How to Change Brake Pads

by Contributor

Beyond the general maintenance cars require such as oil changes and tune-ups, one of the most common parts that wear out are brake pads. If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, for instance, you know how often you need to change your brake pads. Changing brake pads can be a bit tricky, but it's possible once you get the hang of it.

Loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels. Jack the front of the car up and lower onto jack stands. Put the emergency brake on and place 4-by-4 inch wooden blocks behind the rear wheels to keep the car from rolling back while jacked up.

Remove the front wheels to expose the brake assembly on each side of the vehicle.

Unbolt the mounting bolts holding the caliper and brake pads onto the rotor. Slip the caliper off the rotor. Remove bolts and/or clips-some brake assemblies have one or the other, some have both-attaching the brake pads to the caliper.

Return the piston in the caliper to the fully-open position. Use a C-clamp or vise grip. As the brake pad wore, the piston moved closer and closer to the rotor. With new brake pads, this piston must be opened all the way before the new pads can be installed.

Apply grease to the backs of the new brake pads and assemble brakes in the reverse order you took them apart. Repeat the process for the other side of the vehicle.


  • check Always change the brake pads on both sides of the car, even if one side doesn't seem as worn as the other.
  • check Remove old brake pads and bring them with you to purchase new ones to ensure you are buying the correct brake pads.
  • check Inspect the rotor while you have the brake assembly disassembled. If worn, you can choose to either have them cut down or replaced.


  • close Don't apply grease to the front of the brake pads, the part that comes into contact with the rotor.
  • close Be careful when removing caliper not to break or bend the brake fluid line attached to the caliper.
  • close Test the brakes when finished installing new brake pads. Sometimes air can get into the brake lines. Pump them several times until you feel them "grab." You may have to drain the brake fluid and replace before driving the car.

Items you will need

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