How to Perform Your Own Brake Job

How to Perform Your Own Brake Job

By Mark Salem, ASE Master Tech and Owner/Operator Salem Auto Boys, Tempe, AZ

When you decide to perform your own brake job, just remember, this is one of the few car repairs that, if done wrong, can really cause serious injury or death of your kin and others.

So let’s talk about the important steps of a successful front disc brake repair.

When you go to get parts, buy pads that are listed for your particular car, conventional to semi metallic to ceramic.  The pads are meant to match the rotor performance.  So buying ceramic pads for your 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (with disc brakes designed for conventional pads) is a waste of money.  Buy a hardware kit for the front brake assemblies.

Buy a can or two of CRC BRAKLEEN® brake parts cleaner and some CRC Synthetic Brake Caliper Grease or CRC SILARAMIC® Brake System Grease.

  1. Do what you need to do, to remove one tire and wheel.
  2. Pull the two caliper bolts or pins, lift the caliper up and remove the pads.  Mark the outboard pad in some way.
  3. Reinstall the caliper and replace the bolts or pins, but do not tighten the bolts.
  4. Grab the caliper and try to push and pull it. It should slide back and forth from side to side with ease.  If not, look at steps #12 and #13.
  5. Remove the caliper, DO NOT LET IT DANGLE FROM ITS HOSE.  Tie it up with a coat hanger.
  6. Remove the rotors and measure, and then turn or replace the rotors as needed.  Your local parts store can usually do this for you.
  7. Clean and pack wheel bearings as needed.  I recommend using CRC BRAKLEEN brake parts cleaner, and definitely DO NOT use gasoline to clean anything.
  8. If the pads have shims on the back, install the pads.  If you forget which is the inboard and outboard, you can look at the old pads you marked or if you skipped that step, look at the other side.
  9. No shims?  Make sure to use CRC Disc Brake Quiet on the back of the pads.
  10. Open the hardware kit to identify the parts.  You will need these parts to reassemble the caliper.
  11. Open the bleeder and using a C-clamp, push the caliper piston into the caliper and any old fluid will come out from the bleeder. WE DO NOT want that old fluid going back into the master cylinder.  When the piston is all the way in (DO NOT FORCE IT!), then close the bleeder and clean up the brake fluid that came out of it.
  12. Install the pads and drop the caliper in its slot.  Use new parts from your hardware kit.
  13. Use your CRC Synthetic Brake Caliper Grease or SILARAMIC Brake System Grease to lube the caliper slides.
  14. Secure the caliper.
  15. Get in the car and pump the brake pedal 2-3 times.  The pedal has to be firm and hard.  If it goes to the floor you have a big problem.

Now do the other side. You should do one side at a time so if you forget how something goes together, you can always look at the other side that has not been disassembled.

About Mark Salem:

Mark Salem has owned and operated Salem Boys Auto in Tempe, Arizona since 1979.  He is an ASE Master Tech since 1991 and has achieved L-1 certification for advanced engine performance.  Mark is widely recognized and respected as an expert in his field and has been giving car repair advice on radio and TV since 1987.

About CRC Industries:

CRC Industries, Inc. is a chemical specialties manufacturer for maintenance and repair professionals and do-it-yourselfers in the automotive, marine, heavy trucking, electrical, industrial and hardware markets.  CRC trademarked brands include: CRC®, K&W®, Sta-Lube®, and Marykate®.  Visit the CRC website at  CRC also encourages automotive enthusiasts, professional technicians and do-it-yourselfers to interact with the company on Facebook.  “Like” CRC at

Mark Salem, Salem Boys Auto
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