Brake Pad And Rotor Replacement Guide

Brake Pad And Rotor Replacement Guide

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Knowing how to do a brake pad and rotor replacement is a skill that can save you a lot of money. Doing this process wrong, however, can create danger for you and other drivers. Our brake pad and rotor replacement guide below explains the basics, though we always recommend checking a vehicle-specific service manual. For more details, get in touch with the BraketimeUSA team.

Knowing how to do a brake pad and rotor replacement is a skill that can save you a lot of money. Doing this process wrong, however, can create danger for you and other drivers. Our brake pad and rotor replacement guide below explains the basics, though we always recommend checking a vehicle-specific service manual. For more details, get in touch with the BraketimeUSA team.

Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement: Things to Keep in Mind

Safety, Above All

Brake pad and rotor replacement is not something to be taken lightly. The risk of death or injury is not worth the reward of saving a few bucks by not using jack stands. Go slow, be thorough, and prioritize safety.

Rust Requires Patience

Check for rust before attempting a brake pad and rotor replacement. Using a proper penetrant can loosen up rusty, seized bolts, but you'll have to wait for it to do its job. Getting impatient and using excess force to remove a rusty bolt can cause it to snap, which turns the simple "how to change rear brake pads" question into the nightmarish "how to drill and tap threads" problem.

Quality = Longevity

Quality parts are an investment that's worth the money, especially for a front brake and rotor replacement. Low-quality pads wear down faster, and the same applies to brake rotors. So, if you're wondering how often to replace rotors, invest in the good stuff and the answer will be much more pleasant.

The Tools Required to Change Brake Pads and Rotors

Before starting your brake pad and rotor replacement, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  • Jack and two jack stands
  • Socket wrench with a complete socket set
  • Torque wrench
  • Battery-powered impact wrench and lug nut sockets
  • Thick rubber gloves and eye protection
  • Brake cleaner
  • Anti-seize
  • Rust penetrant
  • Mallet (or a brake rotor puller)
  • Wire brush
  • C-Clamp or caliper piston tool
  • Brake bleeding kit

Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement Steps

The entire process can take anywhere from half an hour to three hours per wheel, depending on the vehicle, your skill level, and any issues that arise.


Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement Steps

Getting to the Brakes

  • Put on your gloves and eye protection
  • Chock the rear or front wheels (opposite of where you'll be raising)
  • Crack (slightly loosen) the lug nuts on the wheel(s) you'll be removing
  • Jack up one side of your car using the correct jack point1
  • Place a jack stand at the correct jack stand point1
  • Lower the jack until the car rests on the jack stand1
  • Remove the lug nuts and slide the wheel off of the wheel studs1
Removing Brake Pads

Removing Brake Pads

  • Locate the brake caliper mounting bolts
  • Turn the steering wheel to expose the rear side of the caliper
  • Remove the caliper mounting bolts with your socket wrench1
  • Move the caliper away from the rotor, being careful not to pinch the brake hose1
  • Use your bungee cord to suspend the caliper somewhere safe in the wheel well1
  • Slide the brake pads out from the caliper bracket;1 take note of their original orientation and current wear pattern
Removing Rotors

Removing Rotors

The brake rotor removal tool and method is one that can be rather cathartic.1

  • Remove the brake caliper bracket bolts1
  • Remove the brake caliper bracket from the wheel hub, exposing the brake rotor1
  • Try to pull the rotor off by hand1
  • If that doesn't work, spray some rust penetrant around the base of the wheel studs1
  • Hit the back of the rotor with a mallet until it's free from the studs1
  • Pull the rotor off by hand1

If the mallet method fails and you're still wondering how to remove a stuck rotor, try threading appropriately sized bolts through the two holes on the front of the rotor.1 If you then try removing brake rotor screws and the rotor still won't budge, try hitting the rotor's front side with the mallet.

For both front and rear brake and rotor replacement procedures, these steps will create an ideal surface for the new brake rotors:

  • Spray the face of the wheel hub with rust penetrant1
  • Scrub the face of the wheel hub with your wire brush1
Installing New Brake Rotors and Brake Pads

Installing New Brake Rotors and Brake Pads

Whether you're using simple solid discs or performance drilled and slotted rotors, the steps will usually be the same:

  • Spray both sides of the new brake rotor with brake cleaner1 to remove the factory coating and wait for it to dry
  • Put some anti-seize on the base of the wheel studs1 to make the next brake pad and rotor replacement easier
  • Slide the new rotor onto the wheel studs1
  • Reinstall the brake caliper bracket1

Next, take the pads out of your brake pads and rotor kit. Open the brake fluid reservoir cap,1 then do the following:

  • Slide off the old brake pad clips out of the caliper bracket1
  • Put some of the included grease on the new brake pad clips and install the clips into the brake caliper bracket1
  • Slide the new high-quality brake pads into the caliper bracket1
  • Compress the brake caliper piston using an appropriately sized C-clamp1
  • Slide the caliper over the caliper bracket and brake pads1
  • Partially tighten the caliper mounting bolts with your socket wrench1
  • Fully tighten the caliper mounting bolts to the correct torque specification using your torque wrench1
Testing and Bleeding the Brakes

Testing and Bleeding the Brakes

The answer to the question "How long does it take to do a full brake job?" can be much harder to swallow if you button everything up and then discover that something is wrong afterward.

So, before you reinstall the wheel, sit in the car and slowly pump the brake pedal (not all the way to the floor) until everything feels firm.

Additionally, you'll want to bleed your brakes after every brake pad and rotor replacement for the sake of safety because when you compressed the caliper piston earlier, air may have entered the system. The general brake bleeding procedure is as follows:

  • Attach the bleeder hose to the caliper's bleeder valve1
  • Build vacuum pressure in the bleeder tool1
  • Crack the bleeder valve open, watching for bubbles1
  • Shut the caliper's bleeder valve1
  • Repeat the above steps until no more bubbles come out1
  • Repeat on each caliper in the service manual's specified order (i.e., front-left, then rear-right, etc.)1
  • Refill the brake fluid reservoir – make sure it never goes empty throughout the process1
  • Test the feel of the brake pedal and repeat the brake bleeding process if necessary
  • Reinstall the car's wheels1
  • Retest the feel of the brake pedal once the car is on the ground
Break the Brakes

Break in ("Bed") the Brakes

Some guides covering "how to replace brake pads and rotors" won't mention it, but once everything is buttoned up, you still need to break in the brakes. Generally, this will go as follows:

  • Find an empty, long, and quiet stretch of paved road with a 50-60 mph speed limit
  • Accelerate to around 30 mph1
  • Use light to moderate brake pressure to decelerate to around five mph
  • Repeat three times1
  • Accelerate to around 50 mph1
  • Apply strong brake pressure to decelerate to around five mph1
  • Repeat all of the above steps a few times
  • Drive normally for a few miles while only using light brake pressure

And that's it. Your brake pad and rotor replacement is complete!

If you have any questions about the specific details involved in this process or how to find the right information for your car, or if you need a brake pad and rotor kit of your own, don't hesitate to contact the BraketimeUSA team.



Frequently Asked Questions

Can I replace brake pads and rotors myself?

You can replace brake pads and rotors yourself, but because this involves intermediate-level mechanical work, it is not recommended for anyone without experience. If you haven't done basic car work like an at-home oil change, do not attempt to replace any brake components. You will be tampering with your vehicle's critical safety system. Any errors can put you, your loved ones, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk.

Do you need to bleed brakes when changing pads?

You should bleed your brakes when changing the pads, as the caliper piston compression step can introduce air into the brake lines. Additionally, if the brake lines are exposed for any amount of time, you will also need to bleed your brakes. You should also consider bleeding your brakes if you find that your brake pedal feels softer than usual.

What tools do I need to change brake pads and rotors?

If you have deep experience and are confident in your skills, you can use the following tools to complete a brake pad and rotor replacement:

  • Jack and at least two jack stands
  • Socket wrench and socket set (including lug nut sockets)
  • Torque wrench
  • Impact wrench
  • Anti-seize
  • Brake cleaner
  • Mechanic gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • New pads and rotors
  • Bungee cord
  • Mallet
  • C-Clamp

1This guide is not intended to replace this service, which should be performed by a dealership or a licensed mechanic. The information listed is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but omissions or errors may be present. It is your sole responsibility for any injuries and damages incurred as a result of performing such actions contained in this web page. Contact us for complete details.

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