Brake pads exert friction on the brake rotors of your vehicle to slow your car down. Unfortunately, the heat and rubbing of braking deteriorate your brake pads, making brake pads a remarkably vulnerable component of a car’s brake system. Here is how you can replace your brake pads:
How to Replace Your Brake Pads
While it is always recommended to reach out to professional mechanics if you don’t feel comfortable changing your brakes since they are an important safety aspect of your car, you can follow the steps below to change your brake pads.
Step 1: Remove the Vehicle's Brake Fluid
Before you lift the vehicle, you should remove some brake fluid from the pilot cylinder to allow the excess brake fluid to return to the master cylinder pool when installing the new brake pads and prevent overflow. To remove brake fluid, using a siphon or turkey baster to extract brake fluid into a separate container.
Step 2: Lift the Vehicle and Remove the Wheel Assembly
Lift the vehicle with the help of a high-capacity trolley jack on secure jack points and position jack stands underneath your car. If you are unsure where the proper jack points are, you can refer to your user manual to see the correct points to put the jack stands.
Step 3: Check the Brake Assembly
- Inspect any fluid leaks or grease leaks indications around the rotor and caliper.
- Inspect for any signs of a broken or impaired rotor.
- Inspect the brake lines to check if there are any indications of leakage or damage to the flexible hoses.
If there are signs of damage, these parts will need to get replaced.
Step 4: Remove the Brake Pads
Pull the caliper bolts that hold in the brake pad and make sure that the vehicle caliper is not swinging unsupported.
To support your brake caliper, attach a length of wire or a bungie cord near the caliper and connect it to a brake component. Pull the damaged brake pads from the caliper by removing them from their guide sites.
Step 5: Inspect the Slide or Locate Plugs
Inspect the bolts, directions, and rubber boots for any indications of wear or deterioration. Next, with the sliding caliper type, make sure the vehicle caliper can glide freely on the carriers.
Step 6: Retract the Vehicle Piston
You will need to retract the vehicle's caliper piston back into its place to install new brake pads. One of the most common methods is to use a block of wood and a ‘G’ or ‘C’ clamp over the vehicle piston.
Alternatively, you can employ a specially developed brake pad spreader. Use either tool to push the piston back into its position to release the brake pads. As the piston pushes back, it will push more brake fluid in the head cylinder pool which could cause it to overflow. Remove the tool that you used to spread the brakes and take out the old brake pad.
Step 7: Add in the New Brake Pads
Confirm that the new vehicle brake pads match the existing ones to ensure fitment. The backing plates should have the same shape.
Install the new brake pads into the caliper, glide the caliper assembly back into place, and align the locating or mounting pins.
Step 8: Install the Mount Caliper
Reinstall the bolts or pins and secure them in position. Torque the retainers or bolts to the correct specification.
Step 9: Review/Remove Brake System Air and Re-install Wheels
Put everything back together and remount your wheels.
How Do You Know It's Time to Replace Your Brake Pads?
As a rule of thumb, your car's brake pads should get replaced every 25,000 to 50,000 miles. However, every vehicle and driver is different, and different warning signs can tell you may require new brake pads. Here are some signs that your brake pads need a replacement:
- Squealing or Squeaking Sound Coming From Brakes
The most obvious sign that it’s time to replace your vehicle's brake pads is if you hear constant squealing or squeaking. Although squeaky brake pads can be common with some weather such as the rainy season, having squeaky brake pads during all types of weather implies there may be trouble. If your brake pads are constantly squeaking, it is time to have your vehicle and brakes assessed by a professional.
- Brake Indicator Light Turning on
Another sign that it’s time to replace your vehicle's brake pads is when the brake indicator light remains continuously turned on in your dashboard. In some car models, there is a detector on the brake pad that will also activate when the brake pad gets damaged. If your brake light switches on, you should get an expert to look at your brake pads and suggest how soon to replace them.
- Deep Grinding Metal Sound
If you notice a deep grinding metal noise, that’s another sign that it’s time to replace your car's brake pads. This usually happens after your brake pads have been worn down and now your brake caliper is touching your brake rotor. On some brake pads, tiny metal ridges remain fitted on the bottom of the brake pad to make a loud sound and alert the vehicle owner that it is time to get new brake pads.
Make sure to seek professional assistance right away if you hear this sound as it could cause significant damage with expensive repairs.
- Vibrating Brake Pedal
If you have a vibrating brake pedal or have difficulty stopping your car, these signs can also indicate that your brake pads have got damaged. Although a vibrating brake pedal is not common, it’s essential to have your car inspected right away to avoid any additional damage to your vehicle or a potential accident.
Brake pads are essential safety features of the car that keep you safe on the road. Make sure to watch out for the common signs listed above that indicate that it’s time to replace your brake pads.
If you are experiencing any brake problems or want professional help replacing your brakes, here are NuBrakes, we offer mobile auto technicians that will come to your home or office for brakes, oil, maintenance, and more so that you have the most convenient repair service while saving you time and money. Contact us for a free car repair quote.