Acura TL-S Brembo calipers upgrade for 8th generation Civic Si

First of all, ask yourself the question if you really need to do this swap/upgrade ...

If you are planning to race your car and in time to make your car faster but you can't really afford to spend $3000 - $4000 on an aftermarket kit, then this setup is for you.

However, if you are just doing it to look "baller", I would personally recommend you not to do it. Of course you can if you really want it, but why spend the time and money on something that you are not going to actually use at its full potential?
Your stock brakes are more than perfect to stop your car on the streets. If you want to have more feel to it, then a more aggressive brake pad will do the job just fine.
For an 8th generation Civic, another good upgrade that is completely bolt-on, will be the TSX brakes and rotors. The only modification you will need to do is to cut the dust shield so the new calipers can fit.

What do you need!?

  • A complete set of TL-S brake setup (calipers, brake pads, brake pad pins and spring clips)
  • TL-S or S2000 rotors
  • TL-S master cylinder (optional but highly recommended - especially if you plan to race the car)
  • 2 metric brake line adapters - 10mm "female tube" size and 12mm "male thread" (needed for the step-up between the Si brake line adapter and TL-S master cylinder thread).

    As a note, if your car is from US, you do NOT need these brake line adapters. The US version comes with 12mm thread from factory. I am located in Canada and that's why I am making reference to this!

  • Drill bits - unibit with 9/16 step and one normal bit for 9/16 (equivalent for 14mm)
  • Brake fluid - required for bleeding (have 3 bottles to be on the safe side)
  • New crush washers for the brake line that connects to the calipers (4 in total)
  • One extra person needed for the bleeding and lots and lots of patience :)

Swapping your front brakes to Acura TL-S Brembo calipers on a 8th generation Civic, requires a little bit of work ... and modification to your original wheel knuckles.
You need to enlarge the hole from your knuckles from 12mm to 14mm to fit the bolts that the new calipers are using. No, as far as I know, there is no magic around it by using a bracket or washers or whatever else.
You need to drill!

Also, you will not be able to use your stock disk brakes any longer.
When using this setup you have a choice of 2 disk brakes:

  • TL-S disk brakes

    For this, you will need a 6mm spacer behind the rotor in order to position it in the middle of the caliper ... and you will need to upgrade your studs to extended ones.
    So, that means that you have to remove the knuckles, take out the hub, replace the studs, replace the bearings (once you remove them they are pretty much done) and then put everything back together.

    OR ... if you feel brave ... you could just shave 6mm from the mounting points of the caliper and bring the caliper inside to match the TL-S rotor. Not sure how safe this is ... but it is an idea :)! If anyone of you does it, let me know please!

  • S2000 disk brakes

    For these you will not need any spacers behind; but because the disk brakes don't have the same height as the TL-S ones, your brake pads will stick above the disk brakes about 6mm. The down-fall of this is that in time, you might get some noise and is a good habit to trim your brake pads. No other modifications are needed :).
    You will be using the whole face of the rotor, so yes, you will have all the grip you need for the brakes to stop you properly.

Choose whatever you want, however be prepared for some extra work and more money to cough up if you want the TL-S disk brakes.

Another thing you might want to look at and invest in, are some good spacers. Depending on your wheels, you might need spacers to push the wheel outside so it can clear your new calipers.
I strongly recommend to not cheap out. Go ahead and get the expensive and good stuff :) - especially if you track your car. Also, make sure that the spacers are hub centric!

What about those holes!?

When drilling the holes, most of the people will recommend to remove the knuckles and take them to a professional shop to do it for you.
For those of you who will go ahead with the TL-S disk brakes, well, you might as well do that since you have to remove everything anyway :).

For those of you who will choose the S2000 disk brakes, you do not have to remove anything ... unless you are not 100% confident in drilling the holes. In that case, to make sure you do a good job (once you drill the holes there is no way back), then, by all means, do the extra work!

Drilling the holes all by yourself...

Personally I went with S2000 disk brakes and drilling the holes by myself.
Here is how ...

First things first, remove your old calipers, caliper brackets, brake pads and disk brakes.
If you are unsure how to, click here and follow the steps on removing everything.

Do not remove the brake line from the caliper just yet. Just place the caliper in a safe place without any tension on the brake line.
Do not forget to open your cap from the brake caliper fluid. Leave the cap on top so it protects the reservoir from any debris that might get in.

Once everything is removed measure your new calipers and using a dremel and a cutting bit, cut your dust shield so that the caliper can fit without touching it (see pictures for guide). Do a fitment test once you are done and make sure that the holes of the new caliper are matching the old ones on the center and that the calipers don't touch the dust shield anywhere.

Once you are done, grab your drill machine and your unibit (just to make sure I'm not running out of battery, I used a corded drill machine), place it in the center and use the steps to guide and center your bit inside the 12mm hole.
Take a deep breath (no turning back from here on) and very slowly with a steady hand and without pushing hard, start drilling in short bursts and stop drilling once the 9/16 step is almost all in.

IMPORTANT!!!

DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH - the unibit eats through metal very fast, so pay attention and drill slow!!!

Now that your guide for the 9/16 bit is done, remove your unibit, grab your normal 9/16 bit and again, slowly with a steady hand, drill trough all the way.

IMPORTANT!!!

If you go too slow and push too hard, the bit will get stuck and the drill machine will snap from your hand - trust me on that one :)!
Try to find a nice steady speed and be patient - take your time.

1 down and 3 to go. Repeat on all of them and once your are done, do another fitment test and this time tighten the calipers to make sure everything is aligned and there are no spaces between the knuckles and caliper.
Step back and be amazed :).

Moving the brake line.

An easy step ... but kind of messy :).
I strongly recommend the use of a bucket ... or something similar. Work above it if you do not want to have brake fluid all over the floor.

You will need to work pretty fast. Until you move the line from one caliper to another, the brake fluid will keep on dripping - keep one eye on the brake fluid reservoir and make sure it never goes under the low level line. If you plan to replace the master cylinder, then don't worry about it.
Remove the new calipers from the knuckles (if you did do the fitment test) and keep it close by. Try and cover it with a rag while you make the switch so you protect the paint from any possible brake fluid drops.

Hold your old caliper and notice the bolt that connects the brake line to the caliper.
Grab the appropriate wrench and above the bucket, remove the bolt. Put the old caliper into the bucket and clean the bolt with a clean rag.

Grab the new caliper and mount the bolt with the washers and cable arranged in the same way you removed it (washer, brake line, washer) and tighten it to the new caliper
Try and avoid spilling any brake fluid on it - especially if you have painted your calipers. Brake fluid will melt/damage your paint.
If you spilled some drops on the caliper, clean them as soon the bolt is tighten.
Repeat on the other side!

Changing the master cylinder

Now this is a step that might be a little bit difficult for some of you ... especially if you haven't upgraded to an aftermarket intake.
You need to remove the intake parts in order to create some space so you can work on replacing the master cylinder - I will not be covering this step.

The Si master cylinder has basically 2 reservoirs. The reservoir that you usually fill every time you bleed your brakes is the main one and its connected to a secondary, smaller reservoir that is mounted on the master cylinder trough a rubber tube.
You will need to remove both the reservoirs together with the master cylinder. You will also need to swap the reservoirs from one master cylinder to another.

Before un-mounting anything, try and empty the reservoirs or else it will be a real mess once you start to open stuff.
What I did was to remove first the main reservoir - it is hold onto place by 1 screw located on the right side. You also need to un-clip the power cord for the sensor. Once that is done, just slide the reservoir out and then just poor its content into a container.
After that, remove the brake lines from the master cylinder - you will spill some brake fluid so just add some rags under it.

The master cylinder is mounted on the brake booster using 2 nuts. Just remove them and simply slide the master cylinder out. Pay attention to the brake lines - you do not want to damage them. Also, make sure you do not lose the washers - you will need to reuse them.
Try and control as much as possible the brake fluid that will be spilling ... you do not want it to end up on the car (paint will be damaged).

Once the Si master cylinder is removed, just unbolt the only bolt that holds the second reservoir and pull it up - your reservoirs are free from your Si master cylinder and now they can be mounted on the new TL-S master cylinder.
Grab your TL-S master cylinder and remove the reservoir then mount the Si reservoirs on it.
Be careful during this step - you DO NOT want dirt to enter your new master cylinder. Clean the reservoirs BEFORE you mount them on the new master cylinder!

When installing a new master cylinder, some people recommend to "bench bleed" the master cylinder before installing it to make sure you don't have any air bubbles inside it.
From my experience, this is an unnecessary step. Based on the way the master cylinder is designed and the way it sits, there are very slim chances to have any air trapped when bleeding the brakes.

Install the metric brake line adapters on the TL-S master cylinder and then install it on the brake booster together with the reservoirs.
Slide back in the main reservoir, clip the cord for the sensor and tight it down with the screw.

Once the main reservoir is back in place and the TL-S master cylinder is tighten down, your main attention will be on the brake lines.
You will notice that you need to bend the brake lines in order to make them point to the new ports.
Don't be afraid to bend the lines. It takes a little bit of effort, but with patience it can be done without a problem.
The only thing that you need to pay attention to, it’s not to have any sharp corners on the lines. Make sure everything is nice and round and that it’s a smooth line that points up and there is no ups and downs where bubbles can be trapped.
Remember that bubbles travel up. Take your time and get it right!

After the brake lines are connected and tighten down properly (don't overdo it), pour very slowly brake fluid inside the main reservoir until the fluid reaches the "Fill" line.
Press the brake pedal a couple of times and add brake fluid if needed.
Double check and make sure everything is tighten down properly and that there is no leaking.

The last bit ...

The only thing left is to put everything together and bleed your brakes. Easy!!! :)

In this order, start with your 6mm spacer (if you have the TL-S brake disks), disk brakes, caliper, brake pads, brake pad pins and the spring clip that pushes apart the brake pads, any additional spacers needed to clear the caliper and ... the wheel :).
When installing the brake pad pins and the spring clip, start by installing first one pin, then the spring clip and while pushing down on the other side of the clip, slide in the second pin.
Slightly tap the ends of the pins and make sure they are securely in.

Now, onto the bleeding!
Remember that you have done A LOT of changes to your brake system and you DO have A LOT of air into the system. Now is time to bleed your brakes and this is a must ... is not an option :).
If you do not know how, click here for the steps!
Make sure no bubbles are coming out and the fluid is clean.

Don't forget to put your intake system back once you are done :p.

I also recommend that after 2 days to remove the wheel and double check everything ... and do another bleeding of the brakes. Just as a test and make sure no more bubbles are present.
Don't be lazy - brakes is the last thing you want to overlook!

Disclaimer!
I am NOT a professional mechanic. Everything I do I gathered from my experience and from other car enthusiasts.
While what I advise and recommend is one way of doing things, please understand that you take your own chances following my DIYs and I cannot be held responsible if you damage your car or hurt yourself by not following the "proper procedures".