Aside from brake rotors themselves, the most regularly serviced components in any disc brake system are the brake pads. These parts serve as the direct ‘friction point’ between the car’s pedal, the brake caliper and the rotor, thereby ultimately creating an ability to retard or stop the rotor’s rotation on-demand.
In order to execute a DIY brake job you’re going to need a constellation of tools, affiliate components and lubricants. This cluster of elements typically includes;
· Torque wrench
· Appropriately sized socket
· Powered wrench
· Manual hammer
· Hammer punch
· Collection of crescent wrenches
· Requisite replacement pads
· Digital caliper
· Jack stand
· Fluid catch-container
· Work stool
· ¼” clear flexi-tube to bleed the brake system
· Can of brake parts cleaner
· Packet of brake lubricant
Once you have all the right elements in hand, the DIY process adheres to the following sequence of events:
1. Remove the wheel.
2. Remove the caliper retention pins.
3. Remove the caliper retention spring.
4. Inspect the rotor face for any visual damage; along with ensuring that the rotor thickness is nominal (this value is typically stamped on the rotor hub). This investigation is validated by using a digital caliper to measure proper thickness.
5. Place a properly-sized box wrench over the caliper’s bleed screw.
6. Place the clear flexi-tube over the top of the bleed screw, open the port, and squeeze the piston/pad integration together, thereby bleeding the caliper of any captured brake fluid. Once the process is complete, re-tighten the screw.
7. Slide both the front/ back brake pads out of the caliper.
8. Remove and retain any original anti-squeal shims, as they will be used for the replacement pads.
9. Clean the entire brake assembly with chemical liquid.
10. Add brake lubricant to the anti-squeal shims and replace them on the new pads (avoid allowing any brake lubricant to touch the pad faces themselves. Only handle the pads on the sides of each part when installing the anti-squeal shims).
11. Slide the replacement pads/shims into the calipers, ensuring that all pin-holes line up accordingly.
12. Return the retention spring.
13. Return the retention pins.
14. Repeat the same process for all other three wheels if necessary.
Note that this is a general process, each brand will offer slightly different components and retention elements.
You can save lots of money on brake repairs if you pay attention to the performance of your pads on a regular basis.
When Should You Replace Your Brake Pads?
Now we know how to change out our brake pads, perhaps we should consider ‘when’ is the right time to replace your brake pads? Although there are no specific metrics for this kind of retrofit, there are some rules of thumb to follow. For example:
Consumer cars – depending on how the car is driven, most pads should be replaced at the 50,000 mile mark. However, other situations call for replacement at 25,000 miles; again based on how the car is driven, and more importantly, how hard the driver uses the binder.
Performance cars – in this event, it is expected that brake pads will experience much harder use than consumer use. Consequently, it is usually prudent to at least investigate pad use at 5,000 miles; then if some issue becomes obvious, the driver can take proper action as needed.
Racing cars – as one might expect pad use on the racetrack is the most challenging of all situations. As a result, pads should be inspected after each lapping session, practice, and certainly after a complete event is completed.