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How to Change Brake Pads: These Steps Are Simple and Cheap to Do

brake disc on car

Brake pads are an essential component in your car’s braking system. These are pads that sandwich your vehicle’s rotating rotor for it to stop. It’s inevitable for you to get your brake pads replaced since it gets thinner over time.

Although professional service is available, learning how to change brake pads is cheaper. So, if you’re looking to do it by yourself, stay tuned!

How the Brake Pads Work?

We’ll start first with how the brake pads work. This will give us a clear idea of the parts that we’ll be removing later.

For starters, brake pads are located in your wheels, so the first thing that you should remember is that you’ll need to have access inside the wheels. Of course, to do this, you will need a jack to lift your vehicle.

Once you get accessed to the disc brake, you’ll get an easier time prying the brake pads out.

The brake pads are cushions that apply friction towards the rotor for it to stop. For this to happen, the brakes should be first hydraulically applied through the brake pedal.

This then goes through the master cylinder down through the brake lines that connects the disc to the master cylinder.

Finally, this liquefied force runs through the brake caliper which then pushes the brake pads towards the rotor. This eventually slows down the rotor depending on how much force the brake pedal receives.

When to Replace Brake Pads?

when to replace brake pads

Brake pads are made out of fibrous material for durability and efficiency in applying friction. Every time you apply your brakes, these pads get thinner. However, these pads are robust and can last your car months before it finally thins out.

In addition to thinning, brake pads can also be prone to cracking and loosening. Since brake pads are very vulnerable, you’ll need to inspect the pads along with the entire braking system at least every month.

However, when it comes to changing the brake pads, there are a lot of factors that can determine when you’ll need to replace it. It’s recommended to replace brake pads after your car ran a total of 25,000-70,000 miles.

Now, the disparity between the minimum and maximum is quite a lot. 45,000 miles makes this general rule quite confusing. Hence, here’s a few factors that can give you a clearer idea on when to change your brake pads.


Brake pads vary in their content depending on what the car manufacturer used. Durable pads are usually made of carbon-ceramic material. These will last you longer compared to the metal ones. However, take note that this kind of brake pads are usually reserved for high-end sports cars.


The more you use your brakes, the faster it will wear. With that said, if you’re living in an urban city, you’re more likely to encounter traffic which will cause you to brake every minute. On the other hand, residents in the countryside should have fewer problems with braking.


Your driving also has a lot to do with brake pads wearing out. If you’re a driver who carefully applies brakes, then your brake pads are in good hands. However, if you keep on using harsh force to your brakes, it will wear down faster. Moderate acceleration and proper braking are necessary to increase your brake pad’s lifespan.

Now that you know the factors, below are some of the symptoms that can further help you gauge your brake pad’s lifespan:

  • Brake pads have small hairs of metal which can help you measure its lifespan. If these look like they are running out, then replace them.
  • The presence of a squeaking sound whenever you apply your brakes, it could mean the pads are thinning out.
  • If your brakes are unresponsive or if it needs more force than the usual to stop the car, this means the pad are losing its gripping power.

How to Change Brake Pads – Steps to Follow

Step 1: Buy the right braking pads

new auto brake pads

Go to any car dealership or auto repair shop. There will be a wide array of braking pads to choose from. Just tell the model and year of your car and the experts will know what to give you. You can also buy cheap but durable brake pads in online sites.

Make sure to look at all the available options for you to have variety in your choices.

Standard braking pads are typically made of steel, while the other ones use the more complex material. Remember, the more expensive the brake pads, the more durable it is.

Step 2: Cool down your car

This is a step that people usually forget. Before dealing with the disc brake, shut your car’s engine and let it rest first for at least 30 minutes or 1 hour. A car that freshly came off a grueling drive will be piping hot, so you’d be wise to avoid that.

Step 3: Start removing the tires

removing the tires

The disc brake is inside your car’s wheel. Hence, you’ll need to start by lifting the vehicle with a jack. For an easier time, it’s best to use a hydraulic floor jack to get the job done. Lift the car only until the tires are slightly off the ground.

Afterward, start loosening the wheels’ nuts. A cross wrench is the best tool to loosen these. Once you’ve loosened the nuts, get back to your floor jack and lift the car higher. Use jack stands on both sides of the car to keep it stable.

Once you’ve properly lifted your car, simply remove all the nuts with the wrench and dislodge the wheels from the vehicle.

Step 4: Removing the Caliper

removing the caliper

Get a wrench with the correct socket size to remove the caliper. The caliper is fitted over the brake rotor, right inside a stub axle housing. This housing is where the tires are connected to the axle.

To remove it properly, check the caliper pressure first. It should be swinging back and forth a few times first. Since this caliper makes use of hydraulic pressure towards the braking pads, pay extra attention.

This is because a pressurized caliper can burst out when you try to remove it. Also, when handling the caliper, try not to get too close.

If any washers connect your caliper between the mounting bolts and surface, then be sure to remove them and remember where the machine is placed.

Once you’ve dislodged the caliper, you’ll notice that it will still be connected via the brake line. Just simply hang the caliper on a metal part of your car. A good recommendation is to hang it on the shock absorber on top.

Step 5: Remove the brake pads

remove the brake pads

You should immediately see two brake pads at the front and back portion of the rotor. These are usually removed by just a little push. Just slide your fingers underneath the metal casing and pry it out.

Once you’re done, take the time to inspect the rotor if there’s any damage. After that, install the new brake pads by simply sliding it in and securing it in place.

Step 6: Put everything back together

how to change brake pads

Mission accomplished! Now your brake pads are finally new. The next step is to go backward and put all the removed parts together basically.

Start by carefully getting the caliper and screwing it back on. Again, if it has washers place each washer to its original position.

Once you’ve carefully secured it in place, get the tire and cross wrench. Apply the star-pattern method when placing the nuts back together.

Lower the car through the jack until the tires touch the ground. Afterward, tighten the nuts firmly by using your feet to push the cross wrench.

Step 7: Pump the brakes

human feet pressing car pedal

Start your engine and make sure that the stick is at park. Then, apply your brakes about 20 times to check if the brake pads are properly installed. You can further bleed your car’s braking fluid to remove the old liquid and replace it with new ones.

Step 8: Go for a drive

Lastly, check the pads by driving your car at low speed. Go about five mph on and slowly apply the brakes once you’re gaining speed. If the brakes appear to be normal in its grip, go again for another round.

This time, increase the speed up to 10 mph and do the same. Repeat this until you’ve reached 40 mph. If the brakes aren’t squealing or if its grip is not loose, then your vehicle is ready.

Wrapping it Up

Taking your car to a repair or replacement service can cost you. Brake pad replacement services usually cost around $100-$300 per axle. That’s a lot of money considering you can buy brake pads online for only $50 and below and do it yourself.

Hence, you should consider doing this because it can save you lots of money.

Moreover, if you do it right, it’s not time-consuming. It should take your roughly an hour to get the job done if you have all the right tools. With that said, good luck and stay safe whenever you’re changing your brake pads!