Brake Pad Replacement and Brake Repair

Brake Pads - With regular usage , the brake pads get worn out and need a replacement. Most car manufacturers suggest 30 to 35K miles but actual can be less or more , depending on the terrain and your driving habits.

Inspection :- With a little effort,(and using a flash light), you can actually peek in through the rims to see the shiny disk and the brake caliper with the pad on it. Notice the area where the brake pad mates with disk. Does the pad have at-least 2 to mm of thickness left on it.  If so, you don't need to replace it. You may inspect it again after 5000 miles.

Replacement :-     There cannot be anything more fun than changing brake pads for disks and drums.  In most cars front wheels are the disk type and the rear ones are usually the 'drum' type brakes. In some cars, the rear also are disk type. Basically a round disk rotates along with the wheel and a pads are made to rub on it. The friction generated tries to stop the disk from  spinning and that is how braking is achieved. The disk that spins is usually called a 'rotor'.  Similarly for the drum type brake , they are called as 'brake shoes'.

  New brake pads can be purchased from the parts store or the dealer. I usually choose the middle grade one , for example if he offers you three types - One for $25 , the other for $38 and the third for $68 , choose the one for $38 . You can be a bit fancy and put ceramic brake pads as well , but these cost more. You can also get a can of brake-parts cleaner ,you usually spay this on the disk and drum areas to clean and dust of the debris. Also don't forget to get a pouch of silicon/brake grease. 

For Disk Type Bakes :

Park on a level surface and engage the parking brakes    Loosen the lug nuts(or bolts) , raise the side with a Floor jack and place a Jack stand below.  Take the nuts/bolt off and remove the wheel. You will have the disk, brake calipers and pads exposed now. There will be pad on each side. Now will be good time to spray the brake-parts cleaner and wipe some of the area around the disk/pads. Usually there will be a bolt on the lower inside. Loosen that out and the calipers should swivel out as if it is hinged on the top bolts.   If the bolt doesn't remove and is stuck tight , you need to apply some penetrating oil around the bolt and try to do it again.

   Once the calipers are off , you may inspect the rotor itself to determine its condition. For cars upto 80-100K miles the rotors should still be usable, See how war it is worn out by running your finger along the edges to see to observe how far the metal has worn out. 

It there is excessive wear you might have to send to the lathe shop o get it turned. If it appears damaged (or some type of crack on it) , you might need new rotors.

Remove the old brake pads out and apply some silicon grease around the metal area where the pads make contact with the calipers. Make sure the grease don't appear anywhere on the braking surface of the pad or disk. Seat in the new brake pads and Fold the brake caliper back into the disk. Apply some anti-sieze around the bolt and tighten to specified torque spec. Put the wheel back on. Do the same for the other brakes. Once you are done go for a test drive and feel if has improved. 

Go to 50-60MPH and brake suddenly for 5-10 seconds to bring the car to a halt , do it 3-4 times to complete the burn in. At this point - You are all done and complete with your disk brake change.

For Drum Type Bakes :-

  The drum is a little bit more trickier , but easy since the brake shoes have springs and such attached to them. First thing first :- You need new set of Brake shoes, silicon grease and required tools. Similar to the  steps to replace the brake pads after taking off the wheels you are exposed with the brake drum. This drum need to come off the structure to expose the structure holding the pair of brake pads. Pop the drum off by hitting it towards the car with mallet. Hit with the mallet only on one side and the drum should pop off and come loose. With the drum off, it will be a good time to use the brake parts cleaner to clean the brake shoes area as well as the inside to the drum. Now inspect the inside of the drum for wear and damage. If it worn below the recommended specs , you need a new drum. New Drums are not very expensive and like the disks , these may not need to be changed till you cross 100K or more.  If you have a camera take a picture of the inside brake shoes for reference , in case you forget how the springs etc fit it. After you remove the side clip and the spring the brake shoe should come off now. Apply grease to all the metal contacts that move and put the new brake shows in the similar manner to which it is removed. Use vice grips to put the springs back on the shoes Once the shoes are on, it's time to put the adjuster and springs back on. Save the old brake shoes to take it back to the store to get the core refund.

Put the drum back and get inside the car and press the brake pedal to see the Play in it. If all ok, mount the wheel back on as before and go for test drive. Go to speeds of 50-60MPH and brake suddenly for 10 seconds to bring the car to a halt , do it 3-4 times to complete the burn in.  The advise here is the basic idea and applies for most cars : Since each car is different , As always refer to specific instructions /videos online or from the factory manual on the correct way to do it.


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