How to Change your Brake Pads

Changing disc brake pads isn’t difficult and could save you a lot of money in terms of professional labour charges.

Should you start urgently checking your car for signs of brake pad wear? That certainly might be necessary if you’re experiencing problems with the quality of braking. For example, squealing noises from the area of your wheels when braking might be a sign that your pads need changing. Another might be juddering sensations in the car or through the steering wheel when applying the brakes. Keep in mind that many modern brake pads are fitted with strips of metal that are specifically designed to start making a noise when they’re worn – so if they do this, don’t ignore it!

Brake pads

What you’ll need

The following information applies specifically to disc brake pads as opposed to drum brake shoes. Be sure you know the difference between the two. Also, you’ll need a degree of mechanical aptitude and some tools. Although it’s a relatively easy job, making major mistakes with your braking system is a definite no-no. So if mechanical work isn’t your speciality then consider using a professional. If you do go ahead, you’ll need a car jack, correct stands to support the partial weight of the car once jacked up (don’t use the jack alone or wood/bricks) and a selection of basic tools such as spanners, adjustable spanners, a wheel brace, a ‘C’ clamp and possibly some screwdrivers. You’ll also need new pads of the correct type, which you should only source from a recognised provider of high-quality braking solutions and brake parts for all cars.

Car brakes

The method

As there are some differences between different vehicles, be sure to research your specific car online so as to avoid any nasty surprises – and remember that the following information is a general rather than specific guide.

Start by jacking up then supporting your car. Using your wheel brace, remove the wheel. Underneath, you’ll see a metal frame, the calliper, running part of the way along a section of the wheel hub’s interior circumference. If you look, you’ll see that this is held in place by (generally) two bolts from the back. Simply remove the bottom of the two and this should allow you to swing the calliper up and out of the way. DO NOT disconnect any hydraulic pipes you see. By swinging the calliper up, you should see the brake pad held in by metal clips. Simply remove these (or loosen the pad from them) and the old pad should slide out. Slide your new pad back in, greasing the clips beforehand (your pad will usually come with new clips) to keep the noise down. Make sure they’re secure. The trickiest part is swinging the calliper back into place because when you swing it up, a small hydraulic piston (sometimes two) pushes out. This/these will need to be pushed back in using your ‘C’ clamp or another method of your choice. Once you have done so, the calliper will pivot back into place and then just needs to be secured with the lower bolt. Simply re-fit the wheel and the job’s done. 

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