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How To Change Brake Pads

Changing your brake pads is one of the easiest maintenance operations you can do on a car. If you've changed your car's oil, you're qualified to perform this procedure. Step one is to jack your car up and take the wheels off. Next you'll need to remove the brake caliper. The caliper will be attached to the brake carrier with clips or bolts. Undo any you find and pull the caliper off the carrier.

Now you can set the caliper aside, but MAKE SURE you support it, either on some part of the car or a floor jack or a pile of decorative rocks stolen from your neighbor's garden. Do not let the caliper hang by the brake line, this will damage your brake line and can lead to brake failure. Once the caliper is removed, your brake pads will be easily accessible with the carrier still on the rotor. A brake pad might have a clip, tab or wear sensor connecting it to the carrier, so disconnect any of those you find and remember where they go.

Remove the old brake pads and check the rotor to see that it's clean. If the brake rotor is dirty, use brake cleaner on it and dry it with a rag, make sure the brake cleaner doesn't get on the pads. Brake fluid will eat through just about anything it comes in contact with, including any paint or plastic pieces on your car, so be careful with it. Now all you have to do is slide the new brake pads in and reconnect any clips or tabs that hold it in.

Brake calipers will adjust to worn pads, so when you replace your brake pads, you'll need to reset your caliper or it won't fit over the new thicker brake pads. To reset your caliper, insert the adjustable end of a C-clamp into the piston and screw it in, the piston will compress and you'll be able to put the caliper back on.

To make sure your brakes are working properly, push the brake pedal a few times. It will be soft and go all the way to the floor for the first few pushes while the caliper piston that you just reset tries to find the pad, but once the piston is situated on the pad the pedal should be firm.

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