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How Long Does It Take to Replace Brake Pad? (DIY & Mechanic)

"A professional mechanic can replace each brake pad in under an hour, provided there are no complications to deal with."

Replacing your brake pads every 10,000 to 20,000 miles is essential to maintain safety on the road. Waiting to replace your brake pads doesn’t only increase the risk of accidents but can damage other components of the brake system – especially the brake discs or drums. These can be expensive to fix.

A professional mechanic can replace each brake pad in under an hour, provided there are no complications to deal with. But you can also replace them using DIY methods. However, DIY brake pad replacement is not recommended as you need prior knowledge, lots of hours, patience, and the right tools for the job. On average, it’ll take 4 hours to replace your brake pads, even with prior experience.

Before diving into how to change your brake pads, first, how do you detect a bad brake pad?

Signs Your Brake Pad Needs Replacement

Squealing noise

How serious: Very serious

When to fix: Immediately

Many brake pads are designed with squealer tabs on them. These tabs give off a squealing warning noise to signal a bad or damaged brake pad. It's time to change your brake pads if you're hearing a squealing noise when your brakes are applied.

Grinding noise

How serious: Very serious

When to fix: Immediately

Worn brake pads often produce a metal-on-metal grinding noise when the brakes are applied. This grinding noise indicates the brake pads are thoroughly worn out and need immediate replacement.

Brake failures

How serious: Very serious

When to fix: Immediately

There's nothing as scary as applying the brakes with no real effect. It's time to change your brake pads when you notice an extended stopping distance or no effect when your brakes are applied.

Ding and grooves on the rotor surface

How serious: Not serious

When to fix: As soon as possible

This is common when the signs of a worn or bad brake pad have been ignored. It's time to change your brake pads if you've noticed dings or grooves on your rotor surface.

Pulling to the side

How serious: Very serious

When to fix: Immediately

If your car shifts to one side when the brakes are applied, chances are high that one of the brake pads is worn out completely. You should have all the brake pads checked and replaced to prevent future occurrences.

Should You Replace Your Brake Pads At Home?

No, you shouldn’t replace your brake pads at home.

At-home brake pad replacement can be tempting to save a few bucks, but it’s not recommended. Not only will you spend many hours in frustration, especially if you’ve never done this before, it can also be dangerous and expensive.

If you’re thinking about it, here are some reasons you should think twice and again.

Brake pad replacement is more complicated than it looks

Most DIY brake pad replacement videos and guides you’ll see online have been made by experienced mechanics. Due to years of experience, these mechanics try to oversimplify the process to make it look easy.

As a novice, you may find yourself frustrated halfway into the process, especially when things don’t come off or latch on as easily as the guide video.

Even if you found the process direct and easy, there’s a chance that you may have ignored some other issues that need attention.

Brake pad replacement requires expensive tools and equipment

Brake pad replacement requires tools and equipment to raise the car, get the wheels off, remove the brake pad and replace it. These tools can be EXPENSIVE, except you’ve got someone to borrow from.

Buying or renting the tools is never an economical choice, especially as each brake pad change may be as long as 3 months apart.

Having a professional check the problem and replace your brake pads can save you a lot of money and give you peace of mind.

Possibility of dangerous mistakes

Decoupling and coupling parts of your car in hopes of saving money can be costly in the long term. You may make mistakes with decoupling or when assembling the parts removed. These mistakes can put you in danger, especially when driving your car.

Car accidents put you, other road users, your car, and your finances at risk. Your insurance company may also have some clause against the DIY brake pad replacement you’ve attempted, thus leaving you stranded and broke.

You can avoid the slippery slope simply by visiting a professional mechanic for your brake pad changes.

Changing your brake pad is time consuming

An averagely experienced person will need about 4 hours to change their brake pads. A novice may require two times the time taken to complete the job. On the other hand, a professional can complete brake pad replacements in under an hour.

Calculate the time it’ll take you and how productive you could have been within those hours. Frankly, it’s not worth your time and stress!

How To Replace Your Brake Pads At Home

It is important to replace your brake pads once you've noticed one or more of the above signs. While we recommend visiting a professional mechanic to change your brake pads, you can also do a DIY brake pad replacement.

Below are the tools needed for your DIY brake pad replacement;

  • Eye protection and disposable mechanic gloves

  • A lug nut wrench

  • Wheel shocks

  • A floor jack and jack stand

  • A caliper compression tool, large C-clamp, or length of wood to retract the piston

  • Flat screwdriver

  • A socket and ratchet set

  • A brake cleaner spray

  • Turkey baster for drawing out the brake fluid

  • Silicone-based brake lubricants

  • Your replacement brake pads

Changing your brake pad yourself is cost-effective and pretty straightforward. Follow the steps below to complete the task:

Step 1: Remove the wheel

  • Ensure that the wheel shocks have been appropriately placed.

  • Start by loosening the lug nuts on the wheel while the car is still on the ground.

  • Jack up the car and place a jack stand under the car's frame to keep it in position

  • Lower the floor jack so its weight can rest on the jack stand

  • Remove the loosened lug nuts and detach the wheel from the rotor.

Step 2: Remove the slider bolt

  • Remove the slider bolt, also known as 'pins,' holding the caliper in place.

  • Remove the lower bolts to access the brake pads.

Step 3: Pivot the caliper up

  • Pivot the brake caliper up while keeping the rubber hose (hydraulic line) in place.

  • Assess the thickness of your brake pad to ascertain if it needs changing. If worn out, proceed with the removal.

Step 4: Remove the old brake pads and replace the retaining clips

  • Remove the worn brake pad by sliding it out from its compartment.

  • Replace the retaining clips to improve safety. The retaining clips allow the brake pad to slide back and forth easily.

Step 5: Replace the new brake pads in position

  • Slide the new brake pads back in position, similar to how you removed the worn pads.

  • Apply some brake grease if the clips are tight and prevent the brake pads from sliding in effortlessly.

Step 6: Retract the pistons and check the brake fluid level

  • With the new brake pads in place, you can now reverse the earlier steps by retracting the pistons into place using a C-clamp. You can also use a wood length.

  • Go back under the hood to check the brake fluid level. The fluid level should rise slowly after the calipers have been replaced. If there's a problem, leave the setup in place and call a professional mechanic.

Step 7: Return the caliper to its original position

With your brake pads installed correctly and the brake fluid level back up, replace the caliper and reinstall the slider bolt. Repeat steps 1 to 7 for the other side.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long It Takes to Replace Brake Pads

How long does it take to replace the front brake pad?

Generally this operation will take between half to one hour by an experienced mechanic.

How long does it take to replace the rear brake pad?

Replacing a pair of brake discs and pads can take between one and three hours for the front and around the same time for the rear.

Why do my brakes still make a grinding noise after replacing the pads and rotors?

Your brake pad needs to be bedded in. Persistent grinding noise after brake pad replacement could also be due to a lack of lubrication between the brake pad and caliper surface.

Is there much difference between budget brake pads and mid-grade brake pads?

Yes, mid-grade brake pads are quieter, offer a better balance of braking distance, and are generally safer to use.

The Bottom Line

You can save a lot of time, money, and enjoy your vehicle's full safety features simply by having a professional mechanic handle your brake pad replacement needs. At Orthodox Auto Company, we recommend doing the right thing to keep you and other road users safe. We also offer an array of used car parts to help save money while keeping your vehicle fully functional.

Contact Orthodox Auto Company now to benefit from everything a reputable, family-run salvage yard offers. Our awesome staff would love to go through all the ways we can help you as we are your one-stop shop for anything automotive!


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