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DIY: Replacing Brake Pads

July 2, 2011 Cars, Tips and Tricks No Comments


The local dealership, quoted me $570 to replace the front brake pads. Knowing that parts only cost about $200 retail, I quickly said “Eff that,” to the stealership and decided to give it a go on my own.¬†Admittedly, I’m not a grease monkey, but I do have a father who is pretty good around cars. So, in the spirit of Father-Son bonding, I took this opportunity to spend an hour with the old guy to learn this pretty basic car skill…

I started by ordering factory parts from Suncoast Parts and Accessories Store. They have a great reputation among car enthusiasts for selling genuine factory parts at the lowest cost, even when accounting for shipping. What’s also great is that since they are based in a different state, I paid no sales tax. Score!

The basic replacement parts one needs to get to do this job are the brake pads, a set of brake sensors, and a caliper spring set (optional). The manufacturer requires the dealership to replace the caliper spring sets every time the brake pads are replaced. Though I do have a spare caliper spring set, I chose to reuse my existing set as they were still in good shape…

To begin, I jacked up the car and removed both front tires. Then, I got to work with removing the existing spring caliper set.

close up of the retaining pin..

Step 2, in action.

Then, I unhooked the brake pad sensors from all of the various clips and holds. When getting to step 5, I had to be extra careful with the caliper vent valve cap; it seemed like it could easily tear.

To make removing the old pads easier (and to provide clearance for inserting the new pads), I manually deflated the pistons.

A worn out brake pad (left) next to a fresh one (right).

After inserting the new set, it was a matter of doing the above steps in reverse order. Still, there were a few things worth mentioning:

I found it a lot easier to assemble the two pads and the sensor together prior to inserting them into the brake “house”

For the reverse of step 5) By initially hooking the red cable into the caliper spring, it was easier to put the entire caliper spring set back together.

For the reverse of step 2) When reinserting the cotter pin, I had to make sure that the small hole (for the retainer pin) was visible on the “outside.” Otherwise, there would have been no way to insert that retainer pin. Also, the cotter pin went through easier when I depressed the caliper spring.

The other side was similar.


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