One of the most satisfying DIY projects for a vehicle owner is to learn how to inspect and maintain the brakes. There aren’t many sounds that inspire as much dread as squeaky brakes. Did it make a noise because the brake pads were wet? How long do you have before the brakes wear out completely? Was that a “metal on metal” sound that indicates damage to the rotors? Eliminate the guesswork and learn once and for all what it takes to inspect and maintain the brakes on your vehicle. You can get all of the replacement parts, tools, equipment, and accessories necessary to get the job done right at LaCava Auto Parts. Our Fall River auto parts and services center stocks all of the major brands for nearly all makes and models. You can also count on LaCava Auto Supply in Fall River to provide quality rotor turning services to help you save even more.
Getting Started: Gathering Your Tools
Take stock of your toolbox and consider the items that you will need to perform a brake inspection and any required maintenance. One of the most valuable tools is your owner’s manual. If you don’t have the original, go online to see if you can find it. Many manuals are now available in a .pdf format for use on home computers, tablets, and smartphones. You need to know the proper jack points, weight, and minimum rotor thickness requirements to ensure that you do the job according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Other tools that you will need can include:
- a floor jack – make sure it is rated for the total weight of your vehicle
- jack stands – purchased in pairs, make sure to choose the proper rating for your vehicle
- brake tool – used to adjust the caliper piston to the new brake pads
- brake pads – purchased according to the make, model, and year of your vehicle
- replacement rotors – if rotor turning services are not an option, you will need to replace the rotors for safe operation
- brake grease – this is applied to the surface of the brake pads
- socket wrench – lots of tightening and loosening
- tire iron – for removing your tires from the vehicle
How to Access the Brakes on Your Vehicle
Loosen the lug nuts with the tire iron before lifting the vehicle for easier handling. The next step is to get your vehicle up off the ground using the floor jack and jack stands for stability. Once you have the car up in the air, you can remove the tires. This will help you to see the brakes and determine whether you need to change the brake pads or not. Most experts recommend that you do this in pairs, even if only one side requires servicing. So you’ll do either the front set or the back set, depending on your needs.
Finish loosening the lug nuts and remove the tires from your vehicle. Make sure you know which tires need to go back on each axle as you remove them. This will help you out a lot when it’s time to put everything back together. You should now be able to see the rotor and brake caliper assembly. You can remove the bolts on the back of the caliper assembly and then slide it off the rotor. It will still be attached to the brake line, so make sure that the caliper is supported properly by setting it on the wheel well so it won’t snap the brake line if it drops unexpectedly.
Inspecting the Brake Pads for Replacement
Now is the time to take a look at those brake pads. You can remove them from the rotor, either by sliding them or popping them out, depending on your vehicle. Take care not to damage the rotor clips, especially if you are going to re-use it after resurfacing. Make sure to pay attention to how the clips are placed on the brake assembly so it will be easier to put them back on correctly. If your pads are worn and need to be replaced you can put new ones on at this point.
Apply the brake grease to the back of the pads where the caliper will press against them. Do not get the grease on the front of the pads or on the rotors – this is very important. Put the brake pads in place and then replace the caliper assembly. If the caliper does not fit properly, you will need to use the brake tool to adjust the width. Once it fits and is in place, you can put the assembly bolts back on and tighten them up with the wrench. All that’s left to do is to put the tires back on, double-checking to ensure that everything is on properly, and lower the vehicle back down onto the ground so you can tighten the lug nuts accordingly.
Visit LaCava Auto Parts in Fall River
Whether you are preparing for your first brake job or if you want to try your hand at other DIY repairs, you can count on LaCava Auto Supply in Fall River to help you get it done right. Our Fall River auto parts and services department can answer any questions you might have about parts, tools, and quality automotive equipment. Our services include rotor turning services and hydraulic system services, to best serve the needs of our customers. Contact our team by calling 508-676-1951 or stop by our location on Bedford Street in Fall River during store hours.