Most of us will have to get brake repair at some point. While taking the vehicle to a qualified mechanic is always an option, the truth is that most brake repair jobs can be done by the average person. With the help of a few simple tools, and the tips given in this guide, you will have the basic knowledge necessary to repair all major components of your car’s brake system. You will also learn some of the most commonly made brake repair mistakes and how to keep them from happening.
If your brakes are “mushy” or if the pedal sinks all the way to the floorboard when you apply the brake, the problem could either stem from a low brake fluid level or worn brake pads. The pedal feels soft because the pads are worn down, so they grip less efficiently.
You can inspect your brake pads by either taking the wheel off, or if you have wheels with open spaces on them, you can look at the pads in that way. If you don’t think that you have the mechanical knowledge to do it yourself, you shouldn’t risk it. You should take the car to a certified mechanic for inspection and repair.
If you decide to go the DIY route and it becomes necessary to lift the car up, make sure that you use jack stands and wheel chocks. It’s really easy for a hydraulic jack to fail, so if you need to raise the car up to remove a wheel, make sure that it won’t slip off of the jack. Failure to secure the car can turn a brake job into a trip to the hospital.
When you’ve removed the wheels, look at the bolts that are holding the calipers in place. Most caliper bolts come with a hex or Allen head, and there are usually two bolts each on both the caliper and the bracket. If you are just replacing the brake pads, you can probably get away with removing only the caliper. When you remove the caliper, hold it in place with a bungee cord to keep it from snapping back and cutting the brake hose.
If you need to replace the rotors as well, you’ll have to remove the caliper bracket. Then, your rotor will either slide right off (as is the case with modern cars) or it will come off when the wheel bearings are removed (which is typical of older automobiles). If the wheel bearings are taken off, you should refill them with grease before you put them back on.
Make sure that the brake pads are going on correctly. Believe it or not, a lot of people have ruined their rotors by putting the brake pads on backward. Also, take care not to pinch the brake hoses when you are putting the calipers back on.
Hopefully it doesn’t happen to you for a while, but eventually, you will need to repair the brakes on your vehicle. As overwhelming as brake repair can seem, it’s really quite easy if you are patient and careful. Not only will you have a sense of accomplishment, you will save money because you did it yourself.