Last updated on July 31st, 2022 at 07:42 pm

Knowing how to change brake pads will save your money and help your vehicle from wearing out. If your brake pads are grinding or squealing, it needs immediate replacement. Without any specialized tool, anyone can change brake pads at home following a few steps.

Brake Pads Replacement: When Is The Right Time?

Your car’s brake comprises three main parts:

  • The rotors.
  • A metal wheel inside the tire is attached to the overall brake system.
  • Calipers that squeeze the rotor to cause friction to slow the car to stop.

And the brake pads are attached to the calipers to keep them from scraping the rotor directly.

As per the recommendation of the experts, you should change the brake pads of your car every 10,000 to 20,000 miles to keep wear to a minimum. However, the rotors do not need to be replaced as frequently as the brake pads. The rotors need changing between 50,000 to 70,000 miles to keep the car’s brakes in peak health.

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Signs Your Brake Pads Need Replacement

What to do if you don’t know the exact mileage of your car? Well, in this case, you need to look out for the signs. Remember that your car is exactly like a living body. If one part starts to wear off, then slowly other parts will start to cause a problem as well. To make sure you get the smoothest possible ride, you need to take good care of your vehicle. Here are some signs that will tell you the right time for brake pads replacement.

  • Intermittent screeching: This is the easiest sign to notice. You will hear a high-pitched screeching sound while slowing down your vehicle. This is the sign that your brake pads need replacement.
  • Vibrating steering wheel: Even if you feel a slight rumble in your car’s steering wheel while slowing down, you need to replace the brake pads immediately. This is also a sign that the rotors have been exposed to excessive heat and worn brake pads.
  • Grinding Noises: You hear a grumpy grumbling sound when you hit the brake. This is another sign that your pads are worn through, and you need to change the brake pads as soon as possible.

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How to Change Brake Pads: Step by Step Guide

  • Step 1: Removing the wheel
  • Step 2: Removing the slider bolt
  • Step 3: Pivoting the brake caliper up
  • Step 4: Sliding out the old brake pads
  • Step 5: Replacing the retaining clips
  • Step 6: Sliding the new brake pads
  • Step 7: Retracting the pistons
  • Step 8: Monitoring the brake fluid level
  • Step 9: Repositioning the caliper
  • Step 10: Reinstalling the slider bolt

Time Required: 1 hour

Tools Required

Materials Required

  • New brake pads. Since you are already saving money by changing the brake pads yourself, try buying the original manufacturer’s brake pads which are more expensive and better in quality.
  • Can of brake fluid. For buying the right type, check out the owner’s manual.

Removing the wheel

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel. Then, jack up the car and place a jack under the car frame. Then, lower the floor jack, so the car weight rests on the jack stand. After this, remove the lug nuts fully and remove the wheel. You can now access the brake and safely reach under the card.

Removing the slider bolt

Find the two slider bolts and hold the caliper in the place. Then, slowly remove the slider bolt.

Pivoting the brake caliper up

Now that the bottom bolt is removed pivot up the brake caliper. Do not disconnect any brake line. Most brake pads have metal wear indicators, which squeak in contact with the rotors. Even if these are not touching, the pads are surely worn out at this point.

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Sliding out the old brake pads

The brake pads are now exposed, so simply slide the old brake pads out.

Replacing the retaining clips

New brake pads always come with new clips; these clips help the pads to slide back and forth smoothly. There are no retaining screws available for the clips and they just snap in place. The clips are left-handed and right-handed, so changing one at a time is advised. Make sure the sides match exactly. Sometimes, a small amount of grease comes off with the brake pads, so apply grease to the clips to keep them from squeaking.

Sliding the new brake pads

The new clips are tighter than the old ones, but the new pads will slide into the place just like the old ones.

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Retracting the pistons

Two pistons press on the brake pads and ultimately squeeze the rotor to stop the car. Your vehicle must have one piston for each wheel, but the principle is similar on both wheels.

The DIY-ers often use a C-clamp for retracting the pistons. When we do this, the brake fluid will be pushed back into the master cylinder reservoir through a very small passage. Hence, the pistons move very slowly. Here, the key is steady pressure and patience. So, take your time and make sure you do not tear the seal or rubber boot that encircles the pistons.

Monitoring the brake fluid level

As you push the pistons back, the brake fluid level increases slowly. So, open the master cylinder reservoir and keep an eye on it. This is very important because while you are working on the second brake, the combined fluid volume on both the calipers can cause the brake fluid to overflow. If something like this happens, then suck out some of the brake fluid.

Repositioning the caliper

The pistons have been retracted, and with a little effort, you can slip over the pads with the calipers. Sometimes the fit is tight so that the calipers will slide on the new brake pads.

Reinstalling the slider bolt

Now, reinstall and retighten the slider bolt. Straighten the car’s wheels, remount the tire and tighten the lug nuts.

And finally, you are done!

Now, as you know how to change brake pads, you can replace the brake pads right at home. The process is very simple, and with a couple of basic car tools, you can save at least 115 to 250 dollars per axle (which can be more for luxury or sports cars). 

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