Replace Brake Pads on 96 Honda Civic

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I was a mechanic in the Army and at a civilian job. This is the way I change brake pads. You should not have any trouble by following this guide but still do so at your own risk.

*I recommend reading this article in it’s entirety and then going back through step-by-step as to become familiar with what is required to perform this task.

First you need to find a level and solid place to park your vehicle. Chock the wheels, meaning put something like a brick behind and in front of at least one of the back wheels.

Loosen the lug nuts but do not remove them. If the lugs are tight when you have the wheel off the ground, you will have to pull too hard to break them loose and could tip the car off of the jack.

Now use the jack supplied with your car and check the manual for the proper lift positions. These are reinforced points of the underbody of your vehicle that can take the pressure of the jack lifting the weight of the car.

The tire does not have to be too far off the ground. Just enough so that you can remove it after removing the lug nuts. Go ahead and remove the lug nuts and the tire.

Now for the fun part. What you are most likely looking at is a shiny round disc. That is the rotor. On the front side of the rotor is a caliper assembly. We will start with the caliper at this point. There are two bolts that hold the caliper to it’s mount. A top and a bottom bolt. Remove the top bolt which will be a 12mm (metric instead of SAE [standard]) and just loosen the bottom bolt which is the same size.

Pivot the caliper on the bottom bolt towards the front of the vehicle. You should notice that there is a round (sometimes shiny), metal and sometimes hollow- tipped piston. This piston is forced out of its cylinder by the hydraulic fluid (brake fluid) when you press the brake pedal. The piston applies pressure to the brake pads and shoves them against the rotor causing the vehicle to slow down.

You should also notice that at the top of the caliper section there is a little valve with a rubber, dust cap. Remove the cap and just barely open the valve by turning it counter clockwise. This is to relieve brake fluid pressure allowing us to manually return the piston back into its
cylinder. Keep the wrench on the valve and hold it with your left hand. Now take a C-Clamp or a large pair of channel lock pliers and place them over the piston. Clamp down steadily on the piston and it should move inward. At the same time, a small amount of brake fluid should squirt from the relief valve you just opened. Push the piston in as far as it will go. Now quickly tighten the valve to prevent air from backing into the brake system. AIR IN THE BRAKE LINES CAN AND WILL CAUSE THE BRAKES TO FAIL!! If you believe you have air in the brake lines then bleed the breaks following your car manufacturer’s guidelines. I have never had to bleed the brakes when using this method.

Now that the piston is out of the way and the caliper is laid forward, you can now remove the old, worn brake pads and replace them with the new ones. A pad goes on either side of the rotor. Take note that the pads are not exactly the same. One usually has a small, thin piece of metal protruding into the area where the pad material is. This is so that when the pad wears down to a certain point the metal noisemaker scrapes against the rotor and makes a loud annoying sound telling you it is time to change the brakes again! To be honest the noisemakers are set to start screeching a little too soon for my liking so I usually just remove them. This causes no harm to the brakes. Just make sure you change the brakes immediately when you do start hearing noise from your breaks. You have very little time after they start making noise before they start damaging your rotor which is much more expensive than brake pads.

Now slide the caliper assembly back into place. Replace the top bolt and tighten the lower bolt. Place the dust cap back over the valve. Clean up as you go and put the tire back on the wheel. Only snug the lug nuts as to not tip the jack over. Lower the jack and tighten the lugs the rest of the way.

Go to the other side of the car and repeat the process from the top.

Test out your new brakes in a driveway or a parking lot. You may have to pump the brake pedal several times before it becomes firm like it should. If the pedal does not become firm then you either have air in the line and/or you do not have the valve closed tight enough. *Do not drive the car until you remedy this problem!

You really should not have too much trouble and I have changed brakes on both sides in less than an hour. Good luck.


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