Fixing brakes, especially when you're talking about replacing brake pads, doesn't have to be a demanding job, but the right amount of preparation can make it go by even faster and ensure your safety, too. Here's how to get your vehicle ready for the job.
Start by placing blocks under the wheels so there's less of a chance of the car rolling anywhere when you're working on it. Next, loosen (but don't remove) the lug nuts on the wheel where you want to change the brake pads -- just as if you were changing a tire.
Next, use your vehicle's jack to lift the car up and then secure it with jack stands. This step is very important. Changing a tire is a relatively fast procedure, but replacing the brake pads takes just a little while longer. Plus, you're going to have more of your body underneath the vehicle when you're doing brake work than you typically would when you're changing a tire. Securing the vehicle is critical at this point in the procedure. Your tire jack won't be enough to safely support the car while you're changing brake pads, so jack stands are necessary. An additional floor jack may be useful at this point, too; otherwise, you'll need to use the vehicle's jack to lift one wheel at a time.
Once the jack stands are in place, lower the car with your vehicle's jack until it's securely resting on the stands. You should refer to your owner's manual for the proper placement of the jack stands. Be sure to give the car a little shake when the jack stands are in place. After all, if it's going to happen at all, it's far better for the car to fall now than when you're under it.
Now that the car is in the air (and properly secured), finish unscrewing the lug nuts and take the tire and wheel off. This will leave your brake rotor, brake caliper and brake pads exposed.
So, now your vehicle is ready, but what will you need to actually change the pads? In the next section, we'll talk about the tools you'll need to get this brake repair job done.