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How to Change Brake Pads

Brakes are the single most important part of you vehicle, hands down. It is critical for your own and everyone else's personal safety to make sure your brakes work properly. You shouldn't be scared to change your own brakes, but you should be confident with your skills. If you don't know the difference between a Phillips head and a flat head screw driver, you should bring your car to a mechanic.

Preparation tips:

Take plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the brakes before you start working on your car. Also work on one side at a time. This way, if you mess up you can reference the other side.

Obviously you will buy the pads before you start. But which ones will you buy? Cheap, generic pads wear out quickly and even though you may be spending less money now, you will ultimately be spending more money and time in the long run. More expensive pads are less prone to leaving your front wheels covered in unsightly black dust.

Changing the Pads:

1. Engage the parking brake put something behind the rear tires so that the car cannot move.
2. Loosen the lug nuts around the wheel.
3. Raise the car with a jack and secure it on jack stands.
4. Remove the lug nuts and the wheel.
5. Now you can see the brake calipers holding the brake pads in place against the rotor. There are two pads per wheel that squeeze the rotor. Use a C-clamp to compress the caliper piston into the caliper housing. This will make it possible to remove the caliper assembly and create enough space for the increased pad width of the new brake pads.
6. Unbolt the caliper mounting bolts and pull the caliper back from the rotor. Be careful not to bend or break the brake hose. Sometimes the caliper mounting bolts require you to use a torx or star bit instead of a normal socket. Plan ahead and make sure you have the right tools for the job to save yourself a trip back to the parts store before your brakes are disassembled.
7. Remove the brake pads from the caliper. Examine them for unusual or uneven wear. Is only one pad worn down? Are the pads worn down on an angle? These could be signs of problems that need to be addressed immediately.
8. This is also a good time to examine the condition of the rotors. If they have deep grooves, or if your car shudders when you hit the brakes, then you will need to get the rotors turned or replaced.
9. Install the new pads in the caliper. Usually, it's best to place the inner pad first, then the outer pad second. You may have to depress the piston fully into the caliper housing in order to provide enough space for the new pads.
10. Once the pads are properly seated in the caliper, put the caliper back on the rotor and bolt it firmly in place.
11. If everything is correct, you may put the wheel back on, hand tighten the lug nuts, and lower the car to the ground. Finish tightening the lug nuts in a star pattern so that they are even.

Replacing your pads is rather simple if you know what you are doing and have the right tools. If it's your first time you might want to call a buddy over just to make sure to don't skip any steps. Important: test your brakes before taking your car into traffic. Stop and start a few times just to make sure everything is installed properly.

About The Author If you are looking for quality products, I recommend EBC rotors and Hawk brake pads. I've found that they last much longer than generic parts. - Mike Rosania
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