Easy Steps: How to Change Brake Pads and Rotors
Whether you’re trying to save a little money or you just enjoy the challenge honing your automotive skills, here is an article on how to change brake pads and rotors.
After this article you will know that changing brake pads isn’t grueling and know all the tools you need to get the job done without paying a hefty cost.
Brakes are a seemingly complicated device, some may say “intimidating” but its actually not as complex as you think like buffing your car.
Its definitely a crucial part of you ride; I mean it saves lives multiple times a day.
Our intention is to show you how simple the process can be, with a little patience and the right tools.
For instance, if you change all four brakes at once, it only takes 8 bolts, that’s not including the lug nuts.
So lets get started:
First you will need a couple of tools to do this correctly. There are tools needed to change brake pads listed in order of use below. The list is followed by the actual process of how to change brakes pads and rotors
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Tools needed to change brake pads and rotors
A Car Jack: You use the jack to elevate the car off the ground. There are different types of jacks, as long as you can lift the car off the ground safely thats what matters the most. We recommend that you use jack stands because they will make the process much easier and quicker.
Lug wrench aka Tire Iron: Once your vehicle is lifted off the ground the lug wrench comes into play. Depending on the car, you may remove 5 lugs and in some cases 6 or 7 lugs that you will place aside.
Flat head screwdriver: The screwdriver is more of a prying mechanism you can use whatever you have available
Four bolts 8 nuts and 8 washers: If you are working on a older car it is important that you have these.
Clamp or Vise Grip: This will plays an essential role when installing the rotors. If you aren’t able to compress the piston then you will have a major problem.
Brakes and Rotors: It is very bad for your vehicle if you only replace one of these Items. it is highly suggested you purchase both brakes and rotors.
How to Change Brake Pads and Rotors of your Car
Step 1: Jacking Up The Car
First, as a precaution, pop the hood and check your brake fluid. If we need to top it off wait until after we change the brakes. Same way you would use a auto multimeter to check the car battery voltage or give your car a jump start.
Next, take your tire iron and rotate all lug nuts one full turn. You don’t want to completely remove the lug nuts at this point. Once your vehicle is elevated, making that first initial turn can be dangerous so you want to get that out the way.
Now we have to jack up the car and provide it with some stabilization. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to use jack stands under the manufacturer’s recommended locations. Depending on the type of vehicle you are lifting it is essential that you use that proper locations of the jack stands.
If you take a vehicle with a substantial amount of suspension or the exact opposite, with no suspension you put yourself and your vehicle in jeopardy. If jack stands are not an option, once you jack your vehicle, place the wheel under the vehicle close to where you are operating.
If the vehicle falls will probably save your yourself. Once you’ve found the correct points to elevate your vehicle and you stabilize it we can begin removing the wheels.
Step 2: Removing the wheels
Now that we have loosened the lug nuts and elevated the vehicle we can completely remove all the lug nuts. Its best to remove the lug nuts in the star pattern just to keep a habit of using the star pattern.
For those who aren’t familiar the star pattern is used for torquing the wheel. This means you are ensuring the the wheels are installed as tight and evenly as possible. A improperly installed wheel can cause brake pads to wear uneven, and tire wear. This could also lead to a very uncomfortable ride .
Once you remove the wheel, even if you have jack stands, we still recommend putting your wheels under the vehicle. Incase of a terrible accident it is a good idea to protect your suspension and yourself.
Once we loosened the lug nuts and and removed the wheels you will have access to the rotor and calipers. If you have problems removing the wheel it is as simple as wiggling one side at a time. This will provide access to the entire car brake.
Step 3: Removing the Brake Caliper
Our next step will be removing the the caliper, for such a essential system it is very easy to remove. The brake caliper is what holds your brake pads in place over the rotor.
Its a very simple mechanism that place a very important role.
There will be two bolts on the back of the caliper once the caliper is free you will be faced with the most difficult part of this process.
Step 4: Removing the Rotor
Removing the rotors will be extra tricky if the vehicle has a lot of miles on it. The rotor has the greatest resistance due to how the rotor is secured on the axle.
This is where the silicon based lubricant comes in you want to put this every place possible.
The silicon based lubricant is, the more the lubricant the easier it will be to remove. This is where the nuts, bolts and washers come into play. There are multiple methods for removing the rotor but I personally prefer saving time and effort with this method.
You will place one bolt and washer through the same whole that you remove the bolts holding on the caliper. These bolts will have to be smaller the the one holding the caliper but long enough to reach the back of the rotor.
Once you put the bolts through the caliper mount you have to place1 washer and 2 nuts on the bolts.
The first nut will be tighten to the back of the caliper mount.
The second will be placed at the tip of the bolt in order to apply pressure. You will repeat this process for the second caliper mount hole, it is important to provide an even amount of pressure the this process. You will rotate going back and forth adjusting the inside occasionally trying to pull off the rotor.
Step 5: Removing the Brake Pad
Now that we got through the hard part, we have to next remove the brake pads from the caliper. This should be fairly simple you can just push from the back of the caliper and it comes right off. Before you do that there will be a spring mechanism this is just a little bent piece of metal that we will need for the reassembly.
Once the brake pads are removed you will notice that the piston is going to be extended out. This is where your clamp comes in. You just simply place the clamp on the piston and tighten it until it’s back in.
Step 6: Reinstalling the Brake Mechanism
After we ensure the brake line is still attached we will start the reassembly.
First we are gonna remove our little nut and bolts, and put on the rotor. Once we securely place the rotor on, we are going to place our brake pads back into the caliper.
The brake pads often have to different mounting mechanism so make sure you put the correct one on each side.
It is important that you put the brake pad all the way in the caliper in order to make you life easier in the reassembly.
After the brake pads are back in the caliper we are going to place the entire thing back on the rotor.
Don’t forget to put the spring mechanism back on the caliper. Now the the caliper is reassembled we are going to put it back on the rotor and try to line up the holes on the caliper, with the caliper mount.
It should be a bit of a snug fit which is good you just need a little elbow grease. Once the caliper holes are aligned we to put the bolts back through to secure the caliper on the rotor. Some vehicles require particular bolts to go back in the top and the bottom rotor, if you have a problem just switch bolts.
Step 7: Putting the Wheels back on
Now that the brake pads are reassembled we will need to put our wheels back on. Like I mentioned before we want to use the star pattern here, it just makes sure we have the lug nuts as tight as possible. Sometimes aligning the bolts and the wheel holes can be very tedious, align the tire while it’s still on the ground then lift a adjust accordingly.
If you notice you tire is a little low, get a tire inflator and compressor to adjust the tire pressure
Video on How to Change Brake Pads and Rotors
Once thats done you are all good to go whenever you replace your brakes you always want to travel slow at first.
The brake pedal may go straight to the floor after you press it the first few times so do this for safety. Press the brake hard a few times and make sure you have enough pressure. Once you do, you will feel a real sense of accomplishment.
Hope we made learning how change brake pads simple. Remember how to change car brakes also includes the rotors, yes people have just changed their brake pads without the rotor- but in most cases you need to change also change the cars rotors.