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Replace Rear Brakes on a Monte Carlo

by Francis Walsh

Chevrolet horsepower became famous with the introduction of the first Chevy muscle cars of the 1960's and 70's. Back then, a new Chevrolet Monte Carlo was one of the models that included additional horsepower and performance packages that were factory built. One problem with the new, more powerful motors was the braking. The rear drum brakes that were standard on early model Monte Carlos did not perform as well as Chevy may have wanted. Even though these cars had the horsepower that was in high demand, the brakes were something that Chevrolet could have done some extra engineering on. Replacing rear drum brakes on an old Monte Carlo with a new disc brake system is how to upgrade to a better performing package.

Release the parking brake and check the front and rear axles to see that the brake pads are not coming in contact with the rotors or drums and that the wheels turn freely and easily. Disconnect and plug the brake fluid line at the rear of the drum brake. Dismantle the brake drum and remove from the end of the rear axle.

Remove the rear axle housing's differential cover to access the axle clips that keep the gears interlocked within the housing. The C-Clips can be removed with a screwdriver and should be held onto with pliers so that they do not fall into the gears. Once the C-Clips have been removed and stored off to the side, push each of the axle out from their original locked position to remove the axles from the rear axle and gear housing.

Secure the rear caliper mounting plate onto the wheel stud end of the rear axle so that the position of the calipers will be in a good position to grasp onto the new rear disc brake rotor. The most common placement of the calipers is at 11 o'clock when looking at the rear rotors. Adjust the caliper mounting plate so that the calipers will be in this position when installed.

Insert brake pads into the new rear disc brake calipers before installing on the rear disc brake rotors. Use a C-clamp to depress the caliper plungers so that there is enough space in between the new brake pads for the rotor to slip inside when installing the brake calipers. A C-clamp is the best way to depress a caliper's plungers. Make enough room for installation of the calipers to the mounting bracket while securing the rotor within the brake shoes in the caliper at the same time.

Insert the axles back into the rear gear housing and reconnect the axles into place using the old C-clips. Push the clips into place using pliers and a screwdriver to replace them under pressure. Secure the differential cover back over the gear when finished. Once the rotors are in place, the caliper brake lines can be connected to the original Chevy Monte Carlo brake lines and the system filled with fluid. Bleed all air from the brake system using the bleeder valves located on a disc brake caliper.

Tip

  • When removing the C-Clips from the rear gears, use a magnet to keep the clips from falling into the differential housing.

Warning

  • The rear gears are exposed during installation. Protect the gear housing from foreign objects which can break the gears during use.

Items you will need

About the Author

Francis Walsh has been working as a freelance writer since 2003. He has contributed to websites such as Shave, Autogeek and Torque & Chromeas, as well as provided content for private clients. Walsh has worked as a performance part-packer and classic car show promoter, now serving as crew chief for Nitrousfitz Racing.

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