Ensuring brakes are well-maintained is of the utmost importance for staying safe on the road. Often, it is taken for granted that brakes function without drivers having to give them much thought. Make sure you can recognize the signs that your brake pads are reaching the end of their life expectancy and when it is time to consider replacing them.

While it is best to keep an eye on a vehicle’s brakes to anticipate problems before they happen, it is also important to note that squeaking or grinding noises are key indicators that brake pads are ready to be replaced. Many brake pads have metal wear indicators to let drivers know when the brake pads need to be changed. If you notice a vibration when braking, this can be indicative of a variety of other issues, most notably warped brake rotors.

A good rule of thumb when changing brake pads is to start from one side and complete it from start to finish before continuing on to the other side. This allows you to turn the wheel and angle tires out for better access to the brake pad area. There are a few things required before beginning this process. You will need:

  • Gloves

  • A jack and jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • A short length of 2x4

  • A socket or adjustable wrench

  • New brake pads

  • Brake fluid

Step 1:

You will need to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels, jack the car up, and then place the car on the jack stands. After the car is stabilized fully, loosen the lug nuts and remove the wheel

Step 2:

There will be two slider bolts or pins. Usually, removing the bottom bolt is sufficient.

Step 3:

Do not disconnect any hydraulic lines. You should be able to slide the caliper up and out of your way. Check the brake pads at this point. Is the friction material ?-inch thick or less? If so, or if the metal wear indicator is visible, the brake pad needs to be replaced.

Step 4:

Remove the old brake pad. It should slide right out.

Step 5:

Most new brake pads come with new retaining clips. There are no screws involved in this process. These clips should just snap into place. It is good to change these clips one at a time to make sure they match up to the previous ones. Once the new clips are in place, throw the old ones away.

Step 6:

Included with these clips should be a packet of grease. Apply this grease to the clips and the brake pads to make sure they slip into place more easily.

Step 7:

You should see metal tabs on either side of the new brake pads. They should slide into slots on the clips.

Step 8:

Pistons press on brake pads and squeeze the rotor to make the vehicle stop. You must push these back before the caliper can fit back over the new, thicker brake pad. Many vehicles have only one piston per wheel, however, in the event of two, you will need a 2x4 to hold both back at once in order to slide the caliper back into place.

Step 9:

Slide the caliper back. It may fit more snugly over the new brake pad. If the caliper is snagging on the brake, you may need to double-check that the piston is out of the way.

Step 10:

Reinsert the bottom slider bolt and tighten into place.

Step 11:

Straighten the vehicle’s wheel and remount the tire. Tighten the lug nuts to hold the wheel on. You will repeat this process on the other three wheels as well.

Step 12:

Be aware that the brake pedal may be more sensitive than it was prior to the changing of the brake pads. Test drive the vehicle in a safe area, taking extra care at stops.

Please be aware that the step by step instructions are meant for sliding caliper brake assemblies. If at any point in this process you feel something is wrong, re-secure the wheel and seek professional assistance.

Categories: Service
Tags: brake pads