Help! 1999 A4 rear brake problem, smoking!

I recently replaced the rear pads on a 1999 2.8Q A4. Everything seemed to go well with the pad replacement, minus the horrible piston return design requiring a special tool. I merely pulled 2 bolts, pulled the
caliper off enough to remove the pads, returned the piston to it's fully inward position, replaced the pads, and bolted everything back up.
I took the time to bed the brakes last night, then today after ~15 miles worth of highway driving, when coming to a stop, the rear pads were smoking horribly on both sides. I pulled over to inspect it further and smoke was just billowing out. The rotors seem okay.. I didn't notice them adonized/glowing from heat, nor vibrating (warping).
Thing is -- if in neutral, the car is easy to push. If on a very-very slight decline, it'll roll in neutral. I jacked up the rear on the diff and both wheels feel like a slight drag may be present.. but it's hard to tell due to quattro drag (couldn't put the car in neutral with rear wheels up for fear of rolling forward).
Any suggestions would be _greatly_ appreciated. I'm at a loss here. I've done rear pads on a multitude of vehicles and have never seen this, nor do I know what I would do differently if I disassembled everything again. Is it possible that the parking brake was adjusted at some point to compensate for pad wear and I need to readjust it again? If so, how is that accomplished in the A4?
Thanks!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Sounds as if you did not use the special tool to retract the pistons, rotating them at the same time.
Get the tool and do the job according to correct procedure. This will eliminate the brake overheating problem.
Also do a search on this NG to see related mails, including one from me this past month on how to handle the extra brake fluid. This topic, on replacing rear pads, has been covered many many times.
If you're unsure on how to handle this design of brake, then take the car to a good mechanic who has the prerequisite knowledge.
Strange that you say this design of brake is "horrible". It's actually an excellent way of ensuring that the slack in the handbrake, due to wear on rear pads, is taken up. But of course one has to screw the pistons back in when putting a fresh set of pads. What would you expect?
/Robert
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Robert wrote:

I was right with you up until you decided to defend this caliper design. While I prefer the term 'idiotic' to 'horrible', it's certainly not in the same universe as 'good'. A 'good' design doesn't use the pads for the handbrake. A 'good' design won't allow the handbrake to loosen and effectively release as the disk cools. A 'good' design won't contribute to warping the rotors if applied when the brakes are hot. A 'good' design doesn't require a special tool to screw in the piston. A 'good' design doesn't require guessing whether you've got it properly adjusted for braking and for handbraking.
These are all reasons I prefer the 'good' design of my old BMW's rear brakes (whose last adjustment I do not remember) and why I let Jaguar 'rape' me to install the rear pads on my X-Type, which shares this 'idiotic' design. -- C.R. Krieger (Been there; hate them)
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And adding to the list, a design that despite being introduced back in the 70's, they still don't seem to have totally cured the seizing handbrake problem that they suffer from, although at least coming up with turning the caliper upside down made it more reliable.
Speaking of which must look at which way round the calipers are on the 80, I got through a few calipers before I found out about mk3 calipers on the mk2 Golf, don't want to go through all that (and the associated expense) on the 80.
Why oh why can't they use the drum inside a disc solution, I know its a few quid more to build, but saves a fortune in the long run, and you get both worlds, all round discs, and a working drum handbrake.
--
Jon B
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Jon B wrote:

Yes I can see the logic in both C.R.'s and Jon's postings. I may lack perspective on types of brake/handbrake combos available, since I have had experience of three only:
1. Saab 900 1983 - handbrake on front Girling brakes activating the pads. Design disaster allowing premature wear of yoke-piston interface, seizing handbrake etc.
2. Saab 9-3 1999 - handbrake on rear brakes activating a drum. The wear-compensating mechanism simply didn't compensate for wear, requiring continual manual adjustment. Only worked if you parked on the flat. Never never again will I have a car with such a design.
3. Audi A4 2001 (B5) - handbrake on rear (ATE?) brakes activating the pads. I've noticed no disk warping (though I now have warped fronts - cheap disks ...). Relatively easy to maintain; I'm happy with them. I now understand that others' experiences have not been so postive though.
/Robert
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Fronts was just asking for cooling and handbrake release issues, which is exactly what it often did on the Xantia. Saabs probably got round this via the fact they had to be parked in gear.

My mk3 Cavalier had that system (as saab is now GM yours was probably identical), but they shouldn't really get worn, unless you try driving with the handbrake on, or do a lot of handbrake turns. I know other cars have this system and it works well (and this is my favourite system), I know the Cavalier only really needed touching once a year, all covered under annual services.

Never suffered any warping on the rear of the mk2, despite totally smoking one of the rear discs more than once with seized calipers.
--
Jon B
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Robert wrote:

I'm with Jon in wondering how you manage to actually wear a brake like this. Properly adjusted, they work great, as on my BMW. -- C.R. Krieger (Been there; done that)
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C.R. Krieger wrote:

Good point both of you. My ex-partner used the car most of the time. Sometimes I wonder if she didn't drive with the handbrake on to compensate for the 283 Nm torque.
But seriously folks ... this is the only car of ours that we left for the Saab mechanics to work on as far as the brakes are concerned. They claimed that the return springs had failed, causing premature pad wear.
And my experience of Saab's mechanics is that they're not really good at adjusting things.
/Robert
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