Car Care 2013 Tip 12: Change Your Brake Pads


Changing your car’s brake pads requires careful planning and proper execution. This is because any mistake that you might commit will surely place you and the other car occupants in danger when the vehicle is driven on the road. However, being able to complete this task is very rewarding. This will provide you with peace of mind knowing that your car’s brakes would function well when needed. In order to accomplish the task well, try to read the following information and make sure to perform the processes involved in changing your car’s brake pads.

What you will need:

1. open end or adjustable wrench

2. c-clamp

3. Allen wrenches

4. lug wrench

5. small bungee cord

6. hammer

How to prepare:

Before changing your car’s brake pads, make sure that everything is ready right there when you need it as you go along. Be sure that the car is jacked up properly because safety is your number one concern. Break those lugs before jacking it up. It`s much easier and safer having the wheel right on ground level.

Car on jack stand for brake pad replacement. photo by Matt Wright, 2007

Try to avoid only using a single jack. This is because when the jack slips everything will surely go wrong. Look for something that you could use as the support for the jack particularly in handling the vehicle’s weight when the jack is up and accidentally slips.

After doing that, inspect the discs. In the event that these are worn badly, make sure to have these replaced.

Removing the Wheel

With the wheel off you can see the brake disc and brake caliper. Matt Wright

Now that you have broken the lugs when the car was sitting on the ground, it should be fairly easy to remove them. Removing them from the bottom up to the top is best. That way the wheel is kept in one place as you go. Look up “stuck wheel” if you can’t get the wheel off after this.

Unbolting the Caliper

Remove the two bolts which hold the brake caliper. Matt Wright

Next you need to get on removing the brake caliper and this will let the pads slide right out the top. You can see this caliper at the 12 o’clock hand position right above your lug bolts on top of the brake disc.

Find that bolt on both sides of the caliper back and remove them and put them aside. Hold that caliper away from the top and pull it upward. Wriggle gently to loosen it. Give a few gentle taps if it’s being stubborn. Pull it on up but slightly away making sure that you don’t put too much pressure on your brake line which is the hose still connected.

If you can see a spot to set the caliper back in, do so. If you can’t then take that bungee cord and use it to hang up the caliper for a few minutes out of your way. Don’t hang it by your brake line because you will cause your brakes to fail.

Removing the Old Pads

The old brake pads will slide right out. photo by Matt Wright, 2007

Before pulling out those old tired brake pads, notice how everything has been installed in there. Notice if there are some small metal clips that surround the pads and how they are situated so that you can put everything back in the right place. A good idea is to actually take a picture with a digital camera. No room for mistakes that way!

Now that your caliper is out of your way, you should be able to slide those pads in real easy. But if your car isn’t new, they might need a little coaxing, a tap or two to loosen up. Put those clips where you can get at them in a minute. Place new pads in slots with the clips that you took off.

Compressing Your Brake Piston

Slowly compress the brake piston. photo by Matt Wright, 2007

During brake pad wear and tear, the caliper will adjust allowing strong brakes. Look at that round piston that’s inside the caliper. This thing pushes from the back on your brake pads. This will adjust itself to worn out and no good brake pads as well. It’s hard trying to get the thing over any new pads because it causes a high level of damage. You are actually pushing that piston back at its starting point, rather than ruining those new pads.

Take that c-clamp and put the end that has the screw against your piston, having the other end clamped around the caliper structure.Tighten very slowly, that clamp as far as the piston having moved enough to be able to put your caliber over your new pads.

Time to Reinstall Your Brake Caliper

Your new brake pads are ready to stop! photo by Matt Wright, 2007

The compressed piston should enable you to put the caliper over your new pads. Now that it’s on, put the bolts back and tighten them up nice and snug.

Press your brake pedal several times to be sure that the pressure is good and solid. The first few pumps won’t feel right but will get stronger as you pump a bit more.

Slap the wheel back making sure everything is tightened up properly and re-check those lug bolts to make sure.

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