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Old 09-15-2007, 12:23 PM   #1
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Akebono Brake Pad Install/Review (+Bed-In & Afterthoughts)

AKEBONO EURO CERAMICS (C32 Front & Rear BBK)

Now I know these aren't Porterfield R4S, but I also eventually became a bit irritated with some of the brake squeal I'd hear (even after 'warming them up') - and after a roundtable discussion with a couple buddies, I set my eyes on trying out these "wonderful" Akebono pads, front and rear (I have a complete C32 BBK setup), that are supposedly low-dust, no-squeal, and have very good stopping power.

I've learned that a complete rotor/pad swap will need the following MINIMUM:

Jackstands (1)
Low-profile Jack (for anyone lowered)
17mm socket (lugs)
STRONG 18mm ratcheting monkey wrench or socket combo (caliper bolt-assembly)
T30 driver (rotor screw)
Prod-type tool (a T15 screwdriver would work for the push-pins on the caliper pin-pad assemblies)
Flathead
Hammer AND Mallet
Mini Robo-grip
Breaker-bar if necessary
WD-40 (FTMFW)
Small C-Clamp (1)
Lint-free towels (2)
Floodlights (if this carries into the night, such as my install)
MB Brake Grease

and of course...

Akebono pads (and what's included in the box)
Brake wear sensors

INSTALLATION comments:

There are numerous DIY's out there, and comments about how easy a rotor/pad swap can be when the time comes...is it as easy as people say it is? Well yes AND no. I'm still completely astounded by the fact that I'm stopping because two pins and a retaining clip per caliper across the assembly are holding my life across their 1/4" thick widths. YES because once you observe and begin uninstalling one rotor and pad, each successive swap on all other corners are essentially the same. NO because after getting psyched-up about doing your own brakes (!?!), you'll get to lots of dirty, rusted parts, and seemingly stuck bolts that can increase anxiety and frustration.

I suggest starting with the rear wheels because any screw-up possible, at least car's braking bias lies up front and if you HAD to ride any brakes to take the car to a medic, it'd be the fronts. So 1st timers? Learn the rears.

1) So after using the 17mm to take your wheels off, an then supporting your car either in the rear diff, or same-side jacking points, you're gonna look at the rotor/caliper assembly and say "dammit, it's that time again".

2) A quick observation around the rear mount of the caliper will get you to see TWO main bolts holding the caliper in place, these are 18mm GRADE-8 bolts (well, unless just mine are, since I remember losing one of them before while these were in storage - regardless, have the right ratcheting socket for this job). If they're being salty about not wanting to go lefty-loosey, lightly spray WD40 onto them and wait 5 minutes - having a short breaker bar also helps here.

3) After removal of the bolts, the caliper will probably stay in place, this is because you've just used your brakes to park wherever it is you're doing this and the pistons are still giving some pressure to the pads/rotors. Wiggle the MOFO loose, use a mallet to tap the assembly towards the rear of the car - it should drop away easily enough after the first few smacks. Support the caliper somehow, don't let it dangle via brake line. Now you're staring at a rotor.

4) Amazingly, a single T30 'STAR' torx bolt is holding the rotor onto the hub assembly. Stare at it and wonder for a while - it's the only one thats different from the 5x112 lug holes. Strangely, it comes off easy, but your rotor has probably rusted a bit onto the hub, so it won't go anywhere until malleting massages it off. So off it goes.

5) Out with the old, in with the new. Reverse #4 to install the new rotor, lock it in with the T30 as hand-tight as you can provide (I mean at least try). You can prep your new Akebonos at this point. Support up the caliper assembly and you'll see two pins going perpendicularly across the caliper, with one end being conical to a point, and another end being rounded, more flat. Take note of how this looks now, especially how the retainer clip is resting on the tops of the pads, providing pressure to lock these pins and pads in (remind yourself of the theory of how these pieces lock everything into place, you'll feel more confident, trust me) - this is important for reinstallation.

6) You'll want to lightly tap the conical-sharp point with the tip of the hammer so that the point becomes recessed into the caliper assembly and tapping it anymore won't get it any further in - you'll know you're doing it right when the round/flat part of the pin raises up the same amount.

7) You'll then take the thin T15 (or whatever)/hammer combination and prod that conical-tip even further into the assembly until things start to shake up and you may eventually have enough room to pull the pin outright (slowly). Repeat 6/7 for the other pin on the same caliper and the pads (THAT YOU TOOK SOME TIME TO OBSERVE) and now, they should just drop-slide out, freely. The retaining clip follows after pin-removal.

8) Now you've got yourself the following pieces on the floor:
-Empty caliper
-Two pins
-Two dirty pads
-A retaining clip

OBSERVE the used pads and the thin metallic shims on them that were wedged between the pistons and the pad-backings. The side that's NOT touching the piston (you can tell by the marks) is the side people lubricate liberally with MB Brake Grease (some say use a small amount, others say fill up the surface, I applied a thin layer across the surface of the PAD BACKING and made a nice grease-sandwich with the shim) - you might even see some older grease deposits on the used pad. Clean up the shim with lint-free towels, noting what side faced where. Look back at the used pad and you'll see it's got a thin "donut" sticker on it. Mirror that look with those included in the Akebono rears - I'm sure they are there for an important reason. Place them on the new pads just like they look on the old ones, except they're nice and new - on the new pads, touch only what is required, try to keep your hands off the pad surface (precaution). You can lube up on top of the new pad-backing now, all around and on top of the donut sticker if you wish - but don't get any on the pad. Transfer the newly cleaned shim to the backing of the pad. Repeat all this for the other new pad.

9) *IMPORTANT NOTE* BEFORE REINSTALLING - make your life easier by removing the cover to the brake fluid reservoir (on the 203, located by the fuse box, upper right of the hood, clearly marked). Surround the reservoir with an old towel for any overflow. Reason being, the new rotor is thicker than the old one you pulled off, same with the pads. You'll have to compress the pistons on the caliper with a C-clamp to make room for the new rotor and pads before installing the caliper onto the rotor (or it won't fit and you'll kick yourself for not doing it now). NOTICE where the brake fluid level used to be, so you can convince yourself that compressing the pistons will actually send fluid back up the reservoir, etc. and you're doing things correctly - it's open now, so it should make piston-compression fairly easy with a C-clamp - even sometimes with your hands. When the pistons look evenly pushed in all around, now you can start really reinstalling the 6 pieces together (just like you observed before you started this whole mess).

10) Get the pins in like they were, use them as hangers to align the dropped-in pads (from the top). Before securing the pins across, you'll have to be creative in the order you'll want to place the retaining clip back on. I found it easy to use the pins to my advantage, placing them on the grooves and resting the clip on the tops of one of the pads and sliding the pins across slowly - I can't really explain this part, but a small flathead may help with the alignment. NOTE: I did warn you before to take a mental picture of how it looked! You'll want it this orderto go like this:

()===PISTON|SHIM|GREASE|PADBACK|PAD|ROTOR-GAP (clip arms going perpendicularly across|PAD|PADBACK|GREASE|SHIM|PISTON===>

You'll hear good, confident sounding clicks when pins line up to holes. And you can literally observe the conical side coming out the other end. This is now where you begin to tap the rounder/flatter pin-end until IT becomes recessed and the conical end looks just like it used to. The retaining clip stays grounded and even, resting on the tops of both pads, securely. This completes one caliper, and with the pads flat on the pistons, there should be more than enough loose room now to slide the caliper onto the new rotor - easing the job of aligning the 18mm bolt holes for reassembly. Again, bear in mind the weight of a loose caliper - don't stress it too much by letting it hang on just the brake hoses alone.

11) Simply repeat all these steps for the next 3 corners - just move your jacking points and be prepared for larger, heavier rotors and calipers. USE COMMON SENSE. Reinstall the wheels, plus whatever you have to do to feel confident that you're satisfied that you've installed this corner to the best of your ability, your own safety in mind. The fronts are just SLIGHTLY different (but after doing both the rears, you'll be able to figure out and adjust to any visual changes you'll see up front. Again, this install has NOTHING to do with liquids (which is why I attempt it). I'd probably never trust myself with changing brake fluids - I will literally let a professional bleed the system for me at that point - I hate the thought of air bubbles getting into these babies. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE UNCAPPED THE BRAKE RESERVOIR AND SHOULD BE REMINDING YOURSELF CONSTANTLY OF ITS NEW FLUID LEVEL. CAP IT WHEN DONE.

When finished notes:
-Step back and feel accomplished. Have an Amber Rock. Go to the hat for dinner after following proper break-in procedure. Tell yourself that flip is not liable for any of your mistakes and that there are probably other ways more accurate than this to get the job done, but he was merely throwing in his two cents.
-Dispose of all the old parts, please. Don't try to pawn off old parts to your neighbors if you know you've already put 50K miles on them :p.
-Get some GOJO - your hands will look like you worked in mud, except worse.

~INSTALL TIMES:
ONE COMPLETE NOOB with no lift or outside lighting and in the dark? With no WD40? ~4hrs w/ drunkenness.
TWO COMPLETE NOOBS, ~2.5hrs.
If you've done this before and/or had any experience changing PADS AND ROTORS, even without a lift, I'd say this whole thing realistically can take an hour with soberness. Drunkenness to be saved for after knowing you did this faster than two drunk noobs with cheap beer, FTW.

My review of the pads coming up next...

Cheers!
-flip
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Old 09-15-2007, 12:26 PM   #2
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Please remember, above strictly follows FULL C32 BBK F&R Install

Read post title - but install is quite similar to BBK 04.5s, 05+, and any other 203s and probably MBs in general.
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Old 09-15-2007, 12:30 PM   #3
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Very detailed diy!
is the review coming?
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Old 09-15-2007, 12:56 PM   #4
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Akebono EURO Ceramics Initial Impressions

What surprised me the most was that on initial turn on, when everything is brand spanking new (zinc coating still on rotors), I'm just coming out of my driveway and heard.....nothing. Not a single thing, no squeal, just a slight feel on the pedal of something making contact with another thing. There wasn't any stopping power yet, unless you drive 40->10mph in your driveway , you could feel that, I guess. But did you expect it? You didn't even get to the 'stopping layer' of the pads and rotors. At this point, there still isnt really any friction between real pad and real rotor. Dammit, just get out of your driveway (after the long silence ~10mph stop here...).

So you want to cook the brakes by following break-in procedure (check stoptechs FAQs and follow them) - or reference this website: http://www.zeckhausen.com/bedding_in_brakes.htm

I did that for a couple rounds up and down the long streets in my neighborhood last night - the near-stop, slight press, medium-firm.. just read it. You're trying hard to get rid of that zinc . You'll be able to smell the brakes and that's a good thing! You'll start feeling the brakes become more and more responsive the more "bedded-in" they get. I did this for a good 20 minutes before I just wanted to pass out for the night, so for those of you still around at this hour observing, sorry if I was being quiet.

I heard nothing at all at ANY point in the break-in procedure, even during the firm parts. These are COMPLETELY silent brake pads and I was quite impressed. They started feeling the part (a good firm braking grip) when I hit 60 to 20mph slows, just warming up. I couldn't see myself bedding in the brakes any longer, so I decided to wait for morning...this morning. But I gave myself pats on the back - these pads are quite worth it over the OEM pads (same price). I'm cleaning up the wheels for this afternoon and will be doing some good runs the rest of the week to do a review on the brake dust - I'll make my SLR handy for this.

So how did I break-in my new brakes and rotors this morning?
CANYON RUN! (btw, SS lines ftw) .

I took Drex suggestion about taking EVE up the Santa Anita Road/Canyon around 7:30 in the morning to really work in the Akebonos...nice quiet neighborhood..angry C-class shocking the dog walkers, you know. I didn't really use braking power on the way up, just coasted, slight braking from 40->20mph on the sharps (I am keeping in mind that these are new after all, can't subject them to hard stops yet). If you've never been up this road, it's a skinny, 2-lane road with visibility 100% better around corners on the way down. You can get up to 60 in a few parts, which I thought was perfect. It's a very windy and exciting road when you make the U-Turn at the national park up top.

On the downhill, I got speedy, went medium brake pedal to medium-firm, not trying to lock or trigger ABS her, but you want those brakes to feel it. I was going fast enough for bikers to fear for their lives on the opposite lane...I mean, not stupid-reckless, just very spirited. You can tell I'm canyon running at this point. The brakes and the feedback they're giving me are doing their job, stopping very firmly from 40->20 (x5), 60->20 (x3), rinse and repeat. The pedal feel is very good, I'm able to tell the "bite" difference between my R4S and these, and I'll be honest, the porterfields bit "harder", but somewhat "harsher". These Akebonos are a smooth-grippy bite feel, quite a bit firmer than OEM, completely NOISELESS doing the entire run (twice!) I have STILL not squealed from any corner, yes-wind-in-hair canyon running was going on here - The Shins in the CD changer. Every 'braking point' was a medium pedal one here, so I'm working these guys in right, I felt increasingly confident around the next braking point, again no ABS, I've taken this road faster, but that's not why we're here right? . But braking felt consistently better, the more it was needed, these pads bit when I needed them to - very, very well.

ANYWAY - by the time I got down I pulled over and observed all the brakes, I'm seeing good contact, still some breaking-in to do, obviously, that sweet smell and heat were there, and any zinc left were on the fringes of non-pad contact, but things are looking perfectly fine for now.

So my review?

AKEBONO C32 EURO CERAMICS:

Brake Feel/Bite:
4/5 (Porterfield R4S do win here, but are sometimes twice the cost for just the fronts, when you can get an all Akebono F&R setup for the price)

Road Noise/Squeal/Sound:
5/5 (I've never had brake pads impress me this much on 'noise' alone, especially knowing they're ceramic!)

Dust/Low-dust/No-dust:
-/5 (Taking pictures and a comparison after a week on the front left caliper, same lighting situations and everything for a good review - I drive fairly spirited and will document where I go to test this 'low-dust' performance proposal)

Install/Included Package:
4/5 (Standard stuff, gives you what you need, some warranty information, nothing special, I didn't really see an installation manual though, but...seriously).

And that's my 2 cents til next time!
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Old 09-15-2007, 01:21 PM   #5
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Excellent DIY and review, Jose!
I’ll definitely try the Akebono’s when the Porterfield’s get a little thinner.
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Old 09-15-2007, 02:39 PM   #6
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Brake Squeeling....

Your new pads don't squeel because you broke them in properly.... not because of who manufacters them or what material they are made of. Everyone should read the Stop Tech explanation of the importance of proper pad bed in. Also, the incorrectly tagged "warped rotor" symptom is a product of improper bedding in of pads.
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Old 09-15-2007, 07:03 PM   #7
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nice! WD40 FTW!
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Old 09-15-2007, 07:56 PM   #8
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nice DIY!
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Old 09-15-2007, 09:03 PM   #9
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nice DIY!
+1 nice job!
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Old 09-16-2007, 04:48 AM   #10
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sick write up props


any pics?
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Old 09-16-2007, 05:39 PM   #11
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lol great write up
i thought i was reading an adventure novel
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Old 09-16-2007, 07:53 PM   #12
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worthless without pics!!!! where's a picture of your drunk ***??





lol...jk my bad...couldn't stick around to help out after dropping off the pads.
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Old 09-17-2007, 02:39 AM   #13
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worthless without pics!!!! where's a picture of your drunk ***??





lol...jk my bad...couldn't stick around to help out after dropping off the pads.
someone say pics?

yeah, he was probably drunk off of all the horchata from the Hat.
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Old 09-17-2007, 12:48 PM   #14
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someone say pics?

yeah, he was probably drunk off of all the horchata from the Hat.
LOL thanks - straight candid photo here. Oh, this is the part when you're prodding the pins off the caliper.

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Old 09-17-2007, 02:41 PM   #15
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Interesting newbie take on doing brakes. Just so you are not too confused, many cars do not have a screw holding the rotors in place. The main reason for this is so that it stays in place during the robotic assembly process, not to hold the rotor in place for brake jobs. This may surprise you but when it's sandwiched between the hub and wheel with 5 bolts, it doesn't tend to wander far. So as you can see, it has no value other than to hold the rotor temporarily but the caliper bracket does the same thing while you work on putting the calipers on. Sometimes if it's a PITA to remove, I leave it off.

Also, a concern for me with you newbies is that you are compressing the dirty pistons back in without a) cleaning them so dirt doesn't get forced past the seals into the caliper, b) opening the bleeder screw so contaminated brake fluid doesn't get force in the ABS system and damage it. I know brakes are a messy dirty job, but you must keep everything clean when you put it back together. That means spraying everything down with caliper cleaner and using a wire brush or something similar to get any rust, grime, grease, dirt buildup off. Sure it gets dirty quickly but you don't want any mating surfaces to not line up.
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Old 09-17-2007, 03:57 PM   #16
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... you newbies ...
who r u referring to???
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Old 09-17-2007, 04:36 PM   #17
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The person who started the thread that was concerned that the only thing holding the rotor on his car was one screw, this is a quote - Amazingly, a single T30 'STAR' torx bolt is holding the rotor onto the hub assembly. Sorry if I didn't find that amazing.

As for forcing dirt into your calipers or forcing dirty fluid back in the sytem instead of letting it out is your choice, just providing advice that may save you thousands in future repairs. While this was SOP in the old days, complicated ABS systems are not cheap to fix.
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Old 09-17-2007, 04:45 PM   #18
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Nice work Jose.

Nevermind the angry old man.
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Old 09-17-2007, 04:49 PM   #19
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I said that in reference to when the 5 wheel lugs were off the car (which are "captain obvious"-ly holding the rotors in place, of course)...I meant other than the rust build-up one may get between the hub and rotor that sticks them together, that one torx is doing SOMETHING to help you line up the rotor before installing anything else.

Don't get me wrong either, the brake fluid is relatively new in the system, not more than 4 months old from my last brake change at STATUS, but I'll definitely note your recommendation about cleaning the piston surrounds. I cleaned all the shims and parts that make contact with the pistons on all four corners before applying the OEM MB Brake Paste.
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:39 PM   #20
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I have to agree with Frank, where's the beer in the picture. It works good for cleaning that brake dust and rust off the brake parts But those are good ideas for the next brake job, presentation could have been a little better.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:16 PM   #21
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Haha, ya'll really want a documented drunk install?
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Old 09-19-2007, 10:40 AM   #22
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Can't wait to see photos after a weeks worth of dust!
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:55 AM   #23
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Great DIY--so where did you order them from again---was it a good price---my brake light on the dash just came on last week so looks like I might have some options after all
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:33 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buellwinkle View Post
The person who started the thread that was concerned that the only thing holding the rotor on his car was one screw, this is a quote - Amazingly, a single T30 'STAR' torx bolt is holding the rotor onto the hub assembly. Sorry if I didn't find that amazing.

As for forcing dirt into your calipers or forcing dirty fluid back in the sytem instead of letting it out is your choice, just providing advice that may save you thousands in future repairs. While this was SOP in the old days, complicated ABS systems are not cheap to fix.
I wasn't aware of the bleed instead of simply forcing back into the system.
I guess it makes sense? Hmmmm....
Well, won't need to worry about that until I sell the car and put my old calipers on. If they aren't rusted.

I've had the Akebono's on my car (front) for what a year or so now?
Had the wheels off for new tires a couple weeks ago, and snuck a peek.
Still very fat, no noticeable wear, grab good for anything resembling normal or not so normal driving, and very little dust.
Stock pads only lasted like 20K-30K miles! I'm hoping these will go 50K or more.

Overall very good. Some hard core C32 people felt they faded too much.
I only felt that once, and that was driving like a maniac downhill for about 5 miles and it happened right at the bottom of the hill.
I tend to use the 'stab it' method of braking when I'm alone in the car which is pushing hard for a few seconds and then letting go so they can cool Continuous braking for long periods will cook any brake system.
I say alone, because if you had passengers they be getting thrown forward hard and likely not happy about it.
I've heard them squeal a couple time, but pretty faintly.


I can do one axle in oh, .5-1 hour. Most of that time is setting up and cleaning up. Brakes is one job I would recommend doing completely sober.
Nothing like forgetting to tighten a bleed screw all the way.
Pass me another frosty one!!
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and 2006 ML350
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22mm AMG Front sway bar, HR 19mm rear bar,
C32 Brakes
Tinted Windows- 2005 Tails, Grill & Blinkers-Clear Sides
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Last edited by C230 Sport Coup; 09-20-2007 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:48 AM   #25
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My caliper bolts are all star-sockets: e17 or E18. Argh!
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akebono, akebonos, amg, bed, brake, brakes, c32, ceramic, ebc, euro840, pads, procedure, red, review, stuff



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