How to Change Your Car’s Brake Pads

by Joe Ferguson on November 19, 2013


If you’re anything like me, the prospect of saving money with DIY projects is an enticing idea. Performing your own car repairs doesn’t just keep your bank account from hemorrhaging cash; you may even learn a valuable lesson in self-reliance. So hit up the local salvage yard, grab your supplies, and head back to the garage and learn how to change your car’s brake pads.

Note: When you visit your local salvage yard, be sure to get your hands on new brake pads. Brake pads and rotors are meant to wear over time and should always be replaced new. Your salvage yard should have new as well as used auto parts at a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere.

Game Plan

Before you start taking the tires off of your car and prying off the brakes, make sure you have a game plan. It’s wise to change brake pads one side of the car at a time. If you change one side, you should definitely change the other side as well. If you replace one side without changing out the brake pads on the other, you’ll be back to swapping out brake pads (and spending more money) again in no time.

The Process

1. Loosen lug nuts on tire with a lug wrench, and raise the car with your jack.

2. Fully remove lug nuts and wheel from the car.

3. Loosen the slider bolts (or pins) that keep the caliper in place. Once the slider bolts have been successfully loosened, the caliper should easily slide out. Be careful not to disconnect the hydraulic line that’s attached to the caliper, or you’ll be right back on your way to the salvage yard for even more auto parts.

4. With the caliper moved aside, you’ll be able to inspect the current condition of your brake pads. Pads that are 1/8 of an inch or less in thickness should always be replaced.

5. Remove the old pads, and replace with new brake pads. Pads aren’t permanently affixed and should lock into place as easily as the parts you’re replacing.

6. With the new pads locked into position, you’ll have to use your C-clamp to push back the pistons that squeeze your brake pads and rotors to stop the car. Once they’ve been retracted far enough, the caliper should be able to slide back into place.

7. Re-tighten the slider bolts to reattach the caliper – remember to be mindful of the hydraulic line.

8. Straighten your car’s steering wheel and reattach the tires.

9. Once the tires have been reattached, use the jack to lower your car.

10. Check your new brakes with a short, safe drive down the driveway or traffic-free street. Then repeat the process for the remainder of the brakes.

Hopefully, this quick list will help any budding DIY enthusiasts out there save a bit of money and hassle. Keep checking UCV for more helpful automotive tips and tricks!

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