Front Brake Enhancements and Upgrades for the GTO (Holden) - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-08-2005, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
 
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Front Brake Enhancements and Upgrades for the GTO (Holden)

Overview

This thread has been established to help GTO owners obtain maximum performance from their GTO’s braking system. It applies to the front brakes of all models of Monaro-based GTOs from Holden. The thread will cover the following topics.
1. General Tips
2. Brake Fluid
3. Brake Pads - Front
4. Rotors - Front
5. OEM Front Brake System Upgrades for the 2004
(Original Equipment Manufacturer)

Cost-effective brake performance has been a recent focus for me. This thread is a collection of knowledge from other GTO owners and from my experience upgrading my brake system. I’ve tried to provide recognition where I have included pictures or words from others.

There is a companion thread on rear brake enhancements at
https://www.gtoforum.com/f39/rear-bra...764/#post40897


General Tips

Safety first!! Both in the driveway and on the road! Always block wheels, use jack stand to support a raised vehicle, and common sense. If you don’t feel comfortable performing these maintenance actions, don’t hesitate to take your project to a qualified mechanic. On the road, the GTO is a powerful, heavy, beast with the muscle to propel you deep into triple-digit territory. Stopping from high speed is hard on brakes. When you are traveling at 120 mph, your brake system has to dissipate four times the amount of energy compared to 60 mph. Make sure your equipment is up to the task. My experience has been the 2004 OEM front brakes are inadequate for the capabilities of the GTO.

When you are working on brakes, you almost always are removing and replacing your wheels. Because the wheels are made of aluminum and the hubs of steel, a natural corrosion process occurs between the dissimilar metals. It can easily build up on the studs and hub and make it difficult to remove your wheels. Also, rusting occurs between the brake rotor and the hub and can make it difficult to remove the rotor (I had one that was a bear). So next time you remove your wheels and or rotors, clean them, and consider applying a protective, anti-corrosion film. You can clean your hubs and the inside of your wheels with a wire brush and spraying them off with brake clean, or use some rust removing gel on the steel components and rinse the rust away after letting it set for 5 to 10 minutes. Once clean, you can use a fairly new product from Gunk called Squeal Medic to provide corrosion protection. It comes in a spray can and looks like aluminum paint. Spray the hub and studs, install the rotor and then spray the wheel mounting surface of the rotor. You don't have to worry about the spray getting on the machined surface because that is what it was originally intended for. It doesn’t dry, however, so I mask or shield as much as I can to prevent over-spray that could result in getting it on your hands or clothes if you come in contact with it while working on these components. The spray also helps lubricate your studs making it easier and smoother to torque your lug nuts. Squeal Medic is a tip from Silvergoat. With as much rust and corrosion as I had on my GTO after a year, I wanted to try this.



When remounting your wheels, tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Get them all snug first, then tighten to spec. A torque wrench is highly recommended. Some owners will increment in three steps, e.g., 60, 80, and then 100 lbs ft. If you are not using Squeal Medic, try a small amount of lithium grease on your lugs to help them torque smoother and more consistently. Plus your lug nuts will be easier to remove the next time you need to take off your wheel. Equal and consistent torque is important and helps the rotor stay true, especially when going through heat cycles.

05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,

Last edited by Xman; 05-02-2013 at 04:18 PM.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-08-2005, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Brake Fluid

Many GTOs seem to arrive in the US with discolored brake fluid and air in the brake lines. It may be poor procedures at the factory or the long ocean cruise and transition time on the docks waiting to clear Customs. Regardless of the reason, you can’t go wrong with bleeding your brakes and flushing out the original brake fluid. This should be the first mod any new GTO owner does. Make sure you use a quality DOT 4 fluid with a high temperature rating so it can stand up to the heat generated from high-speed braking. Many GTO owners have found synthetic brake fluid from Valvoline to perform well and be readily available from local automotive stores at a reasonable cost. Here is a link with additional brake fluid performance details.

http://brickboard.com/FAQ/700-900/Br...Comparison.htm

You can tell there is air in your brake lines if you apply the brakes, release them, and then quickly reapply them and the pedal feels firmer and often stops further off the floor with the same pressure. It doesn’t take but a tiny bubble in your lines to impact pedal firmness. It is not unusual for some GTO owners to bleed two or three times before they get all the air out of the system that came from the factory. Some new owners experience their GTO’s spongy brakes and decide they need to buy an upgrade kit. When they install the upgrade and bleed the brake lines as part of the upgrade process, they think the improved brake feel and performance came from the upgrade - they should have bleed their brakes first! The 05 OEM brakes have a very solid pedal, even without adding stainless steel brake lines, if there is no air in the brake lines!! The 04 OEM brakes are not as firm because the caliper is not as stiff and will flex during hard brake applications allowing the pedal to continue to the floor with increased brake pedal pressure.

As an alternative to power bleeders or 2-man brake pumping, try gravity bleeding. Introduced to me via the GTO forums, gravity bleeding is a simple, single-man operation. Just connect one end of your drain line to the bleed screw, deposit the other end into your waste container, crack open the bleeder screw a turn, and left gravity do the work. Return every 5 to 10 minutes to top off the master cylinder reservoir so it does not drain dry and let air into the lines. As always, bleed from the furthest caliper to the nearest, e.g., right rear, left rear, right front, and left front. It may be hard to tell when all the “old” fluid has been flushed. I make sure the equivalent of the reservoir’s volume goes through each caliper. Buy 2 quarts to be safe and ensure you don't have to run back out to buy more in the middle of the job. I needed to use the second bottle because I had to bleed twice to get all the air out. Remember to dispose of the used brake fluid in an environmentally safe way.



There are no special tools or procedures to bleed your brake lines because the GTO has anti-lock brakes. The anti-lock brake unit does not enter the system unless it is activated. Thus, you could find yourself with a firm pedal, then after a hard brake application where the anti-lock brakes activate, you could have air back in your lines again. Just bleed your brakes again to remove the air bubble. If you still suspect air in your anti-lock braking unit, you have two options. You can take your GTO out and activate the anti-lock system on purpose and see if you pedal feel changes or take it to a shop that has the equipment to activate the anti-lock unit during a bleed operation. It is not common to have problems with air in the anti-lock brake units.

While you are bleeding the brakes as your first mod on your new GTO, consider installing a quality set of Corvette C5 or C6 brake pads for added performance.

05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,

Last edited by Xman; 05-02-2013 at 10:26 AM.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-08-2005, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Brake Pads - Front

This is a topic that always seems to raise questions. You may have already heard it – GTO owners are using C5 brake pads in their GTOs. It is a simple drop in mod. From what I have found, C5 Corvettes and GTOs all have brake pads that share a common interface. Stated differently, they all use a similar backing plate, which allows them to be interchangeable. This should also be the case with the new C6s. The amount friction material on GTO and C5 pads is significantly different, however. The pressure the caliper applies does not change, but the area to which it is applied does. The larger and wider area of the C5 pads results in better performance and less fade, especially for 04 GTOs. The C5 pads wider sweep area means you need to install them on a fairly new rotors or have your rotors turned since the increased pad area of the new pad will be touching areas not previously worn down by the GTO’s OEM pads. I did have to remove the C5 pad wear indicator to prevent interference with the GTO’s caliper bracket. The other advantage of C5 pads is that there are more choices, better availability, and you will pay a lower price. For reference, the GM part no. is 88909667 - Description: 97 to 04 C5 and Z06 Corvettes Front Ceramic Pad Kit.



The compound the pads are made of is also important. If you will be performing multiple high-speed brake applications, it’s critical. I’m still learning in this area and believe high quality pads that can operate over a ride range of temperatures are a must. They need to work well when they are cold or during normal street use but also have to be able to stand up to the heat generated from high-speed haul downs. Dedicated racing requires pad compounds that can sustain high temperature operations. Racing pads actually have to be heated to their higher operating temperature before they work effectively and would be dangerous to have installed for everyday street use. Using normal street pads in racing conditions or at the triple digit speeds the GTO is capable of can result in pad failure and or pad compound forming deposits on the rotor surface giving you a “wrapping” effect. This will cause your steering wheel to shake when the brakes are applied. If this persists, you will need to turn or replace your rotors. I currently am using Raybestos QS Ceramics, Part# PGD731QS. They are quiet, low dust, and have operated successfully at 100 mph on the track during some cool weather but I’m not sure how effective they would be if the heat generation was greater. There are a lot of performance pads out there. Make sure you do your research including using the search function on the forum.

After installing C5 brake pads and flushing my brake lines with Valvoline SynPower in my 04 GTO, I had noticeably more brake authority and the anti-lock braking system would frequently engage on dry pavement, i.e., the OEM BFG KDWS tires were now the limiting factor. I found the 2004 brake set-up adequate for normal street driving situations, but not for triple digits haul-downs or track days. I also was not satisfied with the firmness of the brake pedal. With hard brake pressure, the pedal would continue to move toward the floor (remedy for this is in the last section). The 05 and later GTO brake systems are much more robust, stand-up to the occasional track day, and have a stiffer pedal feel.

05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,

Last edited by Xman; 05-02-2013 at 10:07 AM.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 10-08-2005, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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Rotors - Front

There are not many OEM aftermarket rotor choices out there, especially for the 05s. Many manufacturers wonít make the investment because GTOs are produced in such limited numbers and result in low product sales volumes. The basic choices are solid (OEM), slotted, cross-drilled, or drilled and slotted. Cross-drilled rotors look great but they are not recommended since they will crack. Itís not a matter of if, but when and it will be sooner rather than later if you brake hard and often. Some manufacturers offer dimpled rotors that look like drilled but donít have the risk of cracking. Donít confuse holes in the rotors of a Porsche, which are cast into the rotor, with solid rotors that have holes just drilled in them. These two different processes for placing a hole in the rotor result in different characteristics Ė and a price to support the benefit of how Porsche manufactures theirs. The benefit of slotted rotors is debatable. Many say that the slots were more advantageous with the older brake pad compositions that used to generate gasses during the braking action but are not required with modern brake pads. The slots do provide better action in the wet, look better, do provide some braking advantage, but also wear out pads quicker. I have tracked the GTO in the rain and not seen an issue with solid OEM rotors. A fellow I work with has two Ferraris he races. Cross-drilled are a definite no. He uses solid rotors and does not feel disadvantaged.

FYI, at the time of this posting, I've looked but have been unable to find OEM slotted rotors for the 05. Disk Brakes Australia, DBA for short and a company that has a great reputation and product, lists that they had 05 rotors. However, they didn't realize the US 05 GTO brakes were different from the 04 (I found this out by ordering a set only to find they were 04 front rotors). DBA doesn't have an expected production date yet for their 4000-series rotors (nice rotors! [email protected]) but they should be out in late 2005 or early 2006. PowerSlot had said they would have 05 rotors out by the end of the 2005 summer and now say it will be closer to Christmas. PowerSlot also told me not to count on that date because the 05 GTO is lower on their priority list compared to other high-volume vehicles they need to service. iRotor.com may be another option. In a few more months, hopefully there should be some options available for a choice and some competition.

Regardless of the type of rotor, the best way to effect brake improvement is to upgrade to larger diameter rotors. Just like engines, there is no substitute for displacement. Fortunately, the 05 and later GTOs come with capable front brakes. For a significant improvement, 05 owners will have to go to 18- or 19-inch wheels and 14-inch rotor diameters. For the 04 owners, upgrading to 05 GTO OEM brakes is a cost effective solution. Unless you have 18-inch or larger wheels, its hard to better the 05 brakes. Until the aftermarket rotors appear, the solid OEM rotors are about your only choice. Fortunately, they are a very good choice.

05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,
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OEM Brake Upgrades for the 2004 GTO

I converted my 04 front brakes to 05 OEM rotors and calipers. From all I can tell, beertestr was first to make the 04 to 05 front conversion. His write-up convinced me the project was very doable and that the only way to match or beat the quality and performance of the OEM 05 GTO front brake package, which uses the new C6 Corvette brake calipers, was to go with an expensive 4s and 6-piston set-up like StopTech’s or Wilwood’s. Baer makes a reasonably priced upgrade kit for the GTO but uses a C5 caliper, which is not as stiff as the C6. Also, if you have to replace the Baer rotors they are more expensive than OEM, and … don’t get their drilled rotors as several GTO owners have had theirs crack! You have been forewarned! JHP, an Australian-based company, has brake upgrades with front rotors that are 330mm vs 320mm for the 05 (13.0 vs 12.6 inches). I believe that the JHP calipers are from the C5 vs 05 GTO calipers that are from the C6 which are stiffer. I'm not sure you will see the extra .2-inch difference in radius, even if you track your GTO. You also have to consider shipping charges from down under plus there is duty when they get here (may be as high as 20%). I choose to stay with the 05 OEM components and obtained them from mid-West salvage yards that had collected some of the 35 or so 05 GTOs that were damaged in the April 2005 train wreak in Iowa.

All you need for this OEM conversion are calipers, rotors, and brake lines plus a short length of Ĺ-inch steel tubing. You can search for used 05 GTO parts via the Internet via at http://www.car-part.com or http://www.ebay.com. I obtained all my components from the salvage yard for less than $300 including shipping. If you go through a salvage yard, make sure you ask for brake lines and pads. The brake lines are about $15 each. Also, the brake lines have a plastic piece, like a doughnut in the middle of the line, which holds the brake line to the strut. You have to rotate the line about 90 degrees to slide it in and out of its metal keeper that is welded to the strut. The salvage yard needs to know this or they will break off some of the plastic tabs. My brake lines were like this but still worked and held in the keeper. You can see the piece I'm referring to just above the "before" 04 rotor attached to the strut.

If you decide to purchase these parts new, here are the component costs if you buy them from a place like http://www.GMPartsDirect.com.
∑ 2 caliper assemblies $235/side. GM part nos. 92175206 for the right and 92175207 for the left. This includes the calipers and brackets. You can not buy the brackets separately.
∑ 2 front rotors $112 each. GM part no. 92161569.
∑ 2 brake hoses $69/side. Keep in mind they are side-specific and the banjo fittings are clocked at 90 degrees. If you are going to buy new brake lines, you should consider stainless steel braided aftermarket, which offer more performance and are more affordable. http://www.StopTech.com has the pair for $99. I did not have the GM part nos. at the time I published this.
∑ 1 set of pads - pick your favorite. Just don’t reuse your 04 OEM pads! They are much diminished in size from the OEM 05 brake pads, which still are slightly smaller in surface area to the C5’s (all three use the same backing plate). Keep in mind that the caliper is the same as the Corvette C6, which takes the same pad as the C5. If you can't find the GTO specific pad you like, shop for Vette pads, GM part no. is 88909667. The cost can be anywhere from $50 to $150.

What does this buy you? An 05 rotors that is much beefier than the 04 and a great caliper!! OEM 05 rotors are 1 inch larger in diameter and .2 inches thicker making them about 5 pounds heavier than the 04 rotors (22 vs 27 pounds). The extra thickness is all toward the outside of the vehicle and allowed the 05 rotors to stand upright on their own. The internal venting structure is different as you can see in the picture. The 04 rotors had vent supports that ran as a single column radial from the center out. I believe the 05 design ensures more even thermal expansion during hard braking so the rotor does not develop high spots when hot. The 05 calipers are much more massive than the 04. I was shocked when I first saw their size! The 2-D picture just does not relate this. The 05 calipers are almost 1.5 inches wider and its all structure because the pistons (slave cylinders) are the same size on both the 04 and 05. The 05 calipers actually fit in the 04 brackets (logical because they both can use the same C5 brake pads). However, I did not experiment with using the 05 calipers on the 04 rotors because with the 04’s thinner rotors and the 05 caliper’s extra total width, it looked like it was mounted too far inboard and might interfere with the suspension during turns.



The conversion took me four hours to complete including initial set-up and all clean-up. This length of time seemed a bit long but I had a rotor that refused to come off even with a puller (puller plus banging finally got it), I had my son doing some of the work for his experience, and I did take time to take pictures. It is really a simple bolt off the old and bolt on the new type of mod. BTW, my 12mm bracket bolts took a lot more than 100 foot-pounds of force to loosen them. I reused my C5 pads I had installed in my 04 the first month I had it.

Here are the steps for this conversion. They are expanded from beertester’s original instructions. The difference between changing out your front pads when they are worn and this upgrade is 3 bolts per side. These instructions assume you already have the car raised and the wheels off.

1 – Remove the caliper from its bracket like you would to change out the pads. Don’t let the caliper hang by the brake hose so suspend it with string, a bungee cord, or coat hanger. By keeping the old caliper up out of the way until you are ready to install the new brake hoses, you will save yourself some mess. You can remove the brake hose from the strut by twisting it half a turn and sliding it out of its bracket.

2 – Remove the two 12mm bolts holding the bracket to the knuckle and remove the bracket. You will need to reuse the 12mm bolts to install the 05 caliper brackets. Refer to the end of this section for instructions on how to add the 1mm shims to make them compatible with the 14mm bolt holes in the 05 bracket.

3 - Remove the 04 rotor. If your car saw any winter driving, the rotor may be rusted on to the hub-flange of the wheel-bearing unit. If you plan to keep your 04 components for reuse, use a hammer and a block of wood to beat the rotor off the hub. Hit the wood, not the rotor so you don’t deform the machined rotor surface. It may take a few minutes of pounding on the backside of the rotor to get it off the hub.

4 – Remove the dust shield. If you plan on ever putting the car back to stock, you should remove the brake dust shields nicely. This means unhooking the ABS line (easy connector) and unbolting the bearing/hub unit from the knuckle, and drilling out the rivets that are holding the shield on the knuckle. I don’t think the shields are worth saving and quickly disposed of them by cutting the rivets off with a chisel. This will save you about 15 minutes/side and provides a small weight reduction to offset the increased weight of the beefier 05 rotors.

5 - Install the new rotor. Marvel in how much beefier it is. Consider using Squeal Medic for corrosion protection as described in the General Tips section. You may want to use a lug nut hand-tightened to keep the rotor aligned with the hub until you are ready to re-install the wheel.

6 - Install the 05 caliper bracket assembly on the knuckle. As stated in step 2, the 05's use a 14 mm bolt, but the 04's use a 12 mm bolt. After you have installed the 1mm sleeves on your 04 bolts (as described at the end of this section), tighten to 100 lbs/ft. I’d recommend using some blue Loctite on the threads before you re-install the bolts back onto the knuckle.

7 – Insert the brake pads and install the red 05 GTO caliper (with its brake line already attached) onto the bracket and secure. Insert the brake line into the keeper on the strut.

8 - Now is the time to crack open the old brake line at the firewall. First, put a drain pan under the brake line on the fender/wheelwell. Loosen the bolt holding the bracket to the fender so it can be removed later by hand, and then remove the flexible hose from the solid line. Since you have the new brake line already to connect, you should experience minimal fluid loss. Make sure you don’t but a twist in the line when you bolt the brake hose bracket to the fender.

9 – Set-up your bleed hose and reservoir. Crack the bleeder valve on the brake caliper and let it gravity bleed while you are working on the other side. This speeds up the bleed process a lot.

10 - Repeat for the other side and gravity bleed them also.

11 – If the gravity bleed did not give you a firm pedal, get your wife, roommate, girl friend, or idle child to help you bleed the brakes. It is not uncommon to have to bleed the GTO brake lines two or three times to get all the air out and have the pedal feel firm. But once you do, the pedal feel is awesome compared to the 04 brakes. You will love them. The add stiffness of the C6 caliper is very noticeable.

12 – Drop the car on the ground and burnish the pads and rotors. If you need the technical details on how to do this, follow the recommendations from StopTech at http://www.stoptech.com/tech_info/wp...contents.shtml

I’ve included a before and after shot. For daily around town driving, I do not notice a difference in stopping distance. High-speed haul-downs on the track were signficanlty improved. The brake pedal is now much firmer and I really notice it when applying maximum pressure. I still have not gotten used to the new firmness even after several months of driving – its like a pleasant surprise every time I touch the brake pedal. I originally was going to get just the calipers and use aftermarket slotted rotors and stainless steel brake lines. The improvement in brake firmness was so dramatic with the 05 calipers, I've put off upgrading to stainless steel lines for a while. The next most important upgrade I would recommend is getting the vented 05 rear rotors and modifying the dust shields on the rear to allow air to get into the vent channel. This is beneficial for all GTO year models and is covered in the companion thread discussing rear brake enhancements.


05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,

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Adding 1mm Shims to Your 12mm Bolts

A concern many have about the conversion to 05 OEM brakes is the 04 caliper brackets are secured with 12mm bolts and the 05 with 14mm bolts. There is no safety concern about using the 12mm bolts with the 05 brake system. All the aftermarket brake upgrades use 12mm bolts with their system, some with even more braking power than the 05 OEM braking system. Some GTO owners have purchased the 05 knuckles with their 05 brakes as a package deal from the salvage yard and swapped these assemblies to avoid adding the shim to the 12mm bolts. If you go down this route, you most likely will need to get a wheel alignment.

I wanted to see if I could find a simple way to shim out the additional .040 (radius) difference between the 12mm 04 bolts and the 14mm 05 bolts. The 05 bracket bolt holes are .555 inches in diameter, which is only .055 over Ĺ an inch. I called around to some pipe fitting shops and found there was stainless steel tubing used in commercial air conditioning that had a Ĺ inch outside diameter and a .035 wall thickness – close enough to .555 and .040 for me. It only came in 20-foot lengths but the local shop was friendly enough to cut me off a 6-inch piece at no charge. My plan was to use this tubing to fab and press a sleeve over the 12mm bolts.

The tools you need for this task are a hacksaw, hammer, a punch that is more than a Ĺ-inch in diameter, and a vice. You can get them all at Sears. If you don't want to get a vice, ask to borrow a friend’s. I have had a vice for years and don't know what I'd do with out it. Your other option is to go to a machine shop and ask them to do it for you. I had one as a back-up if my plan did not succeed.

The first thing you need to do is flair the tubing slightly so you will be able to start it over each bolt since the tubing’s inside diameter is smaller than the bolt’s. I did this using a large punch. I would drive it into the tubing, knock the punch back out, and then cut off a little more than a half inch off the tubing and deburr it. The length is not critical as long as the sleeve is not cut longer than the bracket is thick. I repeated this 3 more times. The sleeves pressed on very easily using a vice. I’m not even sure I needed to put lube them. I would recommend finding a way to flair both ends of the sleeve so you have a wider base to lip the tubular sleeve, making it easier to tap the sleeve up the threads of the bolt. I had a special metal base that just happened to have a matching hole in to that would let the 12mm bolt go in but not the sleeve. It would have been easy enough to complete this last step of knocking the sleeve up the shaft of the bolt by using the two sides of the vice set just wide enough to let the bolt pass but not the sleeve. How far you knock the sleeve up is not critical. Once you get some thread showing, the sleeve will travel up the bolt shaft as you tighten the bolt back into the knuckle. Remember to use some blue Loctite on the threads before you re-install the bolts back onto the knuckle.


05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,

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WOw........thats great info........Thanks for the post....

Rinku
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Thank you for the info, Extremely informative.
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Do all 05 come painted and sy "GTO" on them cause thats pretty sweet.
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Yes - all the front calipers for 05 and later come with GTO stenciled on them.

05 Brakes w/ C5Pads, K&N CAI, TBCoolantByPass, -CAGS, , +Outlets, DeadPedal, UnSpoiled, GasCapHook, PedalsRightSideUp, HitchToGo,
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