Replacing Brake Pads & Rotors

This video features Richard Cottingham and Rolando Hinojosa from Tyson’s Auto Specialties in Tyson’s Corner, and it’s all about how to replace brake pads and rotors. By way of demonstration, they are using a Chevrolet pickup truck.


So what’s involved in removing and replacing brake pads and rotors? Here’s a quick overview: you’ll need to remove the rudders, remove the pads, install new pads and rudders, and bleed the brake system (this last step is meant to ensure that the brake job is done

properly). This is the standard procedure for this task on any vehicle.


What differs from vehicle to vehicle is the tools you’ll be using: make sure that you have a solid selection of wrenches, sockets, and rachets, along with a pair of channel locks and some different types of pliers. You may in addition require a hammer in order to remove the rudder (it may be rusted on the vehicle).


So what parts will you need? Well, a new set of rudders to start with, and a new set of brake pads to go with them. Add in some high-quality brake cleaner (buy this at an auto parts store or online, and really get the best quality you can afford: your brakes are your life). You’ll also need some disc brake lubricant.

Safety first

No matter what you’re doing, when you work on a vehicle it’s essential that you observe some basic safety rules. Use jack stands when you raise your car or truck. Unless your car is on a professional life, never ever get directly under it. And of course, maintain your tools so that you don’t inadvertently hurt yourself with them.


First you’re going to take the wheels off the car and you’re going to remove the old rudders and brake pads. Then you want to inspect your caliper slide pins and your pad holders—and be sure to lubricate them well.

Next you want to put the new rudder on to the hub. Hold the rudder in place with a lug nut so that it doesn’t move just when you’re installing the pad holder, pads, and caliper. Now you’re going to install the pads under the pad hold; use a workbench for this part of the process. Apply a light lubricant to the pad holder (also, if you’d like, a light coat of lubricant can go on the inside where the flat part of the pad rides up against it). You can install the pads now. Some people prefer to do it on the car, but it can be easier on the workbench.

So now you can put the pad holders onto the vehicle, installing the bolts that hold it to the knuckle. If you’re not sure how much torque to put on your bolts, look it up in the manufacturer’s specs: it will tell you how much you should tighten everything. Apply a little disc brake lubricant to the back of each pad (this helps the brakes squeal less).

Finally you can put the calipers back on the vehicle. Tighten the slide pins and the caliper bolts, then you can lower the vehicle and bleed the brakes (which means removing air from the system).