Skip Navigation

How to Change Brake Pads

Brake pads are essential components to your vehicle's brake system. Over time, they absorb lots of pressure and heat causing them to slowly wear down. When you notice your brake pedal pulsing or start hearing a squeaking sound, it might be time for new brake pads. Here are the supplies and steps needed to replace brake pads on your car.

What you'll need:

  • New brake pads. Either use ones recommended by the factory or upgrade to suitable models.
  • New retaining clips. A set of brake pads typically comes with new clips to hold the pads in place.
  • Car jack and jack stands. Use the jack to lift the car and the stands to keep it off the ground.
  • Lug wrench. A lug wrench will effectively help remove each wheel's lug nuts.
  • Adjustable wrench. This tool will loosen and fasten caliper bolts.
  • C-clamp. Use this to retract the piston.
  • Grease. Rub this on the retaining clips and brake pads to prevent screeching noises.
  • Safety goggles. Use these to keep dust and other materials from your eyes.
  • Dust mask and gloves. Wear a dust mask and pair of gloves when working around brake dust.

Step 1: Keep the car on a flat surface.

Having your car on level ground keeps it from potentially rolling when you remove the tires.

alt

Step 2: Start the project when the car is cool.

The brake system tends to gather lots of heat, which lingers even after your commute. Check that the area has cooled down before starting the job. If you're replacing both front and rear brake pads, decide which set to start with.

alt

Step 3: Loosen the lug nuts on the wheels.

Don't remove each lug nut, but loosen them first by pushing down the lug nut wrench tightly.

alt

Step 4: Raise the car off the ground and insert jack stands.

Check your owner's manual or the bottom panel for an indicator to find out where to place the car jack. After placing it in the correct spot, use your jack to lift the car. Place the jack stands under the car and use the jack to slowly lower the vehicle on each stand.

alt

Step 5: Remove the lug nuts and tires.

Completely unfasten the loosened lug nuts with your wrench and remove each tire from its wheel base. Store all the loose nuts in a secure place they don't get lost before the tires are reinstalled.

alt

Step 6: Unfasten the caliper's bolts.

You'll notice a caliper fitted on the brake rotor that covers up the pads. Remove the caliper's bolts with an adjustable wrench and pivot the caliper upward. Make sure to check your rotor before proceeding. If you notice it's warped or damaged, replace the rotor immediately.

alt

Step 7: Hold the caliper with a C-clamp.

Most new calipers will hang above the brake pads via the brake line. Use the C-clamp to hang the caliper on the wheel well so it doesn't put pressure on the brake line hose. Too much pressure can damage the brake line.

alt

Step 8: Remove the old brake pads.

A car's brake pads are typically held in place with retaining clips at the top and bottom. Remove the clips and slide out the old pads.

alt

Step 9: Replace the old retaining clips.

Most new brake pads come with retaining clips, which should give your new pads more room to slide back and forth better than the old, rusted ones. Snap on the new clips and discard the old ones. Make sure to grease the retaining clips so the brake pads don't squeak.

alt

Step 10: Slide on the new brake pads.

Apply grease to the small metal tab at the top of each pad and slide them into the top and bottom clips.

alt

Step 11: Move the caliper back into place.

Once the brake pads are snapped in place, slide the caliper back down and tighten the bolts back down. If the old bolt seem rusted, consider replacing them with new ones.

alt

Step 12: Put the wheels back on.

Once you're finished installing the front or rear brake pads, slide the wheels back onto the vehicle's wheel base. Tighten each lug nut with your lug wrench but don't completely fasten them.

alt

Step 13: Remove the jack stands and lower the car.

Once you remove the jack stands, lower the car down slowly with the jack until the tires are on the ground.

alt

Step 14: Tighten the lug nuts again.

Use the lug wrench to rotate each lug nut clockwise until they are on absolutely tight.

alt

Step 15: Repeat steps 3-15 on the rear or front brakes.

If you decide to start with the rear brakepads first, repeat the same process on the front ones or vice versa.

alt

Step 16: Test the brakes.

Start the car and pump the brake about 10 times while it's in park to make sure the brake pads are placed in correctly. After you've done this, drive the car slowly at about five or 10 mph on a residential street and brake normally. Repeat this process at higher speeds. If it's responding well at 40-45 mph, you should be good to go.

alt