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Car tips & advice | 06.05.2014 - 22:00

How to Replace Your Brake Pads In Six Easy Steps

If you're thinking of changing your brake pads for the first time, use this overview to get you started.

A procedure that every driver has to do eventually is brake pad replacement. It is a common maintenance. When you make sure that your pads do not get over worn ensures that your vehicle is going to stop efficiently when you press the brake. Replacing your pads can be very expensive. There are people who are a bit more mechanically inclined than others. They can replace their brake pads on their own. This can be accomplished in a few easy steps. Here are the tools and materials you are going to need:


  • Two good sized blocks of wood
  • A good set of tools
  • Old newspaper
  • A few clean rags
  • A stand to support the car
  • Sturdy car jack
  • Container of brake fluid
  • Flashlight
  • Latex or nitrile gloves (optional)
  • A large C clamp
  • New brake pads
  • Sturdy piece of wire (coat hanger)


1 Getting Prepared

You need to set the vehicle on a level surface. Set the brake. Put the blocks of wood behind and in front of one of the rear tires. You can do the same thing for the front. This is to ensure that the vehicle does not move. You should let the brakes cool if you have recently driven the car.


2 Loosen The Lugs And Jack Up The Vehicle

Loosen the lugs on the wheel you are working on. They should spin freely. Raise the wheel with the jack until the tire is not touching the ground. Lower the car onto the stand. You need to make sure you use the one of the frame contact points. They are identified in the owner's manual. There are other places on the car that are not designed to support weight. Those particular places could be damaged if you use them to support or lift the vehicle. You should make sure that the car is being supported in a stable manner once it is situated on the stand. Make sure there is plenty of space between the wheel and the ground.


3 Remove The Wheel

This should be a snap. Spin off the lugs the rest of the way. Pull the tire away from the vehicle carefully. If the tire spins while you are trying to loosen the nuts, recheck the parking brake or put the car in gear.


4 Remove The Caliper

The rotor or disc is the first thing you will notice when you remove the wheel. This is mounted directly behind the wheel. It is a shiny circular disc. The caliper is mounted over the disc. This houses the pads. Make sure the caliper and the rotor are cool before you touch them. There should be two bolts around the back of the caliper. It should be one on each end. Some brake calipers are mounted with special fasteners such as Torx head bolts. In this case, you will need a special tool to remove the caliper. The caliper can be pulled away from the disc. At this stage, it is essential not to put any pressure on the brake pedal at all. It could damage the system if there is pressure applied. This way, there will not be any pressure on the line. If you cannot get the caliper free of the rotor while replacing your pads on the back wheels, check to make sure the parking brake is not set. This will stop the caliper from being removed.


5 Remove And Replace Pads

You should pay attention to exactly how the pads are mounted and then remove them. The piston is the cup-shaped component found on the inboard side of the caliper. The C clamp is used to compress the piston back into the caliper. Put the new pads on and follow the instructions on the package.


6 Reassemble Components

Follow the steps in revers order to put everything back together. You need to make sure that you tighten the caliper bolts securely. Try not to over tighten the bolts. You can repeat the same steps for each tire.


Information credited to Island Muffler & Brake Shop, Mechanic Victoria, BC

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