This weekend I was tasked with changing my wife's rotors in her 2012 Fiat 500 Pop and I figured while I’m doing it, I’ll make an instructable out of it. So here it is then. Please keep in mind that in this instructable I will only be changing the rotors, not the brake pads. If you want, I made one on how to change brake pads on my 2012 Dodge Avenger so make sure to check that one out if you are going to be doing the whole job.
A good indication that your rotors are getting in bad condition is if when you hit the brakes, you can feel a wobble. This could be due to your rotors being warped where the brake pad will slide along a wobbly surface, you're going to feel that wobble.
Step 1: Tools You Will Need...
Here is a picture of the tools i needed for the job. Some of them I didnt actually need but it was handy to have them just in case. They are listed below from left to right in the best order I can make it...
- Flat head screwdriver (big head)
- Socket Wrench
- 12 MM Deep Socket
- 19 MM Standard Socket
- Vice Grips
- Adjustable wrench
- Hammer/Sledge(Soft mallet if you are planning on reusing the rotors)
- MM Socket set(just in case)
- Jacks(Can be the spare tire jacks)
- Safety Block for underneath the vehicle (extra safety)
- Brake Cleaner (optional but recommended)
Step 2: Start to Remove the Tire and Lift...
So first things first...make sure your parking brake is one and
the car is in PARK and that it’s on a level surface. What I like to do is whatever side you're going to work on first, turn the steering wheel the opposite direction. For example if you want to start on the right side, turn your wheel not all the way to the left but all the way and then a spin and a half back just so you have better access to the caliper that you need to remove. Once you have that decided, jump into the car, start it up and turn the wheel. Shut the car off, and pull the parking brake.
Next you will want to loosen the lug nuts before raising the car. It is a lot easier to start to loosen the nuts/bolts when the tire is on the ground, or else it will just spin around when you try to loosen them when it’s in the air. Once you take whatever cover you have over the lug nuts off, go ahead and take your lug nut wrench and start to loosen them, but don't take them completely off, you just want to get that initial break while the car is on the ground.
Next, take your car jack and place it underneath the frame and start to jack it up. Jack it up enough so that the tire has just a little clearance off the ground. Once you reach that height, put a block or another jack stand underneath the frame for extra safety. Once the tire is off the ground, you should just be able to hand loosen the lugs and take the tire off and set it aside.
Step 3: Behold...Your Wheel Assembly...
This is what you will be left with. Keep in mind the red caliper this car has may be different than the one you are seeing but you can clearly see the caliper and the rotor which you will be replacing.
As mentioned earlier, I will only be replacing the rotor in this car, so technically you would only need to remove the caliper assembly from the rotor for access to it. There are two things that are holding the rotor in place, and that would be the caliper and the wheel locater pins(those are the two pegs sticking out of the rotor)
In the next step I’ll be explaining on how to remove the caliper assembly...
Step 4: Depress Your Brake Pads
Your car's brake pads are more than likely right up against the rotor already, you will need to separate the pad from the rotor just a tad in order for the assembly to come off.
Using your flat head screwdriver, find the gap in the caliper and try to find an area to pry the pad SLOWLY away from the rotor. If you pry it too fast, brake fluid will rush back into the cylinder and it might leak. Don’t drive a screw driver into it either, just try to find a nice little nook or find a way to push the pad away from the rotor, giving you that room to remove.
Step 5: Removing the Caliper Bolts/caliper
Your caliper is basically bolted onto the whole tire assembly and is held by two 19 MM hex head bolts...at least this caliper assembly is, yours may vary, but there should be two bolts holding it in place.
Once you locate these bolts, go ahead and use your socket wrench and take them off. Keep in mind they may be very very snug, almost as snug as the lug bolts when you took them off. Use some elbow grease to get them started but be careful not to go crazy on it either for two reasons. Reason one is that you might strip it if you’re too careless with how much force you are applying. Reason two is because it’s on a stand and you don’t want to go crazy trying to take it off when all that weight is on one little jack stand. If it’s being stubborn, try using some penetrating oil. Mine came off when I applied as much force as I did to the tire lug nuts to get off. Just don’t strip it.
After you take those bolts out you should notice the caliper will be loose them, keep hold of it as you loosen the rest of it. You want to place the caliper on a surface that’s raised so it won’t put stress on the brake line at all, I used the tire as a surface but if you have a hook or some zip ties, that would work too.
Step 6: Removing Tire Locator Pegs
These things are handy when you place the tire back on...but to get them off was a fun time.
These pegs strip VERY easily. I found that the size of the peg itself requires a 12 MM deep socket, so go ahead and grab that and take them off, but be very very careful not to strip the head of it. In one of the previous photos earlier it shows that I had stripped one...that’s where the vice grips came in handy. You have to clamp them down real good before turning it if it comes to that.
Before taking them off it may be a good idea to spray some penetrating oil to make it a little easier to remove. Once you have these removed, all that’s left is the rotor itself, as it has nothing holding it there except for years of brake dust...
The next step will explain how to remove said rotor if its being extra difficult...
Step 7: Removing That Stubborn Rotor...
So after all that you are left with this rotor that just won’t come off and is just looking at you like, "Well, what are you going to do?"
Here is the part where you decide whether or not you are keeping this rotor or not. Some people like to take the rotors off and get them resurfaced and then put them back on. In this particular project, this rotor was bad...very bad, so I didn’t need it anymore.
If you do decide to keep this rotor to resurface it to put it back on, please use a rubber mallet for this next step, as you don’t want to damage the cast hub.
If you are NOT keeping this rotor, there are two blanks spaces (pictures) where you want to smack one at a time, meaning smack the one area, move to the opposite, move back to the other one, and so on. what this will do is continually rock the rotor free. You really don’t want to WAIL on it, just enough to break it free. I used a regular hammer because I didn’t have a sledge, but if you do use a sledge, just don’t go crazy, you may alter the alignment.
After a few wacks, it should break free.
Step 8: Reverse Reverse!
After that, you really should take some brake cleaner and clean the new rotor before installing it to clean off any factory residue, then you go ahead and put the new rotor in its place and put everything back where it was. I'll go through the order of putting things back just to recap...
- Install New rotor
- Put Tire locator pins (don't strip them tightening them either)
- Line up the caliper (just like how you took it off) with the newly installed rotor and put bolts back in.(be mindful of the brake hose)
- Line tire up and start hand tightening lug nuts, once hand tight, give one extra turn with your lug nut wrench
- Lower vehicle
- Fully tighten lug nuts with your lug nut wrench. If you have your tire torque specs, and a torque wrench, that makes it easier.
BEFORE YOU DRIVE YOUR CAR
When you turn the car on for the first time, pump your breaks a little bit, what this will do is tighten the caliper around the rotor to fill that gap you had created when you took it off. If you don't do this and you start driving right away, your brakes won't react quickly like they are supposed to.
Please be safe. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then might as well have the garage do it for you. As long as you put everything back the way you found it, you should be good.