Brake pads are the parts of the braking system which get pushed onto the rotors of the wheels. This creates the friction necessary to slow down the vehicle and stop it completely. Every time you step on the brake pedal, the brake pads are being used. After years of stepping on the brake pedal multiple times per day, you can imagine that the brake pads will get worn out eventually. This means you must replace them with new brake pads.
Every wheel rotor of a vehicle has a brake pad. This means you have 2 front brake pads and 2 rear brake pads in a standard economy car. When it comes to changing brake pads, it is a job you can do on your own. All you need is a basic ability at replacing car parts, such as mufflers, motors, or alternators, and then you will have the skills necessary to replace front and rear brake pads on your own.
The 5 Steps to Changing the Front and Rear Brake Pads
Before you begin to change the brake pads, make sure you gather all the tools and accessories that you’ll need to complete the job. You will need a wrench set, socket set, screwdriver set, hydraulic jack, hammer, jack stands, lubricant, protective gloves, eye protectors, towels, and the new brake pads. Once you have these items, you can begin following the 5 steps below.
- Remove the Tire and Wheel – This first step should be the easiest. If you’ve ever changed a tire before, then the procedure here is the same. You are just loosening the lug nuts, jacking up the vehicle and then taking off the tire and wheel.
- Take Off Caliper – Use the socket wrench to remove the bolt heads from the caliper. Since the brake line will remain attached to the caliper, just hang it on the wheel well with some type of wire hanger.
- Remove Existing Brake Pad – Most brake pads are attached to the rotor by metal clips. Pay attention to how those brake pads were attached before you take them off. When you’re ready to remove the pads, you may have to be somewhat forceful but try not to hurt the brake line or caliper that is nearby. If the brake rotors look cracked or damaged, this would be the perfect time to replace them as well. In fact, most auto mechanics recommend replacing the brake pads and rotors at the same time.
- Install New Brake Pads – Before you install the new brake pads, it may be a good idea to lubricate its back and metal edges. That way, there won’t be as much squealing when you apply the brake afterward. However, don’t allow any of the lubricant to flow into the interior of the pads because this will prevent friction when you try to brake. Once you are done lubricating the pads, install them back onto the rotor the same way the old pads were attached.
- Reassemble – Now you just must reassemble everything by first reattaching the caliper to the rotor. Again, go gently so you don’t accidentally damage something. Now slide the wheel and tire back into the rotor and secure it in place with the lug nuts. Make sure the lug nuts are as tight as you can get them.
The average brake pad costs between $100 and $300 to replace, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. This price range applies to those who bring their vehicle to an auto body shop and pay a professional to do the replacement. If you’re doing the replacement yourself, then you will only have to pay between $20 and $100 for the parts.