How to Change the Front Brake Pads on a Pontiac Grand Am

by Dan Ferrell
single clamp image by Albert Lozano from

Pontiac recommends checking your front brake pads every 6,000 miles or six months. As a rule of thumb, you should change the front brake pads on your Pontiac Grand Am once the friction material on the pads is the same as or thinner than the back plate they mount on, says James E. Duffy in "Modern Automotive Technology." Fortunately, you can replace the front pads in your own driveway using a few simple tools you might already have in your tool box.

Remove the Front Brake Pads

Step 1

Open the hood and remove 2/3 of the brake fluid into a suitable container from the reservoir of the brake master cylinder using a clean turkey baster. Leave the reservoir cap loose and place one or more shop rags around it to catch any fluid spills as you replace the brake pads.

Step 2

Loosen the wheel lugs on both front wheels using a lug wrench.

Step 3

Raise the front of your Grand Am with a floor jack and support it on jack stands.

Step 4

Remove the wheel lugs and wheel/tire assemblies.

Step 5

Reinstall two of the wheel lugs finger-tight to hold the brake rotor onto the hub. Work on one wheel assembly at a time.

Step 6

Unscrew the bottom brake caliper mounting bolt using a ratchet and socket and remove the pin bolt.

Step 7

Swing the brake caliper upwards and, if necessary, tie it to the suspension with wire to hold it in place.

Remove the inboard and outboard brake pads and pad retainers by hand from the brake caliper mounting bracket.

Install the New Front Brake Pads

Step 1

Spray the brake assembly, wheel hub and rotor with brake parts cleaner. Wipe the components using clean, lint-free towels.

Step 2

Position the old inboard brake pad against the caliper piston.

Step 3

Place the piston into its bore using a large C-clamp. Then remove the clamp and inboard brake pad.

Step 4

Install the new brake pads and retainers onto the brake caliper mounting bracket.

Step 5

Untie the brake caliper from the suspension and swing the caliper over the new brake pads and rotor.

Step 6

Secure the caliper pin bolt by hand then tighten the bolt using the ratchet and socket.

Step 7

Remove the two wheel lugs from the hub studs and install the wheel/tire assembly.

Step 8

Install the wheel lugs and tighten the lugs using the lug wrench.

Step 9

Install the other set of brake pads on the opposite wheel assembly following Step 6 from the previous section through Step 8 of this section.

Step 10

Lower your Grand Am using the floor jack.

Step 11

Refill the brake master cylinder reservoir with new brake fluid to the Full level. Tighten the reservoir cap and remove the shop rag(s).

Depress the brake pedal several times to seat the new pads onto the brake rotor.

Items you will need

  • Container
  • Clean turkey baster
  • Shop rags
  • Lug wrench
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands (2)
  • Ratchet
  • Socket
  • Wire, if necessary
  • Brake parts cleaner
  • Clean lint-free towels
  • Large C-clamp
  • New brake fluid

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