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Automotive

How to Change Your Car’s Brakes


Being your own mechanic may sound like a scary thing to do. Even if you want to be independent and save the money on labor costs, what if you make a mistake? Your brakes are not exactly a cosmetic feature on your car! But the key is to do your research before you even get started, and to take your time when you make the repair. If you’ve got some extra hours on your hand, then follow these steps to change your brakes – and check out defensive driving courses for auto discounts.

Get Your Tools Together

Your car may have unique needs, depending on the make and model, but typically you’ll need the following tools:

  • Ratchets (3/8″ and 1/2″)
  • Breaker Bar (1/2″)
  • Extensions (3/8″)
  • Sockets (3/8″ and 1/2″)
  • Wrenches
  • C Clamp
  • Pry Bar
  • Wire Brush
  • WD40
  • Hydraulic Jack
  • Jack Stand
  • Gloves

Buy Rotors and Brake Pads

Spring for the better equipment when it comes to your brakes — especially if you tend to be hard on your car. The cheap rotors won’t hold up for very long against stop-and-go traffic. Look for ceramic brake pads because they tend to protect your brakes and keep them functioning longer.

Work the Lugs, Raise the Car

Don’t remove the lugs of the car, just loosen them. You’ll have to put the parking brake on first to get the best grip on the lugs, and then loosen them enough with the breaker bar so you can take them off with a regular ratchet. Then put your jack under the frame rail of the car, and rest the car on the stands of the jack. Once this is done, you can remove the wheels.

Work the Calipers

You’ll see bolts on the calipers of the car. Once you remove those bolts, you can then slide the caliper out. You may have to use a pry bar or a flat-head screwdriver to do this, but eventually you should be able to remove them entirely. Make sure you’re not putting any stress whatsoever on the brake line during this process. Secure the calipers either on the suspension or with zip-ties. When you’re removing the rear calipers, you’ll likely need to exert more force to get them to come out. Use the breaker bar or an impact gun if you have one.

Remove and Install the Rotor

Use a hammer to remove the rotor. You may have to remove a screw, but typically you can just hit it with a hammer to dislodge it. Use a lug nut and wrench to install the new one, and ensure that it stays tight in the car. Then, assemble the carrier and compress the caliper. This can be done by replacing the bolts on the carrier and using the C-Clamp to position the piston. When you install the new pads, make sure you’re keeping all the bolts as tight as possible. The caliper should be able to move without binding.

Replace the Wheels

When the car is in the air, tighten the lugs. Use the breaker bar to ensure that you get the best possible torque (rotational force.) Once you’ve replaced all four wheels, you’ll need to pump the brakes until you’ve achieved the possible pressures. You may notice that the brakes squeal after you’re finished, but don’t be alarmed. That’s just the car’s way of adjusting the new parts.

Keeping up with your car maintenance is just one way to keep yourself safe on the road. There may not be a need to find out where to buy used cars in NY just yet!