Do it yourself!

Friday, March 12, 2010

How to Install Brake Pads

When your brakes are starting to make noise every time you stop your car or you find that your brakes are simply not working as well as they ought to, it is time to change your brake pads.  Changing the pads before they become too worn is important to preventing accidents.  While paying a mechanic to do the job for you may seem like the easiest way to get the job done, you might be surprised to learn how easy it can be to change the pads yourself.

In order to check your brake pads, simply look at the pads from outside the tire.  You can see them through the openings in the rim.  If the depth of the pad is less than a quarter of an inch, they need to be replaced, and if it is less than an eighth of an inch, you may be damaging your rotors.  Purchase the right pads for your car as well as brake pad grease, park in a shady and flat area on a hard surface, and gather together a jack, a tire iron, a lug wrench, and the appropriate tools for removing the specific bolts holding your pads in place.  If your pads are held in by clips, they will be easier to remove.

When you have your tools together, you can loosen the lug nuts on your front tires.  Place something behind the back wheels to prevent the car from rolling and set your parking brake.  Now it is safe to jack up the car.  Remove the lug nuts and the wheel and remove the bolts that hold the brake caliper in place.  This is the metal assembly that clamps onto the brake pads and attaches them to the rotor.  Once the caliper is removed, you can unclip the pads or remove the bolts and put the pads aside.  Check the rotor to ensure that it is not grooved or damaged.  If it is, you will need to replace it.

Assuming that your rotors are okay, you are ready to install the pads.  Find the piston at the back of the caliper and move it to the open position.  Use brake pad grease to lubricate your new pads on the back and attach them back to the caliper.  Once the pads are clipped or bolted onto the caliper, you can reattach it to the car.  Bolt the caliper into place, put the tire back on and put the lug nuts back on.  Take the car off of the jack and tighten all of the lug nuts.  Repeat the process for the other side of the car, and you are done.

When you have finished, take the car for a test drive to ensure that it is stopping properly.  You may hear slight scraping sounds, but these are to be expected with new brakes.  If you hear loud screeching or other troublesome sounds, you will want to check your work carefully.  If it still seems problematic, you will want to consult a mechanic.  Replacing your brake pads is much easier than many people believe, and with a bit of work and patience you can save a good deal of money while gaining the satisfaction of having done the job yourself.


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