Changing the brake pads

We have been blessed with an oddly warm January weekend, so I took the opportunity presented to change out brake pads. I have no idea when that was last done, and the short test drives I’ve been taking have suggested that they were due. With the help of my oldest son, I got right to it.

Left Front

After I got the tire off I immediate noticed that the dust guard was almost completely corroded away. It was little more than scale and rust held together by grim determination and a prayer. It fell apart at the touch, so I decided to remove as much as would come off and resolved to replace it at a late date.

The pads on this wheel were relatively easy to change although the pins and springs that keep them in place were a total mess. Both pins were somewhat bent and the springs were in almost as bad a shape as the dust guard. I was able to reuse them but I will definitely replace the set. The back of the pad shims were given a coat of anti-seize lubricant to ensure that they don’t become stuck in the caliper over time, a problem I encountered later on this job. In terms of damaged or worn parts, the threads on the brake guide pin and one of the tire lug studs had both been stripped at some point. The guide pin makes sure the calipers are angled properly so that the pads touch the rotor in the right way, so that’s a pretty critical bit. I already have an order out for replacements and am using a regular bolt in its place for now (not that I’m driving the car around a lot).

Right Rear

Spiders had set up residence in this brake rotor and caliper at some point, but other than that it was all in pretty good shape. Old pads came out. New ones went in. The dust guard here is also pretty corroded, but nothing near the state the last one. It looks like it’ll still do its job for now.

Right Front

I found another disaster of a dust guard here. It was basically gone except for where it attached to the steering knuckle. Also the caliper pins and springs were a mess. At some point one of the pins has lost the part of the tip where the hole for the retaining clip was, so someone just drilled a new hole on the other end of the pin. This worked, but the hole was maybe a tad too small and over time the clip rusted and became quite stuck and broke on extraction. Removing them with needle nose pliers was attempted, but the remains of the pin were just too small to get a good grip. I eventually used (and broke) both a screwdriver and pair of wire snips to get enough of it out so that the pin was freed. The pads were also rusted in place and had to be persuaded a bit to free them up (cue the broken screwdriver).

Left Rear

Another set of pins in terrible shape here. One was bent so much that the retaining spring had half popped off. It also just didn’t want to come out and was partially mangled in the process. A replacement is definitely called for. Pads went in without issue, and aside from the fact that the bad pins were a pain to reinsert the pad switch went well.


When I compared the old pads to the new ones I had to admit that they probably still had a bit of life left in them. They were nowhere near new but not exactly close to the metal either.

Still, I’m glad they were changed both because now I know that the pads are good but also because it helped bring attention to the issues I was previously unaware of. I’ll feel much better once those pins and springs are replaced, and that stripped lug was definitely not a good thing to be blissfully unaware of.

Another side effect of being under the car with the wheels off was that I got a better look at the mid muffler. I’d noticed on test drives that very occasionally the car would “pop” under acceleration almost as if it had backfired. After seeing the state of the muffler I’m fairly certain that what I was hearing was exhaust gas explosively escaping from some of the rust formed holes in the muffler.

That goes on the list of stuff to replace. Other than that the brakes seem to work fine. I drove around the neighborhood again and had no problem stopping. Once those parts arrive I’ll have to take the wheels off again and replace them, but at least the pads are good now.