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Tech Talk

Do It Yourself Brake Repair (What It Will Cost You)

Vehicles typically require brake service between every 30,000 – 40,000 miles, depending on the age of the vehicle and age of the brakes. Getting your brakes inspected at least once a year is ideal, and most brake repairs can seem simple to do. When you hear the dreaded squeaking or feel the shaking when you break, it’s time to inspect or replace your brake pads.

Follow these steps for do it yourself brake repair: 


#1 Locate or Purchase the Service Manual ($29.99 - $39.99)

Price will vary depending on model and make. It’s important to follow the manual carefully to make sure you complete brake repair correctly.

#2 Jack Up the Car – Remove Wheel and Tire ($20.99  - $129.99)

You can either manually raise your vehicle or purchase a jack stand set to make the lifting easier. After jacking up your vehicle, remove the wheel and tire.

#3 Remove the Caliper

First, observe the amount of friction on the rotor by turning it by hand. Remove the caliper to inspect the condition of the rotor. To complete this, loosen the bleeder screw, located at the rear of the caliper. Disconnect the flex hose by loosening the fitting. Optionally, you can place am metal pan beneath the caliper to catch any brake fluid leaking. Remove the caliper retaining bolts and pull it away from the rotor.

#4 Observe the Rotor ($19.99 - $100+)

Remove the hub nut central to the rotor. If you notice grooves on the surface of the rotor, the rotor is fairly worn down. However, it’s best to use a micrometer to measure whether it is thick enough to keep use.

#5 Check the Wheel Bearings (est. $98.99)

If your vehicle has a sealed roller bearing that is worn (typically around 100,000 miles), or has evidence of pitting or scoring, the wheel hub assembly will require replacement. Before replacing the bearing, wash your hands thoroughly before greasing the palm of your hands ($9.55). Press the grease from your palms until the grease is completely through the bearing holes. Next, the grease seal must be applied. Purchasing a seal driver makes this task simple without damaging the seal. ($24.99)

#6 Replace the Brake Pads ($16.99 - $35)

If your brakes squeak when applied, chances are, your brake pads require replacement. Removing old brake pads from the caliper is simple – they click in and out of place. However, when applying new pads, it’s best to apply anti-squeal gel ($6.49). Let the gel dry for about 30 minutes before replacing the brake pads. Then, click the pads in place.

#7 Put the Assembly Back Together

Now that every part of your brakes has been replaced or fixed, it’s time to put them back on the vehicle. Take the rotors, wash with soap and water to remove any leftover grease. Then, place them on the spindle and attach them into place using the hub nut. Be careful not to over or under tighten the bolts.

#8 Bleed the Brake Fluid

Use a turkey baster or similar tool to remove excess fluid out of the system. Replace with new fluid. Attach a rubber hose to the caliper and back of the bleeder screw and put the hose into a pan for it to drain. Have someone assist by sitting in your vehicle and pumping the brakes while you open the nut to drain out old fluid. After several flushes, tighten the bleeder screw.

#9 Replace the Tire and Wheel Assembly – Replace the Hubcap – and Complete!

It is vital that each of these steps is followed with extreme care when attempting do it yourself brake repair. Brake assemblies are very sensitive in any vehicle, and a simple overtightening of a screw can create issues that didn’t exist before the DIY brake repair. Not to mention, the overall cost can be upwards of $350+ - and that’s if everything is completed as needed. To keep your vehicle in top-shape and prevent costly damage, it’s best to bring your vehicle in for inspection to a brake repair shop. Brake Works offers convenient hours and two central locations to serve San Antonio. Contact us today to schedule your brake inspection.