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How To Check Your Brakes Perform Brake Job

Created on: 2010-05-28

Welcome to brakes 101! Learn how disc style brakes work, how to check yours for problems, and how to replace rotors and pads if they need it!

  1. step 1 :Remove the wheel
    • View our video to identify the different parts of the brake.
    • You want to look for abrasions and wear on the rotors and the amount of ‘meat’ on your brake pads.
  2. step 2 :Replace the pads and rotors.
    • Unbolt the caliper and caliper bracket to access the rotor.
    • Pry out the brake pads.
    • Most modern vehicles the rotor comes right off, some have a nut and cotter pin securing it, others require a rubber mallet to get the rotor off the hub.
  3. step 3 :Install the new brakes
    • Clean the new rotor with brake cleaner.
    • 1A Auto brake pads come with a little tab that indicates the wear on the pad.
    • The tab will create a squeaking noise when the pad has worn down to the point that it needs replacement.
    • Use a C-Clamp to compress the caliper.
    • Install the new brake pads.
    • Use a lug nut to get your rotor to stay in place while you mount the caliper back on.
    • Bolt the caliper back on.
    • Refer to the Owner's manual to torque the caliper bolts to the correct tightness.
  4. step 4 :Put the wheel back on
    • Hand tighten the lug nuts and lower the car.
    • Torque the lug nuts to 75 ft lbs in a star pattern.

Tools needed

  • Anti-Seize Grease

    Lug Wrench


    Brake Parts Cleaner

    Complete Metric Socket Set

Brought to you by 1AAuto.com your source for quality replacement parts and the best service on the internet. Hi, I'm Mike Green. I'm one of the owners of 1A Auto. I want to help you save time and money repairing and maintaining your vehicle. I'm going to use my 20+ years experience restoring and repairing cars and trucks like this to show you the correct way to install parts from 1aauto.com. The right parts installed correctly, that's going to save you time and money. Thank you and enjoy the video.

Ok, a little Brakes 101. Maybe you've got 50,000 miles on your car and your wondering do I need new brakes. Or maybe your car was in the shop and the mechanic put it up on the life and said see here you need new brakes. He showed you some stuff but you didn't really know what you were looking at. Well in this video I'm going to hopefully take care of that for you.

I'm going to show you how these brakes are put together so that you can identify whether or not you need new pads and rotors. There's no one mileage for a car. No one can say, Oh your car has 60,000 miles on it. You need new brakes. If you drive your car a lot of highway miles you may go 100,000 miles before you need brakes. If you drive your car around town and you're stop and go all the time, you may need brakes at 20,000 miles. Have you ever seen those people driving down the road and their brakes are always on? Some of them might have problems; some of them might be riding their brakes. They'll probably need brakes at 5,000 miles.

There's two factors that go in; how you use your brakes and the quality of your brakes. No one can just say well you've got a certain amount of miles so you need new brakes. You need to check the condition and you need to know what you're looking for when you're checking the condition. I'm going to take this wheel off and I'm going to show you a few things. This is probably what you're going to see when you look at it; a whole bunch of brown and gray. If you're looking at it at your mechanics shop it's definitely what you're going to see. They're not going to clean anything up for you to try and let you figure out what everything is.

Basically what you have is three main parts. You have your calipers, which is like the arm on your bike when you used to press the handbrakes and they'd squeeze the rubber shoes together. You have your calipers so those are like the arms. Then and you'll see it move, there's your brake disc or your rotor. That's obviously like the rim of your bicycle. Then between your rotor here and this is your caliper is your shoes. There's a metal part of the shoe and there's a brake lining part of the shoe. At this point what I'm going to do is go to a new set of brakes so you can see the difference between everything better.

Actually now I'm going to perform basically a brake job for you real quick. Most cars like this there are two bolts to the hold the caliper to the steering knuckle. You can see this uses a large Allen wrench. I'm going to use another wrench on here for some leverage. Then I'm going to pull these bolts out. When you pretty much have those bolts out you can use your wrench to pry and pull the caliper off. You can see the caliper and here's your shoes which are like the little rubber things on your bicycle. I'm going to pull those right out. This one, basically pull it off like that. A little more force. Take my caliper and put it up here.

On most cars these days the disc just pulls right off. Some cars you may have a maybe put on with a nut that has a cotter pin in it or something like that. A lot of newer cars and trucks the disc just pulls right off. Put on our disc from 1A Auto. It can go on just like the original. Here are our new pads from 1A Auto. A couple things; now you'll see there's a little tab right here. You'll notice that tab is roughly lined up just inside of the metal here. That tab's a wear indicator. Basically once these pads wear down that tab will start hitting against the rotor and it will make that squeaking noise that you hear sometimes. As soon as you start hearing that squeaking noise, you know that's when you need to replace your pads.

The only special tool you'll need is a large C-clamp and you probably don't actually need one this large, but you use this and put it in to force your cylinder back in. Now you'll see as I tighten it up, this cylinder will go down in. Now you want to make sure you don't damage your line or anything here. The reason you need to do that is because here are my old pads, you can see how much thicker my new one is. This caliper had compensated by staying out some. You have to push it back in so you can fit the new pad on.

This one goes in and clamps in to that bore. This one goes like this. What I like to do is I put a line up off my rotor. That just helps to hold things in place. Then my caliper goes right back on. You can see this hook should go down in there and this hook should go in if everything is positioned correctly. This is where it's ok to use a little bit of force. Make sure your bolts all the way up. Then you get your bolt started and you tighten them up. These are your brakes so you want to tighten these up pretty good. Then use your wrench for leverage. Make sure your Allen wrench is well in that bolt. Now with the nice new brakes then you can see everything really well. Here's your caliper, here's your pads in red and then there's your disc in between. You can see the new pads are good between probably 3/8, I don't know; 3/8 and half an inch or so. Whereas my worn pads are about half of that and quite honestly these pads still have some life left in them. These pads are still probably worth 10,000, 15,000 miles.

Now you can easily see and you know if somebody tried to tell you need brakes; this is what you check for. You want to make sure those pads have some good life and you also want to look at the condition of your rotor. Now obviously it's a brand new rotor so it's nice and smooth. Here's my original rotor from this car and actually if I run my fingernail on it like this, I'm not feeling any deep, and you want to feel for deep grooves around it. I'm really not feeling anything so actually this rotor is in good shape too. Actually, if I checked these brakes the way they were, I would have left them alone probably for another probably would have checked them again in another 10,000 miles. For illustration purposes that's what your new brakes will look like.

Then you can put the wheel back on and go from there. That's a little disc brakes 101. I hope I gave you the tools you need to check your brakes and see if you need new ones. Also, I hope I showed you how easy it is to actually do these brakes yourself. As you're putting this together you want to make sure that those bolts are tight. Then put your wheel back. Torque your lug nuts to 75 foot pounds. Then put your hub cap and everything else back on and you're good to go.
1AAuto.com we sell the pads and rotors for many different makes and models and we hope this helped you out and can save you some money.

We hope this helps you out. Brought to you by www.1AAuto.com, your source for quality replacements parts and the best service on the internet. Please feel free to call us toll free 888-844-3393. We're the company that serves you on the internet and in person.

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