Car repairs can add up to a lot of money over the years. Knowing how to do some of the more basic auto maintenance jobs yourself can save you quite a bit. Here is a brief guide that will help you learn how to do one of them: brake pad replacement.
Tools Required: c-clamp, open end or adjustable wrench, hammer, small bungee cord and Allen wrenches.
Preparation: You'll first want to loosen the bolts of the wheels, as this will make it easier to remove them once the car is jacked up. Use jackstands for safety. You never want to get under a car supported only by jacks.
Remove the Wheel: Start with the bottom bolts, as this keeps the wheel still while you work on the rest of the bolts. Remove the wheel carefully and set it aside.
Unbolt the Break Caliper: The brake caliper is located at the 12 o'clock position, just above the lug bolts and over the shiny brake disk. There is a bolt on either side of the back of the caliper, which you must remove using one of the wrenches (use Allen or lug depending on car). Pull the caliper out from the top part, lightly tapping on it if it needs loosening. Hang the caliper safely from somewhere using the bungee cord.
Remove Old Pads: With the caliper out of the way, take mental note of how everything is installed, or if you can take a digital picture. This will help when you're putting everything back into place. If your car has retaining metal pieces holding the pads, take them out and put them aside. Insert the new pads and put the metal pieces back in place.
Adjusting the Brake Piston: You can locate the brake piston inside the caliper. This is the piston that pushes on the brake pads. It adjusts its compression to accommodate the brake pads as they start to wear. Since you're installing new ones, you have to adjust the piston back to its original position. Take the c-clamp and place the screw end against the piston and place the other end against the back of the caliper. Tighten the clamp until the piston is compressed enough to allow you to place the caliper over the pads comfortably.
Reinstall Brake Caliper: Slide the caliper back into place and re-install the bolts, making sure to tighten them securely. Check the pressure by pushing on the brake pedal several times. Reinstall the wheel and tighten the lug bolts. This is just one of the many DIY jobs you can do yourself, if you find something too difficult it's a good idea to take your care to a San Diego, CA auto service to avoid doing any damage to yourself or your car.