Honda Accord's WEAK BRAKES

If you have own or have ever owned a Honda Accord for some time, surely you know how weak the brakes are.
Not only are they not very powerful (very difficult to get the brakes to the
point of lock-up), but the front rotors have to be replaced often as compared to most cars.
MY QUESTION IS: Does anyone know of any aftermarket brakes that are better than the weak stock brakes for a 1987 ACCORD LX-i (besides from Midas or Meineke)? Perhaps even a high performance brake kit upgrade?
Thanks in advance.
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DW wrote:

    I just replaced the brake pads for the second time (no cost for parts,lifetime pads from Parts America) on my Accord LX. I bought it new, and it just turned 226,000 miles. Rotors are original and still thicker than spec. Rear shoes are still fine.     I guess I'm just not as rough on the brakes as some people. bob
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Poorly maintained and out-of-adjustment brakes will feel "weak". I suspect this is your case. I have not encountered a car with brakes that were hard to "lock up" since my friend's old '74 Chev Nova with non-power drums all around.
What year is your car? How many miles? How often are the brakes serviced? Has the master cylinder ever been replaced?

This suggests you live in an area with snow or salt air, and you're not driving enough to burn the moisture off.

Proper maintenance will help a lot. If pads and/or pins are sticking, this will *dramatically* reduce braking performance.
Accords and some other later-model Hondas apparently have a problem with hoses that are a bit too flexible, leading to a softer feeling poedal on hot days. Aftermarket braided hoses intended for race use can supposedly eliminate this as a cause of a poor pedal.
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This reminds me of the review from Edmunds. They are complaining the Accord should have a more powerful brake...
To my experience, the brake is pretty powerful and sharp. But my 2005 Accord is only 500 miles, maybe it is still too early to comment on its performance...
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DW wrote:

2. recondition the front calipers. 3. make sure the system is bled thoroughly with fresh fluid.
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I too have a 1987 Accord (DX), and the brakes have always been the weakest part of the car. I bought the car new, and the original brakes failed at about 15K miles (mostly highway driving). The dealer replaced them for free. The brakes have *always* been weak since the day I bought it. In the 18+ years that I've owned it, I can say that the weak brakes was one contributing factor to a minor accident I had a few years back. I stepped on the brakes hard, but (as usual) the car slowed (gradually), but not commensurate with how hard I was stepping on the brake peddle. Trying to lock the wheels by braking at anytime during the last 18 years was/is merely a fantasy. I just isn't going to happen no matter what. Braking performance is the one thing I miss about my previous Toyota, as it would stop on a dime. If anyone finds a cure for this, please let me know, as I like everything else about my Accord (227k miles and still going strong....). Ken

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Ken, mine has 193K, and I likewise bought mine new back in '87. I don't know how many years this was a problem area for the Accord or other Honda/Acura models, but the brakes are definitely not up to par with the rest of the car. I even researched aftermarket brakes and had some put on (OEM size cross-drilled and slotted with GreenStuff pads) and they did work better but they still worn prematurely and the rotors needed to be replaced (apparently they couldn't be turned) only after about a year. Perhaps the premature wear on the front brakes may be due to the lack of help from the rear drums.
I do have to note however, that when the brakes have just been replaced you can get them to lock up for perhaps the first 100 miles or so, then back to the mediocre performance of norm. I guess one benefit to this is that you won't go into any uncontrollable skids. ;-)
One last thing I want to point out about Honda/Acura cars is that there is one additional weak point (besides the flimzy hood rod holder) on these cars, and that is the auto trans. Not a big problem, but expect to replace it in the 100k to 150k range. I can legitimately say this from the experience I've had with these cars over the years. I've owned an '87 Acura Integra (2nd gear clutch went out around 110k), an '88 Acura Legend (2nd gear clutch went out around 117k), an '88 Honda Accord Coupe (2nd gear clutch was going out around 115k), and my '87 Accord LX-i sedan (the tranny was having problems around 150k). I have had different makes before too but never experienced such consistant transmission problems like in the Honda products.
If you experience transmission problems in your Honda/Acura vehicle, especially in the late 1980's models, you will save money and a lot of time to just have the entire transmission replaced instead of having it rebuilt/repaired -costs about the same anyway (it was around $2,000! each time for me).

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Last Friday (at 227K miles) I just replaced the original clutch and original front struts, so I guess I was lucky not having an automatic transmission. Ken

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DW wrote:

really? my previous 89 civic auto was at 260k, original transmission. my friends 88 accord auto was at 360k, original transmission. my current 89 civic auto is 125k, strong as an ox. other friends have an accord with 280k, auto, original transmission. just come to california and see the ancient hondas on the road.
seriously, i don't think honda [in this era] are guilty of "consistant transmission problems". post 2000, yes, prior? no.

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I've rarely had a problem locking up the brakes on any of my three '87 Accords... and that's with nice meaty 185/70R-13s.
More specifically, I've rarely had a problem locking up the front wheels...
Any time I've had the rear brakes done, the stopping power is fantastic... for a couple weeks. As the rear shoes get seated in, they tend to lose contact, and with the front brakes doing all the work, stopping power is indeed reduced.
The problem, I think, is that the auto-adjustment mechanism is very "dainty" and has to be put back together JUST right, or it doesn't work. If the adjusting tabs are bent even the smallest bit, it won't contact the step-tooth gear on the adjusting screw, and it doesn't take long at all before the rear brakes stop working properly.
Adjusting them manually will help for a while, until they wear down too far again. The trick is make sure the auto-adjuster is reassembled and working properly.
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Matt Ion wrote:

Best tip I ever heard for Honda drum brakes . . . Set the handbrake so it requires at least six clicks before lockup. Otherwise, (if you try to make it activate on two clicks like a VW) the auto- adjuster won't work correctly at all. The tip was in a Chilton's manual for CR-V / Odyssey.
I believed it and have been doing it that way since. Also, use the handbrake often, but every Honda owner knows that because it's in the owner's manual. Yeah, right :-)
'Curly'
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Wow, I've been messing this one up for a couple of years. I just checked my 1984-1995 Civic/CRX/del Sol Chilton's manual, and it says the same. Specifically, it says after installing brake shoes, adjust the parking brake. Then the last step of the parking brake adjustment directions says, "With the equalizer [adjusting nut] properly adjusted, the parking brake should be fully applied when the parking brake lever is pulled up 6-10 clicks."
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It depends on what you are prepared to do. Yes, the brakes are a bit small, not ventilated as I recall, and heat up quickly. Std sized cross drilled rotors are OK, but slotted rotors are for racing applications, make a lot of dust and wear out quickly. Both "solutions" are trying to make an inadequate system work more efficiently.
The solution is relatively simple: you need to use a bigger diameter ventilated disk and larger surface area pads.
A high performance brake kit upgrade is NOT the answer, and will cost more than an alternative solution using stock Honda parts.
There are bigger rotor kits that retain the original caliper. There may not be a kit for an 87 Accord, but these won't help, because you need a thicker ventilated disk and hence you have to change the calipers too.
Probably the simplest thing is to replace the rotors and calipers with ventilated rotors and calipers from a recent (say 98 +) Accord. There are some potential problems to handle
1) Recent Accords have a 4x114.3mm (4.50") stud pattern. I THINK your 87 has the same, but it might be 4x100mm, in which case you need recent Civic rotors and calipers.
2) While the 98+ rotors might fit on the 87 hub, you might need a small spacer underneath.
3) the replacement caliper bracket MAY just bolt up to your hub and fit the disk properly, but more likely you'll need an adapter bracket.
4) your current wheels should fit around the later model brakes. Make sure that you have new pads when assembling this arrangement, to ensure wheel clearance.
5) If the replacement calipers have the same or very similar piston diameter, you won't have to change your master cylinder to a larger diameter. Otherwise, the brake pedal will be very mushy even when bled correctly.
So, if you want to do this, you'll need a (performance) garage that has access to a machine shop (unless the parts just bolt on). You could start by going to your local wrecker and comparing various bits to see what fits what. Its not particularly difficult, but does take planning.
Have a look at www.pixcl.com/lancerproject.htm for details on big brake swaps on a Mitsubishi Lancer / Mirage. The same general process applies to Hondas.
Stewart DIBBS
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