How to Save $100 or More on your Brake Job

Does your car need brakes? Do you hear a little squeal when your foot is NOT on the brakes? almost like a little metal finger rubbing on a metal. That is the warning indicator built into your brake pads to tell you the pads are almost done.

My neighbor needed help and they were low on funds so I did a quickie brake job for them before the problem became more expensive.

When you hear that sound, do not wait any longer to get your brakes done or your pads will be gone and then you will get metal on metal grinding when you press on the brakes. If you get metal on metal your brake job will cost even more as you will have to replace the brake rotors.

Before getting started, tell me does your foot “pulse” when press the brakes when trying to stop the car? Does the car pull to one side or another? If everything “feels” normal and you are just hearing the indicator squeal then you are ok to proceed. Any other problems and you probably aren’t prepared to do this yourself. If you can handle a bigger job then you wouldn’t be reading the post.

Tools you will need:

  • Breaker bar/ratchet
  • Lug nut socket
  • 3/8″ ratchet
  • 14mm or 9/16 socket
  • channel lock pliers (large)
  • new brake pads

Before getting started, put the car in park and set the parking brake.

Step 1: Remove hubcap (if you have one), then I broke loose the lugs. From there I i proceeded to jack up the left corner of the car. Remove the lugnuts and remove the tire

Step 2:

Now that the wheel is off you can remove the break caliper. This is the thing that squeeze the pads to squeeze the rotor that makes your car stop when you press on the brake pedal.

Step 3:

Remove pads from caliper bracket. They are just dropped into the bracket and no more bolts to remove.

Intermediate step:

If you waited too long and you had metal on metal grinding you will need to remove this extra bracket to pull the rotors off. It’s just 2 more bolts and the rotor just comes off with your hand. Also if you had a pulsating pedal you should replace these. It is possible to get them resurfaced and trued up. But usually at this point it’s cheaper to replace them.

Step 4:

Remove old metal clips that line the channels your pads were in

Step 5:

Place caliper up on the top of rotor and stick an old pad in there. Slowly squeeze the pad and the caliper to push the piston back into the caliper. You need to do this so the caliper fits back on the new pads.

WARNING: If you have both tires off and your doing both sides at once DO NOT HAVE THE OTHER CALIPER OFF THE ASSEMBLY. You risk the possibility of popping the other piston out of the caliper creating a HUGE mess and now costing you more time and more money negating the savings of the post

Step 6:

Place in new clips and pads

Step 7:

Place caliper back on bracket and bolt back in place. Make the bolts tight but not crazy tight. There probably is a torque spec but on these it’s just “good and tight” when you’ve done this enough times your know how it “feels”

Step 8:

Mount the tire. Put on the lug nuts in a star pattern and then make them tight. Tighter than the brake caliper. Again this is a feeling and I’m also using a 1/2″ by 24″ ratchet.

Repeat the other side and you are almost done.

Get in the car and SLOWLY press the brake pedal a few times to get the caliper pistons to start squeezing the pads taking up any slack between piston and pads. Start the car and pump the brakes more. After they feel “normal” you can now take off parking break. Put car in drive or reverse and go for a short drive.

You are done.

An average price for this type of brake job (commonly referred as a pad slap) is roughly about $150. For $50 bucks at the auto parts store and 1 hour in the garage it was done and I helped my neighbor out. If you needed rotors that could be another $40 bucks a side but you will still save money doing this yourself.

If you don’t have the tools it is possible at some auto parts stores to rent/borrow tools if you don’t have them.

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Loren Nason

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