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When it comes to car repair and maintenance, brake pad replacement is about as routine as it gets. Larger vehicles that are capable of towing heavy loads, or are of a high-performance pedigree may need to have their brake pads replaced more often too. That said, driving style and the grade of the brake pad being used can also make a massive difference in wear.

From a materials standpoint, brake pads are made up of durable, complex combination of metallic and earthen-based materials. Ones that can withstand heavy and prolonged levels of friction and pressure, for they are what clamp down on those brake discs, thus stopping the car. But like any grindstone, they too eventually wear thin against the strength of the iron they grasp. Which explains why in the world of racing brake pads are referred to as “consumables.”

As these brake pads become worn from extended use, they must be replaced. Failing to do so may result in them damaging  the rest of your vehicle’s braking system.

Fortunately, this task is not an exceedingly difficult one, especially for the DIY inclined. In just an hour or so, most beginner auto DIYers can replace brake pads on all four corners of their vehicle, and cut down on a ton of labor fees in the process.

Here’s how your too can successfully complete this task in your drive or garage one weekend.

How to replace brake pads

The first step in replacing the brake pads is to have the right tools on hand. 

A ratchet set with an array of sockets and extensions, a flathead screwdriver, a C-clamp, a car jack, jack stands, and a cold beverage or two round out the basics. You will also want a pair of mechanic gloves to reduce the risk of bloody knuckles, as well as some high temp brake grease, and a set of new brake pads for the vehicle. Brake pads can be purchased at auto parts stores, local mechanic shops, or online. It is never a bad idea to order brake hardware too. Just in case something snaps.

Gear collected, park the vehicle on a level surface and apply the parking brake. 

Next, remove the key from the ignition and disconnect the battery cable to prevent any electrical shorts. Remove the wheel cover or hub cap (if applicable) and after loosening each lug nut a quarter turn, jack the vehicle up until jack stands can be stuffed underneath. Up in the air, remove the wheel, loosen the lower bolt on the caliper, and rotate it upward so as to remove the pads. Slide the old pads out and inspect the rotor. If it seems worn or damaged then you will need to replace it as well.

When replacing your brake pads, be sure to do so in pairs. This means that both front and rear brake pads should be replaced at the same time. Additionally, it may be necessary for you to replace all four car brake pads on your vehicle if they are not all from the same set. Doing so will ensure that your car stops in an even and balanced manner.

Moreover, make sure you lubricate the pins on the caliper with a silicon-based high-temp lubricant to help it function correctly. DO NOT use oil-based products such as WD-40 or brake fluid, as they will cause corrosion and do not last for very long. 

With grease officially on your hands, push the new pads into place in a fashion that matches the old pads. You can also replace the pads by using a C-clamp to push the caliper piston back into place. Just place the clamp over the outer part of the caliper and put pressure on the clamp until the pad slides back into place.

New pads slid into place, swing the caliper back down over the rotor, and torque the bolts that hold it in place to spec. Over-tightening or applying too little torque can be very dangerous.

Note that certain brake pads come with shims, whereas others require you to purchase them separately. These thin pieces of metal help keep everything quietly in place and eliminate the risk of improper pad positioning.

If your car has ABS, then there is no need to bleed the brake system when replacing the pads as it is automatically done by the system itself. However, if you have a non-ABS vehicle, then bleeding is recommended in order to get rid of any air bubbles that may be trapped in the system.

Simply hold down the brake pedal and open up all of the bleeders on your vehicle one by one. Simply place a properly sized hose over the bleeder screw, submerge the other end of the hose in a clear bottle or cup of brake fluid, and ask a buddy to mash the brakes while the bleeder screw is open. Tell them to keep pumping the brakes until no more bubbles come out in the clear container you are holding. Close up the bleeder screw and repeat the process on all four corners. Finish by spraying the calipers and rotors down with brake parts cleaner

After bleeding, reinstall the tires, and take the vehicle out for a quick test drive to check if everything is working properly. Gentle pumps of the brake pedal, followed by a build-up to repeated hard braking will help ensure the pads are broken in properly. 

Brake pad replacement should be done every two years or 60,000 kilometers. This will ensure that your car stops properly. So if you feel like your brakes are not working correctly, then it is best to have them checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

Best Australian brake pad manufacturers

Repco

Repco brake pads have been made in Australia since 1987, and are of the highest quality available. All of their pads come with a full 12-month warranty, so you can be sure that your investment will last as advertised.

Their brake pad product line includes most major vehicle brands including: Holden, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda, and many more. Repco car brake pads come composed of either ceramic, organic, or some combo of the two materials, all depending on your application. For optimum performance, always match Repco pads with Repco rotors.

Bendix

Bendix Brakes makes a slew of pad options. They have been making products since 1939, and are revered as one of the most well-known internationally distributed brake pad manufacturers. Naturally, Bendix offer a wide range of other automotive braking components. These include race pads, rotors, calipers, shoes, drums, a wide assortment of suspension components, and much more.

Manufacturing for many of these parts is based in Melbourne, with additional plants in Thailand, China, and Indonesia providing tooling/machining support, materials, and more.

Organic and ceramic materials vary depending on the vehicle and the driver’s needs, making a portfolio that currently covers over 90% of passenger vehicles on the road today. Their products also come with a 12-month warranty.

Disc Brake Australia

Disc Brake Australia (DBA) is another Aussie-made option for brake pads. Just note that this firm is far more race and off-road oriented in its approach. Founded in 1981, this Australian-owned company designs, engineers, and manufactures some really hardcore braking products. While performance packs for virtually any OE brand out there are a core part of DBA’s lineup, many top international race teams rely upon them as well.

A final word

Opting for a certain brake pad brand or specific compound can be based upon any number of reason. Price, personal preference, prior experience, curiosity, or perhaps even name recognition can sway someone’s purchase.

As long as you’re purchasing quality products from reputable manufacturers, and the brakes are installed correctly, then you can’t go wrong. Just make sure to do your research and get advice from a reputable mechanic.

And remember, if you are not confident in undertaking this task on your own, spend the money and hand the keys over to a professional. They will be able to complete the job correctly in a jiffy and guarantee that everything functions properly. After all, these parts are responsible for everyone’s safety, and not just the driver.

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