DODGE CARAVAN REAR BRAKES


My knowledge is for 1994 model, 2wd. Late 93 through 95 are probably the same, perhaps all the way back to the first year, but AWD has some differences.
I expect you to have a service manual.

Tools:
- vice-grips, medium size (say 6") for coil springs that hold shoes against backing plate (you need to see the keeper slot and pin flat end to line them up, some special brake tools don't do that), medium size slip-jaw pliers may work. Essential is narrow enough to be able to turn when compressing the spring hard, to line slot up with flat pin end.
(Typical Detroit brake design, but this one is hard to compress enough.
Why couldn't designers make the pin head a knob to turn it instead?
(Those vice-grips will also let you grip the shoe springs to pull them to get over knob.
Two pairs would be insurance against having to put the adjuster cable end spring back in place.)
- camera to record position of all parts, such as which goes over which.

- If you are changing a brake cylinder:
> 8mm flat open-end wrench to close bleeder screw without detaching the bleeding tool line (closed end may not work as backing plae is dished).
> 7/16 (11 mm is close) open end wrench for fluid line (hard to use a fuel-line wrench for more contact, due to protective spring wound around brake line, but see note later). If you have to replace the end of the brake line, the new fitting may need 10mm (bizarre, may be new SAE standard).
> mirror to help see behind the brake backing plate, and lighting, and a welder's cap so you can jam your head against the fender well to see more. > be prepared to replace brake line as well, if the line turns with end fitting I recommend cutting it to preserve its bends.
* Small Vice-Grip type of wrench to grab the brake line to keep it from turning with the end fitting, if you can pull the protective wire wrap back enough to use it (see notes later hereing).
* Big adjustable pliers to help bend brake lines and > 10mm socket for cylinder attach bolts and for replacement fittings and pre-made lines.
> penetrant applied on brake line fittings both on threads and where line goes into fitting, days ahead, more than least once. (I recommend a penetrant like Liquid Wrench's standard product, not standard WD-40)
* nevertheless, you should at least prepare to make a new end flare on the line or replce it, depending on your logistics.
* tool to make flare in end of brake line if you have to redo ends. (See Keith's Flaring Tool page for advice on tools and sources, and alternative approaches.)
* You need a tube cutting tool (I recommend the tapered wheel type), a deburring tool for the inside of the line, and a file to chamfer the outside of the line (the tapered wheel type cutting tool does give it some slant).
> I found sealant between brake cylinder and backing plate, seems like a good idea though some water will get past brake drum anyway.
> And a friend or tool to help bleed the brakes. (See Bleeding brakes. - I recommend removing the wheel hub, which takes a 27mm (1 1/16") socket, for access to brake monkey-motion, check its grease, and ensure bolts holding backing plate to axle beam (3/4" socket) are tight. Note the tightening then loosening instructions for the hub nut in the service manual, end result must be only finger tight. A thin screwdriver is needed to pry the grease cup off, use it progressively around circumference.

Parts:
- The service manual should specify the type of brake line tubing and flare at the ends, the standard for 1994 is inverted flare, aka double (tube folded end back into itself), 3/16" OD tubing (normally mild steel), 3/8-24 UNF thread on the end fitting. Some other variants use a "bubble" flare with metric threads (the line is probably 4.75mm which is the same as 3/16").
- Chrysler's IPC does not list the line itself, PAPCO sell premade lines of various lengths including some with the protective wire wrap (AS330 is the closest to Chrysler's length but requires bending to the convolured shape in a way that uses up the few extra inches. Chrysler end fitting is 60348800, a "100X3" from Lordco works but has 10mm flats - appears to be brass which is good.
- Note that there are at least two different cylinders for the early-90s Caravans (normal is 3/4", European is 13/16", note wall thickness varies so you should peel back dust boot and measure piston diameter) and some variations in other parts with ABS and AWD.
- ensure width of brakes shoes is correct, that they are of correct diameter for the drum, and drum is of correct diameter (apparently there are wider and larger variants, European and AWD notably may vary from standard).
- apparently the wear limits of drum inside diameter are not much more than new drums.
- New grease seals for the inner end of the hub would be nice, especially as you can't grease the inner bearing very well without removing it from the hub thus removing the seal.

Things to note:
While the wheel is off you'll be able to replace the shocke absorbers much more easily. (You'll need to jack the axle up very slightly to stay at correct length for the replacement shock absorber. Using penetrant on the inner end of the lower bolt before starting is a good idea, as is using an oily substance like WD-40 on the lower bolt when re-installing it.)
Take careful note of how parts were together before you take them apart, such as parking brake lever, which way the adjuster cable ends face, the torsion spring for adjusting lever, and how to ensure the automatic adjuster is functional. (It appears to be significantly clear of the star wheel with the mechanism pulling it into contact by moving the cable guide outward, perhaps the design intent is that the guide only moves enough if brakes need adjusting as shoes will move further from retracted position).
Service manual only shows left rear, you have to mentally reverse for looking at right rear (or copy illustration onto clear plastic to flip over).
Except the parking brake actuating lever location is not behind the same shoe - on the left it is behind the trailing (secondary) shoe, on the right it is behind the leading (primary) shoe, the cable enters from the opposite direction on each side.
The parking brake actuating lever has a tab that fits in a rectangular slot at top of shoe, the lever is loose at bottom, shoe coil spring retention pin sits outward from it.
Per the manual, you need to have the star wheel ratchet teeth turning the right way (the star wheel assembly is handed, see the manual's text for identification method as well as its illustration for which way around is correct (the swaging feature on one side of the ratchet wheel). Working through the oval hole after removing dust plug you'll need a small straight screwdriver per the manual, plus a tool to move the starwheel.
The short coil spring with wings goes on the stud of the trailing shoe, long end aft (check that), the short end goes mostly outside of the adjuster lever with end hooked behind.

Be prepared for a lot of fiddling work.
Brake shoes etc.
- you have to get the little "anchor" plate that goes on the stepped stud the top of the shoes bears on over the maximum diameter of the stud, to have enough stud length for the adjuster cable and return springs. (I'm tempted to magnetize it - keeps slipping off.)
- intalling the trailing shoe return spring is a pita, you have to hold the cable guide in place (completely inadequate engagement length, guide should fit up against the brake shoe without significant gap - perhaps chalking where it should be would help check it stayed there), place the short end of the return spring through the hole in it and the shoe, put the eyelet of the cable in place, then get the long end in place without something slipping off (the barrel of the adjuster cable end may rub on the return spring, but orientation of the bottom end is more important IMO).
- to get the cable end spring onto the adjusting lever it may be somewhat easier to keep the cable off of the guide hook the spring into the lever, then pry the cable over the guide with two screwdrivers (when installing the top shoe spring make sure the cable is above it). Or undo the spring on the lever, hook the end on it, and restore the spring on the lever. All the while ensuring the
- the horizontal bar with an oval spring on one end keeps slipping out of position.
(the small end of the spring goes on the shoulder of the narrow end, which slots over the shoe without parking brake lever behind it, the wide end slot goes over both the parking brake lever and the shoe.

Brake lines
- Strategy: Replacing the ouboard brake lines and flex hoses may be a good idea, as I expect is easier to put a new end on the body tubing plus with the ouboard line loose it should be somewhat easier to thread the end fitting into the cylinder.
- Making a new end flare is difficult, requiring high quality tools, probably better to replace the line with a new one, which requires complex subtle bending.
- You want to be able to jack the vehicle high to either get under the back of it, after removing spare tire, or maximize head space in wheelwell, to see the fitting to cylinder joint.
- To replace the end fitting, or to grab line with Vice-Grips to prevent turning when you turn the end fitting (squeezing the end fitting some), you'll have to unwind the protective wire quite a ways to accommodate width of tools (then cut it off).
- Bending a new generic brake line is awkward in areas with sublte bends, some in both directions. Sometimes I use slip-joint pliers, especially to grip a short section. The wire wrap complicates life as it wants to rotate, I push it to the cylinder end of the line. Once you get it bent past the sloping section of the axle beam where the clip holds it, I'd put the cylinder end fitting in but not tight, then work on the inboard end, using the sloping section as a vertical reference point. The generic line will have excess lengith, I loop the inboard end up, keeping in mind the line goes into the socket from an angle below.
- The clip is too narrow for armoured line even though that's what Chrysler used originally, trying to make it fit somewhat better I had best success grabbing it in place with slip-joint pliers across the tube and free end of clip then squeezing and rotating.


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