Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Changing those front disk brakes today

Eventually your front disk brakes pads will need replacing before the rear brakes need replacing because the front breaks work harder. If you are lucky they will give you a little warning like a squeal or squeak before damage occurs. When you hear the warning you must make immediate plans to have them replaced or pay as much as $1000 to fix the damage. Having a pair of brakes pads replaced (usually in pairs as in the two front or rear) by a shop will cost about $250, replacing them yourself will cost about $15-$40 depending on quality of the parts. I recommend you go with the best pads, as they will keep you from having to do the job twice. My front pads started warning me last week so I planned and completed the work at home in about an hour. So if you are interested the following steps with pictures above give the basics, remember you will need your own car manual, courage and some mechanical aptitude.


(1) Power jacking up the car to remove the wheel is possible by using a 3/4 inch drill gun to turn that little rod in the jack they give you and avoid breaking into a aerobic sweat. Notice the little safety jack behind the main jack, this will keep you from holding the car up with your head should the main jack fail, hence came the term "block head". Before jacking up the car brake the lug nuts on the wheel lose, and then remove the nuts all the way once the car is jacked up.

(2) Take the wheel off and look at the pads, if you have more then 50,000 miles they will show ware and probably need changing. Make sure you use a spray bottle with water to spray the brake housing area before starting so that the cancer causing dust doesn’t fly into your lungs. If on the other hand you want a guaranteed departure within the next 5 years, dont spray just use a straw and snort.

(3) As you can see in this case the front disk brake pads are removed by un-bolting the lower caliper and swinging the caliper and piston up out of the way and pulling out the old brake pads. Notice how thin the pads are (in the middle) like worn out shoe heels. You will also notice the metal thin plates or shims lying out on each side of the wheel.  Make sure you remember how you took both the pads and shims out by making a little diagram or marking the old pads and shims to show you how they came out in order to put the new parts in . 


(4) OK look at the picture of the new pads with an old pad in the middle. See how thick the new pads are and wondering how you are going to get them to fit into the old pad slots, next step.


(5) Setting the new pads into the caliper slots is the easy part, getting the piston caliper to make room to swing back down is a little harder. Notice the picture of the C-clamp squeezing the piston caliper back into its cylinder using an old pad as a clamp base. You have to do this to make room for the new thicker pads. Once the piston compressed the upper caliper can be swung back down over the new pads and bolted back secure. All that is left is for you to put the wheel back on and if you dont know how to do it, then you need mechanics 101 at your local community college before tackling this job. Mechanics 101 my sound silly but when you consider that it can save you an average of $2000 a year in mechanics fees, it doesn’t seem so silly and more like social independence. There was one sweet girl who married her mechanic but that like everything else it didn't last. So do yourself a favor and learn.