Home » Technology » How To Change Your Car’s Brake Pads
Every now and then, you will have to replace your power stop pads and rotors. This is a task that you can do by yourself to save up on labor fees. All you need to have is a good knowledge of cars and a good guide to help you such as this one.
We have shared a step-by-step guide that will help you learn how to replace car brake pads independently.
Let’s get started!
Tools You’ll Need
- Allen wrenches, depending on your car
- Jack stands
- Lug wrench
- Open-end or adjustable wrench, depending on your car
- Small bungee cord
Once you’ve prepared the tools that you’ll need, it’s time to prepare your car’s brake pads. Remember that while doing this task, it’s important to keep safety in mind. After all, you don’t want to break your car, and you don’t want to put yourself in danger too.
Step by step Brake Pad Replacement Process
- You will need to take off your wheels to replace your brake pads, so make sure that you’ve safely jacked up your car and rest it securely on jack stands. Do not work on your car if it’s just supported only by a jack. You’ll need jack stands for it to rest securely. At the same time, it’s best to check your brake discs because they might need replacement as well, depending on the wear they have. But before you do, make sure to break the lugs before jacking it up. It will be easier for you to remove the lugs while the wheels are on the ground. At the same time, it will also be safer.
- Now it’s time to remove the wheel. Breaking the lugs will be easy while your car is still on the ground. It will also be easier to remove the lug nuts from the bottom up. It will keep your wheels in one place before you remove the rest of the lug nuts. It would be easier to catch the wheel after you remove the last nut. Next is unbolting the caliper.
- In some cars, you can separate the pads without removing the calipers. However, most of the cars will need to have the calipers removed before you can access the brake pads. To do so, first, locate it in the 12 o’clock position. There is a bold on either side at the caliper’s rear end. Remove the two bolts either with a hex or Allen wrench, depending on your car. Put the bolts aside. While holding the top part of the caliper, pull it upward and if it doesn’t loosen up, try wiggling it around. Don’t press it too hard so as not to pressure your brake line. Use your bungee cord to hang the caliper onto something. This will keep your calipers set aside safely. Do not let it hang by the brake line because it could cause you major damage.
- Make sure to observe everything and how they are installed in there. The existing pads of the brake are ready to be removed now. Make sure you remember them so when you put things back together, you’ll know how to do it. In fact, it would be better to take a picture of how it is all put together so you have something to go back to if needed. You can now easily slide out the old brake pads. If your car is old and it wouldn’t slide easily, you can use your hammer to tap it just a little bit to loosen it up. If little metal tabs are holding onto the brake pads, put them aside as you’ll need to install them back later on.
- Now it’s time to put on the new brake pads. Put back in the metal clips if your car has them. While doing so, it would be best to inspect your brake discs as well. Now, put back any little remaining clips you’ve removed early on. Be sure to refer to your digital photo to make sure you’ve installed everything correctly.
- Now, you’ll need to compress your brake piston. Your caliper adjusts itself to make sure you have strong brakes. So, they are probably adjusted to match your worn-out pads. You’ll probably see a piston coming out. What you need to do is to push the piston back to its starting point. Be careful not to destroy your new pads.
- Now, slide in the caliper arrangement on top of your new pads. Put back the bolts and tighten them snugly. You can try pressing your brake pedal to make sure you get a solid brake pressure. The first to two pumps will be soft as the piston adjusts. Try again, and it should be strong enough.
- Now, fit the wheel back and tighten all of the lug bolts. Double-check everything, and you’re done!
Changing your car’s brake pads doesn’t have to cost you hundreds of dollars. All you need is the right set of tools and knowledge to get you through.
Take cues from this article and change your car’s brake pads the right way!
MarkSwallow / Getty Images
There’s no need to pay a repair shop big money for new brakes. Most cars have brake pads that are easy to replace. With simple tools and a little time, you can save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself. Follow these easy steps and you can replace your own brake pads at home.
What You’ll Need:
- lug wrench
- open end / adjustable wrench (depending on your car)
- Allen wrenches (depending on your car)
- small bungee cord
Be sure you’ve got everything ready to go before you remove your old brake pads. Most important, be sure safety is at the forefront of your mind. You’ll be taking the wheel off, so have your car jacked up and resting securely on jack stands. Go ahead and break the lugs before you jack the vehicle up. It’s much easier and safer to break the lugs with the wheel on the ground.
Never work on a car that is supported by a jack only! Unless you turn green and your clothes tear themselves to pieces when you get mad, there is no part of your person that can hold a car in the air if the jack slips.
You may need to replace your brake discs, depending on the amount of wear they have.
Remove the Wheel
You broke the lugs while the car was still on the ground, so they should be pretty easy to remove. Remove them from the bottom up, leaving the top lug nut to be removed last. This keeps the wheel in one place while you remove lugs, and makes it easier to safely catch the wheel once you remove the last nut. You can’t replace brake pads with the wheel on.
If you remove the lugs and still can’t get the wheel off, try this stuck wheel trick.
Unbolt the Caliper
On most cars, the next step is to remove the brake caliper so the brake pads will slide out through the top. On a few cars, the pads will come out without removing the caliper, but this is not common. You’ll see the brake caliper in the 12 o’clock position just above the lug bolts, at the top of the brake disc.
On the back of the caliper, you’ll find a bolt on either side. It will either be a hex bolt or an Allen bolt. Remove these two bolts and put them aside.
Hold the caliper from the top and pull upward, wiggling it around to loosen it up. If it’s stubborn, give it a few taps (taps, not Hank Aaron swings) upward to loosen it. Pull it up and slightly away, being sure not to put any stress on the brake line (the black hose that’s still connected).
If there is a place to safely set the caliper back there, do it. If not, you’ll need to take your bungee cord and hang the caliper from something. The coil spring is a good spot. Don’t let the caliper hang by the brake line, as it can cause damage and lead to brake failure.
Remove the Old Brake Pads
” data-caption=”The old brake pads will slide right out.” data-expand=”300″ data-tracking-container=”true” />
Before you pull out the old brake pads, take a second to observe how everything is installed. If there are little metal clips around the brake pads, note their positioning so you can get it right when you put things back together. Better yet, take a digital picture of the whole assembly.
With the caliper out of the way, the brake pads should slide right out. However, you may need to coax them out with a little tap of the hammer to loosen them up. If your car has little metal tabs holding onto the brake pads, put them to the side because you’ll need them later. Put the new pads in the slots with any metal clips you removed.
While you’re here, it’s a good idea to inspect your brake discs.
Go ahead and slide the new pads into place now, making sure you don’t forget any of the metal retaining clips you removed earlier.
Compressing the Brake Piston
” data-caption=”Slowly compress the brake piston.” data-expand=”300″ data-tracking-container=”true” />
As your brake pads wear out, the caliper adjusts itself, so you will have strong brakes throughout the life of the pads. If you look at the inside of the caliper, you’ll see a round piston. This is what pushes on the brake pads from the back. The problem is, the piston has adjusted itself to match your worn-out pads. Trying to get it over the new pads is like parking a Cadillac in New York City. You can do it, but the damage level will be high. Instead of destroying your new pads, push the piston back to the starting point.
Take the c-clamp and place the end with the screw on it against the piston. Place the other end of the clamp on the back of the caliper assembly. Now slowly tighten the clamp until the piston has moved far enough in so that you can easily plop the caliper assembly over the new pads.
Re-Install the Brake Caliper
” data-caption=”Your new brake pads are ready to stop!” data-expand=”300″ data-tracking-container=”true” />
With the piston compressed, you should be able to easily slide the caliper assembly over the new pads. Once you have the caliper in place, replace the bolts you removed and tighten them. Press the brake pedal a few times to make sure you have solid brake pressure. The first pump or two will be soft as the piston finds its new starting point on the back of the pad.
Put your wheel back on, being sure to tighten all of the lug bolts. Now double-check your lug bolts.
Are you hearing a nasty screech when you press the brake pedal in your car? Does it sound like rock monsters are playing the world’s loudest frame of bowling every time you need to slow down? Well, it may be time to change your brakes. Here’s how.
How Does A Brake System Work?
A car’s braking system is one of the most important components in your driving experience, as it’s the only thing keeping you from smashing into that bus full of nuns on your spirited run to the grocery store. It’s a fairly simple hydraulic system that allows the force applied at the pedal to be translated to clamping force at the wheel. Here’s how it works:
How Do I Know If I Need To Change My Brakes?
When a brake pad wears down on a rotor, it will often make a squeaking sound when applied. This is an audible safety measure to make sure that the driver knows to change the brakes soon. Unfortunately, some pads don’t do this particularly well, so newer cars have brake pad wear sensors installed as part of their system, alerting the driver on the dash that the pads needs replacement. In addition, when a brake pad gets low, it will require a longer stroke of the caliper’s piston to clamp down on the rotor, therefore lowering the amount of fluid in your brake reservoir. If the pads are low, you’ll be able to see a noticeable change in your brake fluid’s level, and may even get a “BRAKE” warning light on the instrument cluster.
If all these signs are ignored, the pad’s material will wear down to the point where the only thing making contact with the rotor surface is the pad’s metal backing plate, which is made of steel, and it will make heavy grooves in your rotor’s surface, forcing you to replace the rotors as well.
How Much Does It Cost To Change My Brakes?
A typical brake pad job on a regular commuter/non-performance car costs around $50-$80 for all four sets of pads, and about $150-$200 for a set of pads and rotors, front and rear. Labor an an independent shop should be around 1-2 billable hours , so by doing it yourself, you’re saving around $180.
How Do I Change My Brakes?
Note: The procedure listed below was performed on a 2007 Scion tC, but it should be similar in nearly any car with 1 or 2 piston calipers and rotors. If you’re unsure, please consult your car’s factory service manual.
You can perform a brake service on a car with regular hand tools, in your driveway or garage. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Acquire Tools
Step 2: Buy Brake Pads And Rotors
With brake pads, ceramic tends to be the best, as they give the best brake feel and the longest protection against brake fade, although dust may accumulate on your wheel a bit more than conventional pads. You can look for pads for your car here .
As far as rotors, unless you’re using the car on a track, any cheap rotor will do, but beware – the rotor manufacturers on some of the cheaper examples don’t have the greatest quality control, and it may be necessary to mill the rotors after you receive them due to vibration when braking. Personally, I’d go for Brembo rotors. They have great quality control and fit/finish for the price. You can also find pad and rotor sets here .
Step 3: Loosen Lugs
In order to get the best purchase on the front lug nuts, engage the parking/emergency brake (if none is available/not working, put a brick behind the back wheel) put your 1/2″ breaker bar on the appropriate socket size (usually 17-21mm) and turn counter-clockwise with the car on he ground. Remember, you’re loosening, NOT removing. Get the lugs loose enough that you’ll be able to take them off with a regular ratchet. When working on the rear, put bricks behind the front wheels and engage the parking brake to give yourself the best chance of removing the lug nuts. Release the parking brake when the wheel is off.
Step 4: Raise Car
Put the hydraulic jack underneath either the car’s frame rail or factory jacking points on the side of the car. These can usually be seen as the dimpled pieces of protruding metal on the bottom of the car. Some German cars have black rubber pads that serve as the jacking points.
Place jack stands underneath the car, rest car on jack stands, making sure that its weight cannot shift. You can now remove the wheels. Now is also a great time to clean your wheels of all brake dust. I used a Wagner Steam Cleaner and some Simple Green degreaser :
Changing disc brake pads yourself is fast, easy and can save you $250 or more.
Hi thanks for this article, I need to change my brake pad as suggest by a professional mechanic. To avoid dust caked after I drive. Thanks.
I will browse for more of your “how to” articles so that I can discover more on how to remove and reinstall other car accessories.
Here are some answers to the questions listed above.
Verlauf: There should be no need to bleed the brakes since the level will not be replaced. As mentioned in the article, if the fluid has been “topped off” by some mechanic, it might spill over the top of the master cylinder when the piston is pushed back. As “Editit” points out in Step 8, a catch container or rags under the master cylinder will help to minimize the mess.
Cort2: In Step 2 we say to locate the two slider bolts but REMOVE only the lower bolt. The caliper will rotate up on the top bolt. A socket wrench is used in the picture. But you can use an open end wrench or even an adjustable wrench.
Richardw1: I’m a little concerned that your 1978 Sable has rear drum brakes which are constructed differently than disc brakes. Compare your Sable brakes to the pictures here to see if they match. If they do, make sure you are pressing in on the piston with either a C-Clamp or a pry bar in the fashion shown in Step 9.
Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor
Wanting to do things yourself is fine, and it can be quite rewarding. Just about every professional technician started out by doing things themselves, hopefully with the guidence of someone with experience with the system being serviced. Otherwise the learning curve can be steep and surprises where you least expect them.
A few notes to consider before you try and do your brakes yourself.
What is displayed here is commonly referred to as a “Pad Slap”, or “Pad Slapping”. There are a few occasions where brakes can be properly serviced by simply replacing the pads, however the emphasis on the word “few” is not to be taken lightly. If a new student came to a tech school and his/her experience with doing a brake relign amounted to the routine as described above, then he/she would not be doing brake repairs for a customer without direct supervision. Pad slaps are the number one reason for consumer complaints and come backs for shops, in fact more than 50% of attempted pad slaps result in a dissatisfied customer.
While doing an entire brakes class is out of the question for this format, some of the steps not mentioned are checking for run -out and rotor thickness variation, both important considerations to ensure the brakes don’t pulsate and cuase a handling issue. At the same time the rotor thickness must be measured to see if it is still within serviceable limits. Too thin and it must be replaced.
The caliper slides and brake pad support surfaces must be serviced to ensure the pads are free to move with the application of the brakes. That by the way is impossible to do correctly without completly removing the caliper from the bracket, as well as the bracket from the knuckle. If this step is skipped the common result is dragging brakes, and/or tapered wear and premature failure of the new brake pads.
The last portion to be considered is the retraction of the piston(s) in the caliper. Needing to use a lot of force to do that as potentially demonstrated in the above description again often leads to dragging brakes which while not only risks overheating them and ultimately brake fade. It can cause short pad life, and of poor fuel economy as the engine now has to struggle against that additional resistance to the car traveling down the road. It’s also adviseable for the technician to start pushing the piston back and take note of the effort that is required, then open the bleeder screw and now push the piston all the way back while removing that old fluid from the system. Any debris from corrosion or failing components typically migrates to the lowest portion of the system, this debris will be disturbed when the piston is pushed back into the caliper bore, and can cause failures in the ABS hydraulic controller or master cylinder. By discharging the fluid any disturbed debris gets ejected from the system instead of forced back upstream. This also makes for a very convenient time to replace the brake fluid, which is something that is often overlooked and worthy of it’s own article to explain why.
” data-medium-file=”https://knowhow.napaonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/33452847186_89f0c62168.jpg” data-large-file=”https://knowhow.napaonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/33452847186_89f0c62168.jpg” data-lazy-src=”https://knowhow.napaonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/33452847186_89f0c62168.jpg?is-pending-load=1″ srcset=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7″ />
Many of the tools needed to change brakes are probably sitting in your toolbox or garage already. If not, purchasing these tools is something of an investment since most can be used for a multitude of other tasks. Here are the tools needed to change brakes.
Start With the Right Protection
Before you start any project on your car, make sure that you are properly protected. You should have a pair of mechanic’s gloves to protect your hands, protective eyewear and a dust mask so you don’t breathe in brake dust.
Brake Pads and Rotors
Before you get started, make sure you have the right replacement parts on hand for the job. This includes brake pads, rotors if they’re being replaced and even brake fluid if you will be bleeding your brakes during the replacement.
Jack and Jack Stand
You’ll need to remove the tires from the vehicle to work on the brakes so you need a jack and jack stand. A jack likely came with your car so you can change those inconvenient flats, but a purpose built service jack is a much better choice. You also need to purchase jack stands. These make your car much more stable when it’s lifted and reduce the chance it will slip and fall while you’re working on your brakes. NEVER work under a car that is supported with only a jack.
Lug Nut Wrench
The lug nuts should be loosened before you lift the car and place it on jack stands. Once the vehicle’s weight is safely resting on the jack stands, use the lug nut wrench to completely remove the nuts and then you can remove the wheel to expose the brakes.
Brake Caliper Piston Tool BK 7768024 Disc Brake Caliper Tool Set
The piston or pistons need to be retracted in order to fit around the new, thicker brake pads. The easiest way to do this is with a brake caliper tool (or a C-clamp will do in a pinch). Depending on the caliper, the piston may need to be both compressed and rotated at the same time to retract. This is where a dedicated tool shines.
Brake Bleeder Wrench
On the list of tools needed to change brakes, a brake bleeder wrench may or may not be needed depending on the job. If you disconnected the brake hose to change the brake calipers, then you need this tool to make sure no air is trapped in the hydraulic lines.
Allen Wrench Set
This is another maybe, but anyone who plans to work on their car can’t go wrong with an Allen wrench set. It’s one of the tools needed to change brakes as the brake calipers are often held in place by Allen bolts that need to be removed.
Lubricants and greases may also be needed depending on the job but having at least these basic tools on hand ensures you’re ready to change your brakes.
With these tools, you’ll be able to replace your car’s brakes safely and quickly. If you don’t have these tools in your arsenal, investing in a set is a good idea, as replacing your car’s brakes is a vital part of vehicle ownership.
Check out all the brake system parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on what parts you need to change your car’s brakes, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Updated Jan 29, 2021 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips
You may be wondering why you would need to learn this when you can just go call your old friend Bob at the mechanics. There’s nothing wrong with leaving things up to the experts and spend a few bucks to have them replace it for you.
However, if you feel like those extra bills that you can hand over to old Bob will be more useful in your hands, you can always opt to do the brake-changing operation by yourself. Whether you’re new to it or you already know what you’re doing, our step-by-step tutorial here will provide you with just what you need.
We laid out the process and also added in a few tips for portions where you may get confused. So go ahead and study these DIY steps to changing your brake pad brough to you by Philkotse.com. It won’t only save you a couple of bucks but you’ll be able to learn something new too!
How to Replace Front Brakes, Pads and Rotors
1. Shop for your brake pad replacement
These are available at your local auto shop or even at the old mechanic’s place. They can come at different prices so you better know what you are looking for. Don’t forget to inform the store clerk of your car’s make, model and year. They should be able to offer you a few options from varying brands and price ranges. It’s general knowledge to assume that the expensive ones are of the higher quality and this is actually true most of the time.
Here are a few tips:
- You may be tempted or the store clerk may introduce you to higher priced brake pads that are made for rally cars. The clerk may tell you that this is higher quality material or so, and this is true. However, if your rotor isn’t as high in quality then it might sustain damages.
- Cheaper brake pads that are substantially less expensive than those with famous brand names are often described as noisy. This is compared to those with quality brand names that have less noise when used.
It’s general knowledge to assume that the expensive ones are of the higher quality and this is actually true most of the time
2. Let it cool
Make sure the car is cooled down and the parts that you’ll be touching are also cool to the touch. If it is too hot, then set the changing procedure at a later time. After all, it’s better to have your brake pads replaced next time than to replace it at a time when you can risk burning your fingers off.
Make sure the car is cooled down and the parts that you’ll be touching are also cool to the touch
3. Loosen the tire’s lug nuts
Use your lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts. Don’t loosen all the lug nuts all at once and then you can jack up the car soon after. Put blocks in front of the other wheels so something would stop it from rolling.
Use your lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts
4. Remove the wheels
Jack up your car according to the correct measurement as indicated in your manual. The correct position can also be found in the car’s manual so be sure to look for it as a reference. Once your car is raised safely at the right angle, you can now start finishing the lug nuts that you started unscrewing earlier. After doing it correctly, you should be able to easily pull out the wheel towards you.
5. Remove your car’s caliper bolts
The caliper is the part that hugs the rotor like a perfectly-fitted clamp. Its job is to slow the wheel down every time you hit the brakes using a systematic use of hydraulic pressure. Calipers will come in two types and you would be able to check this once you take it off. Some calipers are a single piece while others come in two-piece designs.
To properly remove your car’s calipers:
- Look for the bolts or screws that hold the calipers on to the rotors. Spray them with either WD-40 or a PB Penetrating Catalyst to help you remove them with ease.
- If your car is from a Japanese manufacturer then there is a good chance that your car was built with sliding calipers. This caliper will consist of two pieces and you will only need to remove two slider bolts. These can be 12 to 14 millimeters in head circumference thus, disabling the need to remove the entire caliper.
6. Hang the caliper safely
Once you successfully remove the caliper it should still be connected via a thin wire to the main brake line. So find the caliper a safe spot to be hung or to be placed on while you work on the brake pads. This will inhibit the tugging weight of the caliper to endanger the brake hose.
Find the caliper a safe spot to be hung or to be placed on while you work on the brake pads
7. You can now remove the old pads
Now that you’ve gotten all pass that, it’s now time to remove the old pads. They are fairly easy to remove once you snap off the metal clips that are attaching it. If they are harder to remove, don’t be afraid to use a bit of elbow grease.
8. Put on the replacement pads
To avoid any annoying squeaking sounds, apply some anti-seize lubricating product over on the contact edges as well on the back of the new brake pads. Remember to not get this lubricant on the inside of the brake pad or else the whole procedure will be useless. You can now attach the new pads and follow the procedure in reverse to put everything back together.
You can now attach the new pads and follow the procedure in reverse to put everything back together
9. Do a brake fluid check-up
Take a quick check on the brake fluid. If it’s below the indicated line, top it off immediately. Don’t forget to put the cap on after.
10. Finishing touches
You can now put the caliper back on the rotor as well as screw the wheel back on. Remember to use your hands to tighten the lug nuts first before you completely lower your car. Once you lower the wheel and remove the jack, you can now tighten the lug nuts thoroughly using a lug wrench. Tighten the nuts as if you’re attempting to draw a star when you were in elementary. After that, your car should be good to go.
Introduction: How to Change Car Brakes
The brakes of a car are its most important feature and, therefore, one should give special care and attention to its maintenance. Closely monitoring the braking system is essential to ensure safety on the road. Luckily, the process of replacing brakes on your vehicle is both easy and cost-effective and you can achieve expertise with a small amount of practice.
The first sign that indicates that your brakes need a replacement is the high-pitched screeching sound produced when you stop your car. It may also take you longer to stop, or your brakes may become noisier than before. By paying slight attention to these small problems, you can avoid larger cost burdens and risks for the future.
Replacing your car brakes involves a series of simple steps, listed as follows:
i. Allow all the components of the braking mechanism – the rotor, calipers and the pads to cool down completely.
ii. Clean all the moving parts with cleaner and remove the braking fluid from the master cylinder using a siphoning device.
iii. Loosen the lug nuts and then, with the help of a lifting jack, raise your vehicle and place a jack stand underneath to keep it locked in place. Now remove the lug nuts completely from the wheel to access the braking assembly.
iv. Loosen the bolts and take out the brake calipers. Use cleaning lube to clean it or if it looks damaged, replace it with a new set.
v. The next step is to remove the brake pads attached to the rotor. Use a C-clamp between the pad and the rotor exterior assembly and tighten it to retract the piston and remove the braking pad. If the pad looks thinner and worn out, replace it with a newer one. If it is in a good condition, clean it with cleaning liquid and apply lube. Retaining clips are used to latch the pads into place. Dispose of the older clips and replace with newer ones
vi. Disconnect brake sensing cable and caliper mounts, if any. Check for any faults.
vii. Now the rotors of the brakes will be exposed. Examine them carefully for any kinks or scratches and replace if required.
viii. Place the new components in their specified places and apply graphite-based grease on the ends of the brake pads so they can slide easily over one another. However, make sure that the grease does not touch the rotor or accumulate on the pads’ surface as this may prove to be harmful. Securely latch all the nuts, bolts and pins and check them carefully for any wear and tear. Replace if required.
ix. Inject new braking fluid and then replace the tiers. Tighten the lug nuts and repeat the process on the other side of the car.
When you are done, take your vehicle for a slow speed test drive in order to ensure that you have completed all the steps correctly. Now you can savor the ride and enjoy a bump free and smooth cruise down the road, safe in the knowledge that your brake kits components are working safely and efficiently!
Be the First to Share
Did you make this project? Share it with us!
You are here
Rob Keenan is the interim digital editor of Haynes.com
He runs a Mk2 Ford Focus ST and an ageing Mercedes SLK55
Find him on Twitter @zorba_t_greek
Never done a brake pad change before? It’s a straightforward job and Haynes will hold your hand every step of the way, thanks to our comprehensive range of Manuals.
First, you’ll need to check the condition of your pads. Your vehicle will have them on the front axle and possibly the rear, too. Wondering when brake pads need replacing? When new, brake pads are around 10mm thick. In the UK, they’re illegal when they’re less than 1.5mm thick, but we recommend you change them when there’s 3mm of material left, to ensure you still have maximum braking efficiency.
Watch this video to see how to change your pads
Every Haynes manual shows you how to change your vehicle’s brake pads in easy-to-follow steps
So you’ve established that the pads need to be changed. It’s important to renew all of the pads on the same axle. So if the offside front brake pads are worn, you’ll also need to change the nearside front pads. Never replace the pads on one side of the car. Also make sure you have the right tools for the job before you start – the links below will show you what you need.
On most vehicles, the front brake pads need to be renewed more often than the rears because the extra weight of the engine sits over the front axle. However, if they are fitted (instead of brakes drums and shoes), the rear pads should also be checked and replaced when they wear to the same thickness mentioned above.
Perhaps you have a different issue with your brake system. Is the brake pedal too hard or too soft? Is there a burning smell when you’re on the move? Are the brakes squealing and squeaking whenever you use them? Is the brake pedal vibrating? Does the steering wheel shimmy about when you’re bringing the car to a halt? These symptoms could indicate that something is wrong with your pads or discs.
Maybe you have a seized brake caliper, which would explain the burning smell or that ‘stickiness’ you feel when setting off in the car from a standstill.