I can recall the first time getting my brake pads replaced. I used to travel alot through streets on hills so going downhill and using the brakes really wore them out faster than usual.
Typically, I would know it's really time to consider changing the brake pads when I begin to hear a faint squeaky sound of friction between 2 metal materials as I'm driving or braking. If I can confirm that it's truly my car and not the car next to me at a stoplight, the next place I usually check is my budget.
Replacing the brakes always gets my hands somewhat dirty but it's relatively simple to do. Not to mention, can save me more than half the cost to do it myself compared to getting it done by an auto shop.
My favorite auto parts stores
I learned that keeping notes on the brand and model or bringing a sample of the existing brake pad to the auto parts store can come in handy. It takes me about 1 to 2 hrs to change brake pads for both front wheels. But on one incident I was given the wrong model that didn't quite fit; it took me the next day to complete the job instead.
What the auto parts store will typically ask for is the year and model of my car. Then ask additional questions on being manual or automatic transmission and if they are anti-lock brakes. If I run out of grease, I make sure to buy more for the new brake pads.
Honda Civic brake pad
Before taking the wheels and removing the old brake pads, I make sure I have the following prepared:
* A wire to tie the brake caliper from falling.
* A C clamp and a thin wooden board to squeeze the brake piston so the brake caliper will fit back over the new brake pads.
Here's what I did to perform the repair:
1. Loosened the lug nuts for the wheel
2. Lifted the front end of the car until the wheel was off the ground. Used a jack and jackstands to secure the car. Placed a block of wood behind the rear wheels for added security.
3. Removed the lug nuts (19mm) from the wheel and removed the wheel.
4. Removed the caliper bolts (12mm)
5. Removed the brake caliper
6. Tied one end of the wire around the brake caliper and raised the wire so it could support the caliper from falling. Tied the other end of the wire above near the shock springs securely.
7. Removed the old outer and inner brake pads.
8. Compared the old and new outer and inner brake pads to make sure they were identical shapes.
9. First tested and made sure they attached and fitted securely.
8. Removed them and applied grease on the metal side of the new brake pads and along the top and bottom edges. My new brake pads also included illustrations identifying all the areas where grease was necessary. Grease in the right spots helped lubricate and eliminate or reduce any squeaky noises
9. Opened the brake fluid reservoir cap. This helped release pressure so I could begin to squeeze the piston.
9. Placed the wooden board over the piston under the caliper and positioned the C clamp so I could squeeze the piston completely back in.
10. Closed the brake fluid reservoir cap
11. Removed the wire support
12. Returned the caliper over the new brakes and secured with caliper bolts (20 lbs.ft). Remembered not to overtighten the caliper bolts or the bolt head may snap off.
13. Returned the wheel and secured with lug nuts (80 lbs.ft).
14. Lowered the car back down.
After pumping the brake pedal enough to eliminate any gaps between the piston and the new brake pads, I drove it around the block a couple times. The screeching metal to metal noises have completely disappeared. Sounds great and feels good to have new brake pads!