How to Replace Your Brake Pads

If your car is equipped with a metal clip, use your flathead to pry it off. You can also use a pair of pliers to remove it. Just pry one side of it, and then remove it.

How to Replace Your Brake Pads

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The brake pads are the hardest working components in your car; after all they do sacrifice themselves for you. The brake system is a pressurized system. When you step on the brake pedal, the pressure pushes the brake fluid through the brake lines, and then the fluid forces the brake calipers’ pistons to clamp down, causing the brake pads to rub on the brake rotors. The friction created by the pads and the rotors is what stops your car. Unfortunately, with such a difficult job, the brake pads don’t live forever. The average life for brake pads can vary from one driver to another. If you are heavy-footed on the brake pedal, then you might get 25,000 miles on the brake pads; however, if you take your time to stop and you are gentle with the pedal, it could last you up to 60,000 miles. Of course if you like to take your car on track then expect it to last no more than 25,000 miles, maybe even less. The guessing game is fun but there are other ways to tell if your pads need replacement. The rule is whenever you start hearing squealing noise when you step on the brakes then you may be in the market for new pads. Get comfortable with removing your wheel and checking the thickness on your brake pads. The minimum legal thickness for brake pads is one millimeter, so if your pads are near that then you should replace them. When you are purchasing new brake pads, think of your braking needs. There are different brake pads for different purposes. So if you like to use your car on the track, consider getting performance and track brake pads, if you hate brake dust, consider getting dust-free pads, and if you like completely silent pads, there is that as well. Learn what is important specifically for you, and then research the popular brands that make them. Most brake pad replacement procedures are the same; you just may need different socket sizes for the bolts. You should always replace the front brake pads together, the rear ones together, or all four together; don’t replace only one side. Read on to learn how to replace your brake pads.

Tools Required:

Jack
Jack stands
Tire iron
Socket set
Flathead screwdriver
C-clamp
New pads

Step 1 – Remove tire

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel you will be working behind, and then raise the car. Most cars’ jack points are behind the front wheels if you are jacking up the front, and in front of the rear wheels if you are jacking up the rear.
You should never work on a jacked up car without having at least two jack stands, so secure the car with jack stands. Remove the lug nuts and remove the wheel you are working behind.

Step 2 – Remove brake pads clip

If your car is equipped with a metal clip, use your flathead to pry it off. You can also use a pair of pliers to remove it. Just pry one side of it, and then remove it.

Step 3 – Remove brake caliper

The brake caliper is held in place by two bolts located on the rear. Use your socket to remove the top bolt, and then you can just loosen the bottom bolt. Pull the brake caliper straight up off the rotor, then place it somewhere safe.
Don’t let the brake caliper hang from the brake line; it could get damaged.

Step 4 – Replace brake pads

When you remove the brake caliper off the brake rotor, the brake pads will stay on the rotor held in place by a bracket. Simply pull the brake pads off the bracket, and then install the new pads in place, the same way the old ones were sitting.

Step 5 – Install the caliper

Now that you’ve replaced the old, thin pads with new, thick ones, the brake caliper’s piston will need to be compressed to fit on top of the thicker pads. Use your c-clamp and place it onto the caliper’s piston, then clamp it down until the piston goes back inside, making enough room to fit on top of the thicker pads. Place the caliper on top of the rotor and pads, and then tighten the bolts in the rear to secure it in place.
Don’t forget to install the clip from the outside back on. You just need to align one side, then compress it like a spring to fit it back on place, the same way you removed it.

Step 6 – Install wheel and lower car

Align the wheel in place, and then hand-tighten the lug nuts. Raise the car just enough to clear the jack stands, and then remove the jack stands. Lower the car to the ground, and finally tighten the lug nuts using your tire iron.

Pro Tip

The new pads could be a little noisy in the beginning. Be gentle with the brake pedal until the new pads break in.

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