How To Change Brake Pads And Rotors

What To Purchase For A Brake Pad And Rotor Repair?

The first items you will need to purchase is your brake rotors and brake pads. Most brake pads come with graphite grease prepackaged and often come with new brake clips. Sometimes the brake clips are optional and you can just clean your existing brake clips, or buy new ones. With brake rotors you have two options, you can purchase drilled and slotted rotors, these allow a cleaner brake pad as they get rid of the brake dust and allow better airflow keeping the brakes cooler, or you can just get the standard brake rotors that aren't drilled and slotted. Next on the list would be at least two bottles of brake cleaner and some anti seize, I personally like to use permatex anti seize. Make sure you have a torque wrench,socket set and a brake caliper compression tool.

Changing Brake Pads and Rotors Safety Precautions

Whether your vehicle be front-wheel drive or rear wheel drive, whichever brake you are going to be working on you will want to put a block of wood in the front of the vehicle or in the rear of the vehicle. If you're working on your rear brakes, place a block of wood in front of the front tire, if you're a working on the front brakes place a block of wood at the back of the rear tire. Once you've done that make sure your e-brake is engaged and you place the Jack & Jack stand in the proper location. You can see in the images for most vehicles there is a downward arrow showing where to put the jack. You will also want to make sure that you place the jack stand at good support point next to the jack.

Removing The Brake Caliper

Brake calipers come with two caliper bolts that are on the back side of the brake caliper, some of them also have a nut after the bolt that you need to use a wrench to hold it in place as you loosen the bolt. Remove the two bolts and pull the brake caliper off of the pads. Make sure to hang the brake caliper with a bungee cord/coat hanger, or set it on top of the control arm. You do not want to hang the brake caliper as it can put stress on the brake line. After you've remove the brake caliper just pull the brake pads out from the brake carrier.

Removing The Brake Carrier

Removing the brake carrier aka *(Brake Caliper Bracket) is fairly simple, once you remove the brake caliper, you now have easy access to the two brake carrier bolts that go through the spindle and into the brake carrier. Remove the two bolts, but make sure to place your hand underneath the brake carrier before you take the last bolt out or else it will drop and hit the ground. Take note of which carrier bolt go where, for most vehicles they are different lengths.

Removing The Brake Rotor

Before you pull the brake rotor off, most vehicles have a torx bolt installed, some vehicles are missing this and the brake rotor can come off without removing it. Look for the torx bolt on the side of the brake rotor close to the lug nut studs and remove it first if it is installed. Once you've removed your torx bolt, take a hammer and hit around the edges close to the lug nut studs with a to break the rust free. Do this if you are going to be replacing the rotor, if you are not you might want to be careful not to damage it. Once the rotor is loose you simply pull it straight off of the lug nut studs.

Depending on if you're working on the front or the rear brakes, with the rear brakes there are e-brake shoes that look like rear drum pads, go ahead and spray those down with some brake cleaner to get rid of the brake dust. It's also a good idea to take a wire brush and clean around where the lug nut studs stick out on the wheel hub. If there's enough rust it can cause your foot brake to pulsate in and out because the brake rotor is not flush with the wheel bearing hub.

Cleaning Where The Brake Rotor Used To Be

Removing Brake Clips And Slider Bolts From Carrier

To remove the brake clip from the carrier, simply put your fingers underneath the brake clips and pull up. Depending on how much rust is built up you may need to use a flat head screwdriver to pry them out. Once you remove the brake clips, head on over to the slider bolts on the carrier and make sure to pinch the rubber boot behind the slider bolt and then twist the slider bolt as you're pulling it out. Holding onto the rubber boot prevents the carrier rubber boot from tearing.

Get yourself a stainless steel wire brush and scrape the inside of the carrier where the brake pads clips would sit. Once you've done that go ahead and clean the brake pad clips or replace them with new ones. Next get a clean cloth and wipe off all of the old grease that is on the carrier slider bolts.

Cleaning Brake Carrier, Brake Pad Clips And Slider Bolts

Re-greasing/Installing Brake Slider Bolts And Applying

Anti-seize Paste On Brake Clips

Get yourself some Valvoline multi-purpose Grease and apply it to the clean brake carrier slider bolts. Once you've greased the slider bolts go ahead and install them back into the carrier, make sure that the slider bolts can go all the way flush. If the slider bolts push back out and are really springy because of trapped air, this can prematurely engage the brake pads. Next take the new or old brake clips and install them back into the carrier. Then apply anti seize where the brake pads slide on the brake clips.

Installing The New Brake Rotor

Before installing the new brake rotor, pay attention to the vanes direction inside the rotor. The wrong direction can over heat them. Some rotors are universal, where others like drilled and slotted rotors have angled vanes and can only be installed on one side. Look at the packaging, it should say driver side or passenger side. Take the brake rotor and look for the torx bolt hole, line it up with the wheel bearing hub as you slide it over the lug nut studs. Take the torx bolt if you have one, some vehicles are missing them and that is okay. You do not have to install the torx bolt if you do not have one. Having the torx bolt just helps keep the brake rotor flush while installing the carrier and brake pads. If you do have the torx bolt go ahead and hand tighten it, do not over tighten. I would say as a rule of thumb no more than 10 ft pounds. New Brake rotors have a sticky film on them to protect against rust during storage, take some brake cleaner and spray it on the front of the rotor and the back of the rotor. You want to do this before you install the brake pads so you don't wash off the anti-seize or the grease that you applied earlier.

Installing Brake Carrier And Brake Pads

Take the brake carrier and slide it underneath the spindle, take the two carrier bolts and thread them in through the spindle into the carrier. Torque them to OEM specifications. I use Emanual Online Download for my torque specs. Next grease the back of the brake pads with the graphite grease that comes with them, if you don't have graphite grease go ahead and just apply anti seize to the back of the pad, this will work just as well. The idea is to apply the grease wherever the brake caliper piston touches the brake pads and the two forks on the front of the brake caliper touch the pads. Before installing the brake pads, look for the telltale, it's a little metal clip attached to the brake pad. The pads with The tell-tale go on the inside of the carrier, not the outside. For reference, it goes behind the brake rotor. Once you have the tell-tale pad, place that on the bottom of the brake clip and then push into the carrier, do the same for the other brake pad. Make sure you squeeze the brake pads as close to the rotor as possible. Not doing this can make it difficult to install the brake caliper over the pads.

Compressing Brake Caliper Piston

In order to get the brake caliper over the new brake pads you must compress the piston. The reason behind this is the new brake pads are much thicker then the worn-out old ones, the brake caliper piston has extended out further to accommodate the worn-out brake pads and will not fit over the new brake pads. There are several ways to compress a brake caliper piston. One of the more common ways is to use a c-clamp, you simply slide it over the back of the brake caliper and then tighten it into the piston. The second way is to use groove joint pliers, you simply squeeze the the piston into the brake caliper. The third way, which is the easiest way is to purchase a brake caliper compressor tool, this tool simply locks into the caliper and you squeeze it just like you would a caulking gun. Next take some anti-seize and paint it on the flat surface of the the piston, this will prevent noise and vibration.

Installing The Brake Caliper

Now that you've compressed the brake caliper piston, you need to first push in on the carrier slider bolts so you are able to slide the caliper over the pads and the carrier bolts all at once. Once you have your brake caliper in position, take your brake caliper bolts and begin to screw them through the brake caliper into the slider bolts. Next take your wrench if you have a nut after the slider bolt, get the wrench on it and then torque your caliper bolts to OEM specification.

The last step would be to check your brake fluid levels. Pop the hood on your vehicle and unscrew the master brake cylinder reservoir, double-check that it's at the correct fill level. If it's a little low, go ahead and fill it to the recommended level with some Dot 3 or 4 brake fluid. When preforming a brake repair I leave the master brake reservoir cap on so it doesn't spill out when compressing the brake caliper piston. Some mechanics remove the cap, this will cause a mess, and a loss of brake fluid.

Checking Brake Fluid Levels