What Tools Do I Need To Change Brake Pads And Rotors?

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The braking system is a part of your automobile that works on a wide range of parts. Any damage to the brake pads, brake rotors, brake calipers, or brake lines can down the entire system.

Replacing these parts when damaged requires the use of a few tools. What tools you need to change brake pads and rotors, especially, can sometimes depend on your expertise.

This article provides the details about the tools that you’ll need to replace the rotors and pads. Don’t forget, that these two brake parts work hand in hand in conjunction with other components to produce an unassailable stopping power for your vehicle.

What Tools Do I Need To Change Brake Pads And Rotors?

The tools you will need to change brake pads and rotors are easy to come by. Most times, the level of damage to the brake parts will determine which tools are essential. Typically, these are tools that you’ll necessarily need to change brake pads and rotors of your car:

  • Jack
  • Safety Glasses
  • Protective Gloves
  • Lug Nut Wrench
  • Allen Set
  • Torque Wrench
  • Ratchet And Rocket Kit
  • C-Clamper
  • Brake Bleeder Wrench

There are times when you decide to go a DIY way to succeed in a brake replacement procedure. When you have the necessary tools, replacing your car’s brake pads or rotors yourself becomes a lot easier, quicker, and hitch-free.

With the right tools, you can change the pads and rotors in no time. Replacing the brake parts yourself also helps you cut down on your spending and save you huge labor costs that would have gone to the mechanic.

What are all these tools used for? Let’s examine each of them and what purpose they’ll serve at every stage of the process.

1. Jack

A car jack works with a jack stand to help you lift the car from the ground level. You can go for a floor jack, scissor lift, bottle jack, or a ramp. Make sure, however, that the jack’s load capacity matches the weight of the car you wish to service. Each jack comes with a specific weight rating.

Minimum and maximum lift heights of 2 inches and 20 inches respectively might be all you need to get under the car and work on the brake.

2. Safety Glasses

When removing the warped rotors or worn brake pads with the wrench, some dust may get into your eyes. To prevent your eyes from these escaping pebbles, make sure you wear a pair of safety goggles before getting under the vehicle. A dust mask is another perfect alternative to avoid inhaling dust and particles.

3. Protective Gloves

Both the goggles and gloves are for personal safety. Putting on protective gloves when working on your car is a no-brainer. Essentially, gloves prevent your hand from stains, dirt, and harmful chemicals.

4. Lug Nut Wrench

The lug nut wrench is an important socket wrench when you need to remove bolts that prove hard to lose. The wrenches are very essential to tighten or loosen lug nuts on the car wheels.

A quality lug nut wrench should come in different sizes. Being able to extend the wrench is a bonus feature that will make bolt removal easier and quicker.

5. Allen Wrench Set

The truth is that your toolkit is not complete if the Allen wrenches are missing. The Allen wrenches are also called the Torx, hex-key keys, or hex-key wrenches. They’re tools that hold the brake calipers securely in place.

Their wrench’s hexagonal shape makes it suitable to fit various screws that come with hexagonal recessed holes. In most cases, an Allen wrench set may contain as many as 13 short Allen keys.

6. Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is a must-have tool when you need to change the brake pads and rotors of your car. Fastening a lag screw, bolt, or nut to a torque requires a torque wrench.

With it, you can set the torque to match the specs and application of the fastener applied to it. If you need need to tighten the bolts and screws more, the torque wrench is the right tool to call on.

7. Ratchets And Sockets Set

The combo of these two-in-one tools works to produce one single result: loosening and tightening fasteners. The ratchet is a combination of a handle and socket. It is also called a socket wrench.

The socket attaches itself to a torque, wrench, or ratchet. It helps to spin the ratchet handle when it is properly placed. The mechanism is to securely position the socket on the driver or square extension of the ratchet. Once you’ve fastened the socket to the ratchet, the next thing to do is to loosen or tighten your fastener (nuts or bolts).

You cannot do without the ratchet and socket kit when working on your car braking system. Make sure you select SAE and metric socket kit.

8. C-Clamp

As the name implies, a brake spreader is a useful tool that helps to spread the brake. In other words, when you need to push down the piston into the caliper, the large c-clamp or brake spreader helps you to retract the piston hitch-free.

Although there are different ways to press down the piston, using the C-clamp makes it a lot easier. This way, resetting the piston and installing the new brake pads are much easier.

The c-clamp is the ideal tool for beginner DIYers and those who are replacing their brake pad for the first time. It’s simple to use. Make sure you disconnect the caliper before placing the new internal brake pads on the piston.

9. Brake Bleeder Wrench

The brake bleeder is necessary if you’ll need to replace the brake calipers. Disconnecting the brake calipers will cause you to remove the brake hose. The brake bleeder wrench is the perfect tool when you need to take off the brake hose. With the brake bleeder wrench, you can rest assured that the hydraulic lines are free of atmospheric air.

Weighing The Risk Of DIY Brake Pad And Rotor Replacement

Weighing The Risk Of DIY Brake Pad And Rotor Replacement

Now, you have the tools with a little mechanical skill to change the brake pads and rotors. Won’t you rather wait a minute to ask if it is right or worth the risk to replace your brake pads and rotors yourself? This is more crucial because of the fear of the potential complications that often come with replacing your own brakes.

Interestingly, there’s no fixed answer. It all depends on your expertise and availability of tools. The presence of the essential tools will complement your knowledge of the fundamental problem.

The truth is that changing brakes is not as simple or complex as you may think. It all depends on a number of factors, including mechanical expertise, tools, and the condition of the braking system.

Sometimes, you may need extra replacement parts that may cost more than you’ve budgeted. Besides, you may start to feel some grinding, squealing, or squeaking noise after completing the job.

It may be that you’ve done a poor job leading to poor performance from the brakes. At some other time, maybe, you’ll only need to add brake fluid or replace other broken parts that you initially ignored.

All of these are possible post-replacement issues. Worst case scenario, you may need to run a further scan on the braking system to determine the issues.

When these happen, you’ll be forced to start all over. So, if you’ve decided to go the whole hog to change the brake pads and rotors yourself, make sure you focus on the causes and not just the symptoms. Addressing the triggers will save you unnecessary time and resources.

If you’re not sure, it is best to hire the service of an experienced and certified mechanic. They have the tools to diagnose and fix any main or attendant issues.


Is It Hard To Replace Brake Pads And Rotors Myself?

No, it is not hard. However, you must have a little background in mechanical skills. The necessary tools to diagnose and fix the problems must also be available.

Even with all these, it still doesn’t imply that fixing the modern braking system is a walk in the park. But changing the brakes parts, especially rotor and pads, are pretty straightforward.

How Long Will It Take To Replace The Brake Pads And Rotors?

On average, it will take you between one to two hours to change all four brake rotors and brake pads. This also includes resurfacing the rotors, if necessary.

However, the duration will depend on the extent of the damage to the brake parts. Also, the level of your mechanical skill and knowledge in this area will count.

You also need to consider how many of these tools are available at the time you’ll need them. If the condition of your car braking system has not deteriorated, one and a half hours should be enough to change the rotors and pads.

Final Words

If you read this article, you shouldn’t have difficulty answering the question ‘what tools do I need to change brake pads and rotors? While replacing the parts may save cost, it comes with its own risk. As a result, you’ll have to brace up for any eventuality.

The brake is very crucial to safety on the road. Any damage may result in brake failure and potential accidents. So, the brakes are not a system you should ignore or be trivial about. Your on-road safety significantly depends on the state of the health of your car’s braking system.

Get the right tools and change the rotors and pads when they go bad. Overall, a DIY replacement of the brake pads and rotors may cost you anywhere around $500-$800. You may spend more (up to $1000) if you’ll need to buy additional parts and accessories. Don’t forget, you’ll buy the pads in pairs. But the rotors, like the calipers, are sold individually.