How to Change Rear Brake Pads for Disc Brakes

It's important to know when it's time to replace your rear brake pads. If you have disc brakes in the rear you can do damage to the discs if you wait too long. That being said, you don't need to replace your rear disc brake pads very often at all. Most of your braking is done with the front wheels, so the rears see very little action comparatively. A visual inspection will tell you whether or not it's time.

If you're having your brakes worked on by a shop, be sure to check the brakes yourself, or have them shown to you before any repairs or replacements are done.

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What You'll Need

Tools and Rear brake pad on cement floor.
photo by Josh
  • Impact Driver - you can get them for about 22.99
  • Set of New Brake Pads
  • Can of All purpose grease
  • Can of WD-40
  • Can of Brakleen
  • DOT III or DOT IV Rated Brake Fluid
  • A good 3/8 socket wrench
  • 14mm socket, 17mm socket, 12mm socket, and a 10mm wrench
  • Good Jack and Jack Stands (Safety First)
  • Socket to screw your piston back in
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Removing the Brake Caliper

Person removing bolts that hold the caiper in place.
photo by Josh

With your car or truck safely supported on jack stands, remove the rear wheels. Loosen the bolts that hold the brake caliper on, but don't remove them completely yet. You should have something handy to hang the brake caliper out of the way. You don't want to have to disconnect the brake line (lots of brake bleeding), but you don't want to let the caliper's weight pull on the line, either. A bungee cord works well as a caliper hanger.

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Cleaning Them Up

Person cleaning up break pad.
photo by Josh

With everything removed, it's a good time to clean all components of the brakes. Dust buildup can affect braking performance, especially when it comes to cooling.

Cleaning also makes the job of removing the old components and installing new ones much easier. It's not always necessary to clean everything you're fixing, but with brakes, it makes good sense. 

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Compressing the Piston and New Pads.

Person compressing the brake piston.
photo by Josh

Now you want to take the brake piston tool you bought or own and screw the piston back in all the way. Loosen the bleeder screw with the 10mm Wrench and turn the piston in all the way. The first couple of turns are probably gonna be tight, but after that it's easy. Make sure that you have the piston lined up right so that your pad fits on right! Once you have that completed re-tighten the bleeder screw all the way.

Now take your caliper bracket and bolt it back up. Remember the 14mm goes on top and 17mm on the bottom! Make sure you have the washers that came off of them.

Once you've done this slide the brake pads onto the bracket. Take the caliper and slide it over the brake pads. This can be a hassle due to the tight fight but just wiggle it on there a little bit should slide right on. Put the two 12mm bolts back into the caliper and tighten them down.

Be sure to check your brake fluid level after you move everything around and change it if necessary. 

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Wrapping Up Your Pad Replacement

Close up of new brakes.
photo by Josh

Double check to be sure everything's tight. Now you can put the wheel back on, and you're ready to go!