Once you know your brakes need work you need to determine whether you want to change them yourself or have a mechanic do it for you. If you want to change your brake pads on your own, it is an excellent DIY project for mechanically inclined folks and those who enjoy tinkering with their vehicles.
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How to Change Brake Pads: Things You’ll Need
Just like any DIY project or home/auto improvement, you need to have some stuff on hand before you get to work. When it comes to replacing brake pads, you need the right tools and the right pads for your car.
Start by getting your hands on the owner’s manual. Here are the other things you’ll need:
- Brake tool – To adjust the brake caliper piston once the new brake pads are on, you’ll want this tool to make things easier.
- Replacement brake pads – You need the new brake pads you’re going to put on. When you go to the store to get them, they’ll pick them out per the make and model of your vehicle.
- Floor jack – You want to have a sturdy jack that is meant for more than just quickly changing your tire on the side of the road. It should be rated for the weight of your car (for safety).
- Jack stands – Jack stands add to your safety while working on your vehicle. It helps to hold the car up while you’re tugging and pulling at the brakes.
- Replacement rotors – You may find that your rotors need to be changed. There is a certain thickness they should be at, and if they don’t meet that minimum, it’s time to change them as well.
- Brake grease – Brake grease is used on your brake pads.
- Socket wrench – For removing the sockets on your tires.
- Tire iron – To help with tire removal.
- Instruction – While you’ll find basic instructions below, and most vehicles are the same when it comes to changing brake pads, you still want to make sure there are no differences. Having instructions for changing brake pads on your specific vehicle is helpful.
Steps to Change Your Brake Pads
Once you know what you’re doing and you have all the right supplies, you can get down to business. Here are the steps on how to change brake pads:
1. Hoist Your Car
Once you get the jack set up and get your vehicle lifted, you need to remove the tires. You’ll do this the same way you’d remove a flat. Loosen the lug nuts with the tire iron, then remove the tire. Do both front, or both back, at the same time. Once your tires are off you’ll want to set the jack stands up. Points to place them can be found in your owner’s manual.
2. Remove the Old Brake Pads
Once the tires are off, you can see the brake caliper assembly and rotor. The assembly is a clamp that pushes the brake pads into the rotor to stop the car. You’ll use the socket wrench to remove the bolts from the back of the caliper assembly, then slide it off the rotor. Set the caliper atop the rotor, since it’s still attached to the brake line and you don’t want to damage that.
Remove the old brake pads, by either popping them out or sliding them out (depending on your vehicle). Do it carefully, as you don’t want to damage the rotor or the clips holding everything together. You can replace clips and the rotor at this time as well if needed.
3. Replace the Brake Pads and Caliper Assembly
Apply brake grease to the brake pads, on the back side only. The grease helps keep down the squeaking sound that is sometimes caused by the caliper piston pressing against the back of the brake pads. Don’t get grease anywhere else. Pop or slide the new pads into place. Replace the caliper assembly.
4. Put the Tires Back On
Once everything’s back in place and tightened up you’ll want to put your tires back on. Put the lug nuts on, like you’d do replacing a flat, let your vehicle back down off the jack (don’t forget to remove the jack stands first), and then tighten the lug nuts down, so your tires are secure.
Give Your Car a Test Drive
Once your new brake pads are on and your tires are back in place, take a drive around the block once or twice (especially if this is your first time changing your brake pads on your own). This test drive will give you a chance to make sure everything is working properly before you get too far away from home.