If there isn't any problem with pulsation in the brake pedal or other brake
problems, a simple brake pad swap is about one of the simplest jobs you can
do yourself. I would recommend getting the little tool they sell at almost
any parts store called a disc brake caliper tool. It is simply a metal plate
about 4 inches long (with a slight curve that mimics the shape of a disc
pad) that has a threaded rod through it. This tool is a lifesaver when it
comes to getting the calipers to spread apart. You can use a large "C" clamp
if you have it but the specialty tool seems to work really well.
This is how I do it, INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
Jack and block the vehicle
Remove the wheel and spray the whole area down with brake cleaner
Remove the cap on your brake fluid resevoir under the hood
Remove the either one or both of the slide bolts holding the caliper in
place (varies by auto mfgr)
Using the caliper tool or a clamp, force the pads apart enought to allow you
to remove or swing away the caliper (if not the swing away type, use heavy
guage wire to tie up and out of the way, do NOT let it hang by the brake
line as this causes stress on the brake line which can lead to a rupture)
Remove the outside pad leaving the old inner one in place. This allows you
to push against the old pad surface with the tool/clamp to completely push
the piston back. Once it is retracted, it should stay that way.
Remove the inner pad and spray cleaner to clear out all the dust.
Using medium sandpaper, scuff the surface of the rotor to remove any glazing
and then clean rotor of any greasy finger prints, oil, etc... (If rotor is
grooved to badly or is worn thinner than spec, it will have to be either
turned or replaced.)
Clean and relube slide bolts
Use the anti-squeal lube and shims as directed/needed and push new inner and
outer pads into place
Replace disk onto axle and lower caliper into place. Torque slide bolts to
manufacturer spec (usually not very tight but snug enough to prevent them
from loosening on their own.
Press brake pedal a few times to seat pads and make sure they allow the
rotor to rotate when released
Repeat for other side of axle. If you do one side at a time, you will
hopefully not spill any (or much) brake fluid out of the resevoir. If some
does spill out, clean with engine cleaner or other degreaser. Refill
resevoir to spec.
After all is said and done, you can bleed brakes if you feel the need but as
long as you don't allow air into the system by loosening a brake line or
pumping the pedal with the resevoir dry, you should be fine.
Test drive slowly on level pavement until you are sure they are working
properly. It may take a half dozen or more pumps on the pedal for it all to
tighten back up.
If I left out any steps, I apologize and I am sure someone here will be real
quick to correct me. Work slowly on the first one. After that, the others
will be a cinch. Also, you probably only need to do the front pads but I
always check all four and go ahead and replace the rears while I am at it if
they are anywhere close to being worn. Really makes the whole brake system
feel much better!
"Paul O." <email@example.com> wrote in message
> Ok folks, I'm thinkin maybe it's time I started doing these myself, so
> gonna ask just how difficult is it? I haven't been mechanically intimate
> with a vechicle for over 30 years, I'm 62 now, and never did do a brake
> job on anything. I have an 03 Ranger with about 36,000 miles on it so am
> gonna start by pulling the wheels and check the thickness of the pads.
> Hopefully they won't need changing yet. I subscribed to AllData DIY and it
> looks pretty straight forward to change them, assuming the brake disc and
> hub are still ok and just the pads need replacing.. So is there anything
> to it? Heck, if I can get ceramic pads from Auto Zone for about $46.00,
> why pay a dealer 300 to 400 to do it. I just don't want to do something
> wrong and have it ending up being a danger to me and the wife driving it
> and costing more in the long run to fix my mistake. Thanks for your help.
> Paul O.