How to Replace Your Brake Disc

How to Replace Your Brake Discs and Pads

One of the most important aspects to driver safety is often overlooked when people decide to buy a new vehicle, namely – the brakes. Once you’ve chosen your latest vehicle, what parts do most people decide to change first? In-car entertainment is high up on the list, some custom body parts and probably a killer pair of wheels and maybe some performance enhancing mods as well. But the most important part of any vehicle, the brakes, are usually forgotten about.

Why Change Your Brake Discs and Pads?
If your brakes are in poor condition and you suddenly need to use them, you will probably not be able to stop safely. If you have ever experienced or seen a car crash that has ended badly, you’ll really want to ensure that this never happens to you or your passengers. So why do so many drivers, of all ages, forget to check their brakes regularly?

How do Brakes Work?
Nowadays, modern vehicles are fitted with disc brakes all round and for the purposes of this article, we will assume that your vehicle is the same. Each wheel will have a disc fitted that sits inside the main body and there are also a pair of heat resistant pads fitted either side of the brake disc. When you depress the brake pedal, the pads grip the spinning disc and this slows down your vehicle. If either the pads or disc become damaged or worn out, this action becomes compromised, as does the safety of the car and its passengers. Changing these consumable parts is not overly difficult, but should be approached seriously and with the correct tools and parts.

How Will You Know When To Change Them?
It can be a little hard to know exactly when you should change your discs and brakes, but you should never leave it too late. The pads will usually require changing every 18000 miles or so, the discs should last a lot longer. If you feel that your braking performance is starting to drop, remove the wheels and see for yourself. Or have a word with your local mechanic for a second opinion.

Tools and Parts
Before you start your brake replacement activity, refer to your handbook and make a note of the correct parts required. If you are in doubt, contact your local Fiat and Alfa Romeo parts supplier for confirmation. Here is a list of the tools and parts you will need:
  • The correct discs and pads for your vehicle – speak to your local Fiat and Alfa parts specialist if in doubt.
  • Hammer.
  • Wheel wrench.
  • C-clamp.
  • Allen keys.
  • Adjustable wrench.
  • Jack and Axle stands.
You should allow at least a morning or afternoon for this job, put on some old clothes and find a level and safe area to park your vehicle. Changing your brake discs and pads is not an overly technical job, but if you have a friend with some knowledge, ask them to lend a hand.

Remove Wheels
Once your vehicle is parked in a nice level area, use the wheel wrench to loosen the wheel nuts on your first wheel. Do not remove them, instead you should then jack the car up and slide the axle stands in safely. It’s a good idea to do the same with the opposite wheel, but ensure that the handbrake is on securely if you are changing the front brakes first. Once the vehicle is on the axle stands you can remove both wheels by taking off all of the nuts with your wrench. Ensure that the wheels are stowed away safely until the brakes have been changed.

Pads Out
Firstly you need to remove the brake caliper, use the adjustable wrench to loosen the caliper bolts and remove them fully. Lift the brake caliper off from the brake rotor and ensure that the caliper is not left hanging, because this can damage the brake lines. Use a bungee cord to secure the caliper to the vehicle and remove the clips that hold the pads in place. Slide the brake pads out slowly and dispose of them safely. They will be worn and a lot thinner than the replacement pads, so you will need to tweak the caliper to fit them in. This is done by manually resetting the brake piston until there is enough space to slide the new pads back in place. You may need to remove the bleed nipple cover to allow for the adjustment to take place. If the manual operation is not working, use the C-clamp to prise the caliper apart enough for the new pads to fit. Recap bleed nipple and refit any holding pins through the new pad fitment. 

Change the Disc
Your brake discs are connected to the wheel hub by two or three screw sets, and these can be very tough to remove so use some penetrating fluid if required. Once the screws are out, use a small hammer to loosen the disc and slide it off the hub, dispose of this in the correct manner. Refit the new disc and secure with the screws, replace them is they look worn. Slide the brake caliper over your new disc and refitting is just a reverse of the dismantling process. Repeat this process on the opposite wheel and for the back wheels if they need new discs and brakes.

Test Your Brakes
Before you use your car properly, test the brakes in a safe area and ensure that they are fully operational again.

You’re Safe Again
You will feel the difference once you’ve performed this important maintenance task and the new discs and pads should see you fine for at least 24 months. If you are in any doubt as to when you next pad and disc change should be, simply speak to your local Fiat and Alfa Romeo parts supplier.

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