• A Guide to Front Brake Repair Basics

    Front brake repair can seem like an intimidating task, but with a few tips and the right tools, it can easily be done.

    Tools and Materials Needed:

    • Good socket set in both metric and standard, including Allen head sockets
    • Brake Caliper Compressing tool
    • Can of brake parts cleaner
    • Tie wraps or bendable wire
    • New Brake Pads
    • Jack stands

    Always wear proper safety equipment including goggles, gloves and face shield (if necessary). When working under a car, always use the properly rated jack stands. Never attempt a repair on a car supported by only a floor jack.

    Step 1: Select and Purchase Replacement Pads

    When it comes to selecting replacement pads, a few things need to be considered. If the car is a high performance one, like an SRT 8 Dodge or a Porsche 911 for example, the dealer is the best place to purchase replacement pads. For other makes, a good pad from a chain automotive store will work. All automotive stores have a few different replacement pads available, with varying prices. The lower priced ones tend to wear out quickly, therefore requiring constant replacement. The most expensive ones come with a lifetime guarantee, but can cause excessive wear on the rotors. That leaves the mid-price ones. These have a good wear life, and do not cause premature wear on the rotors.

    Step 2: Jack up Car and Remove wheel

    Jack the car up using the jack that came with it, or a floor jack that is rated to lift the weight of the car. The front wheel can now be removed. Remove any wheel covers and then the lug nuts.

    Step 3: Inspect and Remove the Calipers

    Inspect the rotor and caliper assembly for wear, paying close attention to any groves. If the rotor is heavily grooved, it will need to be turned or replaced. Most parts stores can turn a rotor and if not, will recommend a place that can. If a large buildup of brake dust is covering the rotor and caliper, it can be removed by spraying them with the can of brake parts cleaner. Be sure to use in a well ventilated area, and follow all directions for use. Reaching behind the caliper, locate the two bolts holding the caliper on and remove them. Once the bolts are out, the caliper can be removed by rocking it back and forth while pulling out. Once the caliper is off, don’t let it hang by the brake hose. Use the bendable wire to hang it from the front spring. Once it’s out of the way, the old brake pads can be removed.

    Step 4: Compressing the Caliper and Installing the New Pads

    Before the new pads are installed, the caliper needs to be compressed. This is where the Brake Caliper Compressing Tool comes in handy. The installation is the complete reversal of the removal. Once the caliper is compressed, the new pads can be installed.

    Step 5: Reinstall the Caliper and Wheel

    Once the caliper is back on the rotor, reinstall the two bolts and tighten. Be sure not to over tighten or strip the threads of the bolts. Reinstall the wheel and torque the lug nuts as per manufacturer’s recommendation. The entire process can be repeated on the other wheel and once both wheels have been completed, the brake pedal needs to be pressed a couple of times to set the new pads on the rotor. The last step is to check and refill the brake fluid if needed.