Replacing Disc Brake Pads
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 28, 2010)
Since over 80 percent of modern vehicles have disc brakes, it only makes sense that you should learn how to replace disc brake pads. When eight out of every ten cars have the same style of brakes, then the chances are really good you are driving one of those vehicles. Unless you want to go on spending an arm and a leg in repair bills every time you need any basic brake work done, you are going to need to learn how to replace them your self. Begin by gathering the following list of tools and materials.
Materials and tools:
- Brake pads
- Lug wrench or tire iron
- C clamp
- Bungee cord
- Jack stands
- Allen wrenches
- Adjustable wrench
- Prepare. You need to make sure that you have completely gathered the tools and materials that you are going to need. Believe me, it does absolutely no good to begin a project like this when you don't have everything that you are going to need. All of the materials that you are going to need can be obtained at any local hardware and automotive parts store. Simply tell your clerk what you are going to be doing, and they can help you out. As always, when you begin any automotive repair job you need to prepare the area you are going to be working in. Make sure you are working in an area that is level, and not on grass or dirt as the ground is more likely to shift.
- Tires. The first real step you are going to take is to remove the tires from where your disc brakes are at. In order to properly do this, you are going to need to break, or loosen, the lug nuts on the tires prior to raising the car. Once you have loosened the lug nuts go ahead and begin raising the car. Once you raise one side of the car, place a jack stand in the appropriate location and lower the car again. Repeat the process on the other side. After you have raised the car onto the jack stands, go ahead and remove the tires.
- Calipers. Once you have the wheels removed, the next step is to remove the calipers. On most cars, the calipers bolts are located at the top of the brake assembly. Depending on what type of car you have, you are going to be faced with either a hex or Allen bolt. This is where you are going to want to use the appropriate tool to loosen. In the event that the bolt does not loosen immediately, try tapping it a few times. Tap though, do not hit too hard, as you could damage something. Once you have loosened the calipers enough, you should be able to remove them from the disc in front of you. If possible, hang the calipers from something other than the brake line, as this could cause damage to them. In the event that nothing presents itself, use your bungee cord to hang them from.
- Brake pads. Before going any further, take some time to look at how everything looks right now. This is pretty much the same way that you want things to be when you are finished. Now, with the calipers removed, you should be able to remove the brake pads easily enough. Sometimes a few light taps are required for the more stubborn ones, but it should be fairly easy to remove. Once you have removed the old brake pads, go ahead and replace them with the new ones. Be sure that you put all the metal clips back into place that may have been removed.
- Brake piston. After you have changed out the brake pads, and put them back onto the disc, it is time to compress the brake piston. This ensures that you are able to reassemble everything, as well as remove all the air bubbles that have seeped into the brake lines. To do this, simply take your c-clamp and open it all the way, after which you are going to screw it closed again, but with the ends around back end of the piston and assembly. Screw the c-clamp closed until you are able to replace the caliper assembly to where it belongs.
- Reassembly. Finally, once you have placed the caliper assembly where it belongs, you need to go a head and reassemble everything. Basically, this means that you do everything backwards that you did before. Remove the c-clamp, replace the caliper bolts, the tire and lower the car. You are now finished, congratulations!