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  1. #1
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Minneapolis area

    Default Brake job photo essay: Rear brakes, 2004 Burb 2500 8.1, full floating Dana rear axle

    Yesterday it was time for new tires and alignment and so I took the 'burb over to the Chrysler stealership (yeah, I know, as they say on facebook, "It's complicated") for a set of Michelin LTX Winters and a new spare tire. Cost more than the asking price for most Ford Escorts on craigslist but what do you do. Anyway they offered a free 14-point inspection and I like free. They found that the rear brakes were shot. One of the pads was dragging and everything else pretty much went to hell from there. They quoted me $350 for pads and rotors.

    Now, truck clubbers, I hope you all do your own brake work. Brake work is some of the most profitable work that comes in the door of your typical repair shop, be it an independent or the stealership. They get to mark up the parts, charge their standard shop rate for labor, and have the almost-new mechanic do it, you know, the one who's just smart enough and experienced enough to move out of the oil change bay.

    But the real problem is that no shop likes to raise their estimate once they start on a repair. They know it pisses off the customer, and it also means that they've got the truck up on the hoist while they're fiddling around getting your authorization and waiting for the parts runner to show up, so they won't do it if they can help it. So if you really need calipers and hoses, or parking brake parts, they will never tell you, unless you have an exceptional shop and have built a relationship of trust with them.

    So if you work on your truck at all, do brake work.

    Anyway we'll start with some identification. These photos are representative of the 2001-2006 burbs and pickups that have either the 8.1 or (for pickups) the diesel. The General decided you need the Dana full-floating rear axle if you have either of these powerplants, and The General gave you a GM rear axle otherwise. The General knows best. I guess.

    Seeing as how this is the full floating rear, the axle tube extends out past the wheel, and there are bearings between that and the hub, and then the drive flange for the half shaft outboard of all that:

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    So there's something inside the plasticky center cap, unlike most pickups where it's just there for looks.

    - - - Updated - - -

    You can see the filiform corrosion on the wheel. This is Minnesota, we have road salt, and those are my winter rims. Here we have the brake and hub assembly with the wheel removed:

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    Then I removed the caliper and pad assembly. It comes off with two bolts. Now, it's hard to tell for sure why the pad was dragging, but in my experience chances are pretty good, in Minnesota (we have road salt, remember), that a caliper that's been on the car for 5+ years is going to stick and wreck another set of pads even if you clean it up and put some silicone grease on it and everything. It usually takes 6 months but we want the brakes to last longer than that.

    I'm getting all my brake parts at the local NAPA because they have most of them in stock, and with the core charge on the calipers and everything Rock Auto isn't any cheaper. Rock Auto has some fantastic deals but on the other hand fast-moving parts like these, that are heavy enough for the shipping to add up, are sometimes cheaper overall at the local parts place.

    I figure hoses have a 10-year useful life and since this is an 8-year old truck it's time for them to be replaced too as long as we have the system open.

    Then the drum/rotor pulls off. I used an air hammer to knock the rotor loose -- it's the easiest way and least likely to damage the bearings.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now here's the skinny on the parking brake. The front half of the lining is gone (we're on the right side of the truck):

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    The screwdriver in the photo is engaged with the star adjuster for the parking brake. These are manually adjusting brakes and so there's just the spring friction to keep the adjuster from turning. Access is poor through the backing plate and axle casting but of course it's easy enough to get to once you have the rotor/drum off. Here's another view:

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    The drum shows uneven wear although the rotor portion would probably be salvageable if I wanted to have it turned:

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    A couple of times I've had rear rotor/drums like these turned and it's expensive if they do both the rotor and the drum, so ordinarily it works out best to just get new ones.

    I'm off to the NAPA for parts now.
    Minneapolis area - 1997 K2500 regular cab long bed + 8.5' Western Unimount plow + modified transmission + 2nd battery + modified camper charge circuit + 1971 Cayo camper -and- 2004 4x4 Suburban 2500 8.1 + Maxbrake controller + 2nd battery + modified trailer charge circuit + Reese receiver, pulls 30' Airstream trailer

  2. #2


    I plan on posting the same thing with the 1500 rear breaks. They are basically the same other than the parking brake. I have all the pictures, I just have not gotten around to doing it.

    1995 Silverado 4x4
    6" BDS Suspension Lift-3" Body Lift-Add A Leaf in rear -Trailmaster SSV Shocks-Duel Steering Stabilizer Kit -AirAid Cold air intake-
    4.56 Gears with Detroit Auburn Locker-Pro-Comp Traction Bars with duel shocks-Aluminum Skid Plate Kit-38.5" x 16.5" Mickey Thompson Baja Claws-Constant Dropping fuel gauge

    2005 Yukon XL Jet Power Programmer, Bilstein Shocks, Bilstein rear springs, Helwig Anti-sway bars, EGR Window Visors, EGR Hood Shield, Denali Headlights, Headlight harness upgrade, GE NightHawk Bulbs, White Night Rear lighting system, Russell Braided SS brake lines, PowerStop Brake pads, PowerStop cross drilled and Slotted Rotors,
    2002 Silverado ext cab 2wd (Sold)
    2003 Yukon XL (Totaled)

  3. #3
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Minneapolis area


    With a full-floating rear you have to remove the wheel hub to replace the shoes, so I'm waiting for a spindle nut wrench to show up at the NAPA.

  4. #4
    Sr. Engineer
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Western Maryland/Wyoming


    Nice writeup. I have an 04 Yukon XL with 8.1. I haven't looked at my rears in a long time. It might be a good time to take a look.

  5. #5
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Minneapolis area


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Back from the NAPA with a lighter wallet and a pile of parts.

    I realize that this is a little basic for you old schoolers but there may be a few people here who haven't taken apart a full-floating axle, since they have all but disappeared from 3/4 ton trucks in the last 20 years. They're easy enough to work on, and the parts are cheap, but you need a special spindle nut wrench.

    The first step is to unbolt the drive flange and pull the half shaft out. The hub is lubricated by oil that splashes in from the differential case and so some of it will drain out when the flange is pulled.

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    Once it's set aside there's a little lock ring and key that you pull out, then the spindle nut comes off with the special wrench. In a pinch you can remove them with a screwdriver but it's hard to get enough torque on them to seat the bearing upon reassembly that way.

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    Then the hub pulls straight off. I had to tap a little with a 2 pound hammer because the seal stuck a little bit. Now the brake assembly is accessible for service:

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    I got new shoes and a hardware kit so everything except the little actuating lever gets replaced with new. It took some JB-80 and some fiddling to get the lever to free up -- it was rusted in position. I put some lithium grease (included with the hardware kit) on the actuating lever and also on the adjuster bolt. Here's everything installed on the backing plate and cleaned up for reassembly:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    After I took the photo I did find that I had to move the spring clips a little to provide clearance for the hub.

    The oil seal came apart during disassembly and had to be replaced. It's a fancy two-piece seal, $25 a side. Although you're supposed to use a special tool to drive it into the hub, I was able to make do with some pieces of scrap I had sitting around the shop.

    I reassembled the wheel, installed new calipers, bled the brakes, topped off the rear axle fluid, and am driving the 'burb today. There are a couple of loose ends. The parking brake adjuster is seized up and some previous owner had cranked it way down to compensate for the missing lining, and so I can't put the cables back together until I replace it. Since someone on the forum asked about parking brake adjusters I'll post a photo when I get the new parts. Another loose end is that I only did the parking brake on the right side. The left side one looked OK and it was getting late, but I'll take care of it another day. The jury is still out on the other parking brake cables. I have replacements on hand but may return them because they still look OK, and unlike the 1993-1999 trucks you can replace them without taking the wheel apart.

    I replaced the caliper hoses but still need to replace the center hose between the rear axle and the frame.

    All together this cost a little more than the $350 the shop quoted me. But I'll have a parking brake that works, and after taking it off and looking at it I'm convinced that one of the calipers was sticking, so this brake job should last quite a bit longer than it would have if I'd taken the shop's advice and just replaced pads and rotors. And the new hoses are a safety thing, in my opinion, that were due for replacement.

  6. #6


    I've got an 03 1500 with disc brakes in the back...they are the easiet brakes I've ever changed. pads are cheap, calipers are cheap, and it takes no time at all to do the brakes on the burb. I'm glad I paid attention when dad taught me how to do it years ago. I cringe when I hear somebody say it cost the 300+ to get a brake job done. thanks for the write up and the advice
    89 chevy stepside off road
    03 suburban Z71
    03 Yukon SLT

  7. #7


    Are you sure that's not a GM 14-bolt? As far as I know, GM hasn't used a Dana rear axle (or front axle for that matter) in at least 30 years. They usually use the full-float GM 14-bolt axle in 3/4 and 1 ton applications.

    1991 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton 2WD w/ chevy SBC 350-3/4 ton drivetrain upgrade w/4.10 gears 200K miles
    2005 Saturn ION-2 Stock 277K miles
    1982 Bronco, 1993 Bronco (sold), 1971 M35A2 Deuce and a Half

    There are 10 kinds of people, those who understand binary, and those who dont...

    Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down- Adam Savage

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Crawdaddy View Post
    Are you sure that's not a GM 14-bolt? As far as I know, GM hasn't used a Dana rear axle (or front axle for that matter) in at least 30 years. They usually use the full-float GM 14-bolt axle in 3/4 and 1 ton applications.
    Crawdaddy, you are correct. That is a 10.5" Corporate 14 bolt rear not a Dana.

  9. #9


    Just picked up a new to me 2003 GMC Yukon XL. I have all the receipts of repairs that the previous owner had done at the dealership...its amazing how much money you can spend getting a vehicle repaired...only to sell it a little while later to a guy like me

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