How to change front calipers

Changing the front calipers on your car is not the toughest job in the world. It can have some difficult moments, and it is often a dirty job. If you do not rush the job, it can be fairly simple and save you several dollars over paying to have it done. Start the job by purchasing new calipers and rounding up your wrenches, brake fluid, lug wrench, jack, and stands.

Break the lugs nuts on the first wheel loose, but do not remove them.


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Position the jack under the car and raise the tire off of the ground. It is a good idea to go ahead and raise the car enough to slide your stand into place and lower the car onto it while leaving the jack in position under the car. Finish loosening and remove the lug nuts. When these have been removed, lift the tire and wheel off of the car and roll it out of the way for now.

You are now ready to remove the break line from the caliper.


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Place a pan under the back of the rotor and brake assembly to catch the brake fluid that will seep out when you remove the brake line from the caliper. Leave the cap on the brake fluid reservoir to slow the leakage of fluid during the replacement.

There is usually a short piece of rubber tubing just above the caliper. If it is there, clamp it shut to conserve brake fluid and prevent excess air from entering the line. Use an end wrench and remove the brake line from the back of the caliper where it screws into the unit. Carefully swing the brake line back or to the side and out of the way. You do not want to put a kink in this line or you may have to run a new one from the master cylinder all of the way to the caliper. Position the pan to catch any fluid dripping from this line.

Remove the fasteners that hold the caliper in position.


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There are several varieties of fasteners that hold the calipers in place on cars and trucks. You may have to examine the new caliper to be certain what these fasteners look like and where they go. Once the fasteners are removed, set them aside because they will be needed to attach the new caliper when the time comes.

You need to compress the caliper to get it off of the rotor.


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On some cars, all that is necessary is to pull the caliper forward and the pressure against the roto will be enough to push the cylinder back into the caliper. If this does not work, you can use a “C” clamp reaching from the back to the front of the caliper and push the cylinder in as you tighten the “C” clamp. A large pair of channel locks will do the same thing faster most of the time. Lift the caliper away from the rotor and set it aside.

Install new brake pads while changing the caliper.


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Brake pads are relatively inexpensive. This is a good time to change them while it is simple to do. Just slip the new pads into position before putting the caliper back onto the car. Now, you will have done a brake job while replacing a faulty caliper. Once the brake pads are in position, slide the caliper into place. Replace the fasteners to secure the caliper onto the rotor.

Remove the plastic plug and screw the brake line into place on the new caliper.


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Once the brake line is secure, loosen the bleeder on the back of the caliper to allow brake fluid to begin to fill the caliper cylinder. Monitor the brake fluid reservoir and keep it filled. This will prevent air bubbles from entering the brake line. This can cause brake failure when you start driving the vehicle. Allow gravity to pull the fluid through the line until is runs freely from the bleeder. Tighten the bleeder and replace the cap onto the fluid reservoir.

Pump the brakes several times until the pedal seems full and solid.


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Refill the fluid reservoir and put the cap back on it. Inspect the new caliper and brakes to make sure that there are no leaks and the brakes are sitting properly in place. Lift the tire back into position sitting on the lugs. Screw the nuts onto the studs until all of them have been replaced. Raise the car up enough to remove the stand. Lower the jack until the tire makes good contact with the pavement. Tighten the lug nuts and finish lower the jack and remove it. Replace the hub cap if there is one. Put away your equipment and tools.

Take the car for a low speed test drive.


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This is to make sure the brakes are working properly. The car should stop quickly and smoothly. This should complete the job. The car is ready for the street.

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