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How to Replace Honda Brake Pads

Updated on April 3, 2017

Avoid making costly mistakes when you're replacing brake pads on your Honda. Brake jobs seem easy enough: remove a couple of bolts, spray some cleaner, and replace the worn-out pads, right? Not quite: I will explain some important steps and precautions that the average backyard mechanic neglects, not just on Hondas, but on any vehicle.

Removing the Wheels

Power tools are useful, but if you're replacing your brake pads in your driveway, you're probably using all hand tools.

Your first task is to loosen the lug nuts while the car is on the ground. Just crack them free. If the car is off the ground when you are trying to break the lug nuts free, the tire will just spin and you will waste valuable time. Once you have the car in the air—on jack stands, I hope—you can remove the lug nuts completely and remove the tires.

Safety Tip

Please use jack stands for your own safety. Do not work on a vehicle that is supported by a hydraulic or screw jack only. People get crushed every year because of this.

Corrosion on rim
Corrosion on rim

If the wheel is stuck on the vehicle and doesn't want to come off, kick it hard with your heel, like a mule or a horse would. Wheels can become frozen on the car from corrosion between the rim and the hub. If the wheel was stuck, clean off the corrosion with a wire brush before reinstalling it. Corrosion can stop the rim from sitting flush on the hub and cause an uneven torque on the lug nuts, which could cause the wheel to come loose when driving down the road.

Removing the Caliper and Brake Pads for Inspection

Next, you need to remove the caliper from the knuckle assemble. There are four bolts on most Honda calipers: two bolts connect the caliper to the car, and two bolts connecting the two parts of the caliper. I recommend removing all four bolts so you can clean the caliper properly.

Inspect the caliper bracket (the part that holds the pads in place), and remove the pads. Notice where the spring clips are mounted: there are upper clips and lower clips. These clips are important; they stop the pads from shifting and vibrating. Remove the clips from the caliper bracket and look under them. Most Hondas build up rust under these clips, which causes the pads to freeze in the caliper and wear unevenly.

If your brake pads come out of the calipers hard or you have to beat them out, chances are the rust has in fact built up under these clips. You can use a dremel or coarse sandpaper to remove the rust, add a bit of high-temp grease to the metal surface after sanding, and then reinstall the clips and set the caliper brackets aside.

Hi-temp urea grease
Hi-temp urea grease

Squeezing the Piston Back Into the Caliper

When you start to replace the brake pads, you will notice the piston in the caliper is extended out because the old pads had less brake material on them than the new ones do. The piston's job is to push the pads against the rotors: the thinner the brake pad material, the more the piston has to extend itself.

Remove the cover on the master cylinder and place a shop towel or rag over the top of the master cylinder: this will prevent brake fluid from spraying out of the master cylinder on to the cars paint while you are squeezing the piston back into the brake caliper. You can use a set of channel lock pliers or a C-clamp (an adjustable clamp in the shape of a C) to squeeze the piston slowly until it bottoms out in the brake caliper.

A Tip About Brake Fluid

Brake fluid will remove the finish on your car's paint. If left on the paint for long enough, it will remove the paint completely.

Checking the Caliper Slide Pins for Easy Movement

The slide pins of the caliper need to move freely. Some pins can freeze up and cause premature wear of the brake pads. Remove the pins and use high-temperature grease to lube them up. Check to insure you reinstall the pins properly and place the slide pin boots back over the pins to keep out the elements.

If the pins have rust on them, or you have a hard time removing them from the brake caliper, you can use a fine sandpaper to remove the debris and rust, and then clean the pins thoroughly with brake cleaner and lube well.

Deciding Whether to Resurface or Replace the Brake Rotors

All brake rotors have a spec for minimum thickness needed for resurfacing (as opposed to replacing) them. This spec is usually stamped on the rotor, or if not you can find it by searching Google. Measure the rotor thickness with a micrometer or vernier caliper to determine whether or not it can be resurfaced. If the rotors have thick, flaky rust where the pads hit the rotor, I recommend replacing them.

If you're just going to resurface the rotors at the machine shop, I recommend checking the back side where the rotor rests on the hub. This is another place rust will build up, and if it's not cleaned off completely before machining, you could create a brake pulsation (which causes the steering wheel to shake when braking) or even a tire wobble.

Removing brake rotors on a Honda is not easy. They are held on by two small screws. These screws can be removed with a tool called an impact driver. If it's possible, heat the screws up with a torch, which will help removal process. Once the rotors are off you can either replace or resurface them.

How to Remove a Broken Brake Rotor Screw

Reinstalling the Brake Pads and Rotors

Now it's time to reinstall everything. I highly recommend using genuine Honda OEM brake parts to insure the best possible brake job with no squealing. Aftermarket pads always seem to cause a squeal when braking.

Be sure the caliper shims are installed correctly and the brake pads are installed properly. Two of the brake pads wiill have a metal tab called a wear indicator. When the pads wear down to a certain point, the wear indicator rubs on the rotor, causing a high pitched squeal indicating it's time to change the pads again. The pad with this tab will be the inside brake pad, and the wear indicator will be on the top part of the pad when the pad is installed in the brake caliper.

The wear indicator
The wear indicator

Honda brake pads come with a small packet of anti-squeal lube called Molykote. Use this paste on all contact points of the pad and caliper (where the caliper and pads touch). You can also add a little to the threads of your bolts for easy installation. Torque all bolts to spec, and check to make sure you did not twist the rubber brake line during installation.

Using Molykote
Using Molykote

Don't Open the Brake Line

Never open any brake lines while performing a brake job. This is a closed system. If any air enters the system it could cause a soft brake pedal, or worse, brake failure.

Finishing Up

Reinstall your tires, lower the vehicle to the ground, and torque the wheels to spec. Reinstall the cover on the master cylinder and pump the brake till the pedal feels hard. Set the emergency brake, put the car in park, and start the engine. Pump the brake pedal while the engine is running; the brake booster will add more pressure to the pads and seat them against the rotors.

Always road-test your work to insure a job well done.

If you think I may have left something out, drop me a line and I will add it to the article.

Scraping Noise After Replacing the Brakes? This May Be the Problem!

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    • Tomer Malka profile image

      Tomer Malka 5 years ago

      Hi Eddie, great info. I just bought new rear rotors, when i mounted them, they travel in a skewed line, not straight, could it be all the rust around the hub is causing BOTH of the rotors to not seat properly ? Im assuming so... would i be best off getting a dremel tool and a wire wheel to grind the filth off ? Im hoping this is the issue.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tomer Malka,

      Yes, I believe that is exactly what is wrong, sometimes you can just use a wire brush or some 80 grit sand paper. I like to put a light coat of oil, like spray lube, on the hub and the back of the rotor after sanding them, it just slows the corrosion process. Let me know what you find Tomer, I really appreciate it :)

    • Tomer Malka profile image

      Tomer Malka 5 years ago

      Ill let u know how it goes tomorrow, ill start with a wire brush, hopefully that works, and if not I've had a hankering for a mini dremel anyways...

      ahh, now i get it "back of the rotor" u say ? on the inside with a little sandpaper, so it clears the outside of the hub ?

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tomer,

      Clean and lube the rotor and hub mating surface, it just stops it from rusting and corroding together. Let me know how you make out.

    • profile image

      Tomer Malka 5 years ago

      Would it be okay to use copper anti seize ? sorry if that's a huge newb mistake... im guessing medium/heavy grease should suffice.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Any anti-seize is ok to use, not a newbie question, glad you asked :)

    • Tomer Malka profile image

      Tomer Malka 5 years ago

      They are on and working awesomely ! Thank you for the tips Eddie, ive only done the rears so far and it feels like a new car, especially cleaning out the guide pins and re-greasing the boots. Ive still to do the fronts tomorrow and im afraid to see how great they will work, lol. Ive re-fallen in love with my prelude again. I hope people see this and figure it out, there is very little info on this particular problem out there, especially when u are frantically searching the net indoors while your car is parked in the back of an apartment building with tools laying everywhere, sheesh...

      So once again, Thank you Sir, your quick responses have saved me from a costly fix at a garage..

      Regards,

      Tomer

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Tomer, you are the reason I do what I do, you can find all kinds of bs about brakes on the Internet, but it's very difficult to find a mechanics ( I like to call myself a technician, it sounds more professional,lol) tips and trick they use everyday, believe me, if you ever have to take those rotors off again for any reason, they will slip off like butter because of the anti seize.

      The Prelude is a unique car in itself, you don't see to many cars with screw in type caliper pistons, and I'm surprised you were able to remove the slide pins, most mechanics don't even touch them, so it's good you got them out and lubed them.

      If you have any questions about the front brakes, don't hesitate to ask, no questions are stupid. Take care for now Tomer, glad I could help :)

    • Tomer Malka profile image

      Tomer Malka 5 years ago

      It was comprised of a little trial and error as far as the slide pins were concerned. I popped the boot off the lip, slid the pin out, took the boot off and cleaned it up and reconditioned it (it looks like new rubber now). I cleaned the pin up with brake kleen and re-greased it LIGHTLY... This is the tricky part, u dont want to get too much silicon paste in there, it creates too much pressure and sends the pin up to the point that it stretches the heck out of the boot. So the objective is to get the boot to pop up just to the point where it stretches the rubber just a bit. When pushing the slide pin down it helps to let the air escape the cylinder by tugging a bit on the boot and letting it "fart" out some air... but I know they are functioning properly now and i can sleep easy.. Before I overhauled them they were sticky and bindy and not up to par...

      Here goes the front rotors, Im heading out to do em now..

      :)

      Here is a link that gives u a better picture.

      http://www.preludezone.com/general-tech-talk/45889...

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Wow, you really went all out on this car didn't you. Nice job bribging the lude back to life :) let me know how you make out on the front brakes.

    • Tomer Malka profile image

      Tomer Malka 5 years ago

      Front rotors and pads went on flawlessly, ill put up more pics, im going out to test em now.

      Thanks, this is the tip of the iceberg, im going to do a full restoration :) i want a brand new 92...

      Thanks again for all the tips Eddie, ill be following your info.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Sure Tomer, glad I could help, if you need me for anything else, you know where to find me :)

    • profile image

      kyle 3 years ago

      It really helps me to find out why the wheel felt hot after I replace the brake pads without realizing I have to remove the rust build up underneath the shim clips.

      Great tips. Thanks a lot Eddie.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kyle,

      That is a little trick most mechanics don't even know about. If the pads do not slide in to the caliper easily after cleaning the shims on the surface, most likely there is rust built up under the shims. Sandblasting is the best way to clean up rusty calipers, but lightly sanding them will work just as well, it just won't look as nice :) Thanks for the feedback Kyle, I appreciate it very much, take care for now, and if you want to push the Facebook button to the right of this comment box, I wouldn't mind a bit :)

    • profile image

      Yeny123 3 years ago

      Hi, I happen to come across this website and I am so glad... I have a question about emergency brakes. Today, of all days, my rear tires do not move at all. In fact, when I press the gas, the car won't move forward or backward because the rear tires seem like they're locked. So weird! It's almost as if the emergency brake is still on. The car is a 2001 Honda Civic - 5 speed. This has never,ever happened before and the car has been running great. In fact, the ironic thing is that I was showing the car to a potential buyer since I just purchased a new Honda. It was actually the salesman who did me the "favor" of parking my old Honda in the lot for me so that I can take my new Honda home. I returned with the buyer this evening and he couldn't test drive the car because of the "dragging" issue. Please help me. The dealer is now making it seem like I caused it... when it was just fine when I left it there. Any insight on this would really help. Thank you.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Yeny,

      Most likely the emergency brake cables haven't been use in a while and are seized on the inside. Pulling the emergency brake handle will force the cables in one direction, but small springs are supposed to return them to the resting position. You could try moving the brake cables around to see if the cables will back off, they are located in the rear and they are bolted to the rear brake backing plates, just grab each one and move them around to see if it frees itself up. Most likely you will need new e-brake cables. Let me know if this helps Yeny.

    • profile image

      Yeny123 3 years ago

      Hi, thank you so much for your quick response. You're the best! I am going to try that tomorrow morning and see if that works. I'm just hoping that it is not an expensive repair and that I can still sell the car to my buyer. I will let you know what happens... Thanks again....

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

      Sure Yeny, no problem, and let me know what happens either way, your feedback is priceless, thanks :)

    • profile image

      Yeny123 3 years ago

      Hi Kyle, well you were right. That's exactly what was wrong with it... It's been taken care of and my buyer is a happy camper! ;)

      Thanks for your insightfulness.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

      That's great Yeny, glad I could help :) The name is Eddie tho lol.

    • profile image

      cdiggs 2 years ago

      Any advice on removing a stuck rotor? I have a 2004 Mazda 3 (2.3L) and the front rotor will not come off. The front only is up on jackstands, parking brake is set, caliper and caliper mounting bracket are off, and I've sprayed a lot of PB Blaster onto the little bit of hub that is exposed and into the holes for the lugs. I've put the lug nuts back on to protect the lugs as I hit the face of the hat with a metal hammer, hit the face of the rotor on the backside with a 1 lb rubber mallet, but the rotor won't budge. What am I doing wrong?

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi cdiggs,

      The rotor is rusted to the hub, are there any screws holding the rotor to the hub? If you're replacing the rotors, use a 1lb steel hammer on the back of the rotor brake pad surface, if you crack the rotor, no big deal. If you have a pipe fitting torch, try heating up the hat of the rotor, then use the hammer. Don't worry about getting it too hot, you won't with a propane torch. Let me know if this helps cdiggs, thanks.

    • profile image

      cdiggs 2 years ago

      Thanks Eddie. No screws holding the rotor to the hub. I'll try smacking the face of the rotor on the backside (same side as caliper mounting bracket) with a big metal hammer. If that doesn't work I'll try heating up the hat with a plumber's torch. I'll update later today with my progress. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      cdiggs 2 years ago

      Hitting the backside with a 4 lb metal hammer and a lot of aggression did the trick. One down, 3 wheels to go! I hope they aren't all that painful. Thanks again.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

      You're very welcome cdiggs , you know the old saying? If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer, lol . Thanks for the feedback, it really means a lot to me. Let me know if you have any other questions, and keep me posted on the end results, thanks.

    • profile image

      cdiggs 2 years ago

      Finished the rest of the work over a week ago and everything has sounded and looked great since! I think it may help to include advice on how to properly burnish/road test new brake pads. Thankfully the pads I purchased came with a recommendation on how to do this (20 gentle stops from 30 mph & waiting 30 seconds after each stop) and warned against initial high-speed or hard emergency stops during this test, but I wonder if all pads do as well. Again, great write up!

    • profile image

      Alisha Korpi 12 months ago

      My car just started making a horrible noise when reversing and into second gear, this information was so helpful. Thank you for all the detail and easy to understand explanations.

    • profile image

      Etienne Rossouw 12 months ago

      For anyone who finds this article and has stuck rotors another way to remove them, aside from banging on them, (which can strain your bearings) is to use a 10mm bolt from somewhere else on the car and screw that into the holes on the rotor. There are two threaded holes on the rotor that allow you to screw in a screw and "jack" the rotor from the hub.

    • profile image

      john broadbent 9 months ago

      Hi Eddie, reading through your advice and comments gives me the confidence to ask a question concerning the fr0ont brakes of my honda civic VTI-LN auto 2013 hatchback. The other day it had a 60,000km service and i was devastated to be told that the front brakes have "only 2~5mm"of pad lining left so "will need to be replaced next week at the latest". This is the second time i have been told that the linings are down (they were replaced at 40,000km service). I understand that due to being built in england the brakes are specced to european requirements but replacement of brake linings twice in 60,000km is ridiculous in my opinion. Especially as most of our driving is up and down a freeway. What is your opinion? Should i pursue Honda Australia ? Is there a harder set of linings i can use?

      I would highly appreciate your comments. Thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi John,

      The first set of pads lasted 40,000km but he second set only lasted 20,000km? Sounds like you may need a second opinion on your brakes, they should definitely last longer then 20,000km. An average set of front brake pads last about 40k-60k miles here is the USA. Let me know what your second opinion says, thanks.

    • profile image

      Kevin 6 months ago

      Hi Eddie, I have been doing car repairs and restoration for many years. Brake jobs are so very important and sometimes frustrating. Thank you for having this site for people to come to. You do a great job helping others and you are kind to people. The world needs more people like you. Great job buddy.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks Kevin,

      I really appreciate your feedback. I know people appreciate me helping them, but it's nice to hear it come from someone who doesn't need my help :) Just trying to make a difference in this crazy world we live in lol.

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      Rob 6 months ago

      On a set of rear pads on a 2014 Honda Accord there is a spring that is placed over the pads in a small hole in the side of the pads.

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      nick 5 months ago

      are you suppose to lightly grease the back of the brake pad where the piston sits on it? i know your suppose to on subaru.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, use a Moly Kote or brake pad grease, do not use regular wheel bearing grease.

    • profile image

      Luis Rodriguez 5 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I changed my rear brake pads yesterday on my 2014 Honda Accord using this article. My pistons are ones that needed to be turned to get the new brake pads on. I thought it was something that would be important to include in the article. Thanks!

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Luis,

      You're absolutely right. I'll add the topic and show a couple of tool to do the job, thanks for the heads up, I really appreciate it :)

    • profile image

      Taha 3 weeks ago

      After changing the brake pads of Honda N wgn. The brake is now very loose I have to press real hard to apply sudden brake. Is there any way I can tighten the brakes?

    • profile image

      WilburC 2 weeks ago

      I was hoping to see the torque values for the 2016 Odyssey, front and rear, caliper slider bolts and carrier/ bracket bolts.

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