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How to Replace Brake Pads

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Brakes are a pretty important part of your car. Some might even say they’re life-saving (by some we mean everyone). So should you really be messing around with your brakes? You definitely should. Not only will you save a lot of money, but it’s actually a lot quicker and easier than you would guess—especially if you follow these easy steps on how to replace brake pads!

    1. Gather the right tools. As Scar from The Lion King so eloquently said to the hyenas, “Be prepared!” You can find all of the things you need either in your garage already or at any auto shop in your town. The necessary equipment is listed below:
          • disposable mechanic’s gloves
          • jack and jack stand
          • lug wrench
          • c-clamp or a length of wood to retract the piston
          • a socket wrench
          • a turkey baster (trust us on this one)
          • a plastic tie or bungee cord
          • new brake pads
          • can of the proper type of brake fluid, which you can find in your car’s manual.
    2. Remove your wheels and slider bolts. First, loosen the lug nuts on the wheel before jacking up your car. After your car is on the jack stand, go ahead and remove your wheels entirely. It’s also best to do one side of your car before moving onto the next. When the tires are removed, go ahead and find the two slider bolts (also known as “pins”) that hold the caliper in place. Depending on your car, they could be either inside or outside of the wheel well. It’s only necessary to move the bottom bolt.
    3. Pivot the caliper and check the thickness. The caliper should pivot up easily once the bottom bolt is removed, giving you access to the brake pads. If the hydraulic lines don’t flex to allow you to pivot the caliper, reassemble the brakes and go to a mechanic shop because you’re probably doing something wrong. If everything’s going fine, then it’s time to check the thickness of your brake pad. If the friction material is 1/8th of an inch or less, it’s time to replace them!
    4. Slide the old brakes out and replace the old retaining clips. Once the caliper is pivoted, you should be able to easily slide the old brakes out of place. After this is done, you’ll more likely than not have to replace the old retaining clips with the new once, which should have come with your new brake pads. These clips just snap into place, so it should be easy enough to get in and out. There are both left-handed and right-handed clips, so make sure you replace the proper ones.
    5. Apply the grease and slide the new pads in. Usually your brake pads will come with a small packet of grease. Once the retaining clips are on, apply the grease to the clips in order to prevent them from squeaking. If you do this, the new brake pads should slide easily into the clips, just like the old ones slid out.
    6. Push back the pistons on the caliper. Before lowering the caliper, you need to make sure the pistons are retracted so that they will fit over the new, thicker brake pads. This can be done with either the C-clamp or some wood. Pushing these back can take some patience, especially if you have two pistons instead of one, but it is easy enough. Just make sure you don’t nick the rubber seal that protects the pistons! Also, make sure you’re consistently checking the main brake fluid reservoir, since the brake fluid is being pushed back into it when the pistons are pushed back. If it becomes too full, use the turkey baster to remove some of the fluid.
    7. Pivot the caliper back to its original position, replace the bolt, and re-mount the tire. Make sure you replace everything you moved, putting the caliper in its previous position, tightening the bottom caliper bolt, and putting the tire back on properly.
    8. Test drive your car. Make sure it’s under safe conditions, but make sure everything is working properly with a quick drive around the block. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

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If you follow these steps on how to replace brake pads, you won’t have to bring your car into the shop for this reason again! If you have your own advice you’d like to share, tell us about it below!