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Save Money by Changing Your Own Brake Pads

Most drivers probably don’t think twice about their car’s braking system until they notice that it’s not working quite the way it should. If your steering wheel shakes when braking, your car takes longer than normal to stop, or even if you feel like there’s a loss of grip when braking, some component in your complex brake system needs to be repaired.

Not only can a braking system, that’s on it’s way out, become an expensive problem if not fixed sooner than later, but according to Providence car accident lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP, a bad braking system can be a contributing factor in a serious or even fatal car accident. Although some parts of your braking system may be more difficult to repair than others, if your brake pads need replacing you can save yourself some money and replace them yourself, here’s how:

How Do You Know You Need New Brake Pads?

You probably need new brake pads when you hear screeching and squealing as you put your foot on the brakes, which indicates that you should replace your brake pads as soon as possible.

Brake pads create friction and slow the rotation of the wheels which brings your car to a halt. Out of all of the parts in the braking system, the pads are most often replaced and can be replaced with relative ease. If you have a mechanic replace your brake pads, you may be looking at anywhere from $500 to $1000, depending on the type of brake pad are chosen and the cost of labor. Fortunately, if you’re able to purchase the brake pads and replace them yourself, you’ll see significant savings.

Replacing Your Brake Pads

Before you get started, make sure you give yourself enough time to work, such as a weekend, on replacing your brake pads. Don’t rush to get the job done. Double check to ensure you have all the tools you need and it’s always a wise idea to have a copy of your vehicle’s repair manual on hand. If, at any point, you’re unsure or don’t feel confident about what you are doing, take a break and seek professional advice. Doing the job right is important for your safety on the road. Here are the basics of replacing your brake pads:

  • Loosen and remove the lug nuts on the wheel. Remove the wheel as you would if you were changing a flat tire. This will expose the brake assembly.
  • Next, find the slider bolts or pins that hold the caliper in place. By removing the lower bolt only, you should be able to access the brake pad. You may also encounter a rubber hose, which is the hydraulic line, but don’t do anything with it.
  • Before removing the brake pads, confirm that they need replacing. The pads will be worn if the friction material is 1/8th of an inch thick or less at any point on the pad.
  • Slide the old brake pads out from the retaining clips, remove the old clips, and slide in the new retaining clips that come with the new brake pads.
  • Use the grease, which is included with the pads, to apply as a lubricant to make it easier to slide the new brake pads into place.
  • After you have replaced the brake pads you will need to lower the caliper back into place, but you will need to push back the piston(s) first so that they will clear the new and thicker brake pads.
  • As you push back the piston, open the brake fluid reservoir and watch the fluid carefully as it rises. If it looks as though it will overflow, remove some from the reservoir, but don’t let it get below the minimum level line.
  • Once you’ve slid your caliper back in place and reinstall the slider bolt, you may straighten out your wheel, put your tire back on and tighten the lug nuts.
  • After you have replaced all of the brake pads, test drive your vehicle in a safe area just in case you need to make adjustments.

Remember, when in doubt, always ask for help and don’t take your car out on the road if something doesn’t feel or sound right.


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