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It’s officially Fall. Bummer. I like Fall, but I love the Summer. Now I have to wait 9 months for it. Oh well. In the meantime, we’re starting a brand new series around here. In addition to some of the normal home themed DIY projects, we’re going to be doing some work on our Jeep Grand Cherokee. We’re looking to get rid of it sometime this Fall by either selling it or trading it in and it could use some sprucing up. Some of these projects are going to be fairly simple, like an oil change, that you may want to attempt yourself. A couple of them may be a little more challenging if you’re not into car work, but it will be helpful to see what’s involved at least.
Today’s post we’ll be starting with our front brakes. It’s been a couple years since I’ve changed the brake pads and I thought it would be good maintenance to get out of the way before a sale. It may be helpful to put a check in that box. I’m not going to make this a step by step instruction. Every car is slightly different and frankly, I’m not interested in assuming responsibility for someone attempting it improperly. This post will serve to be more of an overview of what’s involved.
Changing Brake Pads and Rotors
To do this job properly, you’ll need a few tools. I use an impact wrench, which is an air tool, to take the lug nuts off the wheel. It’s considerably easier than using a regular wrench. Plus it makes some cool noises. Sounds like a real garage when you use one. You’ll also need some wrenches. Most cars have metric fittings and not the normal English. I used a 17mm, 18mm and a 20mm. I also needed a hammer to bang on the wrenches when I couldn’t get the bolts to budge. You’ll also need a c-clamp to lower the brake plungers in the calipers.
I start by jacking up the car on the side I’m working. I put a jack stand under the axle to keep it up in the air. Once the tire is taken off, I slide that under the car too as an insurance in case the jack slips.
With the wheel off, you can see the rotor, which is the metal disc that the brake pads squeeze to stop your car (if you have disc brakes). The brake pads are held by the caliper, which is a hydraulic device that squeezes and releases when you press on the brake pedal. The caliper is held together with two bolts and it’s secured to the rest of the axle with an additional two bolts.
Here’s a top view of the caliper.
Once the caliper is removed from the axle and the rotor, the brake pads just pop off and new ones can be inserted. The old rotor is usually stuck to the axle and needs some persuasion to be removed. You can use a “puller” device or just turn it and keep hitting it from the back with a hammer. I used a hammer.
The new rotor is bright and shiny. Nice.
The new brake pads in the caliper…
You can see what the brake pads look like, old and new…
So, the bottom line is, if you don’t mind spending a couple hours and you’re somewhat mechanically inclined, you could save yourself a couple hundred dollars. The rotors are around $40 each and the brake pads were $50. A garage would probable charge $300-$400.
Anyone else doing any car work? Are you thinking about getting a new car?