How to Change Brake Pads

To begin this project or any other automotive project you must enter with clear and open mind. Not all vehicles are the same and some variation may need to be adapted "as you go". There is also a proper way to perform service and an improper way; take your time and assess the situation before talking something that is beyond you expertise or knowledge. Albeit this is a tool designed to educate you on the process involved in a particular service and/or guide you on performing such service in your home garage.

The most important part is to be patient!

Note: unlike wine, vehicles age with the enemy, corrosion; this is a fact that you may have to deal with, don't force something if its not working you need to step back and approach it with a different angle.

Tools/items that you will need:

  • 1x Can of brake parts cleaner
  • 2x Packets (or 1 jar) of brake lubricant
  • Basic tool set (most newer vehicles use primarily Metric sizes however bother are used)
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Shop towels
  • Brake press (available at any parts store and ranging in price/quality also avail. As a rental tool) not a necessity but makes the job easier.
  • and of course new brake pads!


  1. To begin raise the hood and unscrew the brake fluid reservoir (inspect the fluid, it should be clear mineral spirit *blue if performance*. If it is brown or yellowish that means it is oxidized and has lost its efficiency and recommended to flush.
  2. Break loose the lug nuts/bolts DO NOT REMOVE COMPLETELY just break them loose.
  3. Locate a firm and secure jack point to raise the vehicle. Again locate and place an equally secure location for jack stands.
  4. Loosen lug nuts/bolts fully and remove wheel
  5. Take time to assess the work area and visually inspect shocks/struts and surrounding components for any wear or damage.
  6. On the rear of the caliper there are two (2) bolts. These are your caliper guides.
  7. Remove the guides and inspect they should be loose and well lubricated if not clean with brake cleaner and possibly sand off corrosion with a fine grit sand paper so they are smooth. If need be replacements are available for relatively low cost (some GM trucks come with pad set as they are single use)
  8. The caliper should be free from the caliper bracket at this point (you may need to pry it off with a small pry bar or larger flat screw driver as there is remaining brake pressure on the pads).
  9. Once removed inspect all components visually, brake rotor should be smooth ad without any waves or ridges. (if your brakes were pulsating, the disc will require replacement)
  10. If the discs are grooved they can be resurfaced at a local machine shop or various parts stores offer this service as well. Before this measure using a brake measuring caliper.
  11. Inspect pads for uneven wear (most commonly caused by lack of lubrication)
  12. remove one pad (retain the pad that is backed by hydraulic piston)
  13. Use caliper press or large pliers pressed against old used pad to return piston fully into housing (some brake fluid may seep out of reservoir above do not be alarmed this is normal)
  14. Remove remained pad
  15. Compare old pads to new make sure the pads you have are the correct ones.
  16. New pads in hand use lubricant to lubricate all surface the pad contacts (other than friction surface of rotor) this will allow for a smooth and quiet operation. Try not to let lubricant come onto pads functional friction surface, if this does occur use brake cleaner generously to remove.
  17. Insert pads into caliper or place into caliper bracket.
  18. Place caliper in position.
  19. Lubricate guides
  20. Place into position and tighten. Torque specs are available but if not tighten to hand tight (within reason)
  21. Use brake cleaner and shop towels to remove and excess grease or residue from lubricant. Be liberal.
  22. Install wheel and tighten lugs.
  23. Lower vehicle and retighten lugs. Toque specs are recommended.
  24. Pads today are almost always chamfered and "pre-broken in" but if you would like to ascertain this, utilize the 30-30 rule which means 30 stops in 30 feet; this allows the brakes to run through a full heat cycle and set.
  25. Your done!

Important note: if brake fluid happens to flow out you must clean it up immediately and if at all possible do not allow it to touch painted surfaces (it is highly corrosive and WILL strip you paint)

If you have multi pot (two or more pistons per caliper) you will need to adapt a slightly different method.