2003 Saturn Ion Change the Rear Brakes

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The Saturn Ion was manufactured by GM Motors from 2003 through 2007. It replaced the S-series Saturns, and was eventually replaced by the Saturn Astra. The Ion was available as a four-door sedan or a two-door coupe. It also features two different types of rear braking systems. While the rear disc brake were becoming more popular, the Ion was still available with rear drum brakes as well.

Tools Used[edit]

Car lift
Impact gun
Socket set
Hand wrench set
Ratchet and socket set
Caliper piston driver tool (with multiple adapters) or a spanner wrench
Mechanic's wire
Pry tool
Silicone brake lube
Emery cloth
Small wire brush
Denatured alcohol
Brake shoe pliers
Brake shoe spring tool
Straightedge screwdriver
Replacement pads or shoes
Adjustable foot-pounds torque wrench

Change the Rear Brakes[edit]

Rear Brake Pads

  • Suspend the rear axle on a lift or jack stands and then remove the rear wheels.
  • Remove the two caliper bolts using a hand wrench and set them aside. Use a pry tool to remove the caliper from the rotor, being careful not to pinch the caliper bolt boots and damaging them. Suspend the caliper to the chassis with mechanics wire so it does not hang from the brake hose.
  • Use the caliper piston driver tool or spanner wrench to turn the piston clockwise into the caliper bore. Do not use a C-clamp or channel locks. The rear calipers on the Ion have a screw-in bore. Find the suitable adapter for the driver tool or spanner wrench and turn the shaft of the tool with a ratchet and a socket until the slots of the piston are perpendicular to the replacement pads. Lift the edge of the rubber piston boot to release any trapped air and assure it collapses back into place below the piston face.
  • Remove the old pads from the caliper support. Remove the old pad clips from the support and clean them with a small wire brush and denatured alcohol. Clean the surface of the caliper support in the same manner. Spread a light layer of brake silicone lube to the caliper support beneath the clips. Replace the clips and then apply another layer of lube on the clips where the pad tabs sit. Install the new pads making sure the wear sensor indicator is on the outboard pad.
  • Make sure the piston slots are aligned properly to accept the pads.
  • Remove the mechanics wire from the caliper and place it over the pads and rotors.
  • Place a coating of brake lube on the non-threaded section of the caliper bolts and insert them into the caliper. Torque the bolts to 27 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.
  • Replace the wheel and torque the wheel nuts to 90 foot-pounds. Repeat the procedure for the other side.
  • Pump the foot brake several times to seat the pads to the rotors after the Ion has been lowered to the ground.

Rear Brake Shoes

  • Lift the Ion and remove the rear wheels. Remove the rear drums. Leave one side of the rear brakes intact at a time to reference their position. This will help after removing the shoes and then putting them back together.
  • Remove the lower return and adjuster springs using a pair of brake shoe pliers. Be careful not to damage them by over-extension if you plan to reuse them.
  • Press the head of the holding pin of the forward shoe using a finger. It is located on the backside of the backing plate. Use the brake shoe spring tool to compress the spring and then turn the cup to align with the slot of the holding pin. Decompress the spring to remove the spring, cup and holding pin.
  • Remove the adjuster star-wheel assembly by pulling the forward shoe towards the front of the Ion. If necessary, turn the star-wheel to shorten the adjuster length. Reposition the forward show towards the rear of the Ion and release tension on the upper return spring. Slightly twist the shoe to separate it from the spring.
  • Disengage the upper return spring from the rear parking brake shoe and then set it aside. Remove the hold-down spring and pin from the parking brake shoe as you did to the forward shoe in Step 3. Push the lever of the parking brake shoe into the cable spring to disengage the cable from the end lever and then remove the parking brake shoe along with the lever and cable spring. Spread the retaining clip of parking brake shoe with a straightedge screwdriver carefully and then remove the clip and the wave washer.
  • Disassemble the brake adjuster socket, screw and nut, then clean the components in denatured alcohol. Inspect the assembly, making sure the screw threads smoothly into the adjusting nut over the full threaded length.
  • Disassemble the brake adjuster assembly and clean them with denatured alcohol and a small wire brush. Apply a liberal coating of silicone brake lube to the treads and reassemble.
  • Clean the six shoe contact points on the backing plate with a piece of emery cloth and then lubricate the points with the silicone brake lube.
  • Reverse the procedure to reassembly the rear brakes, referring to the other side if necessary. Do not replace the drum onto the side you complete first so you can refer to it for the other side to reassemble.
  • Turn the star-wheel adjusters enough to allow the drums to fit snugly after both sides have been reassembled. Turn the drums on the hubs to ensure they do not travel one full revolution when spinning. If they do, turn the star-wheel adjuster out more and try it again.
  • Replace the rear wheels and wheel nuts and torque the nuts to 90 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.