How to Change Drum Brake Pads and Rotors

What You'll Need
Car jack
New drum brakes
Safety goggles
Protective gloves
Protective overalls
New OEM or top-quality brake rotors

Replacing drum brake pads and rotors is a fairly simple procedure providing you know what you are doing. Safety should never be compromised when working on the brakes of a vehicle so you should always replace brake rotors with high quality or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) brake rotors. Cheaper alternatives, due to their inferior metal, may not dispel heat as efficiently and could squeak as a result. Replacing drum brake pads can vary depending on the model and make of a vehicle. Following your owner’s manual is advisable.

Step 1 - Make Your Vehicle Safe

Performing any mechanical work on a vehicle can be dangerous and changing drum brake pads and rotors is no exception. Always ensure the car is parked on level ground prior to starting any work and is left in park mode. Be sure to wear protective goggles, gloves and overalls and try to have a fire extinguisher close by in case of an emergency.

Step 2 - Identify Components and Remove the Drum Brake Pads

Before jacking up the vehicle, undo the lug nuts on the wheel. Take some time to identify the different components on the brake disc. Use the wrench and turn counter clockwise to remove the upper and lower caliper mounting bolts. Loosen the brake pads and secondary caliper mounting bolts. Proceed to detach the drum brake pads ensuring that there is anti-rattle hardware to transport to the new brake pads. You can now remove the caliper mount.

Step 3 - Remove Brake Rotor

With no caliper mount obstructing the path, you can now detach and remove the brake rotor. This may require some lubrication from penetrating oil to help ease the rotor off or some gentle tapping with a hammer. To enable easy mounting of the new brake rotor, clean the bearing hub rotor mount surface. Before you can install the new drum brake rotor pads, you must also remove the brake caliper piston and release any excess break fluid by taking off the master cylinder lid.

Step 4 - Install New Brake Rotor

Unpack the new rotor from its protective film and gently slide it into the same location and position you just removed the old rotor from.

Step 5 - Install the New Drum Brake Pads

Re-install the brake caliper mount and position the drum brake pads into place. This may be a fairly awkward process, but you must ensure the brake pads are a tight fit in the caliper mount. If the drum brake pads are too loose or too tight they may not work efficiently.

Step 6 - Re-mount Brake Caliper and Mounting Bolts

The final step is to put the brake caliper and caliper mounting bolts back into position. Ensure that the caliper moves without any restrictions up and down the caliper slides. Prior to driving the vehicle, always ensure to push the brake pedal to the ground and then slowly release it. Repeat the movement until you are happy that the brakes have resumed to their normal operation. By carrying out this procedure, it will force the drum brake pads to move to the brake rotor correctly.