Maintaining your vehicle is essential for ensuring you can get to and from work and other activities, but taking your car to the mechanic for every maintenance task can become quite expensive. You do have options, though. With a bit of knowledge and a free afternoon, you can learn how to replace brake pads and do other small tasks on your own.
Signs Your Brake Pads Need to Be Changed
Before you start pulling apart your brake system, determine if it’s time to change the pads. When your brake pads begin to wear down, they will begin to make a squeaking sound when you press them. If you have a newer vehicle, you may also have a wear system that has an indicator light on your dash in case you don’t hear any squeaking. Other signs include taking longer to brake or noticing a lower brake fluid level.
Gathering Your Supplies
Once you know your brake pads need to be changed, you’ll need to gather tools and supplies. First, purchase the set of brake pads (expect to pay between $50 and $200, depending on if you need rotors as well). You’ll also need to gather your tools. If you already have a large tool set, you’re probably fine. However, if you’re unsure, you can search the internet or ask a local auto repair store about which tools you’ll need specifically. Typically, it includes ratchets and sockets, jack stands and a jack, clamps, pry bars, and a wire brush. You’ll also want gloves and WD-40.
Replacing the Pads
Now it’s time to start the replacement process. First, you’ll want to loosen (not remove) the front lug nuts and ensure they are loose enough to be removed with a ratchet once you raise the car. When working on your car, remember to put on the emergency brake, and use bricks because your front wheels when you’re working on the back brakes.
After the lug nuts are loosened, you can raise your car to remove the wheels and loosen the calipers. After that, you’ll take off the caliper carrier. If necessary, you’ll also remove the rotor and install new ones. From there, you’ll reassemble the carrier, compress the calipers, and install the new pads. Finally, you’ll put the wheels back on, lower the car, and pump the brakes until you reach the proper pressure (typically about three pumps), and take a short drive to break in the new system.
Flushing the Brake Fluid
It is also important to know how to flush brake fluid. This should occur if your pedal beings to feel spongy or when you open the brake lines. If the fluid isn’t yellow or clear, it’s time to change it. In addition to the new fluid, you’ll need some basic tools, a brake bleeding kit, a plastic drain container, and some gloves and rags. Remember, brake fluid is highly corrosive, so be extra careful and dispose of old fluid properly.
Whether you need to change your own brake pads and fluid once because you’re short on cash or you intend to save money by doing it yourself every time, ensure you do lots of research about your specific car first to prevent any problems. Don’t forget to search for “auto parts near me” to get the best deals!
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