If you drive an older automobile, chances are, you’ll need to know how to repair disc brakes. This brake type consists of metal discs that turn in sync with your car’s wheels, and when the brake pedal is applied, the brake pads squeeze the discs to bring the car to a stop. As time goes by, these discs can get damaged, especially if worn brake pads are left on for a long time. If you see the telltale signs of disc brake wear, you should take your car to a mechanic to have it checked. However, with a few simple tools, some patience, and the information contained in this guide, it is possible to repair disc brakes yourself.
Depending on the brakes that need repair, you first need to raise the appropriate end of your car. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to jack up your vehicle, making sure to secure it with jack stands. Remove the wheels. It helps to loosen the lug nuts before raising the vehicle.
Now, you’ll need to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels. (Some choose to loosen these before they raise the vehicle). Remove the wheels, revealing the brakes that need repair. Make sure that you put the lug nuts in a container or a safe place, so you can find them when it’s time to put the wheels back on.
Next, it’s time to take off the caliper. Disconnect it via its mounting bolts. If the caliper is in good shape, you don’t need to do anything further to it, except to use a wire or string to keep it out of the way. Don’t let it hang by the brake hose as this can damage the hose. If the caliper is damaged, unhook it from the hose and replace it.
Remove the disc from the vehicle by taking off the retaining screws. If you encounter difficulty in removing these screws, try using an air wrench. When you’ve removed the disc, wipe it off with a piece of sandpaper to remove any grease or grime.
Now, you’ll need to take the disc (or discs) to a machine shop for refinishing, as this is a task that usually cannot be completed by the do-it-yourselfer. The disc needs to be refinished to a certain thickness, which can usually be found etched on the disc itself (to be sure that it’s the right thickness, measure it with a micrometer).
When you’ve gotten the discs refinished appropriately, it’s time to put them back onto the wheels. Fit it back onto the rotor, and put the retaining screws back on, being careful not to put them on too tight. Reconnect the caliper to the disc, put the wheel back on, and re-tighten the lug nuts. You can then lower the vehicle safely.
This guide was meant to help you through the disc brake repair process. However, if you are at all unsure of your ability to do the job yourself, don’t try to muddle through. For your safety, you should take your car to a mechanic that’s qualified to repair disc brakes.