Integra -> CRX brake swap howto
If you’re still asking yourself why to upgrade your brakes, you can roll right on past this article. I upgraded mine simply because I had the brakes lying around and needed to change out my rotors. The upgrade cost me less than fixing the stock brakes. The rear CRX Si disk brakes from 90–91 are the exact same as the Integra brakes, so you can leave them be unless you’re doing a rear-disk conversion anyway. That’s beyond the scope of this article, so we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty on swapping the front brake system. This article is pretty long, though, so sit back with some coffee, a Monster Khaos, or a Guinness and enjoy the ride.
This particular writeup does change your front camber, but if your car is lowered, it reigns it in to be closer to zero degrees. Undertake this at your own risk, I accept no responsibility for any stupidity that ensues because of following anything that is recommended, including (but not limited to) pinched fingers and cuts and scrapes from sharp bolts, all the way up to more severe injuries like bruised egos. Proceed at your own risk and always put safety first!
- Stainless braided or kevlar brake lines (increase braking response)
- 90–93 Integra Master Cylinder (this increases the brake response, but ends up feeling too twitchy for my tastes.)
- Loud angry music
- Camera to take pictures of your handiwork
Step 1: Prep Work
Once you have your parts assembled, you’ll have to remove your old calipers, rotors, and knuckles to fit the new ones on. Break the 8 lug nuts on both front wheels (use a tire iron to loosen them a few degrees, so they aren’t stuck when you get the car jacked up). Jack the front end of the car up, and use at least two jackstands under the subframe to hold it up (the subframe is under the engine).
Once you’re up on jack stands, push the car around a bit. Kick the tires, push on the fenders and the bumper, be 100% confident that it’s not going to slip and fall off of them. You’re going to be wrenching pretty hard under there and don’t want to get hurt. Put the jack up underneath the center of the subframe (you’re going to spend most of your time underneath the suspension) and jack it all the way up, just in case one of the jack stands does slip.
Now you can finally remove one wheel. Again, in the interest of safety and planning for the worst, only one wheel should be off at once when you’re up on jackstands. If a jackstand does slip, that’ll at least hold the car up on one side. On the side you remove the tire on, slide the tire on its side under the rocker panels (where the door is) so in a worst-case scenario the full weight isn’t coming down on you.
First we’ll take off the rotor. You’ll need some strong string handy to tie the caliper up, or something tall to place it on. There’s no reason to destroy your lines or old calipers when you can keep them in good condition and sell them or save them as seconds. Do this by removing the two retaining bolts on the inside (toward the middle of the car) of the caliper. If my memory serves me correctly, they are both 14mm, one toward the top of the caliper, the other toward the bottom. Once it’s off, it should slide off the rotor cleanly. If not, tap it lightly with a hammer, pushing it away from the rotor. Toss your old pads which are still inside the calipers, they’re rarely worth keeping.
Next, you’ll have to remove the axle nut from the side you’re working on. It should be a 32mm brass nut in the center of the rotor. As long as it was installed correctly, there will be a notch in it to keep it from wriggling loose. You’ll want to take a flat-head screwdriver and pry that notch back out so it’s out of the way. Remove the nut altogether and you may be able to pull the axle out of the knuckle altogether. That’s bad, so please don’t. We’ll get to why in a few paragraphs.
Once the axle nut is off, you’ll want to pull the knuckle, starting with the wishbone. Jadkar wrote up a GREAT howto on how to remove the LCA nut. Remove the tie-rod castle nut connecting the tie-rod to the knuckle (if anybody has a picture of this I can use, please let me know!) and the upper control arm bolt. After this, the knuckle should slide out nicely (if the tie rod gets stuck in the knuckle, wedge something between them, do not hammer on the tie rod).
When removing your axles, take care to push rather than pull. Let me explain a little better. Think of your axles as being like a pair of arms. If you were to rip someone else’s arms off at the shoulder, if you were to grab them by the fingertips and yank as hard as you could, you’d probably pull off some fingers or rip apart their elbow. Instead, you should grab nice and close to the shoulder and yank from there. That way it all comes off at once and you don’t break anything important. Push from the center of the car, never pull from the outside of the car. Your axles should slide out nicely. Check the rubber boots for tears while you have them exposed, and if they’re ripped I suggest replacing the entire axle.
Brake Line removal
If you’re taking my advice whole-heartedly like this article expects, you’re also upgrading to stainless steel lines. To remove your brake lines, it’s a simple process of removing the banjo bolt on the caliper, and another on the top of the fender wall (Have a container handy for the fluid that comes out, and try not to get too much fluid on you: it’s corrosive and will eat your arm as happily as it eats your car’s paint). The old line should come out easily, and after you clean out the fender wall a bit, you’re good to start installing components!
Step 2: Installation
After you finally have the side you’re working on disassembled (one side at a time, remember), you’re ready to start re-assembly. For the most part, reassembly is the same as disassembly, except that you’re using Integra knuckles, rotors, and calipers, and you’re swapping in your shiny new stainless steel brake lines (for better brake response and less maintenance required). Be sure to bleed your lines when you’re finished with reassembly, and make sure the lug nuts are torqued down nicely. If I’ve left anything out or you’d like to submit some pictures, please leave a comment below.