In case you have the know-how to do your own brake work, the do-it-yourself approach to replacing brake pads and rotors on your car can is worth it. But be sure you know what’s wrong before getting started or you might get in serious trouble or death.
Modern brake systems are complex, and while replacing your brake pads and rotors is a simple procedure, it might go wrong if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.
The price of brake pads, rotors, calipers with other parts varies widely by brand and model, and you should expect to pay more for brake work on a car like a BMW than on a Honda. Doing it yourself also means you decide on the parts that move on your vehicle, you’re in charge of quality control and you do it on one’s own schedule.
If you’re thinking about doing your own own brake job and your car has disc brakes, there are a couple of supplies you need to have on hand:
Brake fluid Brake pads Brake rotors (sometimes referred to as brake disks ) Brake grease You’ll also need a C-clamp or even a specialized brake tool to compress the pistons in your brake calipers to remove the old brake pads. Set the car on a port, use jack stands for extra safety, loosen the lug nuts, remove the wheel, then replace the pads and the rotors, and pour into some brake fluid and it’ll work, right?
Sadly, do-it-yourself brake repair is somewhat more complex than that. The components of disc brake systems are located directly behind each wheel, and in certain vehicles, there isn’t much space to maneuver. Since your brakes travel through rain, snow along with other debris, brake parts, like calipers, also commonly rust, which makes them hard to remove. And these are just a few of the things which may make a basic brake job much more strenuous.
Potential Complications With Enhancing Your Own Brakes If altering your brakes was almost always as simple as just quickly swapping old parts for new ones and adding a few brake fluid, then we will recommend that anyone with a little mechanical skill perform their own own brake repairs. Brake maintenance, though, isn’t as simple as just replacing and removing pads and rotors, and it’s more involved than, say, a typical oil change. Installing new brake pads can quickly become a more intricate job than you expected.
For example, unevenly worn brake pads could be the result of sticking caliper slide pins, the calipers themselves might need cleaning, lubricating, or replacement, and excessive brake pedal travel might be the result of air in the hydraulic brake lines, not friction or worn pads.
You may also find yourself in need of more replacement parts like a master cylinder, brake caliper, or piston. What you think is a simple brake pad replacement job could also become more complex if you discover that a grinding sound is being caused by a faulty rotor rather than worn-out pads. If you finish the job and the brake pedal doesn’t feel quite right, or you notice a squeal, grinding, or squeaking noise when you drive your car, you may find yourself needing to start all over to determine what you did wrong. You may just need to add more brake fluid or use brake grease to reduce friction, or you may need to diagnose a more in-depth problem with your brake system.
If you don’t have the knowledge to diagnose what might be wrong or the tools or experience to correct it, you might be wasting time and money by replacing parts because they’re the usual suspects. You might know your vehicle better than anyone, but we probably know more about brakes than you do.
If you decide to do the work yourself, be sure you’re addressing the root causes of your brake issues, and make sure pads, rotors and other parts do need replacing before you buy new ones. Above all, know your limits, because brakes are what stop your car and you don’t want to make a dangerous mistake.