Changing brake pads and basic brake maintenance

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About 90% of the time, your brake problems will be with your front brake pads.
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Basic steps for changing brake pads yourself

Brakes are the most important function of a car. Most braking system failures are preventable and often due to poor maintenance. If your car is not braking as it should be, it may be time to change your brake pads. Learning about your braking system before a serious problem occurs will make you a smarter and safer driver. Changing brake pads is a good place to start.

Brake pads are basically the friction pad that makes your system operate properly. You can hire a professional to change your brake pads, or, with the proper equipment and a few hours to dedicate to the task, you may want to try it yourself.

Changing Brake Pads

The majority of changes you make to your brake pads (about 90%) will be to the front brake pads. On most cars, the front brake pads are visible from the back of the front tires, pressed against the metal rotor.

How to tell if itís time to change your brake pads:
- If the pad is less the 1/4Ē thick, it will need to be replaced soon. If the brake pad is thinner than 1/8Ē you should replace it immediately.

- Most brake pad systems are designed to make an impossible-to-miss annoyingly high-pitched screeching or squeaking noise to tell you itís time to change them. Donít ignore these noises!

Getting Started:

Youíll need a basic tool kit and a good shady spot to work. Make sure that the car is in park and the parking brake is set. Lock the rear wheels because youíll be jacking the front.

Have your tools within reach or ask a friend to assist you. With a tire iron, loosen the lug nuts on the wheels. Slide the jack under the car or the flat spots behind the front wheels.

Set a jack stand in place under each axle once the front axle is off the ground. Lower the car onto the stands (Never work without jack stands!) Remove the lug nuts and first front wheel with tire attached.

Now, take a better look at your brake pads, youíll find them on either side of the metal plate known as the rotor. They are attached to the inside of the caliper, squeezing device, with clips or bolts.

Removing the Brake Pads

Disconnect the bolts holding the caliper in place. Detach the caliper from the rotor. You should see the brake pads attached to the caliper. Remove the clips holding the brake pads and examine them. If they are worn thin?

Take a look at the rotor. This metal plate should be shiny if undamaged. The rotor will have to be removed if it looks scored or you canít see your reflection. Be not to touch the rotor if youíve driven the car recently as it may still be hot.

If the rotor is damaged, you will either have to replace it or have it turned. A new rotor is not too expensive so you should look into this option first. Bring your rotor and brake pads to an auto parts store for an exact replacement of the rotor, brake pads, and grab two packs f brake pad grease.

Putting on New Brake Pads:

Before you can put your rotor, and brake pads on, youíll have to return the piston to the open position. The piston is along the back of the caliper, a metal flap about 3Ē long. Push it with your hand.

Install the rotor if it required replacement. Take off the old brake pads. Use the brake pad grease to lubricate the back of the new brake pads, careful not to grease the fronts. Attach the pad to the rotor and slide it in place.

Delaying car repairs to your brakes can be dangerous. At the very least, delays will cause the repairs to be more expensive. If you don't feel comfortable trying it yourself, take your car into the repair shop right away.

2 Car Pros: Changing Brake Pads
Money See: Videos on Changing Brake Pads

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