retract caliper piston by using a large pair of needle none plyers or cutter to screw it in clockwise. Screw in in complete turn only so that notch will always be lines up (see manual). If you do not do this to retract the piston you will pay hell getting the parking brake back on, even if the new pad slide right in without doing it (I spent 30 min cursing trying this once).

Retorque caliper bolt to 65 ft lbs.


Date: Sun, 09 May 1999 21:31:45 -0400
From: Grant Moyer

I would like to thank Jon, Trey, and Sandy for their help. They were right on the money. I feeling REALLY embarrassed. I didn't have the V lined up correctly. I feel like a dope.

So if anyone has a situation where they believe the rear pads are too thick remember that the cutouts are to cover the pin in the back of the pad. Try rotating the piston 90 degrees!


Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 06:01:46 -0400
From: "John Levy"

Examine the rotors for minimum thickness of 20 mm. Then look closely for very small heat cracks which look like thin little lines in the rotor surface. Finally, if the rotors are not smooth and you use the brakes aggressively I doubt whether the rotors will make it through two more events.


Date: Thu, 09 Apr 98 08:40:41 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Machined the rotors for the pads??????????? Big mistake. First, not necessary - pads will wear in very quickly to rotor. Second, stock rotors are thin to start with, machining/turning them leave them so thin they tend to warp - the consensus is if they are bad enought to need machining, you need to replace them.


From: Brad Cook
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 18:14:02 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: (rx7) [gen] RE:speedbleeders

>Sitting on top of my monitor is my new set of speed bleeders waiting to
>go in. They seem like a really neat idea and the construction looks to be
>of good quality. Only suggestion would have been a cap to cover the ends
>when not being used

I put a set on my R1 a few weeks ago, and they work really well. However, I did snap one in half inside the caliper, so be careful as to how much you tighten them. If you are anal about having air in you brake lines and bleed them often (like me) these are invaluable.

I even got great service from the developer of the product who sent me a replacement bleeder AND later on an upgraded version of the bleeder valves at no charge. Order at


Date: Thu, 06 Nov 97 08:12:15 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

Definitely not the easiest way for regular bleeding, but...

1. By a set of Speedbleeders and replace the existing bleed bolt.

2. Use a plastic tube that fits over the end of the bleeder nipple and have it dump into a rubbermaid or other container that will hold at least a quart.

3. Take cap off the brake res (do not lose or drop down in engine compartment). Use syphon to get all the old fluid you can out of resv. Fill with fresh fluid.

4. Using standard procedure (caliper farthest from resv 1st & work back), crack open a Speedbleeder very slightly (about 1/8 0 1/4 rev).

5. Depress brake slowly about 15 times (should be hard to push to floor) and release it slowly. Refill Resv. Do again. Refil resv.

6. Close bleed on that caliper & go to next one till done.

7. Top off resv & remember to replace & tighten cap.

This process uses almost exactly a full bottle of Motul and is a pretty complete flush. completely draining the system and refilling will take about 2 bottles. Total time to do the above with one person (wheels off the car & car on jack stands & what you need hand) is about 15 minutes at most.


Date: Mon, 10 Nov 97 11:42:36 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

>From: Bhaskar Manda Internet: (
>In response to my post about constructing a pressure bleeder,
>there have been responses suggesting the Speedbleeder bleed valves.
>As I mentioned, the main disadvantage to a two-person or vacuum
>bleeding method is air leaking past the threads of the bleeder
>valves. Reading the Speedbleeder website, I get the impression that
>the valve they sell has to be opened so that fluid goes past the
>seat and into the built-in one-way valve. So air may still leak
>past the threads. Any sealin method you use there would apply
>to regular bleeder valves also. In addition to overcoming these
>disadvantages, a pressure bleeder can be used to install master
>cylinders also, it is cheaper, and applicable to any of your vehicles.

First, this is a 1 person operation and you do NOT put a vacuum at the bleeder. The bleeder screws come from Speedbleeder with a thread sealer that seals the threads and keeps air out. You could do this with the regular bleeder screws by using teflon tape (very, very carefully so as not to get any into the hydrolics).

The technique I described (above) can be done anywhere, without any specialized equipment. This comes in very handy at the track if you forgot or ran out of time to bleed your brakes before an event. Once I get the car jacked up, wheels off, etc. I can bleed all 4 corners and run a full bottle of Motul into the system in 15minutes.

Pressure bleeders usually require a lot of fluid in them and unless you are running a shop where you do this on a regular basis, you are going to waste lots of fluid. Once opened, the fluid should go into the brake/clutch system and any excess discarded.


Date: Fri, 03 Apr 98 07:19:06 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

>From: Michael Avila (
>However, when bleeding the brakes, the idea is to bleed them until
>bubble-free fluid comes out. Without 2 people, how do you know when the
>fluid coming out is actually bubble-free, even with Speedbleeders? Would
>you be running out around the back of the car each time to check with each
>pump, or am I missing something? Might you miss bubbles while you get out
>to check the container? Please forgive my ignorance.

Good point - you would have to have an extra person if you have air in your lines and need to monitor this.

Most people that are bleeding brakes regularly for track events simply want fresh fluid in the lines. Unless you have a problem, there should be NO bubbles in the fluid in the first place. If there are you are pressing down to fast on the brake petal or have loosened the speedbleeder to far and allowed air to get sucked into the brake lines arround the bleed screw threads. You should only have to back the bleeder screw about 1/4 turn from the closed position. Its easy to tell, if you do not open enough you have to press really hard on the petal to force out fluid, if you get no resistance at all, you probably opened it to far.


Date: Tue, 07 Apr 98 13:12:10 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy"

>If I completely replace the brake fluid in my 3rd Gen, how
>many pints will I need to use?

A little less than three. This also involves bleeding the clutch cylinder since they share the same resv.


Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 14:08:09 -0500
From: "Rob Robinette"

How To Change the Brake Fluid (and install Speed Bleeders)

You need two people, one to operate the brake pedal and one to open and close the bleeder and top off the brake fluid tank. Use a proper brake-line wrench for the bleeders (an 8mm wrench or socket works ok). You will need about 1 liter of brake fluid for a complete flush. Don't spill brake fluid on painted surfaces, if you do clean it off immediately.

To do a complete flush, start by sucking all of the old fluid out of the reservoir with a vacuum pump and then refill it with fresh fluid. Since the hydraulic clutch shares the reservoir with the brakes you should go ahead and bleed the clutch too. The clutch nipple is on the driver side of the clutch housing. You will have to access it from under the car. A good time to do it is when you're bleeding the left front wheel.

Start at the wheel furthest (in hydraulic-circuit terms) from the master-cylinder and progress toward the closest. The correct order for the 3rd gen RX-7 is right rear, left rear, right front, left front.

Remove the brake/clutch reservoir cap. Remove the bleed nipple rubber cover and clean the area around the nipple. .

Installing and Using Speed Bleeders

If you are installing Speed Bleeders (highly recommended) just completely unscrew the original bleeder nipple and screw in the speed bleeder. You will feel resistance when the thread sealer starts to screw into the caliper. Torque the speed bleeder to only 32-40 inch pounds (about 3 foot pounds). That's like having a one foot long wrench with a 3 pound weight on it (not much torque). I stripped a speed bleeder on my dirt bike (it didn't hurt the caliper's threads though) so go easy on them. To use the speed bleeder fit a piece of clear tubing (so you can see the bubbles and color of the fluid) over the bleed screw nipple and run the hose into a clear bottle. Unscrew the Speed Bleeder about a 1/4 turn and go pump the brake/clutch pedal and keep refilling the reservoir before it goes below the 3/4 mark. You don't need to know the size of your bleeder nipples when you order speed bleeders, just tell them the year and model of your car/motorcycle, they know what fits.

Bleeding Without Speed Bleeders

Fit a piece of clear tubing (so you can see the bubbles and color of the fluid) over the bleed screw nipple and run the hose into a clear bottle. Ask your assistant to step on the brake with light pressure. The pedal should only be moved through it's normal range of movement, not all the way to the floor.

Open the bleeder screw just enough to get fluid flowing, and before the fluid stops flowing, close the bleeder. If you don't do it this way you may suck air into the lines through the bleeder threads which will lead to a spongy brake pedal feel.

Repeat until clean/clear/bubbleless fluid comes out. Don't let the fluid tank go below the 3/4 mark or air will be drawn into the system. It would take a lot of bleeding to get a large amount of air out of the system when it enters at the reservoir, so be careful.

Move to the next closest wheel until all are done.

Ensure you have a nice firm brake pedal before you take the car off the jacks. Test the brakes by moving the car slightly and apply the brakes and then continue to test the brakes as you begin your test drive.


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 14:20:04 est

The brake reservoir level sensor will keep you from sucking all the brake fluid out of the reservoir and the clutch line has a little partition too. You have to disconnect the clutch feed line and suck out that side of the reservoir to get all of the fluid. Then like you said, just bleed the brakes: right rear, left rear, left front (and clutch), right front. You need about 1 quart (or liter) of brake fluid for a total flush. My web site has a how-to for this.


Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 22:27:23 -0700
From: Max Cooper (
Subject: Re: (rx7) [3] Speedbleeder Install Questions

> "Start at the wheel furthest (in hydraulic circuit terms) from the
> master cylinder and progress toward the closest. The correct order for
> the 3rd gen RX-7 is right rear, left rear, left front, right front."
> I thought it was passenger side rear (right rear), driver side rear
> (left rear), passenger side front (right front), and driver side front
> (left front). Since the passenger side is farther than the driver side,
> I thought bleeding was supposed to be done like that. I bled my brakes
> like that today, and not the way described on Rob's site.

It might be because the ABS is on the passenger side. The factory workshop manual says RR, LR, LF, RF.

> The only thing I didn't get to change was the clutch bleeder valve, as
> time ran out on me and the sun set. Any tips for tackling that clutch
> bleeder valve tomorrow? 

It is very easy to change, but watch for the little ball bearing that will come out when you remove the stock bleeder. Be sure to put the bearing back in or the clutch won't work. It is just a little steel ball, like a BB from a BB gun.

> Since I don't have a micro torque wrench (Sears
> had one, but it's minimum was only 25 in/lbs.). I tightened the
> Speedbleeders by feel. As soon as they stopped, I tightened them just a
> hair tighter. Should that be enough to keep them from leaking?

That's fine. They don't have to be very tight at all.

Rotor Replacement

Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 00:14:56 -0800 (PST)
From: Chris Layne (



Tools needed:

  a. Impact driver with #3 bit (20 $ tool available at Grand Auto or
     most auto stores).
  b. 14 mm socket.


   Do fronts before rears.


   1. Remove tire/wheel assembly from each side.
   2. Setup impact driver to turn counter-clockwise. Make sure appropriate
      bit is being used, or else you will strip the retaining screws. If you
      do, you'll have to drill them out (not a big deal).
   3. Use a hammer to apply force to the end of the impact driver as you
      twist it counter-clockwise. The retaining screw should come lose with
      a few whacks.
   4. Remove both retaining screws.
   5. Remove lower 14 mm bolt attaching caliper _assembly_ to knuckle.
   6. Remove upper 14 mm bolt attaching caliper _assembly_ to knuckle.
      (these bolts are closer to the hub than the caliper swivel bolts).
   7. Remove caliper assembly from knuckle and rest on lower control arm
      (LCA). Do not play with pads or pistons at this time, unless that was
      planned before hand.
   8. Pull rotor off hub.
   9. Place new rotor on hub (make sure to align retaining screw holes).
  10. Insert 1 retaining screw into screw hole and tighten down with
      moderate force (so that you can remove it later). Do not install the
      other screw.
      (Because it serves no purpose. One screw works fine, in fact, zero screws
      work fine. They don't secure anything, the wheel mounting to the hub
      secures the rotor. But the main reason is to keep one in case you need
      to use it on the rear rotor to break it free from the hub.)
  11. Slide caliper assembly back over rotor.
  12. Reinstall upper and lower 14 mm bolts attaching caliper assembly to
      knuckle. Tighten bolts to factory specs.
  13. Re-install tire/wheel assembly and torque lug-nuts to spec.


   1. Remove tire/wheel assembly from each side.
   2. Remove lower 14 mm bolt attaching caliper _assembly_ to knuckle.
   3. Remove upper 14 mm bolt attaching caliper _assembly_ to knuckle.
   4. Remove caliper assembly from rear suspension and rest on LCA.
      Do not play with pads or pistons at this time, unless that was
      planned before hand.
   5. Attempt to remove rotor from hub (has no retaining screws). If rotor
      is seized to hub, spray WD-40 or other penetrant where the center of
      the rotor and hub join. Insert one retaining screw from front rotors
      into empty screw hole on rotor and tighten until rotor breaks free
      from hub (this screw will push rotor away from hub).
   6. Place new rotor on hub.
   7. Slide caliper assembly back over rotor.
   8. Reinstall upper and lower 14 mm bolts attaching caliper assembly to
      knuckle. Tighten bolts to factory specs.
   9. Re-install tire/wheel assembly and torque lug-nuts to spec.

Install time:

   15-20 minutes per side, if you are doing just a rotor replacement. Swapping
   pads will add more time obviously.


    1. Use brakes conservatively for first couple miles to make sure they
       actually work.
    2. Find open stretch of road and progressively apply more braking
       power, until you are at a point where you are seriously using the
       brakes (i.e. ABS activation, serious g-forces). At this point, the
       rotors should be broken in, and you should feel a difference in
       friction takeup time (grabby-ness).

Turning Rotors

Date: Thu, 23 Apr 98 08:49:20 -0500

Consensus on the list is NOT to turn 3rd gen rotors, they are thin to begin with. If warped, replace them.

If you are only noticing this only at slow, almost stopped speeds I would just live with it until the rotors are worn enough that they require replacement. Over-torquing wheel lugs and high speed hard stops to a standstill with no cool down (ie. hot caliper lock in place and stationary on rotor) are main reasons for warping.

New rotors can be purchased from Porterfield, Brake Warehouse and others for about $80/rotor.


Not that this should be necessary for a regular brake job, but maybe in case of replacing the master cylinder? --Steve

Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 14:41:25 -0700
From: "McCurdy, Michael"

It can be very difficult (or impossible) to properly bleed a master cylinder that is already installed in a car. When I used to work as a mechanic, we would "bench bleed" master cylinders before installation. Put the mc in a vise, fill it with fluid, and use a phillips screwdriver to depress the piston inside the mc. Cover the outlet ports with a shop rag, and apply light pressure over the ports with your free hand. Plunge the screwdriver in as far as it will go, several times, until a strong continuous flow of fluid is coming from all ports. That's all it takes. Then (re)install the mc in the car, and bleed the brakes as usual. Very messy but effective!

Brake Pad Bedding

Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 23:21:16 -0700
From: "Gregg O'Brien"


Here is a helpful little tid bit for you,

        The original Hawke Brake material is for medium and severe duty 
        asphalt and dirt racing. Optimal operating temperatures range 
        between 400*-1100*F, with an average coefficient of .49. The 
        black pad is extremely rotor friendly and runs well against cast 
        iron and steel rotors.
!!!!!!! *       Blue and Black Hawke Brake pads are PRE-BEDDED at the   
        factory. They are race ready out of the box.
!!!!!!! *       To maximize the Blue and Black Hawke Brake pad          
        effectiveness, make two medium speed stops to assure full pad   
        contact to the rotor surface."
        This is right out of the Hawke Brake Racing Catalog. Also noted 
        in the text was this item concerning the Blue pads for use on 
        iron rotors only.
        "The blue pad is extremely rotor friendly,long lived,......If 
        cross drilled rotors are used, pad wear will increase" 

        One other side note, most manufacturers say not to use new rotors 
        and new pads together but I found no such statement in the catalog 
        so you should be safe, IF you follow the manufacturers directions.  
        For further info contact Hawke Brake at 800-542-0972.


Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 20:07:39 -0700
From: Jim Walsh

I've run Hawk pads, both Black and Blue, for a while. Many sets of pads, many sets of rotors. Hawk Blues are the only pad worth running on the track. Even for occasional track days, Blacks won't last. I've tried Porterfields, Cool Carbons, basically everything out there. Hawk Blues are a mile ahead. And lots of fun at twilight when people see the sparks from your wheel wells!

Here are my suggestions, esp for the Blues.

1) Don't use them on the street. You'll chew up your rotors running them at street temps. They're designed to work above 600 Fahrenheit. They're not that abrasive on the track when they can reach proper operating temps. Change your pads when you swap your tires. Takes a masx 5 min a wheel after you've done it a couple of times. I use stock pads for street and autocrossing.

2) When you have your rotors turned, have them do a crosshatch mill on the surface. Any decent machine shop will know what you mean. Don't run with shiny rotors.

3) Don't run new pads on new rotors. Either run new pads on old rotors, or old pads on new rotors. Don't ask why, I can hypothesize with the best of em, but it just doesn't work running new Blues with new rotors. You won't get the pad life or braking power with new on new.

4) To break them in, hit the track. You can't get proper temps on the street. 70mph just isn't enough. And if you're not doing track work, you don't need Hawk Blues, as you won't be able to get enough heat into them to get them working properly. You can break them in (on old rotors, see 3 above) at the start of a track day, and run them the rest of the day fine. They don't need to go through complete heat cycling to full cold.

5) Hawks have a temperature-sensitive paint on the backing plates. If your backing plates turn pink, they're getting too hot. Get some air to your rotors.

6) I personally think cross-drilled rotors are a waste of money. And they'll hurt your overall braking perf, as you're reducing the swept area Stock rotors are fine, buy some 3" flexible aluminum (NOT foil) dryer hose and a few tie wraps and run the hose from under your front bumper (use the tow hooks to tie to) to blast air onto the calipers/pads. When your cross-drilled rotors are gone, replace them with regular rotors. Or, at most, order some hardened rotors from Mazda Competition Parts.

So for Sebring, just install the pads before your event (on non-new rotors) and you'll be fine, and use your first 5 or 10 laps to bed them in. I don't do anything special to bed them - just a regular warmup lap then pushing it the next few to get the brakes and tires to their temps, then balls-out the rest of the day.


Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 16:30:00 -0500
From: "Westbrook, Chuck"

I've always just made a few slow downs (like from 40 to 10) right after installing new pads, then don't make any extreme stops (if possible) for a couple of weeks of city driving. Steve Millen recommends making about 10 slow downs (35 to 5) then no emergency or harsh stops for 200 miles. Some pads if heated up too high before they are cured, will glase up and be less effective. To remedy this; take the pads out and using wet medium grade(about 200) sandpaper on a very flat surface; very slightly sand the pad surface. Then reinstall and go at it again.


Date: Mon, 18 Aug 1997 08:57:22 -0400
From: Edward Hahn

Have you bedded the pads in properly? That makes a significant difference in how the brakes feel.

To bed in the pads, find a nice wide-open straight road (empty). Take the car up to 70mph and stand on the brakes. Repeat about 3 times (until you experience some fade OR smell the pads starting to burn.) Then STAY OFF the brakes until the pads cool down. (With a R1/R2, if you can drive around without using the brakes for a while this will help cool the front pads a lot). This will help the stopping power of the pads immensely.

The PFS pads feel/perform good, but they still dust a fair amount.

Brake Line Replacement

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 13:38:00 -0600
From: "Westbrook, Chuck"

When installing my Racing Beat stainless lines, the front ones where hard to mount where they attach to the inner fender because the fitting was longer than the original. I had to slightly bend the solid brake lines back a little bit.


Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 08:06:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bill Geiger

I just installed my Pettit SS brake lines a few weeks ago, and they did not fit perfectly. The rears were a little tight, but the fronts were much more difficult, especially the center mounting point which was not the right shape. The new lines are hex shaped, while the old ones had one of the corners rounded off. I managed to get the clip on without any filing.


A few others said they had problems w/ the Pettit SS lines. --Steve


Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 22:03:20 -0500
From: "Rob Robinette"

How to Install Brake Lines on a 3rd Gen

What you need:

8mm wrench (fits bleeder screws), 10mm (fittings), 12mm wrench (banjo bolt), small torque wrench, pliers to pull the metal clips out, brake bleeding stuff. This procedure can be referenced on page P-21 of the RX-7 Workshop Manual.

I got the brake lines from Racing Beat for $130. They didn't fit very well and one had a manufacturing defect (see below). They were a slight pain in the butt to install but I know that if I had to do it again I could do it in 1/3 of the time. Hopefully this how-to will make it easier for you. You might want to replace your brake pads while you're doing this.


Don't install brake lines yourself unless you are a very competent mechanic. A single point failure in the brake system will result in the total loss of brakes and possible damage/injury/death! A brake shop can install the lines fairly cheaply. You must use all of the stock mounting points, washers, and clips.

The front brake lines have a mid brake line attachment point that must be secured first. The rear lines attach only at the line ends.


The brake line attachment points have one point of the hex nut ground off. This requires the hex nut on the brake line to fit into the brake line brackets in one particular position. Get familiar with this ground off hex point on your brake lines. It is impossible to install the metal retaining clips if you don't have the ground off point lined up properly. One of my Racing Beat front brake lines did not have the point ground off so I couldn't get it into the bracket (manufacturing defect). I had to use a die grinder to grind it off and make it fit.

Rear Brake Lines

I recommend you start with the rear brakes, they are a little easier. Remove the wheel. Get some newspaper to soak up the brake fluid that will drip out of the lines and have some paper towels handy. Loosen the brake line connections on each end of the stock lines, a 10mm wrench will fit the brake line fitting and a 12mm will fit the banjo bolt. Pull the two metal clips that retain the hose ends. Remove the stock lines. Save and re-use the copper crush washers from the banjo fitting. Start by installing the banjo fitting and washers to the wheel hub. Torque the banjo bolt to 15-21 foot pounds. Next fit the brake line's hex nut into the bracket and line up the ground off hex point with the bracket's matching point. If you don't get the fit right the brake line will not go through the bracket enough to get the metal clips back on (but don't put the clips on yet). Get the brake fittings started (hand tight only) and then put the metal clips on. If you don't get the lines started first you may not be able to start them once they are held in position by the metal clips. Don't tighten the brake line fittings before you get the metal clips on, they will prevent the lines from turning when you tighten the fittings. I had to pull the metal brake lines lose from the plastic clips on the fender well to get the brake lines to line up because my Racing Beat lines were slightly different from stock and they alter the point where the lines join up. Torque the brake line fittings to 113-190 inch pounds.


You must torque the brake line fittings to spec! If you don't you run the risk of having a fitting come lose and dump all of your brake pressure which will result in total brake loss! (The parking brake may or may not still work) Verify that both metal clips are secure, that the fittings are torqued properly, and that there is absolutely no way that wheel travel will kink or snag a brake line (see warning above!).

Front Brake Lines

The only thing different on the front brakes is a mid brake line mounting point and no banjo fitting. You must install the mid-line connector and metal clip first. If you don't do it first you may have to twist the brake line to finish the installation (and that is bad). The line ends have swivels which are easy to line up once the center is secured. The rest of the installation is the same as the rears. Again, make sure that wheel travel and steering will not kink or snag a brake line.

Bleed the brakes thoroughly and ensure you have a nice firm brake pedal before you take the car off the jack. See the Bleed Brakes how-to.

Test the brakes by moving the car slightly and apply the brakes and then continue to test the brakes as you begin your test drive.

Master Cylinder Replacement

From: winterpf (
Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2000 3:10 PM
Subject: [3] 929 Master Cylinder Install

When starting the 929 master cylinder change as described on Ron Robinette's site, I found a difference between your instructions and what works for the part I received (a 93, 929 MC from Jeff Haas, same part # as on your excellent site).

You mention needing a second 929 banjo bolt due to length differences- in the case of the MC in my hands this is clearly wrong. The rear brake connector at the MC is not machined for a banjo bolt- it is internally machined for a FLARE FITTING, unlike the front connector which is machined for a banjo bolt.

Basically, the install requires fabbing two new brake lines (front and rear), instead of one (front).

It is easy to confirm externally if your 929 MC was originally machined for a banjo or flare at any location. Banjo locations are machined flat and vertical, the outside of flare fitting locations is not a machined flat.

I suspect you may have had to crush the internal flare "cone" to seal your banjo bolt, effectively using the bolt end as a substitute for flared tubing. That would explain the high torque.

LIST MEMBERS- not intended as a criticism of Rob's site which has a lot of good stuff. For all I know, Mazda has made two different MC's under the same part number, though I doubt it. Just noting that the site instructions as posted are wrong for the part number given.

Brake Troubleshooting

>I went to an Auto X this weekend and had some problems with my brakes. The
>brake pedal would be rock hard right after I get off the trottle and start
>to apply some brakes. This will only last for a split second and then my
>brake pedal will go down, and the brakes start to work. This only happens
>when I drive the car hard or higher boost. During normal driving everything
>seems to be working fine. I was wondering if anybody has encountered the
>same problem, and if so, how can I fix it?

Date: Mon, 27 Apr 98 08:13:47 -0500
From: "Linthicum, Sandy" (

Make sure you have had the factory recall re: brake done. If not do it ASAP. There is no charge regardless of warranty timeframe.

With loss of VAC & brake power assist, it takes about 400lbs on the pedal to lock the brakes (read crash city)


Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 15:38:06 -0400
From: David Disney (

>   I finally got the engine back in my 94 Base last weekend (thanks Sandy
> L) and have finally got it broken in. On the way home from work today, i
> was doing a little PMC fine tuning, i turn in at the end of my road (7
> mile long straight away in the backwoods of NC)....i row through the
> gears, wind it out in 4th...Look, there's my house..better slow down
> now..NO BRAKES..NONE AT ALL!!!!! The pedal was firm as hell, almost like
> it was stuck, and had no effect on slowing down. I had to downshift and
> use the e-brake to stop it. I drove around in the driveway afterwards and
> they worked fine.

Has you car had the brake recall done?

The recall just involves replacing the two large vacuum lines that provide vacuum to the brake booster. Apparently, the original line has a valve in it that can gum up and keep you from having brake assist. The recall takes a couple of minutes to do, so you shouldn't have to leave your car in the hands of a dealership.

There is one large line going from the brake booster to a metal pipe. At the other end of the metal pipe, another large line connects to the extension manifold on the passenger's side. You might check these for leaks... but if you had a leak there your car probably wouldn't idle at all.


Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 00:51:30 -0008
From: "Phil Postmus" (

Sounds like a shortage of vacuum. The power assist is driven/consumes vacuum. If you are using alot of brakes and the engine is spending most of its time in a boost state then vacuum is not being replenished. Check your vacuum control systems for leaks, increase the size of the vacuum tank or add a electric vacuum generator.


Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 12:54:27 -0700
From: "Brian Schiller" (

>When accelerating past 4K rpms, (to burn out the engine carbons) shifting 
>through the gears quickly, my emergency dash emergency brake indicator  
>comes on.  I check that the emergency brake is not up, and it isn't.  
>It goes off in a few minutes.  What causes this?  Can it be damaging?  

Check your brake fluid level.


Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 14:43:29 -0600
From: Travis Boyle (

One other thing to check (after brake fluid) would be the sensor on the parking brake handle. If your brake is loose, there's a chance the acceleration is causing it to move enough that the sensor thinks the hand brake is pulled. If it's loose, you just have to tighten down the tension adjustment (assuming your rear brakes are in good shape) to keep the light from coming on.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 23:42:32 -0500 (EST)
From: William T Wilson (

> I hope you can help with this question.  What would cause a car (in
> this case an 89 GXL) to pull to the left under hard braking?  Would

It is possible for alignment to cause this, but I'd be looking at brakes also. You can also get this if your tire pressures are wrong (simple things first :} ).

> alignment issue as I suspect.  If it were the brakes, what would cause
> one caliper to exert more force than another?  Thanks in advance.

Stuck/damaged caliper, grease or dirt on the brake pads, or one worn out brake.

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