Brake pads (BPs), calipers, and rotors… these are the individual parts that make up your car’s braking system. The components that need to be replaced most often are the pads. In fact, when you take your vehicle into the shop for a standard brake job, the mechanics are usually just changing the BPs. If your rotors have severe grooves or scoring as a result of constant exposure to heat and friction, the mechanic will usually machine (i.e. smooth) them.
Pads need to be replaced when they become too thin to stop your car effectively. You can tell whether this is the case by looking at them. You should be able to see them through the wheel cover, but if you’re unable to do so, remove the tire to inspect them.
BPs should be changed if there is less than a quarter inch of material present. If you have access to a few tools (and a few extra hours), you can avoid the repair bill and replace the pads yourself. Below, we’ll give you a quick guide for doing exactly that.
Once you park your vehicle and engage the emergency brake, place something in the front and back of your rear tires. That will prevent your car from rolling when you lift the front on the jack. Next, organize your tools so you’ll avoid searching frantically for what you need later. You’ll need a tire iron, a jack, and something in which to place the lug nuts.
Lifting Your Vehicle
Before you start jacking your car up, use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts. You don’t want to remove them; you merely want to create some slack. That way, you won’t need to struggle with them while your car is on the jack. Once you have loosened them, position the jack and lift your vehicle.
Removing The Wheel
Once your automobile has been safely lifted and is held securely on the jack, remove the lug nuts and place them into a small container. That will ensure you won’t lose them. Then, remove the wheel to access the pads.
Kneel down and inspect the assembly. You’ll see the caliper, pads, and rotor. As a review, when you press down on your brake pedal, brake fluid is sent to each wheel. The fluid causes the caliper to squeeze the pads against the rotor. That is what generates the necessary friction to bring your vehicle to a stop.
Removing The Caliper And Pads
The pads are located on either side of the rotor and are fastened to the inside surface of the caliper. There are a few bolts holding the caliper in place. Remove them and slide the component out. When you look at the underside of the caliper, you’ll see the pads fastened by bolts. Take the bolts off and remove the pads from the caliper. Assuming they’re worn down, set them aside and grab the replacements.
Because the replacement pads will have more “meat” on them than the worn pads, you’ll need to widen the gap in which they’re set. There’s a piston that you’ll need to move back. You can usually do this by hand or with the help of a C-clamp. Once you have created enough room for the new brake pads, fasten them with the bolts inside the caliper. Then, reassemble everything.
Make certain that you tighten the caliper securely in place before replacing the wheels. Then, make certain that you tighten the lug nuts in place before lowering your car to the ground. Once the jack has been removed, take your vehicle for a short drive to test your new brake pads. You may hear a small bit of scraping for a few days, but that’s common after performing this type of brake job. The important thing is that you’re safe and your rotors are less likely to become damaged.
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