As you know, your brakes play an important part in keeping you, your passengers, and other drivers safe on the roads. Like most automotive parts however, brake pads weren't made to last forever, and need to be changed periodically. If you're hearing a sort of screeching sound when you press the brake pedal, or your vehicle begins to vibrate like there's a rock concert going on beneath you, it is probably time to change your brake pads. Most newer vehicles even have brake-pad sensors that are able to alert you when your brakes need changing. If you ignore all of these signs and continue to drive with depleted brake pads, you're not only risking your own safety, but the safety of others on the road as well.
Even though changing the brake pads on most vehicles with 1 or 2 piston calipers and rotors is relatively the same, we always recommend first checking your vehicle's service manual to know for sure. Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, the first step to changing your brakes is gathering up the tools that you'll need. Most commonly, you'll be using a 3/8" Rachet and Sockets, a ½" Rachet and Sockets, Extensions for your rachets and sockets, ½" Breaker Bar, Open-ended wrenches, Torx and Hex sockets (mainly for German vehicles), C-Clamp, Jack, Jack Stands, Pry Bar, Wd-40, and Gloves.
After you've figured out what tools you'll need in order to get the job done, you'll need to loosen the lug nuts on your front wheels. Be sure to turn your breaker bar counter-clockwise with the vehicle still on the ground. Another thing to remember is that you're only loosening the nuts right now, not removing them completely. When you've got the lug nuts nice and loose, feel free to jack your vehicle up, and place the jack stands under secure and sturdy pieces of the vehicle's frame. Note: your vehicle's weight should not shift while resting on the jack stands.
Once it's raised on the jack stands, you can now remove the lug nuts, and take the tires off of your vehicle. While you've got them removed, now is a great time to clean off your wheels with a hose and some degreaser. Now that the wheel is off, you'll need to loosen the caliper. The caliper should have either two 12mm or 14mm bolts on it that you'll have to remove. If you have troubles sliding your caliper once the bolts are off, you may want to use a pry bar or a flathead screwdriver to pry them out.
Now that your caliper bolts are off, you can remove the caliper from the rotor. Note: the brake line will still be attached to the caliper. This is a good thing. Do not remove the brake line, or hang the caliper by the brake line. In fact, don't put any pressure on the brake line if you can help it. At this point you can remove the brake pads from the rotor. Depending on which vehicle you have, they will either slide off or pop out.
When you've got the old pads off, you can put the new pads on. Be sure to apply brake grease to the back of the pads when you put them on to reduce the annoying squeaking noise that pressing the brake pedal can sometimes cause. Do not put any grease on the front of your brake pads or the rotor itself. If you do, wipe it off immediately and make sure it's completely gone, otherwise you're going to have a bad day. After getting the new pads in the correct place, you can now reassemble the caliper system. You'll need to use a brake tool to extend your calipers as they have been used to your old wore-down brake pads.
After you've got the caliper assembly back on correctly and you've made sure everything it tight, you can now put the wheels back on, begin to tighten the lug nuts, and take your vehicle off of the jack stands. Once it's on the ground, you can fully tighten the nuts, and voila! Your brake pads have been changed
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