Brake Repair

Instructions on Repairing Brake Lining


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A vehicle's brake lining (usually called the "pads" or "shoes") are an integral part of one of the most important systems on your car. They are also considered to be a “wear component”, which means that over time they don’t do their job as well, and have to be replaced. That makes them one of the most commonly performed repairs on any vehicle, since all brake pads will have to be replaced eventually. Luckily, replacement of a vehicle’s brake linings is a relatively easy job and can be done at home by most auto enthusiasts. Here are some simple steps for replacing the brake linings on a disc brake system.


1. Supplies
– To replace your brake linings you will need a few basic supplies:

  • a) clean rags
  • b) some old newspaper
  • c) good set of tools
  • d) two good sized blocks of wood
  • e) flashlight 
  • f) container of brake fluid
  • g) sturdy car jack
  • h) stand to support the car
  • i) stiff piece of wire (like a coat hanger)
  • j) your new brake rotors and pads (if necessary)
  • k) large “C” clamp
  • l) some latex or nitrile gloves (optional)
  • m) a reliable ride to the auto parts store (just in case).


2. Preparation
- First, park the vehicle on a level surface and set the brake. Use the blocks in front of and behind one of the rear tires to ensure that the vehicle doesn’t move. If you’ve recently driven the car, you should keep in mind that the brakes will be very hot. Let them cool for awhile before touching them. Loosen the lugs on the wheel you are going to be working on, until they spin freely before you raise the wheel with the jack, until the tire is no longer touching the ground. Then, lower the car onto the stand. Be careful to use one of the frame contact points that are identified in your owner’s manual. Other places on the vehicle are not designed to support weight and will be damaged if you use them to lift or support the car. Once the car is situated on the stand, make sure that it is being supported in a stable manner, and that there is still plenty of space between the tire and the ground.

3. Access the Caliper - Now it will be easy to remove the wheel to reach the caliper. Unscrew each of the lugs and carefully pull the wheel/tire away from the car. It should easily dismount and you can set it aside. If the wheel spins and you can’t loosen the nuts, then set the parking brake or put the vehicle in gear to hold it steady.


4. Disassemble the Brakes
– When you remove the wheel you will be able to see the brake rotor. It is a circular disk that is mounted directly behind the wheel. Around the disk is the caliper, where the brake linings are mounted. Make sure that the rotor and caliper are cool to the touch and then feel around the back of the caliper. You should find two bolts on the back, one on each end. Sometimes brake calipers are mounted with special fasteners like Torx® head bolts. If this is the case, it is going to take a special tool to remove the caliper. Take a look at the bolts and find out what size and type they are. Then, use a wrench to loosen them. Pull the caliper away from the disk. It should come off cleanly. Once the caliper is removed, it’s important that you not put any pressure on the brake pedal. Doing so will damage your braking system. Now support the caliper by hanging it on the wire so that you don’t put strain on the brake line.


5. Replace the Pads
– Now the linings can easily be removed from the caliper. Depending on their design, they may have clips that secure them to the caliper or piston and you might have to put a little pressure on them with a screwdriver to get them off. Take a look at the new pads to get a good idea of what is holding them to the caliper. Once the old pads are off, then install the new pads in place of the old ones. You might also want to resurface or replace the brake rotors as well.

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