How to change your Halfords brake pads

For cars with disc brakes, your braking system could comprise of a pair of brake discs, a pair of brake callipers, their calliper carriers, and a set of brake pads.

The brake pads are located on either side of the brake disc via the calliper carrier. When you press the brake pedal, the piston(s) in the calliper move each brake pad against the brake disc, creating friction which slows down your vehicle.

Because of this friction, which causes wear, your brake pads are a consumable part and will need to be routinely replaced. You should have your brake pads checked every year or every 10,000 miles. Still, they will usually need replacing after 20,000 to 40,000 miles on average, depending on factors such as the quality of your brake pads, your driving habits, and the condition of other braking components.

If it’s time to replace your brake pads, follow our step-by-step guide to change them safely.

Top tip: You must always replace your brake pads in pairs across the axle to ensure your braking performance is even and consistent.

What you'll need;


Brake pads are part of the brake system of your car and as such are safety critical. For this reason, all work must be carried out with the utmost care, and by persons competent to do so. This step-by-step is a generic process, and won’t be suitable for cars that require a more specialised brake pad replacement. If you’re unsure, seek the help of a professional at your local Halfords auto centre. Wear protective gloves and eye safety glasses at all times.

How to change your Halfords brake pads

Remove Your Wheel

Before starting this job, take the cap off the brake fluid reservoir to give the pressure you create in the system during the process somewhere to escape. Put some cloth or rag around the reservoir to catch any fluid that may escape during the process. Brake fluid can remove paint from surfaces under the bonnet if not removed.

To access the brake pads, you’ll need to remove your wheel. Apply the handbrake, and if possible, chock the wheels to prevent the vehicle from moving when raised. If fitted, remove the wheel cover and slacken the wheel nuts while your car is on the ground.

Then raise your car with a jack, using your vehicle manufacturer's recommended jacking points - see your vehicle handbook for the location of these. Place axle stands under the vehicle for extra support.

You can now unscrew the wheel nuts or bolts and remove the wheel. Always inspect the wheel nuts or bolts to check they are in good and clean condition. Any corrosion should be removed with a wire brush.

Remove the Brake Calliper

Next, you’ll need to undo the guide pin bolt in order to remove the calliper – these bolts align the calliper to the brake disc. You can undo the guide pin bolt by holding it with a spanner or socket and wrench and unscrewing it. If it’s stuck, you can use some freeing oil to loosen it, but take care not to get any on the surface of the brake disc.

Next, unbolt the calliper and swing them free. Don’t leave the calliper hanging, as this will put a strain on the brake line. Instead, use ties or bungee cables to hang it safely.

Remove the Brake Pads

With the calliper out of the way, you can remove any clips that may be holding the brake pads in place and remove them from the calliper carrier.

Check the Brake Disc

Inspect the condition of your brake discs. If there is any heavy scoring, you’ll need to replace them as a pair too.

Apply Grease to New Brake Pads

Before you fit the brake pads, clean any corrosion off the calliper carrier and its slides with a wire brush before applying a little Ceratec to the edges and where the back plates come into contact with the calliper and its piston(s). Make sure you don’t get any grease on the friction material.

Fit Brake Pads

Fit the new brake pads into the calliper carrier, making sure that the pad can move freely back and forth, and that the friction material is facing the brake disc.

Then, untie and refit the brake calliper. In some brake pad kits, new calliper retaining bolts may be supplied. If so, always fit them and take notice of any torque settings required to ensure they are tightened to the correct setting. You may need to push the calliper piston back into its cylinder in order to fit the new thicker brake pad. This may cause the brake fluid to rise above the maximum level in the reservoir. This is The purpose of the cloth around it to catch any excess. You can find details on how to do this in a Haynes manual or a workshop manual. If you’re unsure about carrying out this work yourself, you should always seek the advice of a professional.

Test Brake Pads

When you've done both sides, press the brake pedal a few times to bring the brake pads up to the disc, then check and top up the brake fluid level if necessary, removing the cloth and any excess fluid that may have escaped.

Refit the Wheel

Before refitting, make sure that the mating surfaces of the wheel and hub are clean and free of any corrosion – you can use a wire brush to do so. With the new brake pads fitted, you can now place your wheel back on the hub and secure the wheel nuts or bolts by hand. Tighten the wheel using a wheel brace or wrench so that it can be rotated to ensure that it is located correctly. Always consult your owner’s manual.

Remove the axle stands and lower the jack, then once your vehicle is back on the ground, tighten the wheel nuts or bolts fully and replace the wheel cover. It is advisable to use a torque wrench to ensure that the wheel is tightened to the correct setting.

When driving the vehicle for the first time following brake pad replacement, the pedal may feel different. It could feel spongier than before - this is the new friction material coming into contact with the brake disc. It is vital to “bed in” a new set of brakes by carefully applying the brakes for the first 100 miles, and you should avoid heavy braking during this time. Bedding in will ensure that the brake pads operate correctly and last appropriately.

Top Tips

  • Always renew brake pads in pairs across the axis (e.g., all front pads or all rear pads) to avoid uneven braking
  • Not sure what you're doing? Get advice from an expert - don't take chances with brakes! Book a Free Brake Check now at your local Halfords Autocentre

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