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Brake Pad Replacement
Author : Matt Blehm
Published : 09/13/2002
Last Modified : 09/13/2002
it's kinda long (not too hard), but pictures would be very helpful. here goes anyway.

set parking brake, block rear wheels. pull wheel cover off and break loose lugnuts. (don't take them off, just break them loose while all 4 tires are still on the ground. it's safer than trying to break them loose when the car's jacked up.) unless you have an impact wrench like me. :)

once the lugs are broken loose, jack up the car (I recommend a jack stand if you have one. your calipers are pretty well bolted down and you'll need to crawl around under some dangerous parts to get everything loose.) Remove the tire and set aside.

look around on the caliper and you'll see a couple long bolts holding the clipers on. there's a 10mm and a 14mm bolt I think. It's been over a year since I've messed with them (and I've done several other cars since then), so I could be wrong. but I'm pretty sure there's two on each caliper. one large and one small.

once you undo those, the caliper should tilt up and let you remove the pads. pull the pads one at a time and inspect for uneven wear. if one's got bad wear on one side and not onthe other, or they're very rough or "ridged" or not smooth in any way, I would advise pulling the rotor and taking it with you to the parts store. Have the rotor turned, but see if the store can help you figure out why it happened. If the rotor and pads show smooth, even wear, then you're fine. jsut put in the new pads and reassemble.

Before you can put the new pads on, you'll have to pres the piston back into the caliper. inspect the rubber seal on it and make sure you don't damage it when you're pushing the piston back inside. (it's pretty hard to hurt it, but watch out nonetheless). for new pads, you'll have to compress the piston almost completely back into the caliper. usually I use a couple "C" clamps and some small pieces of steel plate to reach across it and clamp it back in there like a portable vice. you'll have to use whatever you've got around to do it.

once you get that done, pull the metal shims off your old pads and put them on the new ones. they don't lok that important, but they help prevent squealing and vibrations being tansmitted to the car through the brake system. if you don't have them, you'll notice. it also helps brake wear somehow. I don't remember why though.

before you install the new pads on the calipers, check and make sure the caliper can slide back and forth on it's "pivot" if not, then you need to knock it free (use a rubber mallet or something) and lube that shaft REALLY good. if that thing freezes, it can cause your brakes to wear really bad on one side and none on the other. under heavy braking conditions it can also cause severe problems with overheating, since only one pad is pushing on the rotor.

install the new pads on the calipers and swing the caliper back into place. reinstall all the bolts and torque down. I forget the torque, but if you just get them "really durn tight" that'll do. make sure they can't vibrate loose. usually that means tighten them down about as good as you can with an end wrench. don't use a ratchet or you may damage the head on the bolt, which will cost you $$$ later to drill and remove.

check and make sure you didn't loose any parts and that everything inside the wheel well looks to be in good shape. inspect brake lines, etc. if the hoses are cracked very badly, it's time to replace. this isn't the job for an inexperienced DIY'er. take it to a shop and let them do it. this is not one place you can afford to accidently screw something up. (it'll come and haunt you the first time you stomp on your brakes to keep from hitting grandma that just stepped out into the street) check your strut boots and make sure they're in good shape. probably by this time (if you own a 3rd gen) the strut boots are getting worn out if you haven't replaced your struts already.) Just another thing that looks minor but can really damage some $$ parts.

that's about it I think. replace the wheel and get the lugs finger tight. drop it off the jack (jack stand if you have one) and repeat for the other side.

this may sound complicated or difficult, but it's really not. just be sure to pay attention and look at what you're doing and you'll be okay. don't just start unbolting everything you see. make sure the ones you unscrew actually belong to what you're working on.

print this out and take it with you for good measure, or find a shop manual or friend that's done it before. different cars have a little different setup, but once you've done one, you can just about do them all. hope that helps. have fun and good luck! (btw, brake dust is a PIA to to wash off, so try not to get too dirty!)

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