Brakes – Pads, Rotors, and Fluid

This guide covers how to change brake pads, brake rotors, and brake fluid — including the bleeding process.

Note: I will list the materials and tools that I used, but you do not need to get the exact same parts. Just make sure that the parts you are buying are compatible with your model and year.

You Will Need

Materials

Brake rotors and pads

  • Brake Pads
    • Front Pads
      • One set of Raybestos (EHT242H) Enhanced Hybrid Technology disc brake pads
    • Rear Pads
      • One set of Bosch (BP309) QuietCast Premium disc brake pads
        • Cost: $29.27
        • Location: Amazon
  • Brake Rotors
    • Front Rotors
      • Two Brembo (BDR25421) vented brake rotors
        • Cost: $27.72 (each)
        • Location: Amazon
    • Rear Rotors
      • Two Bendix (PRT1362) solid brake rotors
        • Cost: $13.22 (each)
        • Location: RockAuto
  • Brake Fluid
    • DOT3 or DOT4
      • Two or three Prestone DOT4 12 oz brake fluid bottles
        • Cost: $3.74 (each)
        • Location: Wal-Mart or Amazon

 

Total cost of materials: $108.22

Tools and Parts

  • Brake Pad Replacement
    • 12mm socket/wrench
    • Coat hanger wire or a bucket
    • Disc brake piston compressor
    • Rear disc brake piston compressor cube
  • Brake Rotor Replacement
    • Floor jack
    • Jack stands
    • Tire iron or breaker bar
    • Torque wrench (optional but highly recommended)
    • 12mm socket/wrench
    • 17mm closed ended wrench (the longer the better)
    • PB Blaster (penetrating oil)
    • One can of silicone spray lubricant
    • Coat hanger wire or a bucket
  • Breaking Loose a Stuck Rotor
    • Two grade 8 bolts 2″ long
    • Two nuts that fit the bolts
    • Two washers that fit the bolts
  • Brake Fluid Replacement
    • Two feet of 3/8″ OD (1/4″ ID) vinyl tubing
    • One bottle with a cap (Powerade or Gatorade works best)
    • 5/16″ socket/wrench

Helpful Information

Before starting this process I recommend reviewing the following:

Process

The process is pretty straightforward after you’ve watched the videos above.

1 – Break the Lug Nuts Loose

Use a tire iron or breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels. Don’t take them off completely, just get them loose enough so that you can take them off the rest of the way by hand.

If you have four lugs, loosen them in a left, right, up, down pattern. If you have five lugs, go in a star pattern while loosening the lugs. This prevents damage to the threads.

If your lugs don’t want to budge there are several things you can try:

  1. PB Blaster can be sprayed and left to penetrate and lubricate the threads of your lug nuts.
  2. A floor jack can be used to jack up the tire iron.
  3. A pipe can be fitted over your tire iron, to act as a makeshift breaker bar (sometimes called a “cheater bar”).

In my case, one lug nut was so stubborn that I had to fit a long pipe (the handle of my floor jack) over my tire iron:

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NoteThe lugs must be loosened while the tires are on the ground.

2 – Get the Car on Jack Stands and Take the Wheels Off

Use a floor jack to jack the car up on jack stands.

Jack Points for AW11

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Notice that I place the wheel under the car, between the two jack stands. This is a safety precaution. In case the jack stands fail it will crush the wheel before it crushes me (if I’m under it).

Note: If you are just bleeding brake fluid you can do it with the tires on the ground.

3 – Take Off the Brake Calipers

Front Brake Calipers

On the front brake calipers there are two 17mm bolts holding the brake caliper mount and two 12mm bolts holding the brake slider rods. To take off the front brake calipers:

Loosen the two 12mm slider rod bolts (one on top, one on bottom).

Front Caliper Slider Rods

Take the brake slider off and hang it up with coat hanger wire or set it on a bucket.

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Loosen the two 17mm brake caliper mounting bolts (one on top, one on bottom).

Front Caliper Mounting Bolts

Take the brake caliper mounting bracket off and set it aside.

Rear Brake Calipers

The rear calipers are the same as the front calipers, but this time there is only one 12mm bolt holding the brake slider rods (the top one is fixed). To take off the rear brake calipers:

Loosen the one 12mm brake slider rod bolt (on bottom).

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Pivot the brake slider up and then push it towards the car (you may need to wiggle it up and down) to get the brake slider off of the caliper.

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Loosen the two 17mm brake caliper mounting bolts (one on top, one on bottom).

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Take the brake caliper mounting bracket off and set it aside.

4 – Take Off the Brake Rotors

The rotors should be able to be pulled off. If they are stuck, use the video I linked at the beginning of this article.

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5 – Put On the New Brake Rotors

They should slip right on.

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6 – Replace the Brake Pads

In order for the new pads to fit it is necessary to compress the brake cylinders. Before getting started, take off the cap to the brake master cylinder.

Remove Brake Master Cylinder Cap

Now take the “Disc Brake Pad Spreader” and one of the old brake pads to compress the brake cylinders in the front brakes.

Front Brake Piston Compressor Tool
Compress Front Brake Piston
Front Brake Piston Compressed

Now use the “Disc Brake Piston Tool” with a 3/8″ ratchet to twist the piston back into a compressed position.

Rear Brake Piston Compressor Tool
Rear Brake Piston Compressor Tool on Ratchet
Rear Brake Piston

Note: The little tabs on the cube go into the sides of the piston’s face so that it can be turned.

Now insert the new pads and pad hardware into the caliper brackets.

Lubricate the caliper bracket guide pins.

Place the brake sliders back onto the brackets.

7 – Bleed the Brake Fluid

Brake fluid should be a nice yellowish clear color and not black.

Use a syringe or a turkey baster to take out as much of the old fluid from the master cylinder’s reservoir as possible.

Remove Old Fluid From Master Cylinder

Put the old fluid into the sports drink bottle (as we will need it in a little bit).

Insert the 3/8″ OD tubing into the bottle with the cap.

Note: Make sure to poke a small hole somewhere around the top of the bottle for air to vent.

Insert 3/8″ OD Tube into Bottle

Connect the tube to the bleeder nipple of the brake caliper.

Note: We will be working from the brake caliper furthest from the master cylinder to the closest (i.e. passenger rear, driver rear, passenger front, driver front).

Attach Tube to Bleeder Nipple

Use the 5/16″ wrench to loosen the bleeder nipple, until you see brake fluid coming out.

Brake Fluid Coming out of Bleed Nipple

Fill up the brake master cylinder’s reservoir with fresh DOT 3 (or DOT 4 if you want better heat tolerance).

Top Off Brake Master Cylinder

With the tube under the brake fluid in the bottle, start pumping the brake pedal to push fluid (and any trapped air bubbles) from the reservoir through to the brake caliper bleed nipple. Do this until the brake fluid coming out is the new clean fluid, and then close the bleeder nipple (making sure no air bubbles go into it).

Pumping Brake Fluid through Caliper

Keep topping off the brake fluid and repeating this process until all four brake calipers have been bled. Then top off the brake master cylinder one final time.

New Brake Fluid
Old Brake Fluid

8 – Put the Wheels Back On

Put the wheels back on the car.

Front Wheels On
Rear Wheels On

9 – Put the Car Back On the Ground

This is the reverse of step 2.

Note: Make sure the parking brake is set and the car is in 1st gear. This prevents the car from rolling when you put it down.

I recommend starting with taking down the rear first. Use a jack to lift from the rearmost motor mount. Then remove the jack stands, and let the jack down.

Lift the front of the car from the bottom of the frunk. Remove the jack stands, and let the jack down.

10 – Go for a Test Drive

Start slow (5-10 mph) and test the brakes to make sure they work.

Break in the new brakes however you prefer. Some people say to repeatedly get up to 30 mph and slam on the brakes to “bed them in”. While others advise just driving the car like normal.

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