Brake discs and brake pads replacement – easy DIY manual

Brake discs and brake pads replacement

Brakes are the traditional wear parts of every car. Timely replacement is essential for road safety. Especially in older model ranges, with some expertise and skill you can replace the brake discs and brake pads by yourself. This would save you a three-digit amount of money for visiting a garage. The assembly manual below provides you with useful tips for DIY replacement step-by-step.

What is important when replacing brake discs and brake pads?

how to replace brake discsA functional braking system is indispensable when you want to be sure you slow down quickly on the road. Therefore the replacement of brake pads and discs can only be performed with sufficient expertise. DIY replacement only for financial reasons might lead to deficient execution causing the car to no longer brake optimally, increasing the probability of accidents. Furthermore, the insurance company might refuse to assume liability. Take on a DIY replacement only when you are able to work professionally and have the needed experience.

Step №1: Jacking up the car and disassembling of the wheel

All components of a brake system must always be replaced in pairs to avoid the car pulling to one side in case of a braking manoeuvre. The entire repair requires the car to be jacked up, most ideally on a car hoist. Jacking up the car with a traditional jack is possible, though it makes pairwise replacement of brake disc and pad more complicated. Start by removing the wheel behind which the brake components are situated. This is done in the same way as a general wheel change.

After removal of the wheel you have a direct view of the caliper, which is mounted with clamps and equipped with dust covers. Remove the covers and loosen the sliding bolts. Removing the caliper requires the corresponding rewind tool set for rewinding it. In newer models this can lead to problems with the car electronics, as in this situation, the electronic hand brake might be activated. In this case, interference in the electronics is necessary in order to put it in a service or repair mode.

Removing the brake pads from the disassembled brake caliper

When the brake caliper is detached, the brake pads can be removed. Now, the brake-pad holders are still fixed on the car, standing in direct contact with the brake discs. With a matching screwdriver their fixation can be loosened, and in addition to the holders, the brake disc can be removed from the wheel hub. Very often, the brake disc has a separate mounting on the hub. This must be checked on an individual basis.

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When installing brand new brake discs and brake pads, you do not necessarily replace other parts of the braking system. After the disassembly, thorough cleaning is recommended for proper functioning of the brakes. In addition to the wheel hub make sure to clean he caliper and the brake pad holder as well. For more persistent dirt, a small steel brush is recommended. The specialised dealer has a special brake cleaner, which can be used for discs and pads, but also for the other brake system components.

Assembly of the new brake discs and brake pads

brake discs and brake padsThe installation of new brake discs and the ensuing installation of the brake pads with new linings take place just as described above, but in the reverse order. Firstly, the new brake disc is placed on the wheel hub, and then the new brake pads set is placed on the brake-pad holder. Prior to installing the brake pads it is recommended to clean the mounting surfaces of the brake-pad holder with special brake lube from the specialised dealer. This contributes to a better mobility of this part and prevents unwanted friction of brake components.

If the brake-pad holders are prepared, they are connected to the brake disc with a cleaned bolt. Please note: for optimal and safe braking performance, the tightening of the bolt must occur with the tightening torque stipulated by the manufacturer. A brake lining which is either too loose or too tight has a negative effect on the braking performance and can become a serious safety risk.

After installation of the holders, the pads are inserted. Mind the different version of both sides. The side which is turned outwards has a clamp to insert the brake lining in the brake caliper piston enabling the brake pad with the lining to slide over the brake disc. Now, the sliding bolts must be greased, inserted through the brake caliper and tightened with a hex key. Here the proper torque must be observed as well. The dust covers can be installed and the holder fixed. Just as in the disassembly the components can be fixed with a normal screwdriver of the right size.

Venting the braking system

During the works on the braking system air enters the system. Prior to installation of the wheels and use of the car, the system needs venting. This must be done on all calipers as they are connected through the system. This also means venting the calipers on the axle where you didn’t work.

Venting the braking system requires some expertise. It is better to have a professional mechanic here to help you. If venting is ignored, the system could contain too much air and the pressure on the brake pedal might not generate the full power transmission. This should not be noticed when the car is at full speed and cannot brake as quickly as required. The wheel is installed only after venting the braking system. Venting is only useful when all braking components have been replaced and you have finished working on both sides of the axle.

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Testing the new brakes prior to the first following use of the car

testing new brake discs and brake padsNew brake discs and brake pads need some time to adjust their position in order to exercise the right grip. Before you plan a longer trip, test the braking performance on safe terrain. Slightly accelerate and brake again. The braking system is correctly aligned if you feel the proper resistance when applying the brake pedal. If repeated attempts do not generate the proper braking function it is possible that the hydraulic system of the car contains too little brake fluid. With a little experience, the replacement of brake fluid is also a DIY task. The suitable fluid can be found at the dealer.

Foto: Tatiana Khlopkova, kuzmichstudio, malkovkosta, Sven Vietense /

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