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Replacing Disc Brakes Pads: A Step By Step Procedure

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Learning about replacing disc brakes can be extremely helpful if you're planning to save on labor costs. If you're looking for how to replace disc brake pads, here's all you need to do:

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  • Step #1: Purchase the right brake pads
  • Step #2: Allow your car to cool down
  • Step #3: Use the right tool to loosen the lug nuts
  • Step #4: Jack up the vehicle
  • Step #5: Remove the wheels completely
  • Step #6: Take out the caliper bolts
  • Step #7: hang the calibers
  • Step #8: replace the brake pads
  • Set #9: Install the new brake pads
  • Step #10: Inspect the brake fluid
  • Step #11: Put the calipers back
  • Step #12: Put the vehicle's wheel back
  • Step #13: test the brakes by starting the vehicle
  • Step #14: Give your vehicle test drive

Your vehicle braking system is one of the most critical systems you need to maintain to prevent dealing with safety issues. Unfortunately, since the brake pads are not designed to last forever, you'll get to the point of time where the disc brake pads wear out and require replacement.

If your vehicle is equipped with a disc brake system, replacing the disc brake pads is not a complicated job, and it's something you can do by yourself without needing a professional. All you must prepare is a couple of tools to get the pads on your vehicle, so you don't have to worry about your safety issues.

This article provides you with a step-by-step procedure on how to replace the disc brake pads. It also highlights some additional details that you'll need to know to learn more about your brake system.

What's the difference between drum brake and disc brake systems?

Before we dive into the details about replacing disc brake pads, it's critical to differentiate between two common types of the brake system that you might encounter in the automobile world: the drum brake and the disc brake system.

  • Drum brake system

The drum brake system is the oldest type of brake that you might encounter. It was introduced first back in the 90s. As the name suggests, the drum brake system consists of a big trauma that relies on hydraulic power to create friction between the brake shoe and the drum.

The drum brake system consists of a couple of important components, including the drum itself, a large cast metal ring, and the drum shoe, which gets pushed towards the drum to generate the friction to slow down your vehicle and stop gradually. The brake shoe relies on a cylinder to force the shoes towards the brake drum using hydraulic power.

  • Disc brake system

On the other hand, the disc brake system consists of the disc brake rotor, the brake caliper assembly that relates to lug nuts to the vehicle's wheel. Every time you hit the brake pedal; you generate pressure on one side of the disc brake rotor through the brake pad contact surface. The brake caliper is responsible for squeezing the brake rotor depending on how much force you provide on the brake pedal to increase the friction on the brake rotor and make your vehicle slow down and then stop.

Replacing disc brake pads: step by step procedure

After understanding that the disc brake system differs significantly from the drum brake system, this procedure that we will highlight will only focus on replacing these brake pads in vehicles equipped with a disc brake system, not in the ones equipped with a drum brake system.

Let's take a closer look at how to replace disc brake pads in your vehicle:

  • Step #1: Purchase the right brake pads

Before you move any step further, it's extremely critical that you purchased the right brake pads. There are plenty of available brake pads in the stores, and each brake pad might be compatible with your car and might not. Also, brake pads come with different qualities and thicknesses. Therefore, you might want to explore the different available brake pads that provide you with additional benefits without breaking your budget.

  • Step #2: Allow your car to cool down

Once you have the right brake pads, the next step is to allow your vehicle to cool down because most of the internal metal components might be extremely hot, which means you might get Injured whenever you touch any of these components.

  • Step #3: Use the right tool to loosen the lug nuts

As you might already know, the brake pads are hidden beneath the wheel, which means that you must loosen and remove the lug nuts to access the location of the brake pads. Experts recommend never to loosen and remove all tires simultaneously and start working with one axle at a time. It's recommended that you go with the first axle in the front and then end up with the second Axel in the back.

  • Step #4: Jack up the vehicle

Replacing the brake pads requires working underneath the vehicle. Therefore, you need to learn how to carefully track up your vehicle using the Jack stand and secure the car, so it doesn't fall on you as you're working under the vehicle.

  • Step #5: Remove the wheels completely

After loosening the lug nuts in the first step, the next step is to completely remove the wheels once your vehicle is raised using the Jack stand.

  • Step #6: Take out the caliper bolts

For this step, you will need a specific socket or ring spinners with the correct size to remove the caliper that is connected to your vehicle's brake rotor.

Typically, the caliper comes either in two pieces or one piece, and it either has four bolts or tools. In general, it’ll take you a little bit of effort to remove the bolts because they might be well tightened. Therefore, it's advised that you use WD40 and spray it on both bolts to make it easier to take them out.

It's important to note that sometimes the caliper might be under pressure, which means that if you try to take it out, it will probably fly out, which means that you should keep yourself away from the path as you're taking them off.

Depending on your vehicle's type, you might find performance washers fitted between the mounting surface and the caliper mounting bolts, which means that you need to take those out as well to access the brake pads.

You might need to follow extra steps if you are replacing the brake pads in a Japanese vehicle because those come with sliding calipers and require certain tools to get removed.

  • Step #7: hang the calibers

Once you're done disconnecting the calipers, there will still be a line connecting them to the wheels. Therefore, it's recommended that you use a small piece of wire to hang the calipers to the wheels carefully without breaking them.

  • Step #8: replace the brake pads

At this point, you'll be able to access the brake pads immediately after you remove the calipers from the way. Usually, the brake pads can be snapped out of the metal clip, and it should be very simple to pop it out and install the new one. However, be careful as you take out the brake pads to avoid damaging the caliper because it adds to high repair costs.

As you're replacing the brake pads, it's recommended that you perform a visual inspection of the rotors to ensure that there are no cracks or damages happened due to the worn-out brake pads. If that's the case, you have to replace the rotors not to damage the new brake pads. So yes, repair costs will be slightly higher, and you might need to consult your mechanic to replace the brake rotor if it's a little bit more complicated than replacing the brake pads, but that's the only choice to get your vehicle's brake system to work properly.

  • Set #9: Install the new brake pads

Once you're done removing the old brake pads, you can go ahead and install the new ones. Experts recommend that you spray some anti-seize replication on the brake pads to prevent any squeaking or squealing noises.

Keep in mind that it's never recommended that you get the lubrication inside the brake pads because it might impact how these brake pads generate friction with the rotor, which means that it might impact how your brake is system functions.

  • Step # 10: Inspect the brake fluid

Another important tip as you're replacing the brake pads is to inspect the brake fluid. Depending on the condition of your vehicle, the brake fluid might not be at the optimum level, which means you need to top it off until it's enough for your vehicle's braking system to function properly.

  • Step # 11: Put the calipers back

At this point, you should be good to go with reversing the process and putting everything back the way it was. Start by putting back the calipers. However, if the calipers are not in good condition, you might need to replace them since you have already removed the wheels and have good access to the brake calipers.

  • Step # 12: Put the vehicle's wheel back

After installing the calipers, placed the wheels back and tightened them well with the lug nuts.

  • Step #13: test the brakes by starting the vehicle

After installing the new brakes, the next step is to put your vehicle to neutral or park after bringing it back to the ground. Then, press the brake pedals at least 15 to 20 times to confirm that the brake pads are working properly.

  • Step #14: Give your vehicle test drive

Finally, at this point, you can go ahead and give your vehicle a test drive. It's recommended that you don't go more than five mph, especially if you're testing your vehicle and or residential area. Once you're comfortable with the braking system and feel that it's working just the way it should, you can increase the speed up to 10 miles per hour and then gradually reach 35 or 40 mph.

At this point, whatever problems you were noticing from the braking system should be illuminated. If you still see symptoms indicating that there is still an issue with the brake pads, they must consult your mechanic and have him perform a thorough inspection to confirm that you installed the brake pads properly.

Can I replace these brake pads by myself?

Absolutely! Automotive experts indicated that you'd be extremely surprised by how easy installing your disc brake pads is because the process is very simple and requires very limited tools without any advanced mechanical skill sets.

Many automotive experts recommend learning how to replace her disc brake pads yourself without a mechanic because the brake pads are expected to wear out continuously. When you learn the skill sets, you can save yourself a lot of money on labor costs.

However, it would be best if you never attempted to replace your vehicle's pads unless you're fully prepared. In other words, it's recommended that you go through some YouTube videos tutorials on your vehicle's type to get accurate guidance on what exactly needs to be done when it comes to replacing the brake pads.

Keep in mind that this article serves as general guidance on how to replace your disc brake pads. Still, it doesn't substitute reaching out to your mechanic and getting additional advice to eliminate introducing mistakes that could cost you a lot of money.

How much does it cost to replace these brake pads?

Replacing the disc brake pad should cost you somewhere close to $150 per axle. You might need to replace both brake pads, which means that the total costs can be close to $300. This prize differs significantly depending on your vehicle's type and the material he decided to go with, plus where you ended up doing the job.

That's why automotive experts recommend that you'll learn how to replace the brake pads yourself to save on labor costs because brake pad replacement is not a cheap job, which means that whatever you can do yourself can help you eliminate labor costs.


Your vehicle's brake pads are very critical components, and they are susceptible to wear out over time of use. Therefore, you'll get up to a point where you must replace the brake pads to maintain your safety and control your vehicle and slow down when necessary.

This article is focused on replacing these brakes pads, not the drum brake pads. However, it provided you with a step-by-step procedure for performing the replacement yourself without needing a mechanic here. This way, you save a ton on labor costs.

Keep in mind that if your vehicle has other major mechanical problems related to the engine or the transition, it might not be worth your time and investment in replacing the brake pads. Instead, you might want to consider selling your vehicle and using its value towards purchasing a better car.

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