How to Replace Brakes on Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Chevrolet car comes equipped with an anti-lock braking system that uses brake fluid-forced pistons. The brakes are designed to press the caliper pistons against the brake pads, which in turn make contact with the brake rotors to stop the vehicle. In order for the brakes to function properly, the brake fluid needs to be at a sufficient level, the lines need to deliver the fluid as designed, and the pads need to able to withstand the heat and pressure during braking. If the brake pads are worn, they will not be up to the task, and brake failure can result. You can have your worn brake pads replaced by an auto mechanic, or you can do it yourself.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace Brakes on a 1998 GMC Sierra

Open the Sierra's hood and remove approximately half of the fluid from the brake master cylinder using a turkey baster. Place this fluid in a clean container for reuse.

Loosen the front lug nuts with a ratchet and socket, but don't remove them yet.

Raise the front of the 1998 Sierra with a floor jack and place jack stands under the frame rails. Lower the GMC until only the jack stands support it. Remove the lug nuts and pull the wheels from the truck.

Remove the two guide bolts from the rear of the brake caliper and pull the caliper from the torque plate -- the metal bracket the caliper bolts to -- using a ratchet and socket. Hang the caliper from the coil spring using a bungee cord to prevent damage to the brake hose.

Disengage the spring retainer on the rear of the outer brake pad, by prying upward on the spring with a flat-head screwdriver and pulling the pad from the caliper.

Place an 8-inch C-clamp over the caliper so the screw portion touches the inner brake pad and the fixed part touches the rear of the caliper. Tighten the C-clamp to compress the inner caliper piston. Loosen and remove the C-clamp from the caliper once the C-clamp stops moving.

Grasp the inner brake pad and pull it from the caliper, notice a small retaining spring that holds it in place inside the caliper piston.

Close the jaws of the micrometer and press the "Reset" button to calibrate it. Measure the thickness of the rotor's disc in four places and make a note of the thickest and thinnest measurements.

Compare the thinnest measurement of the rotor to the minimal machining specification of 1.230 inches on a 11.57-by-1.25 inch and 12.5-by-1.26-inch rotor and 1.480 inches on all other rotor sizes. If the rotor measures at or above this specification and has imperfections -- grooves, uneven wear or a mirror-like shine -- remove the rotor and have it resurfaced.

Replace the rotor if it is thinner than the specification indicated in Step 9 and requires resurfacing. Replacement is also required if the rotor is thinner than the measurement stamped on it, which is known as the discard specification, regardless of its condition.

Leave the rotor in place if it has no imperfections and is thicker than the discard specification.

Remove the rotor, as needed, by prying the metal cap from the center of the rotor. Pull the cotter pin from the spindle -- the shaft in the center of the rotor -- with needle nose pliers and remove the castle-shaped nut and washer from the spindle with a ratchet and socket. Pull the rotor toward you and from the spindle.

Pull the bearing from the front-center of the rotor with your finger. Flip the rotor over and remove the bearing seal from the rear-center of the rotor, by prying it with a flat-head screwdriver. Pull the inner bearing from under the bearing seal with your finger. Inspect the bearings for looseness or wear by placing your fingers through the center, like the spindle would and shaking the outer part of the bearing. A loose or worn bearing has a small amount of free play back and forth and makes a slight clicking noise when shaken. Replace loose bearings with new ones.

Discard or have the rotor resurfaced as needed based on the determination made in Step 9.

Pack the new or old bearings, by placing a liberal amount of multipurpose automotive grease in your palm and rotate the bearings in your hand until they are full of grease.

Place the inner bearing into the rear of the new or resurfaced rotor with the tapered end going in first. Place a new bearing seal on top of the inner bearing and seat the seal, by placing a bearing seal driver on the seal and tapping the driver with a hammer.

Slide the rotor on the GMC's spindle and place the outer bearing, tapered end first, into the hole in the center of the rotor.

Reinstall the washer and nut on the spindle and tighten the nut, while spinning the rotor, to 12 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and socket to seat the bearing. Loosen the spindle nut and tighten it to only hand-tight. Place a new cotter pin through the castle nut and through the hole in the spindle. Bend the cotter pins legs in opposite directions to lock it into place, using needle-nose pliers.

Place the inner brake pad in the caliper so the metal clip on the rear of the pad slides into the caliper piston. Press the brake pad until it sits flat against the caliper body.

Clean the caliper bolts with a wire brush, if rusted, and apply a coat of multipurpose automotive grease onto the bolts. Sit the caliper back onto the torque plate and tighten the caliper bolts to 37 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and socket.

Repeat Steps 4 through 18 for the brakes on the other side of the GMC.

Reinstall the front wheels on the GMC Sierra and hand-tighten the lug nuts.

Raise the truck from the jack stands, with a floor jack, and pull the jack stands from under the GMC. Lower the Sierra to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts, in a crossing pattern, to 125 foot-pounds on all Sierras except the 3500 and 162 foot-pounds on the Sierra 3500 with a torque wrench and a socket.

Check the fluid level in the master cylinder. Add fluid from the small container to the master cylinder until the level reaches the "Max" line. Dispose of any unused brake fluid in the small container properly, most auto parts stores discard fluid free of charge.

Press and release the brake pedal until it feels firm. This extends the caliper pistons out so they contact the brake pads.

Items you will need

  • Turkey baster

  • Small, clean container

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Bungee strap

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • 8-inch C-clamp

  • Micrometer

  • Needle-nose pliers

  • New wheel bearings

  • New wheel bearing seals

  • Bearing seal driver

  • Hammer

  • New rotors

  • Multipurpose automotive grease

  • New cotter pins

  • Wire brush

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change Brakes on a 2004 Chevy Silverado

Loosen the lug nuts while the wheel is on the ground. Chock the opposite wheels. Raise the Silverado with a jack, then slowly lower it onto jack stands. Remove the lug nuts and the wheel.

Spray the entire brake assembly with brake parts cleaner to remove the dust and dirt. Place a shallow container below the assembly to catch the residue. Do not breathe the brake dust in; it contains materials hazardous to health.

Remove the caliper retaining bolts from the inside of the caliper with a socket wrench; one bolt is at the top and one at the bottom.

Lift the caliper off the mounting bracket and over the rotor. Suspend the caliper from the frame of the Silverado with a piece of wire or bungee cord to prevent stress to the rubber brake hose.

Slide the old inner and outer brake pads out of the caliper. Position a brake caliper tool onto the caliper piston and turn the handle clockwise to retract the piston into the caliper. Back the handle off and remove the tool when the piston is fully retracted.

Slide the new brake pads into the caliper. Remove the caliper from the wire or bungee cord and position the caliper back over the rotor and onto the mounting bracket. Install the retaining bolts and tighten them with a torque wrench to 80 foot-pounds on the front brakes, or 31 foot-pounds on the rear.

Replace the wheel and tighten the lug nuts evenly to 140 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Move on to the next wheel -- never replace the brakes on only one wheel; you must replace both front or both rear brakes at the same time. Lower the vehicle to the ground and check the lug nut torque setting again.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Socket set

  • Brake parts cleaner

  • Shallow container

  • Wire or bungee cord

  • Brake caliper tool

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change the Brakes on a Chevy Aveo

Changing the Brakes on a Chevrolet Aveo

Raise the car with the floor jack, and remove a wheel by turning the lug wrench in a counterclockwise direction. Set the wheel aside, away from the car. If starting on an early model Aveo with rear drum brakes, skip to step 6.

Remove the caliper by turning the rear mount bolts in a counterclockwise direction, then slide the caliper and pads off of the rotor. Take the pads from the caliper, then set the caliper on the upper control arm. Do not let the caliper dangle from the brake lines.

Remove the rotor by firmly pulling it from the hub. Replace with a fresh rotor, or resurface the existing unit, then press the rotor into place over the hub.

Replace the brake pads with new units by pressing them onto the caliper pistons. Slide the caliper over the rotor, then secure the mount bolts by turning them clockwise. Some calipers may be difficult to compress once expanded, but removal of the master cylinder cap will lower the pressure in the system enough to press them into place.

Replace the wheel by turning the lug nuts clockwise, in an alternating pattern; then lower the Aveo from the floor jack.

(Wheel removed.) Remove the drum keeper screw by turning it counterclockwise. The keeper screw is on the front of the drum, a bit off-center from the hub. Once free, the drum can be pulled off over the shoes.

Replace the shoes by relieving the long springs from the hooks on each shoe, then turn the center spring bolt in a counterclockwise direction. The new shoe is held in place with the spring bolt, then reattached to the long springs via the shoes hooks. Replace the new or refinished drum by sliding it over the shoes and turning the keeper screw clockwise.

Replace the wheel, if applicable, and lower the Aveo from the floor jack.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Screwdrivers

  • Lug wrench

  • Floor jack

 How to Change the Brakes on a 1998 Blazer

Getting to the brakes

Park the Blazer on a level and solid surface.

Loosen the lug nuts on the tires covering the brakes you are going to change.

Place the floor jack under the Blazer's frame and lift the SUV. Use the rear differential for the back and the front cross member to lift the front.

Place jack stands under the frame, just adjacent to the wheel wells.

Lower the blazer onto the jack stands.

Remove the lug nuts and then the tires.

Changing the brakes

Use the wrench and socket set to loosen the outer set of bolts on the brake assembly.

Remove the inner set of bolts then pull the assembly off the brake rotor.

Remove the outer set of bolts (they are actually caliper pins) and separate the brake caliper from the assembly.

Slide out the old brake pads and insert the new brake pads in their place.

Place the housing over the brake rotor and screw in the bolts to hold it in place.

Place the brake caliper over the housing assembly and insert the caliper pins.

Use the wrench and socket set to tighten the bolts and pins as tight as possible.

Completing the job

Repeat the changing procedure for the other brakes.

Place the tires squarely on the axle hubs and screw on the lug nuts to hold them in place.

Use the floor jack to lift the SUV and then remove the jacks stands.

Lower the SUV to the ground.

Use the tire iron to tighten all of the lug nuts.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench and socket set

  • New brake pads

 How to Change the Brakes on a Lumina

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel with a tire iron. Raise the Lumina with an automobile jack and then place it on jack stands. Remove the lug nuts and the wheel.

Remove the mounting bolts from the inside of the caliper with a socket wrench -- one bolt at the top of the caliper and one at the bottom.

Lift the caliper up and off the rotor and suspend it from the frame of the car with a piece of wire or bungee cord. Do not stretch or stress the rubber brake hose.

Slide the old brake pads out of the caliper. Position a caliper tool around the caliper and turn the mechanism to retract the piston. When the piston is fully retracted, remove the tool.

Clean the brake pad sliders with emery paper, then apply lithium grease to their surfaces. Slide the new brake pads into the caliper and onto the sliders.

Slide the rotor off the wheel hub; you may need to tap the rotor with a rubber mallet if it is rusted in place. Prepare the new rotor by spraying it with brake parts cleaner; wipe off the residue with a paper towel. Replace the new rotor onto the wheel hub and secure it temporarily with a lug nut tightened by hand.

Replace the caliper over the rotor, then replace and tighten the mounting bolts. Remove the lug nut from the rotor. Replace the wheel and tighten the lug nuts by hand. Lower the car to the ground, then tighten the lug nuts evenly with a tire iron.

Pump the brake pedal with the engine off to restore pressure to the brake lines.

Items you will need

  • Automobile jack

  • Jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Socket set

  • Brake caliper tool

  • Emery paper

  • Lithium grease

  • Rubber mallet (optional)

  • Brake parts cleaner

  • Paper towels

 How to Replace the Brakes on a Chevy Express Van

Open the brake fluid reservoir and remove two-thirds of the fluid using a suction tool like an unused turkey baster.

Raise the van on the appropriate end, support it on jack stands and remove the wheels. If you're raising the front end, make sure the parking brake is on. For the rear end, block the front wheels with heavy blocks.

Insert a C-clamp on the brake caliper where the arch is located and use it to push each of the caliper pistons back into their bores. Compress it slowly and don't let the brake fluid overflow from the master cylinder reservoir.

Unscrew the lower bolt on the brake caliper with your wrench and pivot the caliper up to reveal the brake pads. Remove both pads from inside the bracket on the brake disc.

Apply anti-squeal compound to the back plates of the replacement pads in the area where they will contact the caliper pistons.

Insert the replacement brake pads into the bracket and then pivot the caliper back down on top of them. Lubricate the caliper's mounting bolt with high-temperature grease before inserting it back in the caliper with your wrench.

Reinstall the wheels and lower the van after replacing both sets of brakes.

Items you will need

  • Turkey baster

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Blocks

  • C-clamp

  • Brake pads

  • Anti-squeal compound

  • High temperature grease

 How to Replace the Brakes on a 1999 Chevy Blazer

Park the 1999 Chevy Blazer and set the emergency brake. Turn the wheels to the far right while the engine is running. Open the hood and remover the brake fluid reservoir lid.

Loosen the lug nuts by turning the lug nuts counter clockwise with the lug wrench. Be sure to loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels.

Slide the jack under the front of the Blazer and jack the truck up in the air. Insert jack stands under both sides of the Blazer. Be sure to position the jack stands under the frame rail on both sides of the truck near the front wheels. Lower the Blazer onto the jack stands.

Use a lug wrench to unscrew the lug nuts from both front wheels. Pull the front wheels off and set them aside. Start the brake pad replacement on the front driver's side of the Blazer.

Locate the opening on the top of the brake caliper. Slide the pry bar into the opening and pry the caliper back and forth. This will free up the brake caliper from the brake rotor so that you can slide the caliper off of the rotor.

Inspect the rear of the brake caliper and locate the two slide bolts that connect the caliper to the caliper bracket.

Remove the two slide bolts with the ½-inch drive ratchet and a socket. Pull the caliper off of the brake rotor. Attach the caliper to the front shock or the frame with a bungee cord and remove the brake pads.

Compress the caliper cylinder with the C-clamp. Be sure to compress the caliper cylinder until the cylinder is fully compressed into the caliper housing. This will give you the room needed to slide the brake caliper with the new brake pads over the brake rotor.

Slide the new brake pads into the brake caliper. Remove the bungee cord from the caliper and reinstall the caliper back over the brake rotor. Slide the two caliper slide bolts back into the rear of the caliper. Tighten down the caliper slide bolts with the ½-inch drive ratchet and a socket.

Slide the wheel back onto the hub and screw the lug nuts back onto the lugs. Tighten the lugs down with the lug wrench until the wheel begins to turn. Follow these same exact steps for replacing the brake pads on the front passenger side of the Blazer as well.

Jack the Blazer up and remove the jack stands. Lower the Blazer to the ground.

Crank the Blazer and push the brake pedal in and out seven or eight times to set the new brake pads to the brake rotor. Turn the Blazer off.

Check the brake fluid level. Add DOT-3 brake fluid if the level is low. Close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • ½-inch drive ratchet

  • ½-inch drive metric sockets

  • Small pry bar

  • Bungee cord

  • C-clamp

  • New brake pads

 How to Change the Brakes on a Chevy Colorado

Place wheel chocks behind the rear tires of the Colorado. Put the transmission in "Park" and apply the parking brake.

Loosen the lug nuts on the front wheels with the socket on the tire iron.

Put the jack beneath the frame of the Chevy and lift the vehicle. Remove the lug nuts and pull the wheels from the wheel bolts.

Turn the steering wheel to the left, allowing access to the right brake caliper. The caliper is the metal object that brackets a portion of the rotor.

Remove the caliper bolts. The bolts are located on the right side of the right brake caliper and can be removed using a 3/8-inch Allen wrench.

Pull the caliper from the rotor. Pull the two brake pads from the caliper sides. The pads are clipped to the caliper by thin metal clips. The clips can be disengaged from the caliper using a flat head screwdriver.

Open the caliper pistons. The pistons are the twin metal rings that extend from one side of the caliper. You can either place a worn pad against the pistons and squeeze the pad against the side of the caliper to force open both pistons, or you can clamp the pistons individually.

Place the new brake pads onto the sides of the caliper. The metal clips will fix the pads to the caliper with a moderate amount of pressure by hand. Return the caliper to the rotor and screw in the caliper bolts using the Allen wrench.

Turn the steering wheel so that the wheels are pointed forward. Place the wheel onto the wheel bolts and replace the lug nuts by hand.

Turn the wheel to the right and replace the left brake pads. Turn the wheels forward and replace the wheels and lug nuts. Lift the vehicle with the jack, remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts with the socket on the tire iron. Press the brake pedal repeatedly to return the brake fluid to the caliper that was expelled by opening the pistons.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Lifting jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wheel chocks

  • 3/8-inch Allen wrench

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • C-clamp

 How to Change the Brakes on a Chevy Uplander

Park the Uplander in an area that will allow for access on both sides of the vehicle. Place the transmission in "Park," point the front tires forward and place tire blocks behind the rear tires.

Loosen the lug nuts on the front wheels with the socket on the tire iron.

Place the jack beneath the frame near the front bumper and lift the vehicle. Place jack stands beneath the frame and lower the vehicle onto the stands. The tires should be clear of the road surface while the Chevy is supported by the jack stands.

Remove the lug nuts and pull the wheels from the wheel bolts.

Turn the steering wheel to the right to allow for better access to the left brake.

Remove the two caliper bolts located on the right side of the caliper. The caliper is the metal apparatus that surrounds a portion of the rotor. Use a 13 millimeter wrench for these bolts.

Open the brake fluid bleed valve located near the upper-most caliper bolt with a 10 millimeter wrench. Two full turns on the valve will open it. Place a drip pan beneath the brake.

Slide the brake pads from the sides of the caliper. The pads are connected to the sides (or walls) of the caliper by thin metal clips.

Place a C-clamp or vise-grip pliers against the caliper piston and the wall from which it protrudes. Screw the C-clamp (or squeeze the vise-grip pliers) to force the caliper piston against the side of the caliper. The brake fluid in the caliper will be expelled through the bleed valve and into the drip pan. The piston is a ring that extends from one side of the caliper. Remove the C-clamp when the piston is flush with the side of the caliper.

Slide the new pads onto the walls of the caliper. The pads will face each other when installed properly. Close the bleed valve with the 10 millimeter wrench.

Place the caliper onto the rotor and screw in the caliper bolts using the 13 millimeter wrench.

Turn the steering wheel to the left to gain access to the right brake. Replace the brake pads on the right brake. Turn the steering wheel so that the wheels are pointing forward.

Place the wheels back onto the wheel bolts and screw on the lug nuts by hand. Lift the Uplander with the jack, remove the jack stands and return the vehicle to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron socket.

Press the brake pedal fully, release and press it again. This will return brake fluid to the caliper that was expelled during the opening of the piston.

Open the hood. Remove the cap to the master cylinder and fill the reservoir with DOT 3 brake fluid until the level of the fluid is within 1/4 inch of the top of the container. Replace the master cylinder cap.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • 13 millimeter wrench

  • 10 millimeter wrench

  • Drip pan

  • C-clamp or vise-grip pliers

  • DOT 3 brake fluid

 How to Change Brakes on a 1997 Chevy Truck

Loosen all of the lugs with the tire iron 1½ rotations.

Place the jack underneath the support strut under the vehicle and lift it until the tires are 2 inches off the ground or more. Set the jack stands underneath the axle for stability. Finish removing the tire.

Remove the bolts on the mounting bracket using the socket wrench and remove the bracket. Slide the old brake pads out of the bracket.

Slip the new pads into the bracket. They will go in by hand.

Reattach the bracket with the bolts. Reattach the tire and lower the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket wrench set

 How to Change Brakes in a Chevy Avalanche

Loosen all of the lug nuts ¾-turn counter-clockwise with the tire iron. Do not remove the lug nuts before raising the Chevy Avalanche in the air. Set the wood blocks in front of the front tires.

Set the floor jack under the rear axle of the Avalanche. Raise the vehicle until the rear tire is two inches from the ground. Set the jack stand under the rear axle. Remove the tire.

Loosen the bottom bolt in the brake caliper mounting bracket with the socket wrench. Lift the bottom half in the air and tie it to the wheel well with the twine. The mounting bracket is attached to the rotor.

Pull the brake pads out of the mounting bracket.

Clamp the movable end of the c-clamp to the cylinder in the center of the mounting bracket and set the stationary end against the back of the mounting bracket. Compress the cylinder until it is flush with the bracket.

Insert the new brake pads in to the proper slots.

Bolt the bottom half of the mounting bracket back on to the rotor and put tire back on as well. Lower the truck and tighten all of the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Wood blocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket wrench

  • Rope or twine

  • C-clamp