Performing your own brake repairs on your Dodge Caravan takes a little more than good craftsmanship. It requires attention to detail and an inventory of necessary tools. You're not going to be able to repair brakes with a claw hammer, a screwdriver and a wood saw. Different tools will be required depending on the age of the Caravan, and the the extent of the damage will dictate your success.
Disc Brakes on the Dodge Caravan
All Dodge Caravans are equipped with front disc brakes and many, more modern If you're familiar with front pad and disc replacement, you should be able to do the job in the rear. You'll need a proper jack and jack stand to safely lift the vehicle, hand wrenches to remove the caliper (or ratchet and socket set), a large C-clamp or channel locks to compress the caliper piston and an understanding of how disc brakes work. You'll also need to remove rust and corrosion and apply new lubricant for new pads. Removing stuck rotors is another challenge facing the do-it-yourself mechanic in certain geographical regions where sand and salt promote rust and other corrosives. Anytime a hydraulic component is compressed, such as a caliper piston, you will need to pump the foot pedal to restore the pressure and seat the pads against the rotor.
Rear Drum Brakes on a Dodge Caravan
If you are working on rear drum brakes, there are many more parts and tools required. You will need patience and dexterity. Springs, cables and hold-down pins will challenge the most seasoned technician. A good tip for rear drum brake replacement is to lift the entire rear axle, remove both wheel and drums and keep one side together for a reference.
Hydraulics and ABS
Hydraulic components present and even bigger challenge for the mechanic. Calipers and rear wheel cylinders (for drum brakes) are used in the Dodge Caravan braking system, as are the master cylinder, proportioning valve, rubber brake hoses and steel brake lines. Anytime a hydraulic component on your Caravan is removed and replaced, air is introduced into the sealed system. That requires you to bleed the air to restore the hydraulic pressure. Repair manuals should almost always be a considered tool of the trade for someone who has no experience in this type of repair.
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) on newer Caravans also are a tough test for the backyard mechanic. Just to find out what's wrong with the computerized system often requires expensive equipment that most people don't own.
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