Anyone can do this. Changing the front set of brake pads on my car took less than two hours and cost just about 30$
We've all heard the telltale sound of metal screeching and grinding on metal when coming to a stop, and dreading the cost of having a mechanic or the dreaded dealer hand you an astronomical bill for doing something so simple, my sister could do it without breaking a nail.
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Step 1: Gathering Tools and Materials.
Aside from buying new brake pads(25.99 for a front set at autozone) your going to want to have the following on hand.
Socket and wrench set, tire iron, flathead screwdriver, 12v or stronger impact driver, and a 1x2 board about 24 inches long(we will get into that later.
Step 2: Don't Forget the Jack!!!
The impact driver also makes fast work of raising and lowering the jack. :)
Step 3: Venting the System
This is probably the most important step, because if it's not done, you could seriously damage your car by bursting the reservoir or the fluid lines.
Pop the hood, locate the brake fluid cap, remove it, and set it aside. TECH NOTE: This method should not be done on cars manufactured before 1980. I will post an instructable on how to change brake pads on older cars later as this will require bleeding the brakes.
Step 4: Removing the Tire
Place the jack where the manufacturer recommends, and use the impact driver to raise the car until the tire is off the ground. Use the tire iron to break loose the lug nuts, and then use the impact driver to speed up the process. Inspect the lug nuts for cracks and stripped threads, then clean them and set them aside.
Carefully remove the tire and set it aside as well.
Step 5: Spreading the Caliper
This is where venting the system is important, and comes into play. Taking the flathead screwdriver, place it between the old brake pad and the rotor. GENTLY but firmly, pull back and pry the caliper open, spreading the pads apart as far as they'll go. This makes removing the caliper easy.
Step 6: Removing the Caliper
Locate the two bolts holding the caliper in place. Your going to need to use some elbow grease to break these loose, the manufacturer uses thread sealant to make sure these stay put. Once they're loose, the impact driver will make removing them faster. Clean the threads and set them aside.
Step 7: Changing the Pads
IMPORTANT! Once the caliper is loose, don't let it fall! The weight could break the lines. Rotate it and set on top of the rotor. The brake pads themselves just pop out and the new ones pop in.
Looking at the old pads, there were stress cracks appearing, and I could tell it was well past the point of needing to replace them.
Step 8: Replacing the Caliper
Once the pads are in place, your going to have to open the distance between the pads a bit more. Remember the 1x2 price of wood? Use it to pry them apart as far as they will go. Do not use the screwdriver or you will damage the pads. When there is enough room between the pads, the caliper will slide right on. When the calipers in place, put thread locker on the bolts, and tighten them to manufacturers specifications.
Step 9: Remember That Cap?
Not replacing this little cap will make your whole afternoon of work go right down the tubes.
Step 10: Just About Done
Replace the tire, close the hood and start the car. After the ABS system self tests, press the brake pedal slowly a few times. You'll know you're done when it firms up. Once that's done, take a slow drive around the block to test it and get used to the brake response.
You are now finished! Give yourself a high five and be proud. You've just changed your own brake pads! :)