7. Brake Pads
- Tools You Need: Lug wrench, C-clamp, open-end or adjustable wrench, hammer
- Time to Complete: 30 minutes to an hour
- Estimated Cost: $40 and up (depending on your car)
You’ll need to replace most brake pads around every 20,000 miles, but as always, check your owner’s manual for specifics about your model. If you consistently do a lot of “stop-and-go” driving, you’ll need to replace them more frequently. Brake pads are DIY-eligible, but safety is your top priority. Be careful, get everything ready before you start, and if you’re uncomfortable at all, pay a professional to do it for you.
- Jack up your car and rest it securely on jack stands.
- Break the lugs on your tires before you do anything else.
- Remove the wheel.
- Remove the brake caliper so that the brake pads slide out through the top. The brake caliper should be at the 12 o’clock position, just above the lug bolts. On the back of the caliper you’ll find a bolt on both sides. Remove the bolts and set them aside. Hold the caliper from the top and pull upwards. Give it a few taps if you need to, making sure not to disturb the brake line (a black hose). Don’t let the caliper hang from the brake line; find somewhere to set it securely. With the caliper out of the way, the old brake pads should slide right out.
- Replace old pads with the new pads, securing them with the same retaining clips that held the old pads in place. If you have an older car, you might need to utilize your hammer here a little bit. Proceed gently!
- Compress the brake piston. Get out your C-clamp and put the end with the screw on it against the piston with the other end on the back of the caliper assembly.
- Tighten the clamp until the piston has moved far enough to where you can place the caliper assembly over the new pads.
- Re-install the brake caliper (the opposite process of what you did when you removed it), and then simply put your wheel back on.
With this project, you’re stepping up to what I consider “DIY 2.0.” If you’re still mastering how to change your oil, you might want to build your confidence level a little before taking on this project.
Check back next week to see Tip 8, or see previous tips here.