How to Replace Honda Element Disc Brakes

by Jody L. Campbell

The Honda Element features front disc brakes, but it also may use rear drum brakes or rear disc brakes. The procedure to change the front or rear disc brakes is quite similar, but the parts are different. The front rotors are vented because of the intense heat they endure. This is because they perform 70 percent of the braking power for the SUV. The rear rotors are solid and the pads are smaller than the front.


Remove half of the brake fluid from the master cylinder using a brake fluid suction baster and then discard the fluid. If you're replacing the front disc brakes, apply the parking brake, but if you're replacing the rear, place a wheel block in front of one of the front tires instead. Applying the parking brake will prevent you from removing the rear calipers.


Loosen the lug nuts by about a quarter before lifting the axle.


Use the jack to lift the Element and then support the vehicle on jack stands.


Remove the lug nuts and tires.


Place the 6-inch C-clamp over the caliper assembly so the top of the caliper is on the inside housing and the screwing drive is on the backing plate of the outboard pad. Slowly tighten the clamp to compress the caliper piston inward fully. Remove the clamp.


Remove the two caliper bolts using a metric box-end wrench, then remove the caliper and tie it from the suspension with some rope so the rubber brake hose is not damaged.


Remove the two pad wire clips from the pads and then the pads from the caliper brace, taking note of the wear sensor positions on the pads. The wear sensors are the small metal and angled tabs on the upper corners of the pads. You'll need to replace the new ones the same way.


Remove the two caliper brace bolts located on the back of the knuckle. Use the breaker bar and a metric socket to break the bolts loose and then switch to a wrench once they're broken free.


Remove the two rotor retaining screws, using an impact screwdriver and a hammer to break them free.


Remove the rotor. If necessary, knock the rotor off by striking it from behind with a hammer.


Clean the replacement rotor with brake cleaner spray to clean off the rust preventative coating on it. Wipe it dry with a shop rag and then place the new rotor onto the hub flange. Replace the rotor retaining nuts.


With a wire-bristled brush, clean off the pad tabs contact points on the caliper brace and then lubricate with silicone brake lubricant. Replace the brace and the two bolts. Tighten the bolts to 90-foot pounds with the torque wrench and a metric socket.


Prep the pads with the shims provided in the replacement box, unless they're already staked onto the backing plates of the pads. Replace the pads and wire clips and then place the caliper over the pads.


Align the caliper bolts into the caliper and tighten them to 40-foot pounds with the torque wrench and socket. Repeat the pads and rotor replacement for the other side.


Replace the wheels and lug nuts. Tighten the nuts as much as you can with the wheels suspended and then re-tighten them with a torque wrench at 80-foot pounds.


Make sure the cap to the master cylinder is on and then pump the foot brake pedal to seat the pads and extend the caliper pistons. Once the pedal feels firm, recheck the brake fluid level in the master cylinder. Top off the cylinder with DOT 3 brake fluid.


Remove the wheel block and/or disengage the parking brake. Test drive the Element for proper braking operation.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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