Not my picture, but it could have been.

I took a break from flood cleanup to help a friend replace brakes on his son’s Durango. He was having trouble getting the piston to retract, so he phoned a friend. The problem was clear. The gasket around the piston was torn and everything was filthy. The piston wouldn’t retract, probably because of brake dust, dirt, rust, etc. between the piston and caliper. The solution was a new caliper.

So, we ran to the parts supply and bought a couple of new calipers. When replacing one, it’s smart to replace both. I didn’t realize that new calipers don’t come with new banjo bolts, but we saved the old ones anyway, so it wasn’t a problem. What are banjo bolts? Special little bolts that attach the brake line to the caliper. They are drilled so that brake fluid can flow through the bolt into the caliper.

To prevent leaks in such a critical component that sees high temperatures and high pressures, the brake line/caliper connection is sealed with a couple of copper one-time-use crush washers instead of wimpy little rubber o-rings. These should be replaced every time the banjo bolt is removed.

Removing them is fairly straightforward. Putting them back on can be tricky without a torque wrench. As the banjo bolt is tightened, the washers crush, so you expect the system to give a little. The trick is knowing when to stop. Unfortunately, my manliness got the best of me and I didn’t stop soon enough.

Not my picture, but it could have been.

Sourcing these little bastards is nigh impossible. The closest parts store didn’t have them. The other parts stores didn’t have them. The Dodge dealership parts department was closed. It took a trip into the city to the parts store central warehouse to get a couple of bolts, an hour on the forums to figure out the correct part number when the newly-acquired bolts didn’t fit, and another trip into the city to get the right part.

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Those trips into the city were the stuff of nightmares. Since the floods, Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas have been like a fire ant mound kicked by a willful child. Everyone seems to be going everywhere, so getting anywhere takes lots of extra time and an extraordinary amount of patience.

Fortunately, I missed everything after I broke the bolt. My friend decided he could handle it from there and sent me back to work on his in-laws flooded house. Punishment accepted.