How to Replace Brakes on Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Mustang car Motor Company considers the brake pads and rotors on a Mustang car "wear items. " What that means is Mustang car designed those parts to wear out during their service life. While the pads wear down much faster than the rotors, neither will last the life of the Mustang car. Since the pony car has four-wheel disc brakes, you can count on replacing the rear pads every other time you change the fronts and you'll most likely need to replace the rotors every other time you replace the rear pads.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace Brakes on a Hyundai Elantra

Park the car on a flat surface where you can comfortably work on all sides of the car. Put it in neutral and turn it off.

Put wheel chocks behind each of the rear wheels.

Loosen all the lug nuts on the front wheels slightly using the tire iron. Don't loosen them all the way or remove them.

Slide the floor jack under a solid part of the suspension on the front end of the car. Carefully jack the car up until it is high enough for you to be able to slide jack stands under the front axle.

Slide two jack stands under the front axle. Position each one about two feet in from each side of the car. When they're in place, slowly and carefully release the pressure on the jack and lower the car onto the stands.

Remove all of the front lug nuts using the tire iron. Pull both of the front tires off the wheel spindles.

Examine the front brake calipers, which are the large metal components connected to the brake calipers. They're made up of a large bottom part called the caliper mount, which holds the brake pads, and a smaller top part that acts as a cover over the mount and pads. These two halves are held together with bolts. Depending on the year of your Elantra and whether or not it has aftermarket brakes, the particular type of bolts may vary. Depending on the bolt style, remove all of these bolts using a screwdriver, hex wrench or pair of pliers.

Approach one of the calipers with a flat head screwdriver and a pair of replacement brake pads. Take the top part of the caliper off and set it on top of the rotor while you work. Make sure it doesn't dangle by the brake line. Try to pull the old brake pads out of the caliper mount by hand. If they're stuck to the rotor, which is fairly common, use the screwdriver to pry them off and then remove them.

Slide the new brake pads into the caliper mount in the same way the old ones were installed. When the new pads are in place, put the top half of the caliper back on the caliper mount and replace its bolts tightly.

Repeat steps eight and nine on the other front caliper.

Replace both front tires, then screw on and tighten all of their lug nuts.

Slide the jack back under the front of the car's suspension and jack it up so that it lifts off the jack stands an inch or two. Pull the jack stands out, then slowly lower the car back to the ground.

Move the wheel chocks to the front of the front tires, then repeat steps three through 12 on the rear wheels of the car.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Pliers

  • Hex wrench set

  • Replacement brake pads designed for your model year of Elantra

 How to Replace the Brakes on a Harley Davidson Electra Glide

Rear Brakes

Unscrew the two top screws on the front brake master cylinder cover, located on the handle bars, using a cross-tip screwdriver

Loosen but do not remove the two pad pins on the outside of the front brake caliper assembly with a socket wrench.

Remove the upper and lower mounting bolts holding the front brake caliper to the forks with a hex-key wrench. Carefully take the front caliper off of the rotor and allow it to hang by the brake line.

Push on the brake caliper pistons so that they retract into the brake caliper. Remove both of the pad pins. Take off both inner and outer brake pads and discard them.

Install two new brake pads onto the caliper. Replace the caliper over the top of the rotor and screw in both mounting bolts.

Pump the brake lever several times to allow the brake pistons to come into contact with the new pads. Add D.O.T. 5 silicone brake fluid to the fill line on the front master cylinder. Replace the cover on the reservoir and tighten the screws.

Rear Brakes

Remove the right saddlebag by turning the two inner quick release studs a quarter turn counterclockwise by hand. Place the saddlebag in a safe place, away from the immediate work environment.

Take off the two screws from the top of the rear master cylinder reservoir with a cross-tip screwdriver.

Loosen the two pad pins on the rear brake caliper with a socket but do not remove them. Push the inside pad back with a putty knife to cause the piston to retract.

Pull the pad pins all of the way out. Allow the inside pad to drop free. Install a new inner pad into its place.

Re-insert the pad pins but do not fully tighten. Pump the rear brake several times to cause the caliper to move the pistons back out, allowing the inner pad to fully seat into the caliper.

Pry the outside pad back, pushing the pistons back once again into their bores.

Remove both pad pins to allow the rear pad to come free. Install a new outer pad in its place. Install both pad pins and tighten.

Pump the rear brake peddle several times to completely seat both pads and allow the pads to come into contact with the brake rotor.

Add D.O.T. 5 silicone brake fluid to the fill line in the rear brake master cylinder reservoir. Replace the master cylinder cover. Re-install the right-side saddlebag.

Items you will need

  • Cross-tip screwdriver

  • SAE socket set

  • Hex key set

  • Replacement brake set

  • D.O.T. 5 silicone brake fluid

 How to Change the Brakes on a Pontiac Aztek

Accessing the Brakes

Park the Aztek on a flat and solid surface, preferably on a cement garage floor.

Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels where the brakes will be replaced. Brake pads need to be replaced on both the right and left sides of the vehicle simultaneously, though they do not necessarily need to be replaced on the front and rear of the vehicle simultaneously.

Jack up the front or rear of the vehicle using the floor jack under the Aztek's front crossmember or rear differential, respectively.

Place the jack stands under the frame of the Aztek and lower it down onto the stands.

Use the tire iron to fully remove the applicable lug nuts and wheels.

Removal of the Brake Pads

Remove the bolts that hold the brake caliper and housing in place, using the wrench and socket set.

Pry the brake caliper and housing upwards to remove the housing assembly from the brake rotor.

Quickly remove the brake pads and place the wooden block over the caliper piston. Place the C-clamp over the piston and the caliper. Tighten until the piston is sticking out about 1/8 of an inch from the housing.

Assembly of Replacement Brake Pads

Clean the brake pad tracks of any corrosion, then wipe a little bit of graphite lubricant in the tracks. Smear the lubricant into a thin film.

Position the new brake pads in the tracks.

Remove the wooden block and C-clamp from the brake caliper, then place it over the brake pads.

Insert and tighten the bolts, using the wrench and sockets. The bolts must be as tight as possible, otherwise they could work their way out and allow the brakes to fall off the wheel.

Replace the tire and lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts as tight as possible.

Replace the brake pads on the other side of the vehicle.

Jack up the vehicle and remove the jack stands.

Re-tighten the lug nuts on all of the tires that you have removed.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench and socket set

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Wooden block

  • C-clamp

  • Graphite lubricant

  • New brake pads

 How to Change the Brakes on an Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra

Disc Brakes

Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. Lift the front of the car, until the front wheels are off the ground, using a floor jack positioned on the front sub-frame. Place jack stands under the front sub-frame and lower the Cierra onto the stands. Lifting and supporting the vehicle's weight in this manner prevents serious injuries. Remove the wheels and set them aside with the lug nuts.

Wedge a large screwdriver between the inside brake pad and the brake rotor. Pry the inboard pad back to compress the piston into the caliper housing. Remove the two 3/8-inch Allen-head caliper slide pins. Lift the caliper off the rotor and hang it on the suspension to prevent stress and damage to the rubber brake hoses.

Place an old pad over the caliper piston and use a C-clamp to push the caliper piston completely into the caliper housing. Remove the old pads, and install the new pads in their place. It is important to transfer the shims from the old pads to the new pads to prevent brake noise. Slip the caliper over the rotor and new pads. Install the slide-pin bolts and tighten them securely. Reinstall the wheels and lower the vehicle.

Drum Brakes

Place wheel chocks behind the front wheels. Lift one side of the rear of the vehicle, using a floor jack positioned on the body pinch weld located on the bottom of the car a few inches in front of the wheel. Place a jack stand under the rear frame of the car, and lower the car onto the stand. Remove the rear wheel.

Slide the drum off the brake assembly. Remove the return springs, that attach the shoes to the pivot pin at the top of the backing plate, using the return spring tool. Remove the hold-down springs that attach the shoes to the backing plate, using a hold-down spring tool. Allow the self-adjuster and parking-brake spreader bar to fall from the shoes.

Remove the parking-brake lever from the secondary shoe, using the diagonal cutters to remove the retaining clip, and clean the brake parts with brake-parts cleaner. Apply silicon brake lube to the backing plate at the six shoe-contact points.

Attach the larger secondary shoe to the parking-brake lever and squeeze the retainer securely. Attach the new shoes to the backing plate using the hold-down springs and hold-down spring tool. Position the parking-brake spreader bar into the shoes and install the return springs using the return-spring tool.

Attach the lower self-adjuster spring to the new shoes and spread them apart while installing the self-adjuster. Unscrew the adjuster until the drum will slide onto the shoes with a little drag on the shoes. Install the wheels, and lower the car.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Screwdriver set

  • 3/8-inch Allen wrench

  • Brake-return spring tool

  • Brake hold-down spring tool

  • Brake-parts cleaner

  • Diagonal cutters

  • Silicon brake lube

 How to Replace the Brakes on a 2005 Dodge Caravan


Open the hood and siphon out about 2/3 of the brake fluid from the master cylinder with a syringe or similar tool. Discard the fluid as per your local ordinances.

Raise the van's front or rear end--whichever one you're changing the brakes on--and support it on jack stands. Remove the wheels. Block the wheels that are still on the ground.

Clean the entire brake assembly with an aerosol brake cleaner--never use compressed air. Use a drain pan to catch the residue.

Compress the caliper piston back into its bore with a C-clamp. Check the fluid level in the master cylinder as you compress the piston to make sure it doesn't overflow.

Removing the Old Pads

Pry off the anti-rattle spring clips from the caliper with a flat screwdriver. (This is only required for Teves calipers on the front brakes.)

Remove the guide pins or guide pin bolts for the caliper, lift it off the disc and hang it with a strong wire. Teves calipers have guide pins that require a hex wrench. TRW calipers have bolts that take a standard socket.

Pull out the outer and inner brake pads. The outer pads are always in the mounting bracket. The inner pads are clipped into the caliper piston bore on Teves calipers and within the mounting bracket on TRW calipers.

Installing the New Pads

Clean and inspect the guide pins, then lubricate them before installing them back in the caliper--use a high-temperature brake grease.

Apply an anti-squeal compound to the back of the new brake pads, applying the grease on the areas where they meet with the caliper and piston.

Install the brake pads in place on the caliper or mounting bracket, as appropriate. For inner brake pads on Teves calipers, seat the pad's retaining spring completely into the caliper piston bore.

Install the caliper back in place on the bracket. Tighten the guide pins/bolts to 26 foot-pounds.

Re-connect the wheels and lower the van after changing the brakes on both sides.

Fill the brake master cylinder with DOT Type 3 brake fluid until the reservoir is full.

Pump the brake pedal multiple times to properly seat the brakes.

Items you will need

  • Syringe bottle

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Brake cleaner

  • Drain pan

  • C-clamp

  • Flat screwdriver

  • Socket wrench

  • Hex socket (optional)

  • Brake pads

  • Brake grease

  • Brake fluid

 How do I Change Brakes on a Mazada B2200?

Slide a floor jack under the frame of your B2200, then jack it up on one side. Place a jack stand under the frame, then do the same on the other side.

Remove the lug bolts on the tires with a tire iron or four way.

Pull the tire off and set it aside.

Take the lower lock pin bolt off of the caliper with a ratchet.

Pop out the old brake pads and shims by hand.

Open the hood of your truck and remove the cap on the master cylinder reservoir. The reservoir is white and squarish, and is found on the top of the engine on the driver's side.

Remove half of the fluid from the reservoir using a turkey baster or syringe.

Put the seat of a c-clamp against the caliper piston and tighten it until it's all the way to the bottom of its bore.

Put the new brake pads and shims into the caliper, where the old ones came from. This can be accomplished by hand.

Follow the directions in reserve for reassembly.

Top off the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir with brake fluid, then replace the cap.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Two jack stands

  • Tire iron or four-way

  • Ratchet set

  • Turkey baster or syringe

  • New brake pads

  • New shims

  • Brake fluid

 How to Change Brakes on an Acura MDX

Remove Old Brakes and Install New Brakes

Use a clean turkey baster to remove a third of the brake fluid from the brake master cylinder reservoir.

Raise the Acura MDX off the ground with a floor jack or hydraulic pumps. Support the vehicle with jack stands in front.

Take off the wheel use a lug wrench and remove the tire assembly.

Apply pressure to the spring clips and take off the inside brake pad on the brake caliper.

Push the ears of the outer shoe from the brake caliper and glide the torque knobs out of the retention notches.

Put new spring clips on the bottom section of the inside brake pad.

Place the inner brake pad and spring clip tab next to the brake pad abutment. Push the loop-shaped spring away from the brake rotor. Apply pressure to the spring clip and glide the top portion of the brake bad next to the brake caliper.

Position the outer brake pad. Line up the torque knobs on spring clip and the corresponding holes on the brake caliper.

Place the brake caliper on the brake rotor. Grease the brake caliper gliding grooves with disc brake caliper oil or a comparable solution.

Press a C-clamp or old brake pad to apply force on the piston towards the brake caliper to allow room for the new brake pad.

Place new brake fluid inside the master cylinder reservoir.

Replace the tire and wheel back on the Acura MDX. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolt to 85 to 115 foot-pounds.

Move the jack stands and safely lower the SUV back to the ground. Press the brake pedal to set the brake pads firmly. Test drive the Acura MDX.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Hydraulic pump

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Disc brake caliper oil

  • Torque wrench

  • Brake fluid

  • Turkey baster

 How to Change the Brakes for a 2002 Ford Mustang

Loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels with the lug wrench. Don't take them off, but rather, have them loose enough to remove by hand later on. Place the wheel chocks behind the rear tires.

Raise the front end with the jack and then lower it down onto the jack stands. Make sure to place the jack stands under the jack points on the body rail or under the front frame.

Remove the lug nuts and wheels on both sides in front. Set the wheels aside and put the lug nuts in one place so none of them go missing.

Put the drain pan directly under the left-front brake and then clean all the brake dust off the brake rotor and caliper with the brake cleaner. Brake dust causes cancer, so clean it all off so you don't accidentally breathe any of it.

Remove the caliper bolts with the socket set, pull the caliper off the rotor and then pull the brake pads out of the caliper by hand. Wash the brake dust from the inside of the caliper with brake cleaner. Slip the old rotor off by hand and put the new one on in its place.

Lubricate the caliper slide pins thoroughly with the white lithium grease. Move the pistons back into the caliper walls with the caliper piston tool. Take the tool out and insert the brake pads.

Slide the caliper back over the rotor, thread the caliper bolts in by hand and then tighten them down with the socket set.

Move over to the right-front and repeat steps four through seven on that side.

Reinstall the wheels and lug nuts on the front by hand. Lower the front off the jack stands with the jack. Move the wheel chocks to the front tires, so the Mustang cannot roll forward.

Jack up the rear end and lower it onto the jack stands with the jack. Remove the rear wheels and lug nuts by hand.

Repeat steps four through seven on the left-rear and then the right-rear before reinstalling the rear wheels and lug nuts. Lower the rear end off the jack stands with the jack.

Tighten all four sets of lug nuts to 100 ft-lbs. with the torque wrench. Move the wheel chocks away from the front wheels.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • 2 wheel chocks

  • Jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Drain pan

  • Brake cleaner

  • Socket set

  • White lithium grease

  • Caliper piston tool

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change the Brakes on a 2002 VW Beetle

Accessing the Brakes

Use a turkey baster or other suction tool to siphon two-thirds of the brake fluid out of the master cylinder reservoir.

Raise the front or rear end of the car--whichever end you are changing the brakes on--and remove both wheels.

Clean the brake assembly with brake cleaner, letting the residue drip into a drain pan.

Changing Front Brakes

Depress the caliper piston into the caliper with a "C" clamp. Watch the fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir and make sure it doesn't overflow.

Disconnect the brake caliper from the disc by removing the caps on the guide pin bolts and unscrewing the guide pins with an allen wrench. You may also need to pry off the retaining spring with a flat screwdriver and unplug the wear sensor electrical connector.

Remove the inner and outer brake pads from the caliper. On some calipers, you'll need to pry off the pads' spring clip or adhesive backing with a flat screwdriver.

Peel the foil from the replacement calipers to expose their adhesive backing; if they have no adhesive, apply an anti-squeal compound to the backing plates.

Install the pads into the caliper, starting with the inner one.

Connect the caliper back on the disc. Clean the guide pins and lubricate them with high-temperature grease before installing them back in the caliper, tightening them to 21 foot-lbs.

Changing Rear Brakes

Hold the caliper slide pins with an open-end wrench while unscrewing the mounting bolts with another wrench. Remove the caliper and hang it somewhere secure with a length of wire.

Pull the inner and outer brake pads from the caliper mounting bracket. Remove and replace the retaining springs from the mounting bracket, too.

Apply anti-squeal compound to the new brake pads' backing plates, or peel back the foil on the plates if they have an adhesive backing.

Install the inner and outer pads into the caliper mounting bracket.

Retract the caliper piston by rotating it clockwise while pushing in on it. This requires piston rotating tools, which are available at many auto parts stores.

Clean the caliper's slide pins, lubricate them with high-temperature grease and install them in the mounting bracket.

Connect the caliper and tighten the mounting bolts to 26 foot-lbs.

Items you will need

  • Siphon tool

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Brake cleaner

  • Drain pan

  • C-clamp

  • Open-end wrenches

  • Allen wrench

  • Flat-bladed screwdriver

  • Wire

  • Brake pads

  • Anti-squeal compound

  • Piston rotating tools

  • High temperature grease

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.