Our 2004 Hyundai Elantra needed new brakes. We knew this because the wear sensor on the front disc brakes alerted us by making a high-pitched squeal.
If you don’t attend to that squeal right away and keep driving, you’ll end up with a nasty grinding sound which is metal against metal and unsafe. It was at this point we decided not to drive the car until we got the brakes fixed.
20 + years ago I changed brake pads on a Toyota Camry and it was easy and painless. Feeling somewhat adventurous with a little free time on the weekend I thought I would play backyard mechanic. My 18-year-old son said this would be a great father-son project and that he would help but when the time came to do the brakes he had other plans turning this into a solo project. It's much easier to do this if you have a helper.
In “the old days” one would reference an auto repair manual like Chiltons, but of course today there are many videos online which show you exactly what to do and I found this great tutorial by Jordan
He has great energy, easy to understand and is detail oriented. One of the things I liked about it was the list of tools required and socket sizes.
To save time, I paid a visit to Pep Boys the night before my project to acquire the brakes and required tools i did not have including a floor jack.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this great little gem. A 2 ton trolley floor jack with its own plastic case on sale for only $19.99.What a deal!
I sat the laptop on the hood of the car so Jordan could walk me through it.
Once the wheel was off I easily removed the brake caliper and bracket without a hitch.
There are 2 philips head screws that hold the rotor on and one of them wouldn’t turn. Even repeated banning of the hammer on the screwdriver would not help so I consulted youtube for some advice
Eric The car guy recommended a double hammer trick and then an impact wrench. Because I didn’t have 2 ball-peen hammers, I visited Home Depot for an impact-wrench which I couldn’t find but the clerk said I could order it online and it would be delivered to the store. Not much help when you’re in the middle of a brake job. I decided to pick up a torch to see if the flame could persuade the stubborn screw to come out along with a heavy duty long phillips-head screw driver, which worked – eventually.
Ok Jordan, what’s next? The brake rotor just sits there and “should come right off.” Apparently our Elantra never got the memo and the “buggah stay stuck already.” No matter how much I pulled and tapped it with the hammer it would not budge. Back to youtube I found this other video by Jordan
Seeing how I already had the torch, I followed his instructions. After much time with the flame and bludgeoning it with a hammer, (I mean gently persuading), I was victorious. Putting the new brake pads in and installing the new rotor was a snap.
After removing the four lug nuts, the wheel would not come off. What? Yep. I removed wheels in the past and this was the first time the wheel itself was stuck on. I tried tapping it with my hammer, nope. Kicking it, nope. Youtube wasn’t much help so I wondered what would happen if I let the car down from the jack. I gently lowered the jack and wheel popped right off.
Easily removed the caliper and bracket like in the first wheel with no problem. There were no screws in the rotor on this side which would be one less fight. The rotor appeared to have plenty of life left in it and I was just going to have it turned as opposed to replaced. This rotor however was following the path of the first rotor and was hanging on for dear life. After many repeated attempts and much time, my energy, enthusiasm and tenacity were fading so I decided to put on the new brake pads and then bring it to a shop to have them remove it and do the turning.
When I lowered the car, my 19.95 special floor jack handle broke which would mean a return trip to Pep Boys. I took the car for a test drive and to my unpleasant surprise it started making a scraping sound. I think I bent this shield and will have to bend it back. But that will have to be tomorrow...
That depends. Are you mechanically inclined, have the tools, time and patience? If yes, go for it. If you would rather be doing something different or more enjoyable on the weekend than working on your car, maybe you should bring it in and let the garage handle it. After my experience I have a new respect for the professional auto mechanic.