How to replace your break pads
- Safely lift your car on a flat surface
Using a floor jack and jack stands lift and support your vehicle by the chassis, or on a unibody chassis, the manufacturer's recommended location (typically on the pinch weld)
- Loosen and remove the lug nuts and wheels
Spin each lug nut off with your fingers (if you followed my hint), a star wrench or go NASCAR style with an impact wrench
Pull each wheel off of the vehicle
- Inspect your brake rotors
If they look smooth, proceed. If you see deep grooves or a rough surface, you’ll want to consider new rotors too. Now is also a good time to inspect your CV shafts for torn boots on independent suspension vehicles since you'll have easy viewing access.
- Remove the caliper hold-down bolts or pins
Once the bolts or pins are removed, you should be able to slide the caliper and brake pads away from the rotor
- Compress the caliper piston and remove the brake pads
Before compressing the caliper, check your brake fluid reservoir and ensure it wont overflow when the fluid level starts to rise. Fluid can be removed with a syringe, baster, or simply dipping in a clean towel if necessary.
Use a caliper compressor or a large C-clamp, squeeze or push the caliper pistons back into their bores. This will allow the appropriate room for the new, thicker brake pads to fit properly. Some people leave the old pads in place while compressing, others choose to remove them. If you have enough room, it can be beneficial to leave the old pads in so they protect the pistons and provide even surface area to apply pressure to.
Remove your old brake pads—they’ll come out easily by hand or with a small pry bar or flat head screw driver.
Clean the brake caliper areas where the brake pad makes direct contact, a small wire brush works well.
- Mount your new brake pads inside the brake caliper
Apply antiseize or brake component lubricant to the sides of the pads. This will allow the brake pads to slide easily as the pad surface wears over time. You will also want to apply a thin layer of anti-squeal paste to the pad backing where the pistons contact and caliper make direct contact with the backing. This will reduce the likliness that the pad will oscillate under braking which will reduce or eliminate unwanted brake noise.
Slide or clip the pads into caliper, being careful to touch the pad’s friction surface as little as possible.
- Grease your braking system
Apply a light coating of high temperature brake grease to caliper guide pins and any part of the caliper that slides against bare metal. Shiny spots in the caliper’s body are friction points, lubricate them. This will prevent squeaks and squeals caused by high-frequency vibration and will allow your brakes to wear evenly
Keep the friction side of the brake pads or rotors as clean as possible. If you get some grease on the rotor, you can easily clean it off with brake cleaner.
- Reinstall the caliper assembly
Slide the brake caliper an pad combo over the rotor. If it doesnt slide over easily, the pistons in the caliper probably need to be pushed in further which will gain more clearance to clear the rotor.
Slide the brake caliper and pad combo over the rotor. If it doesnt slide over easily, the pistons in the caliper probably need to be pushed in further which will gain more clearance to clear the rotor.
Fasten the caliper in place with the same hold-down bolts or pins you previously removed if they’re in good shape. If they’re not, install new bolts or pins
- Bleed your brakes
Your braking system functions best with no air in its lines. If you opened the bleeder screws to compress the caliper pistons, air could have entered, so its best practice to bleed those particular calipers. If you never cracked a bleeder screw, it is not entirely necessary to bleed the system.
There are many effective ways to bleed a brake system. If you have experience bleeding brakes, proceed. If you need some pointers, feel free to take a look at our guide to bleeding brakes.
Check your brake fluid level and refill if necessary.
- Put your wheels back on
Put each wheel back on and tighten the lug nuts by hand until they’re snug.
Use the floor jack to slightly raise the vehicle and remove the jack stands under it.
Carefully lower your car onto its wheels.
Using a torque wrench, tighten each lug nut to specification in a star pattern.