How To: Install New Brake Pads and Rotors

How To: Install New Brake Pads and Rotors

[Mechanical SFX] Hey everybody. Chris here from O’Reilly
Auto Parts. Today I’ll be showing you how to change out brake pads and rotors. I’ll
be working on a 2008 Ford Escape, but this process will be similar on other
vehicles. Pads and rotors wear out at various rates for various reasons. Pay
close attention to the way your brakes feel before and after you change them so
you’ll know for sure that you fix the problem. We also have a video on how you can know it’s time to change your brakes in case you’re not sure what to look for.
As always, before any job, be aware the manufacturer specifications for your
vehicle. Know how to safely lift and support the vehicle that you’re working
on. Make sure you’re on a flat stable surface and chock the wheels that remain
on the ground. For all the details on how to safely lift and support your vehicle,
see our video. And if you don’t feel completely comfortable lifting your
vehicle or completing the brake job yourself, we can refer you to a
professional technician in your area. All that being said, if you’ve got your
manufacturer specs, you’re good to go. Here’s what you’ll do. After removing the
wheel on our model we’ll remove the anti-rattle clip. Then locate and remove
your caliper guide bolts. Some models may have guide pins. Check your manufacturer
specifications for the size of the torque or hex tool that you need. These
bolts or pins may or may not be exposed. They may have plastic or rubber caps
that need to be removed. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the head of the pin
since it faces the motor. Turning the wheel all the way to the left or right
will allow you to see the pin better. After removing the guide bolts or pins,
check them for pits and rust. If they have either they need to be replaced.
Rust indicates the protective zinc coating is missing and rust will spread
quickly even if the pin is greased. Have your caliper hanger in place. Remove the
caliper and hang it to keep pressure off the brake line. Remove the outside pad. If it’s clipped
on you may need a screwdriver. The inside pad will stay on the caliper so that you
can use it to compress the piston. Remove the caliper bracket mounting bolts and
bracket so the rotor can be removed. In our case were replacing the rotor. But if you’re reusing the rotor, mark
both the rotor and the hub so that you can replace it in the exact same
orientation. Your rotor may have a set screw that was used to hold it in place
during manufacturing. It can be removed and discarded. It is best to replace the
rotors even if they still look good. A new OE quality brake rotor will help
your vehicle stop faster and more smoothly, will be easier to install and
will help your brake pads last longer. Use a wire brush to clean rust off the
hub and wheel studs so the rotor will seat properly. Inspect the caliper
bracket for rust. If it’s rusty where the pads and the brake hardware ride, it
needs to be replaced. You should clean the caliper bracket
with brake cleaner but don’t use a steel brush on it. Wipe the rotor braking
surface with brake cleaner but never use brake cleaner on a painted hat. Install
your new rotor and wipe it down one last time with brake cleaner. Brake cleaner
will strip paint so always use it carefully. You can use a lug nut to hold
the rotor in place while you reattach the caliper mounting bracket. Grease the
contact points on the caliper mounting bracket and reinstall it. Your vehicle’s
manufacturer will give you torque specifications for your caliper bracket
mounting bolts and the caliper guide pins or bolts, and whether or not you
should use thread locker. Clean the exposed portion of your caliper piston
with brake cleaner on a towel or rag. If the rubber boot is cracked or if there’s
brake fluid leaking, the caliper needs to be replaced. Attach your one-man bleeder
tool and open the bleeder valve by turning it counterclockwise. Use a
caliper piston tool or C clamp to push the piston back into the caliper. Use the
old pad between your caliper piston and C clamp. The old brake pads will protect
your caliper piston as you can press it back into the caliper to make room for
your new pads. Since they’ll be thicker than the old pads, the caliper piston
should be flush with a caliper housing. Be sure not to pinch the boot and be
sure not to push on the piston itself when you do this. Compress the piston. Old discolored brake fluid and small particles of dirt will be discharged.
Again, be careful not to get brake fluid on painted surfaces, it can damage paint.
Re-tighten the bleeder valve. At this point you can remove the inside
brake pad. Check the pads for abnormal wear. If you’re replacing your pads with
Brake Best pads, the box has a brake pad wear chart for reference. The chart shows
the possible causes for abnormal wear that may need to be addressed. Grease all
metal on metal contact points making sure enough to put any grease on
friction surfaces. If your pads take stainless steel hardware or clips,
install them now. Brake hardware is designed to last for the duration of one
set of brake pads. The hardware is metal and flexes each time the brakes are
applied. Eventually it loses its flexibility and worn-out hardware is the
number one cause of brake noise so it’s always recommended you install new brake hardware when you change pads. If you’re not sure which side of the pad goes
against the surface of the rotor look at the old pads for reference. We’ll put our
new pads in at this point. And now it’s time to install your
caliper. Lubricate your caliper guide bolts or pins with 100% silicone grease
and torque them to manufacturer specifications. Check to make sure that pads are against
the rotor and the piston is flush with the caliper. Never force the caliper and
pads over the rotor if the caliper doesn’t fit. Make sure the caliper piston
is flush with the caliper housing. Put any caps back on the caliper guide bolts
or pins. If you used the lug nuts to hold the rotor in place you can remove it now. For our application we’ll replace the
anti-rattle clip. Put the wheel back in place and hand
tighten the lug nuts making sure the wheel is seated flush against the hub. Lower your vehicle and use a torque
wrench to tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Make sure they tighten to the
manufacturer specifications. A major cause of pedal pulsation during the
first seven thousand miles after a brake job is improperly or unevenly torqued lug
nuts. Repeat these steps on the other side. Once the job is complete, before you
drive anywhere, be sure to pump your brake pedal several
times until you feel the pressure returned. It should feel the way it did
before the brake job. Check your master cylinder and add fluid as needed. And
you’re done. To help break in the new components it’s a good idea to test
drive your vehicle slowing it 15 to 20 times from 50 to thirty miles per hour
with moderate brake pressure allowing the brakes to cool in between each
slowdown. Try to avoid aggressive stops during the break-in process. Your brakes
will probably smell after you’ve done this and that’s okay. If the odor
persists past 500 miles or so or if you have excessive dust on one wheel you may have a stuck caliper. Keep in mind that some brake rotors can be reused but it’s
highly recommended you have the braking surface thickness measured. Rotors wear
like brake pads. Any O’Reilly Auto Parts store can measure your rotors for you
and many of them do rotor re-surfacing. If you are reusing the rotor, all the rust
from inside the hat needs to be removed with a wire brush to ensure the rotor
mounts flush against the hub for smooth braking. You’ll find everything you need
for this and other jobs at your local O’Reilly Auto Parts Store or Our DIY videos are designed to help answer questions that we get in our stores every day. If you found this one helpful, subscribe to our channel to see all the latest. we’ll see you again soon

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. How come the guy torquing the lug nuts is using a "Pittsburg brand" torque wrench? I never knew O'Reilly used HF tools.

  2. Excellent video. Question: I saw you mark the alignment of the rotor and hub using a black marker to realign them upon reinstall. A new rotor was installed, without the black mark on it, so there is some discontinuity here with respect to how to align the rotor—or does it matter with a new one? How would one know how to line up a new rotor? Thanks!

  3. And you opened the bleeder for what reason? You are inviting problems with getting air into the caliper or brake line, just push the fluid back into the reservoir that's it.

  4. Pro tip: Bad idea to put grease where the pads slide. This will collect dirt, brake dust and other debris. Once that occurs the brake pads will not properly slide as intended or potentially freeze in place depending on design. If the engineers/manufacturers believed it needed it, it would have been there right out of the factory!!

    Also attempt to depress piston without opening bleeder. If it fails to retract you can use the bleeder to help diagnose a hydraulic fault (open bleeder + piston now retracts = brake hose needs replaced;
    open bleeder + Piston still does not retract = failed caliper)

    Last, vacuum hose + water/soda bottle will make a nice mess free bleed container. Still need two people to bleed, but it will save you time cleaning brake fluid off concrete.

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