red brake pads

The Brake Pad Change Out

Changing brake pads in your own garage isn’t difficult, but doing so typically saves over one-hundred to three-hundred dollars per end of a vehicle once you’ve learned the process.

Today we’re going to share with you the steps on how to change the brake pads on your car, truck or SUV. Follow along as we change the brake pads on a 2015 Honda CRV, the steps should be similar for your car but be sure to have your owner’s manual handy to look up any differences.

To get started, you’ll need to following tools, a floor jack and jack stands rated for the weight of your vehicle, I used a three ton floor jack and a pair of two ton jack stands. You’ll also need a set of replacement brake pads, the tire iron that came with your car, a brake tool, a tube of brake grease and a socket wrench.

First, use your your tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on the same wheels that you’ll be changing the brake pads on. It is best to do one end of the vehicle at a time, not all four at once. As you lift the car on the jack you’ll lose the natural resistance, you need to remove these lug nuts, so you need to get them started now. Don’t remove the lug nuts entirely until later.

Next, position the floor jack underneath your vehicle. Consult your owner’s manual to find where it is safe to jack the car up. You can severely damage your car if you use a jack on an unsafe or unstable part of your car.

Once you’ve identified your safe checkpoints, lift the car high enough to place a jack stand underneath it. Project stands should also be placed on a safe structural location underneath your car, never work underneath the car that is solely supported by a jack wants the jack stand is positioned correctly, lower the car onto the jack stand and remove the floor jack. Now you can finish removing the lug nuts from your tire set these aside in a safe place where you won’t lose them. Next remove your wheel/ tire and set it aside. Now you should be able to see your brake rotor and brake caliper assembly.

There are typically two bolts, located at the top and bottom of the interior side of the caliper assembly. Note: take care, as the brake caliper will still be attached to the brake line. Do not let the calipers hang from the brake lines. Use a custom-shaped coat hanger or bungie cord to support the caliper once you remove the bolts. Using a socket wrench, remove these bolts. Some mechanics on certain vehicles will remove just the bottom or top bolt depending on the caliper design that allows you to rotate the brake caliper for best position to prepare to remove the brake pads. See if you can logically determine if that is possible. If not, remove both bolts.

At this point, you can remove the caliper assembly from the rotor, revealing the brake pads. If you’re not replacing your rotors you can lay the assembly on top of the rotor (or hang it securely), now that you can see the brake pads. Carefully remove the brake pads from the rotor. Be careful during this step, not to scratch or damage the rotor itself. This is also a good time to take a measurement of the thickness of your rotor, your owner’s manual should tell you the minimum thickness for your rotor to upgrade safely, as you remove the brake pads, be mindful of the clips that hold them in place. If any of these have been damaged you can install the replacement clips that usually come in the box with your new brake pads.

Before you install your new brake pads, you’ll want to apply some brake grease to the BACK of the pads. This helps prevent squealing and squeaking during normal operation for this step, wear protective gloves to prevent the grease from getting on your skin, apply the brake grease to the metal plates on the backs of the pads.

Do not allow any grease to get on the front of the pads or on the rotors directly, your brakes are designed to generate enough friction to stop your vehicle. Getting grease on your brake pads will have almost the opposite effect, and your brakes may not function correctly. Squeeze a bit of grease and they’re onto your gloved fingers or onto the backs of the brake pads directly. Use your fingers to spread the brake grease across the plates on the backs of your brake pads, create a smooth, even lubrication layer. Repeat this process for both brake pads that you’re replacing.

Next, replace the brake pads in the same orientation as the ones you removed previously. Some replacement brake pads come with clips pre installed, but you may need to add them yourself. Once again, be careful during this step to avoid getting any grease on the rotors.

Now, you’ll need to adjust the caliper assembly to fit the new thicker brake pads to do this insert one of the old brake pads inside the caliper assembly against the large circular piston(s). Next, insert the brake tool and adjusted until it is taught between the calipers clamps. Rotate the brake insertion tool handle until the piston has been fully pressed back into the caliper assembly. Some vehicle models will require you to relieve the brake fluid pressure in the system by removing the brake master cylinder cap or cover which is typically located on the firewall (under the hood) of the vehicle on front-engined vehicles.

The piston assembly should fit over the brake pads you’ve just replaced into the calipers. Make sure you have brake pads inserted into the brake calipers so that as you rotate or install the brake calipers over the brake rotors, that you have a brake pads in position so there will be brake pads ready to contact each side of the brake rotor.  Those two new brake pads you’ve just installed will get squeezed by the brake caliper to put pressure on the brake rotors and that’s what will stop your vehicle.  

Once the brake caliper assemblies are back in their original place, insert the bolts and hand tighten them to keep them snug. Next tighten them to specification. If you’re working on the front of the vehicle, rotate the brake assembly left and right to mimic movement of steering from left to right and make sure all moves freely with no brake line restrictions.

If all is looking good and you are not seeing other obvious concerns such as leaking brake fluid or parts that are out of place, you can reinstall your wheels and hand tighten the lug nuts to keep them in place, then snug them just a bit more in a cross-pattern. If you’re torquing to spec by hand, you’ll find it is easier to do this once the vehicle is lowered. It is a bit tricky to torque the wheels in place while the vehicle is in the air, but doable if you have the right tools. Most home or trackside repairs do this when the vehicle is on the ground.

Once your wheel is secure and in place,  put the floor jack underneath your vehicle again and lift it high enough to remove your jack stand.

Remove the jack stand from underneath your vehicle and lower your car back down to the ground. Check wheel lug nut torque once again. Again, use a cross-pattern when torquing your wheels onto the lugs using the tire iron or appropriate-sized socket. Once everything is tight and checked, walk around your vehicle and make sure nothing is left around the vehicle that could be run over.

Next, get in the vehicle and pump the brakes. The pedal should get firmer after a few pumps. Start the car and you may then feel the brake pedal relax just a bit and you can pump it again. As long as it doesn’t go to the floor and all is clear, you can then move the vehicle slowly just a few feet and press the brake pedal again to slow/stop the car. If all checks out well, go for a slow drive and keep testing the brake pedal to be sure you can stop the vehicle as you test it a few more times. If all feels great. Then you can go for a short drive and test again. If brake are performing well, you can consider going to the next step of bedding in your brake pads.

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The Brake Pad Change Out
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The Brake Pad Change Out
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Changing brake pads in your own garage isn’t difficult, but doing so typically saves over one-hundred to three-hundred dollars per end of a vehicle once you’ve learned the process.
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Buy Brakes
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