Replace The Front Brake Pads on a Lotus S2 Elise or Exige
Brakes are crucial to the performance of your Lotus, depending on different how often you track your car and the different environments you drive it in, you may find yourself changing worn pads often (or just changing pads compounds for different conditions).
This article will show you how to retract the pistons, swap out the pads, and give you some links to the required tools and parts.
The front brakes on the Lotus Elise and Exige use a fixed caliper design.
Fixed calipers are attached directly to the spindle or upright, and utilize pistons on both sides of the brake rotor. Fixed calipers perform better and provide a better feel then the cheaper and simpler floating caliper design found on most vehicles (and on the rear brakes of the Elise/Exige).
Fixed calipers are typically designed a little differently, so changing pads is a little different then the common floating caliper design you may be used to.
Choosing a Brake Pad
Everyone has a preference, and there's no consensus on which pads are best, there's just too many different variables. You're unlikely to find one pad that serves them all, so you may want to keep a set for the track and a set for the street.
I use my car almost exclusively as a daily driver, so I wanted a pad with excellent street characteristics like fast warm up, low dust, and acceptable wet braking. I'll report back in to compare the EBS redStuff pads and how they stack up against the Porterfield RS-4's I had previously.
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Torque Wrench
- Breaker Bar
- 17mm socket
- assorted open ended wrenches
- Brake fluid removal tool
Jack Up Car and Remove the Wheel
Make sure you jack up the car from the correct lift points on the chassis.
I used a jack under the front jack point and placed a cradle jack stand under the lower a-arm ball joint.
Remove the Wheel.
You'll need your wheel tools and lock keys to get the lugs off.
I use a long breaker bar and a 17mm socket to fit the wheel tools.
Remove the old Brake Pads
Remove the cotter pins from the inner end of each pad retaining pin.
Remove the lower pin by pressing the spring clip with the arrow in and sliding the pin toward the outside of the car.
You may have to tap it lightly to get it to move, but they are usually pretty easy to slide.
Remove the spring clip.
It just angles up and slides out of the caliper.
Remove the upper pin.
Open the bleed screw and attach a hose to catch the brake fluid.
Opening the bleed screw will prevent the old brake fluid from reversing through the system, potentially causing some debris to get caught where it shouldn't.
If you're in an extreme hurry, or the pads are of very similar thickness, you may choose to skip this as you won't be pressing much fluid back into the system, and you won't have to bleed the brakes when you're done. (Though you should probably do that anyway)
Use a lever to separate the pads, pressing the brake piston back slightly.
Press the brake caliper pistons fully back and flush with the caliper.
With the caliper off the car, you can use a c-clamp for this. I used a couple of wrenches and my pliers to slowly press them in.
Go slow, try your best to press them in evenly. I moved my leverage points around the circumference of the piston often, pressing it in a couple of millimeters at a time.
Install the New Brake Pads
Prepare the new pads by applying any backing plates they may have come with.
Some pads have these pre-installed, the EBS RedStuff pads did not.
The anti-vibration effect of the backing plates really does reduce noise significantly. I didn't notice the damn plates in the box till after I finished re-assembling everything. So, I thought I'd drive it around the neighborhood to see what effect they had. The shims definitely quiet pad squeal.
They would squeal about 30% of the time in normal street braking conditions without them. I promptly took everything apart and installed the shims. The noise was completely gone afterward.
Slide the pads into the caliper.
Make sure the backing plate is facing the caliper piston. If they don't quite fit, you may need to press the caliper piston in another mm, or wiggle the brake rotor around a bit.
Line up the the pad holes with the caliper.
Install the upper pad pin.
Install upper cotter pin.
Install spring clip.
Install lower pad pin.
Install lower cotter pin.
Install the wheel and tire.
Torque the wheel bolts to 77 lb.-ft.