Brakes get worked pretty hard, and since it’s very important to keep them working well, that means they can need repairs fairly frequently. One common brake fix done by professionals in careers in the auto industry is the replacement of the brake pad. This is the component that applies friction to the brake rotors of the car, which slows the vehicle down. The heat and rubbing, unfortunately, also causes pretty quick degradation of the brake pad, making brake pads a particularly vulnerable part of a car’s brake system.
Fortunately, replacing brake pads is an easy task for a well-trained automotive maintenance technician, and follows a few basic steps. As you get familiar with these steps during your training, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master of the brake pad replacement.
Ready to get started? Here’s a look at the basic steps involved in replacing a car’s brake pads.
5 Steps to Replacing Brake Pads
Keeping brakes in good shape is important
In fact, 22% of accidents are caused by brake issues
Important parts of a car brake:
Brake calipers: Hold the brake pads and apply/remove them from brake rotors
Brake rotors: Spin with the axles, and are slowed by the brake pads
Brake pads: Apply friction to the brake rotors to slow the car down
Axles: Are shafts that link the wheels and rotors of the car
Brake pads by the numbers
The average brake pad will last 3.75 years
The cost for a replacement is $100 – $300 per axle
How to Replace a Brake Pad
Step 1: The Setup
- Set the parking brake
- Put blocks behind the wheels to keep the car from rolling
- Loosen the lug nuts of the car until they spin easily
- Use a jack to raise up the wheel with the brake you’ll be working on
Important! To prevent damage, only place the jack on designated areas of the car
Step 2: Removing the Wheel
- Double-check that the parking brake is set
- Remove the lug nuts
- Carefully pull the wheel away
Pro tip: For alloy wheels, clean the studs and apply an anti-seize compound before replacing the wheel
Step 3: Removing the Caliper
- If working on back wheels, disengage the parking brake
- Make sure the caliper isn’t hot
- loosen bolts and remove the caliper
- Rest the caliper on the suspension or zip tie the caliper up
Pro tip: If the caliper is allowed to hang, the brake cable can get damaged. Don’t let it!
Step 4: Replacing the Pads
- Note how the current pads are installed
- Remove the old brake pads
- Connect the new pads the way the old ones were
Important! Don’t get lubricant on the inside of the brake pads—this can stop them from working
Step 5: Put Everything Back Together
- Reverse the order to put the rest of the brakes back together
- Set the car on the ground
- The job is done!