Learn how to change brake pads and rotors on a car with this step by step picture guide written by a real mechanic.
Is it hard to change brake pads and rotors? Anyone can do this job if they are able to follow instructions well and have the tools. Have some technicial experience would help but it's optional.
Having replaced brake pads and rotors for hundreds of vehicles, I will reveal all the tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years. In this guide, you will not only learn how to
replace brake pads, but also how to change brake rotors too.
To troubleshoot, repair and maintain your vehicle, you'll need diagnostic and repair information that is specific to your car or truck. For this I personally use and recommend ALLDATAdiy. With full manuals for over 30,000 vehicles online, you will find an exact match for your vehicle's year, make and model.
Besides being cheaper than a factory manual, they also offer step by step repair instructions and detailed diagrams beyond what is found in most printed manuals. Click here for a sample of their diagnostic and repair information.
Recommended Tools and Parts for Changing Brake Pads & Rotors
Brake Pads: Click here to find one for your vehicle make and model
Brake Rotors: Click here to find one for your vehicle make and model
Brake Caliper Compressor: Lisle 25750 Dual Piston Caliper Compressor
Brake Cleaner: 3M 08880 High Power Brake Cleaner
Brake Lubricant: Permatex 24125 Ceramic Extreme Brake Parts Lubricant
Disposable Towels: Scott Shop Towels
Floor Jack: Torin T83006 3 Ton Hydraulic Trolley Floor Jack
Jack Stands: Torin T43002 3 Ton Jack Stands
Mechanics Wire: Dorman 9-741 Gauge Coil Mechanics Wire
Pry Bar: Tradespro 835682 Pry Bar Set
Screwdriver Set: Cremax Magnetic Screwdriver Set 10 Piece Set
Socket Wrench Set: Dewalt DWMT73804 34 Piece Socket Set
Suction Gun: Lumax LX-1185 Suction Gun with Vinyl Hose
Torque Wrench: Tekton 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
Wheel Chocks: FloTool 11930MI Heavy Duty Wheel Chocks
Work Gloves: Wells Lamont 167L Heavyweight PVC Gloves
Park your vehicle on a level surface, preferably on concrete or asphalt, put the car in “park”, set the emergency brake and put blocks under the rear wheels. Grab your floor jack and jack stands before finding an appropriate place to jack up the vehicle.
If you are changing brake pads for the first time, then you should look up your owner's manual to confirm where to jack up your vehicle. I sometimes will just jack it up using the lower control arm. You can see my jack setup in the picture. DO NOT JACK UP THE VEHICLE YET!
Sometimes there is a wheel cover that needs to be taken off. Most of the time you can just use a pry bar to pry it off of the rim. Using a large socket wrench and the correct sized socket, loosen the lugnuts in a criss cross pattern. Be sure not to loosen them all the way as the weight of the vehicle is still on the tires. Be sure to loosen both sides.
After the lug nuts are loose you can then jack up the car. Be sure to go slowly and not any higher then necessary to get the tires off the ground and the jack stands under it for support.
When I first learned how to change brake pads I would just skip the jack stands, but they are very important because the jack might fail and you will probably be sitting right under the brake rotor!
Remove the lug nuts with a socket wrench then remove the tire and set it aside. Sometimes I will place the tire near the brakes so I can use it as a stool to sit on. This makes the job more enjoyable and makes it easier to see what I’m working on.
Now that the tire is removed you can closely inspect the brake pads and rotor. Be sure to make mental notes of how everything is arranged so it will be easier to get it back together. If you are just learning how to change brake pads and rotors then you might even want to snap some pictures for reference in case you forget or don’t have a repair manual to use.
STEP 5 to 8: How to Remove Calipers and Replace Rotors
RELATED: How to Check Brake Pads
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