Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Change Brake Pads

Removing Old Brake Pads
Remove any hardware holding the old brake pads in place (if any) and they should slide right out.
Remove any hardware holding the old brake pads in place (if any) and they should slide right out.
Jim Jurica/iStockphoto

Now that your car is raised up and you have your tools ready to start fixing brakes, it's time to do what you set out to do: Remove the old brake pads and replace them with new ones.

Let's quickly review where we are in the process, so far. The car is up in the air and the tire and wheel have been removed to expose the brake rotor and caliper. To remove the brake pads, we first have to remove the caliper. Use your wrench to loosen the bolts holding the caliper in place, then remove the bolts completely (or as far as they will allow).

Once those bolts are removed, lift the caliper off the brake rotor. It will still be connected to the vehicle via the brake line. This is really important -- don't let the caliper hang by the brake line. This can cause damage to the line and ultimately lead to brake failure. Instead, secure the caliper to a nearby suspension component using a bungee cord or a piece of hanger wire. Make sure that the brake line is slack and not pinched, kinked or in the way of any of the tools that you'll be using for the rest of the procedure.

Take a look at the brake rotor without the caliper in the way. If the brake rotor is deeply scored or has grooves in it, you probably will want to have that part resurfaced or possibly even replaced entirely. Remember, it's important to take all parts into account when doing your own brake repair.

If you turn the caliper over, you can now see the brake pads themselves. They're typically held in place by pins or bolts or sometimes both. Remove whatever type of hardware that's holding them to the caliper and slide the pads out.

Now inspect the pads. Do they look worn out? Are they relatively thin compared to the new pads that you've purchased? If so, you've made a good decision and it's time to put new pads on [source: Memmer].

Good work, so far! Now that you've got the old pads out, let's put the new ones in and finish up this brake work.