That is why it is important to regularly check and replace brake pads. While many car repair stores offer this service, doing it yourself only takes about an hour and can save you up to $250. This article will quickly guide you through the basics of brake pad replacement.
What kind of driving do you do? Drivers battling traffic jams on the daily commute have much different needs than a weekend warrior trying to make the best lap time. Pads that are a good fit for normal driving are rarely good for racing (and vice versa).
In all honesty, your braking needs are probably average. Unless your vehicle is used extensively for towing and hauling – or you really are a weekend racer – any normal use brake pad will work.
However, not all “normal” pads are the same. Some after-market pads are – in a word – terrible, while other after-market pads are quite good. Here’s how you can find out.
First, Listen to Squeaky Brakes-The first sign of wear is a squeaky sound when the brake is applied. Once you hear this sound, it is absolutely time to replace the worn down brake pads. Disc brakes include a specific part known as a wear indicator. The wear indicator is a piece of metal actually attached to the brake pad. When the pad becomes too thin, the brake pad will touch the brake rotor. The grinding of these two pieces of metal against one another is what causes the common squealing brake sound. Thus, the wear indicator makes that sound on purpose to let you know it is time for brake pad replacement.
Second, Get the Wheel Off- Once you realize that the brake pads need changing, the first step is removing the wheel. Loosen the lug nuts and then jack up the car. Secure the car with jack stands or blocks during this procedure. When the car is off the ground, finish unscrewing the lug nut and remove the wheel. Once the wheel has been completely removed, the brake rotor, brake caliper and brake pads will be visible.
Third,Remove the Brake Pads-The next step in brake pad replacement is to remove the two caliper bolts holding the pad in place. Their exact location may vary so be sure to have your car’s manual on hand to see exactly where they are. In some cars, the caliper can be completely removed, though it should still be connected to the brake or hydraulic line; that should never be disconnected. The brake pads should now be easy to see, and any wear or thinness should be visible. The brake pads will be held in place loosely by retainer clips, and the pads should be easy to slide out.
Finally,Retract the Caliper Piston- Before being able to put the new brake pads in, the caliper piston needs to be reset; it will have moved to compensate for the thinning brake pad. Remove the cap over the brake fluid to lower the pressure against the piston. Using a C-clamp, screwing it into place will push the piston back. Alternatively, using a piece of wood as leverage can also put the piston back into place. Then, recap the brake fluid, place the brake pads in with their new clips or screw and, finally, put that wheel back on.
After changing brake pads on your own, it is a good idea to carefully test drive the vehicle. Take the car for a slow drive around the neighborhood and try the brakes. Brake pad replacement does not require too much knowledge about mechanics; it can easily be done at home. They are many great photo and video walk-throughs online and often about specific cars. This kind of repair can save you money and keep your car safe.
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