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How To Replace Brake Pads – From an ASE-Certified Mechanic

If you’re anything like me you love taking on a project, there’s nothing more gratifying than tackling a problem and fixing it. Doing your own brake repair is no different. That’s why we wrote this brake pad replacement guide. Brakes have evolved over the years, overall the design is the same with some added technology such as electronic parking brakes and brake pad wear sensors. It’s always best to start with your manufactures repair procedures, a quick google search should turn up some results.

Tools needed

  • Jack stands
  • Jack
  • Wheel Chalk
  • Brake cleaner
  • Brake grease
  • Caliper pin grease
  • Hammer
  • Set of wrenches/ratchet with sockets
  • Small pry bar or flathead screwdriver
  • 4-way lug wrench/breaker bar and lug socket
  • Torque wrench
  • c-clamp/caliper piston tool

Parts

Choosing a set of replacement brake pads can be confusing there are many different brands with many different marketing messages. We have other blogs that go into depth on the different types of brake pads and the reasons they are used check out our blog on semi-metallic vs ceramic brake pads for more info. In short ceramic brake pads offer a quiet cleaner braking experience but give up a bit of stopping power. Semi-metallic brake pads offer a more aggressive stop and are generally used for larger trucks/SUVs/performance vehicles.

Getting Started

  1. Safety first – make sure your vehicle is on a flat surface.
  2. If you’re working on the front brakes engage the parking brake and place the wheel chalk behind the rear wheel. I you’re working on the rear brakes leave the parking brake disengaged and place the wheel chalk in front of the front wheel.
  3. Look for the proper jack point under your vehicle if it is a full-frame (truck/SUV) you can safely place the jack under the frame. If you have a unibody (coupes/sedans) you’ll need to look for the pinch weld located below the rocker panel. European models such as Mercedes and BMW have a small black platform located behind the rocker panel to use as a jack point.
a car on a jack

Where to place the jack on a Mercedes

proper jack placement under sedan

Where to place jack under a sedan. Look for the double pinch weld

4. Once the vehicle is up in the air you’ll want to look for a safe place to put the jack stand typically next to the jack on the frame or pinch weld.

5. When you have the vehicle safely up in the air go ahead and take the wheel off ( pro-tip sometimes it’s easier to break the lug nuts loose before jacking the vehicle up so the wheels don’t spin around on you )

A 2'u'Brakes employee replacing removing a customers wheel for brake replacement

6. Look for the two caliper bolts typically 12mm-14mm located on the back of the brake caliper and remove them. Once removed pull or pry the caliper off of the brake pads (some models have clip-in style brake pads and the brake pads will come off with the caliper.

illustration of brake caliper bolts and slide pins

7. Remove old brake pads and hardware. Once removed look for rust or grime built up and use a wire brush or file to clean off the caliper bracket. Replace brake hardware and place your brake pad replacements in.

A 2'u'Brake mechanic holding a worn out brake pad

8. Inspect the caliper piston for damage or any signs of leaking around the rubber boot. If no damage is present compress the caliper piston into the factory position by using a C-clamp/Brake caliper tool.

old brake caliper illustration

9. Pull the slide pins out of the caliper bracket and grease them using the caliper pin grease. IMPORTANT STEP!!

10. Using the brake grease put a small amount on the brake pad where ever the caliper contacts the pad. Place the caliper over the brake pads and tighten the caliper bolts with your torque wrench (look for factory torque specs online)

11. Pro-Tip before placing the wheel back on spin the rotor/hub around to listen for any part of the brake hardware hitting the rotor. Trust me you do not want to get the brake replacement all done and hear that annoying screeching sound 🙂

12. Put the wheel back on lower the vehicle down remove wheel chalks and tighten your lug nuts to factory torque specs.

13. Hop in the car crank that bad boy on and pump up the brakes make sure you have a firm pedal before taking a test drive.

14. Crack open a cold beer (not while driving) and pat yourself on the back (not while driving) for a job well done!

Conclusion

Now you can call all your buddies and let them know you can replace their brakes for them 🙂

As always 2’u’Brakes mobile brake repair is here for all of your brake replacement needs. We hope you enjoyed our guide on brake pad replacement.