How Brake Relining Works

Tools for Brake Relining

Brake relining, as we mentioned, is a pretty simple procedure, and you don't need anything too fancy to do it right. Here are the tools you should have on hand before you start:

  • A secure way to jack your car up. This means two jack stands -- not hydraulic jacks -- or a floor jack. You need something strong enough to hold your car safely for the duration of your work, and you're going to be working for a couple of hours.
  • A tire iron or spinner
  • Brake pad grease (a.k.a. caliper slide grease)
  • The all-important new brake pads

You may also want to have:

  • A vise grip, channel lock, or C clamp
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • A dust mask
  • A micrometer

And, depending on where you're working and how accident-prone you are, you might also want to have a few disposable plastic cups and a Sharpie®. As you take the brakes apart, you can use these to contain, separate and label the bolts and other fasteners for the various brake components.

Finally, if the brake pads have worn down quite a bit (to 1/8 inch or less), you should inspect the discs. Signs of trouble include:

  • an uneven surface
  • a dull surface
  • grooves or gouges in the metal
  • variations in thickness (even tiny ones can be problems; check using the micrometer)
  • warping
  • cracks
  • a diameter that meets or exceeds the maximum for that rotor (which should be stamped on the disc itself)
  • differences in thickness between the rotors on the two front wheels [source: Memmer]

If you spot any of these signs, it's time to replace the discs. You'll be able to find replacement brake rotors at your auto store.

­On the next page, we'll look at the first big step: taking out the old brake pads.

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