Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement - Front FWD

Step 19 - Tighten caliper bolts and double check caliper mounting bracket bolts.

Tightening Caliper Bolts

Step 20 - Re-install tire

Re-Installing Tire

Step 21 - After the tire has been re-installed add the lug nuts to hold the wheel on, and tighten. (Note: Finish tightening lug nuts once the car has been lowered onto the ground.)

Re-installing Lug Nuts

Step 22 - Re-installing hub cap or lug nut cover.

Installing Lug Nut Cover

Step 23 - After the car is back on the ground and the tires are tightened, slowly push the brake pedal down, then allow back up slowly. This operation is forcing the brake pads to travel to the brake rotors. Do this until normal brake operation has returned (brake pedal in its normal position), This helps prevent air bubbles in the system which alleviates bleeding.

Slowly Pushing Brake Pedal

Never drive a car without normal brake pedal operation. If bleeding is needed (spongy pedal) follow normal bleeding procedures. When test driving the vehicle listen for any unusual noises during the operation of the brakes, Note: Brake pad operation may be slightly impaired until the surfaces mate together, (about 2 miles).  Visit - Brake System Bleed

Helpful Information

Front brake pads provide up to 70% of a vehicles stopping power. In general, front brake pads wear out twice as fast as rear brake pads, roughly a 2 to 1 ratio on a standard disc-drum brake combination, this will be slightly different on a disc-disc arrangement due to the efficiency of a rear disc brake versus drums. Disc brakes have a definite braking power advantage over drum style brakes and performance is not compromised as much when wet or hot. Some disc brakes utilize cooling fins in-between the braking surfaces of the rotor to maximize cooling efficiency. 

Replacing brake rotors can vary depending on the make and model of car, two or four wheel drive, front or rear wheel drive. Always replace brake rotors with top quality or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) brake rotors, some less expensive brake rotors can squeak and may not dissipate heat or perform as well because of their inferior metal quality. The same applies to the brake pads; they should be high quality (OEM) to ensure proper performance. When a grinding brake rotor is neglected, it will cause the brake system to fail due to the separation of the rotor hat (center) from the outer web (braking surface). Additional problems the can occur include the brake pad to fall out completely or the brake caliper to blow out a piston, either of these conditions will cause brake operation failure.

A vehicles brake pads wear out at different rates depending on design, driving habits, brake pad quality, stop and go traffic and freeway conditions, etc. Hydraulic pressure is supplied to the brake caliper forcing the pads against the brake rotor causing friction to slow the vehicle. Most brake pads have some kind the sensing device that will warn if the brake pads are getting low, either a brake warning light, or a noise sensor the will create a high pitched squeal when the pads have worn down beyond manufactures recommendations. After a brake service has been performed and the car is safety on level ground, recheck the brake pedal operation, this should be done with the car running and in park to aid the power brake system. Press the brake pedal up and allow to return and check proper brake pedal operation, if proper brake pedal operation not present further inspection is required (do not drive). As the car is first driven , start slow and test the brakes, listen for any sounds that are abnormal. Observe the brake operation if any irregularities occur inspect the brake system immediately.

Best Practices

  • Clean and inspect wheel studs, replace if any are damaged.
  • Inspect the ABS sensor wheel for cracks or damage and replace as needed.
  • Bleed the brake system after replacing brake components are replaced.
  • Brake service usual occurs between 15,000 and 30,000 miles depending on driver habits, road conditions, brake pad and rotor materials used.
  • Use high quality pads and rotors when replacing brake components.
  • Lubricate caliper sliders if needed
  • Clean surface between the rotor and axle flange to ensure proper operation. (If debris is left between the rotor and hub bearing, it can cause the rotor to wobble on the axle causing the steering wheel to shake when the brakes are applied.)


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


Please use our question form if you have a specific question about your car as we are not able to give you a full answer on this page.

Article first published (Updated 2015-01-03)