Lotus Elan Central
Changing Brakes

This procedure runs through changing the front brake pads and rotors on your Elan. This material contained on this page is informational in nature only, and does not imply all knowledge needed to safely work on the braking system of your Elan! I will not warranty the contents nor will Lotus Elan Central take responsibility for your actions if you should attempt to work on your Elan's brakes based solely on these instructions.

Parts Needed:
Front brake pads (4 of them)
Front rotors (2)
Brake fluid (maybe)
"Elan front brake pad pin/spring set"--Lotus part #A100J6085S

Tools Needed:
Protective gloves
Jack and jackstands
Wheel lug wrench
Torque wrench (recommended and worth buying!)
A 4mm hex wrench
"Liquid Wrench" or other loosener of stuck bolts!
A "pin drift", nail-set, or other small tamp device - Important
"turkey baster" (read on!)
caliper piston pusher (see local auto store)

Removing Old Parts:

  • Park car on level ground! Or, even better, put it up safely on a proper car lift.
  • Loosen all of the lug nuts just a bit only before raising the car.
  • Then put the tranny in neutral and the parking brake on TIGHTLY!! (block the rear wheels)
  • Jack the two front sides of the car up and place a jackstand under each of the inner jackpoints.
  • Remove the front wheel on the side you wish to work on. Be careful not to set it as to scrape its face.
  • Grab the hub and manually turn the front steering rack toward the side you are working on to help your access and visibility. The hubs can be turned back and forth by hand as the front end is off the ground.
  • To remove the pads, simply remove the two round pins holding them in place! Be careful not to damage these pins (this can be difficult if the pins are not in good shape)! The sliding action of your pads depends on them moving over these 2 pins. If in question replace the pins! (order: "Elan front brake pad pin/spring set"--Lotus part #A100J6085S [cheap] ). Do not hit the ends of the pins too hard or you may deform them and make it difficult or impossible to remove or re-install them. I would recommend to replace them as my experience has shown the old pins will not be in good enough condition and with new pins you can be sure they work as designed. The pins can be hit out either side.
  • The pads may be withdrawn after the pins are removed. Pull them outward to remove--you may need to push the caliper in or out to help take the pressure off the pad you are removing. Some pads may have attached to them or separate spring-type devices--be sure you know if the pads you are installing have them or need them.
  • Push back the caliper piston. You may need some "caliper pliers" to do this properly. You could just pry it back with a screwdriver but you could bend or scratch things that way! Pushing back the caliper piston will put more brake fluid back up into the reservoir--you may need to siphon off a bit to keep it from overflowing!! (Now you understand the "real" use for a "turkey baster"!)
  • [Philip Johnson wrote to say, "I did not find it necessary to remove the brake caliper to remove the brake disk (rotor). As the caliper is of the floating variety, there was enough movement to allow safe removal of the disk (rotor) and refitting of the new disk so long as the pads are fully removed, and thus there was no danger of pulling or stretching the brake lines as the caliper stayed in place.]
  • Clean up your caliper--get all the dust and grime off it so it will function better (use some "brake cleaner spray"--even better use a lot with an old toothbrush).
  • To remove the rotor you must take out the 4mm hex-head retaining screw. The rotor should now pull straight off.

This Hex bolt is notorious for rusting in place and not wanting to come out. The head can break off, so be prepared to use a can of "rust breaker" to help get it out. The bolt is not "essential" and you can drill it out or even replace the rotor without it if you have to. You will not be the first to do this!

I should mention here to check your rotor for proper: thickness / surface condition / and run-out if you are not changing it!

O.E. Front Rotor Specs:

  • Thickness 24.0 mm
  • Minimum regrind thickness 23.0 mm
  • Minimum thickness (wear limit) 22.0 mm
  • Maximum run-out (installed) 0.10 mm
  • Maximum run-out (removed) 0.03 mm

Fitting New Parts:

  • Place the rotor onto the hub and secure it with the 4mm hex screw. IMPORTANT: the EBC discs are "sided", meaning there is a proper "left" and "right"!! This IS marked on the box. (The grooves should spiral outward as the hub turns as in forward motion) Stock rotors are not "sided."
  • Place the new pads into the caliper (no they are not "sided") and be sure the correct side is facing the rotor!!--again this has been botched by even some of the best mechanics. You may have to pull the whole caliper out a bit to create enough room for the outer pad. Be patient and do it carefully.
  • Now you can insert the new pins through the pads. The EBC pads can be installed without the stock springs, but I found when I did this I occasionally heard the pads rattle a bit over rough roads, so I now have put the EBC pads in with the O.E. springs from the "pin/spring kit" and the rattle is gone. I have seen mechanics place a glop of grease between the pad and caliper to stop this type of rattle, but it is not necessary if you use the springs. See the Elan General Service Manual (section JE) for pictures of these parts and set-up. Be sure the pins are clean and smooth and straight before you insert them--I put a very light dash of white lithium grease on the center area of the pins to help the pads slide over them when in use.
  • Double check to be sure you did everything right and the pads are facing the right direction!
  • Now is a good time to bleed the brake caliper if so desired -- I recommend it as it is easy if you have the right tools!
    Re-mount the wheel and tighten up the lug nuts (59 - 65 lb./ft. = 80 - 88 Nm).
  • Check the brake fluid level.
  • Important: Pump the brake pedal a few times to restore the caliper pistons to their working places; then recheck the brake fluid and add as needed.
  • Assure the brake reservoir lid is on, and all was done according to plan! Then put the car back on the floor carefully.
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