Changing your brakes is no easy task. Your car features an intricate braking system. A whole range of components work in tandem to ensure that you stop safely and on time when you hit the brakes.

If you have the right know-how and the right tools, however, it’s possible to change your brakes right in your own garage. Let’s find out how.


Though you can change the main components of your brakes at home, most personal garages won’t have the tools to change an entire braking assembly. When we talk about replacing your brakes at home, we mean swapping out the rotors, brake pads, and calipers. In order to do this, you’ll need to make sure that you have the right tools on hand.

Please refer to the Brake Section in your vehicle’s manual just In case there are instructions specific to your vehicle before you begin.


Wear eye protection safety glasses and a good pair of gloves.


Here’s a quick list of what you’ll need to have on hand before changing your car’s brakes:

  • New brake pads
  • New rotors
  • An 8-inch C-clamp
  • A socket wrench set
  • A 1/2-inch breaker bar
  • A set of 3/8-inch extensions
  • A set of 3/8-inch sockets
  • A set of 1/2-inch sockets
  • A set of open-ended wrenches
  • A hydraulic jack and jack stands
  • A pry bar
  • Wire brush
  • Loctite
  • A pair of gloves


Step 1: The first thing you’ll need to do is loosen the lug nuts on your car’s wheels. Engage your handbrake, then use your breaker bar to loosen the lugs by rotating them counterclockwise. Set the breaker bar to a socket size that matches the lugs: this will typically be in the 16 to 20 mm range. Don’t remove the lugs. Instead, just loosen them to
the point that you will be able to remove them with a ratchet.

Step 2: Set the jack under the car’s jacking points, then jack it up. Now, place the jack stands underneath. Make sure that your car is on sound footing. This is critical for your own safety as well as the vehicle’s.

Step 3: Remove all four wheels. If you’re up for it, clean the brake dust off them. You’ll need to repeat the next steps four times with each brake assembly.

Step 4: Loosen the caliper. The caliper is held in place by a pair of 12 mm or 14 mm bolts. Remove these and the caliper will slide out. Secure it and make sure it doesn’t hang down.

Step 5: Take your old brake pads out. They’re often attached with metal clips and you might need to use some force to pop them out.

Step 6: Prep your new brake pads by spreading some Loctite on the back of the pads and on the contact edges. Be careful not to get any of it on the inside of the pads, though.

Step 7: You’ll now need to remove the caliper carrier. This is secured to a hub by a pair of 17 mm or 199 mm bolts. Use your breaker bar to remove these. If they’re in tight, you might need to use a mallet with the bar.

Step 8: It’s time to remove the rotor. Unscrew the locating screw, then hit the rotor a couple times with your hammer to remove it.

Step 9: Before putting in the new rotor, you’ll want to use your wire brush to remove any rust on the hub. If you have WD-40 on hand, you can spray it on to dissolve rust.

Step 10: Prep your new rotor for installation. Make sure to wipe off any packaging residue with brake cleaner.

Step 11: Set the new rotor flush against the hub. Replace the caliper carrier bolts. Use your breaker bar to tighten them.

Step 12: Take the cap off your brake reservoir. Then use the C-Clamp to compress the piston so that it sits flush with the
caliper’s housing.

Step 13: Replace your wheels. Tighten the lug nuts by hand. After you’ve lowered the car jack, use the breaker bar to further tighten them.

Step 14: Pump the brake pedal at least three times. When you feel a good amount of resistance, it means you’ve reached the right brake pressure.


Now you’ll want to break in your new components. Take your car out onto the highway and accelerate to 50 MPH. Slowly ease back to 30 MPH. Repeat this a couple times. After you’ve done this, drive normally for a few miles. Pay close attention for any noises. If you don’t hear anything, your new brakes should be good to go.