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How to do a Complete Brake Job

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Completing a Brake Job

Installing new rotors and brake pads are the key components of a brake job. To find out if there are issues with the brake system, check out Part 1 of the Brake Inspection series to check the brake fluid; Part 2 to determine if new brake pads are needed; and Part 3 to determine if your rotors need replacing. Once you’ve determined that your vehicle needs a complete brake job, check out this article to learn steps.

Step 1 – Select the Right Parts

Choosing the right brake pads and rotors is the first step on the way to a successful repair. Wagner brake pads deliver premium braking performance while Wagner E-Shield® Rotors are engineered for maximum performance with a protective electro-coating applied to all non-braking surfaces.

Wagner products full line collage

Step 2 – Prepare Vehicle

If you’ve been following along with the Brake Inspection series, the tire, brake caliper, brake pads and brake rotor have all been removed from the vehicle so you’re all set to install the new rotor. However, if you’re just starting the repair, you’ll need to raise the vehicle. If you don’t have access to a lift, be sure to use secure points for the jack and jack stands. Then you’ll need to remove the tire, brake caliper, brake pads and rotor.

Vehicle on lift with tire off

Step 3 – Wash Rotor

As Wagner E-Shield rotors come in a Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) bag, they only need to be washed with soap and water before installation. During the manufacturing process, tiny bits of metal become lodged in the surface of the rotor, and washing the rotor with a brush and soap and water gets these bits of metal out.

Don’t use brake cleaner to prepare the rotors. Brake cleaner doesn’t remove the metal which causes these bits to end up in the brake pad, which can lead to noise issues. Washing the rotor also gets rid of the light coat of oil that is put on the rotor to inhibit rusting before it is installed.

Technician washing brake rotor

Step 4 – Clean Hub

Before installing the rotor, make sure the hub is free of rust. Rust on the hub can lead to runout which can give the driver brake pulsation. You can clean the hub surface using a brush attachment on your air tool.

Technician cleaning hub with brush attachment

Step 5 – Install Rotor

To install the new rotor, slide it over the wheel studs.

Technician installing brake rotor

Step 6 – Install New Caliper Hardware

Install any new caliper hardware that comes with the new brake pads that are going to be installed. To avoid rust buildup, apply brake lubricant on the caliper, under where the clip hardware sits and on top of the hardware where the brake pad will rest.

Technician installing new brake caliper hardware

Step 7 – Install New Brake Pads

Before putting the brake pads on, be sure to install the wear indicator on the inside brake pad by clipping it on. Now, it’s time to install both the inside and outside brake pads in the brake caliper bracket.

Technician installing new brake pads

Step 8 – Install Caliper Assembly

Put the caliper bracket assembly on the vehicle by sliding it over the top of the rotor. Then start installing the bolts – one at the top and one at the bottom. Use a ratchet to tighten them down and torque to manufacturer recommended specifications with a torque wrench.

Technician installing brake caliper assembly

Step 9 – Push Brake Pads In

Push the brake pads all the way in against the rotor. Push the caliper piston in the housing before putting the caliper back on over the brake pad. Use a brake pad pressing tool to push the caliper piston back into the housing. Push until it bottoms out or stops.

Technician pushing brake pads against rotor

Step 10 – Put Caliper Back On

Position the caliper over top of the brake pads and slide it down. Get the caliper bracket bolts started and torque to manufacturer specifications.

Technician pushing brake caliper back on

Step 11 – Replace Tire

Put the tire back on.

Step 12 – Break-In Procedure

To wrap up the brake job, you’ll want to perform a burnishing or break-in procedure. The burnish procedure fills in the peaks and valleys of the rotor surface with friction material transferred from the brake pads to give a solid surface. Use a 30-30-30 procedure – 30mph change of speed, 30 stops, and 30 seconds in between each stop.

Learn more about quality brake pads and rotors, find your car part, or find where to buy your auto part today.


The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

Tags: Braking
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