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How To Change Your Brakes

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Life has two certainties: alimony is better than still being married to her and brakes will eventually wear out. Though far from simple, replacing your car brakes or truck brakes is a heck of a lot easier than finding another sucker to marry an ex-wife. For those up to the task, and looking to save a few extra bucks in the process, here’s how.


These are general instructions and may not be applicable to every make, model and year. Before beginning any maintenance on your vehicle, always consult your owner’s manual for additional instructions and safety precautions.

Step 1:

Start by placing blocks under the wheels to ensure the vehicle won’t roll when you’re working underneath it. Then loosen but don't remove the lug nuts on the wheels that contain the brake pads to be replaced.

Step 2:

Use your vehicle's jack to lift the car up and then secure it with jack stands. Ensuring that your vehicle is properly secured is critical. Your tire jack alone won't be enough to safely support the weight of your car or truck. Jack stands are a must!

Step 3:

With the jack stands in place, lower the vehicle until it's securely resting on the stands, giving it a little shake with your hand to ensure it’s secure (better to have it fall now than when you’re under it).

Step 4:

Next, finish unscrewing the lug nuts and take the tire and wheel off, exposing your brake rotor, brake caliper and brake pads. To remove the brake pads, you must first remove the caliper by loosening the bolts that hold it in place. Once the bolts are removed, or loosened as much as possible, lift the caliper off the brake rotor. Be careful as it will still be connected to the brake line. Handle it carefully, ensuring plenty of slack. Whatever you do, don’t let it hang by the brake line as this may cause damage that can result in brake failure. Instead, use a bungee cord or a piece of hanger wire to secure the caliper to a nearby suspension component.

Step 5:

With the caliper out of the way, examine your brake rotor. If it’s deeply scored or has grooves in it, you should have that part resurfaced or replaced entirely. Remember, on a do-it-yourself job, you have to pay attention to each component yourself and ensure everything is in proper condition. Failure to do so can lead to serious problems down the road.

Step 6:

Turn the caliper over and you’ll see the brake pads held in place by pins or bolts. Remove whichever is holding the brake pads in place and slide the pads out.

Step 7:

Before you can install the new pads, you first have to manually retract the caliper piston. Take a look inside the caliper. There you'll find a cylindrical piston pushing on the inside of the brake pad. You’ll also notice that it adjusted itself to match the level of your worn-out pads. To reset the caliper piston, you’ll want to start by removing the cap that covers the brake fluid reservoir to avoid fighting against the resulting brake fluid pressure. Next, grab a C-clamp. Placing the end with the screw against the piston, turn the screw to increase the pressure on the piston, creating enough additional space to allow you to slip the news pads into position. Note: if the piston doesn’t retract, don't force it. Your calipers may have been designed with a piston that slowly turns as it extends. If that’s the case, you’ll need a special brake caliper tool to thread the piston back inside the caliper.

Step 8:

Once you have the brake caliper piston fully retracted, re-cap the brake fluid reservoir to prevent debris or other contaminates from entering the brake fluid.

Step 9:

Installing the new brake pads is as easy as slipping them into the same slots you just pulled the old ones out of. If they don't easily fit in with your hands, give them a gentle tap with a hammer or rubber mallet.

Step 10:

Next, replace the pins or bolts that held the original pads in place and move the caliper back into its position, tightening the bolts that hold the caliper in place so it fits securely.

Step 11:

After you have all of the brake components back in place, give the brake pedal a few pumps from inside to make sure it feels right. It may take several pumps of the pedal to get the brakes properly seated into their new position.

Step 12:

When you’re satisfied with the feel of the pedal, put the wheel back on, tighten the lug nuts, remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle back to the ground. Remember: wait to tighten the lug nuts completely until you have the vehicle on the ground. And after a successful test drive, you’re done!

When replacing your brake pads, make sure to pick out performance brake pads that are engineered to your specific make, model and year. High-grade brake pads – like Suburban brakes, Sierra brakes, Tahoe brakes, Tacoma brakes, Tundra brakes, F150 brakes, Silverado brakes and Jeep Wrangler brakes – are proven to last longer and stop quicker, providing extra bite when you need it most.

Dodge brakes, Chevy brakes and Ford brakes are just a few of the many vehicle-specific brake components available for just about any vehicle on the road. They’re the fastest way to improve upon the level of performance provided by stock pads and are the perfect upgrade for those who’ve made other performance-enhancing improvements.

Please feel free to call toll-free 800.874.8888 or e-mail with any questions. We are delighted to be of assistance in finding the right auto parts for you, be they car parts, truck parts or SUV parts.
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