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MKIV Jetta Golf 2.0L: How to Change Front Brake Pads and Rotors

I'm an online writer and proud owner of an Audi 1.8T. My articles focus on helping Audi and Volkswagen owners handle DIY projects.

Experiencing brake issues with your car? Here's how you can fix them yourself.

Experiencing brake issues with your car? Here's how you can fix them yourself.

Brake Issues

My new Jetta MKIV 2.0L had some serious brake issues going on. Basically, there was nothing left on the brake pad, and it was just metal plate grinding the rotor on the driver's side. So like any other procrastinator, I put it off till I had no other choice but to fix it.

If you have ever done front brakes on a VW MK4 before you know it's a hellish job having to take the caliper carrier off to get to the rotor. But to my surprise, there is no caliper carrier on the 2.0L and changing out the brake pads and rotors only takes a small effort. Only two pins and a screw need to be removed.

I used rotors and brake pads from Advanced Auto: rotor part number YH145239, brake pad part number MKD 768. This was basically the cheapest stuff they had. With a little help from their online/pick up coupon, in total I spent $67 for two rotors, brake pads, a few cans of spray, and some batteries for my shower radio. Now that's a deal!


Tools for the 2.0 Slow Job!

For the front brakes, the 2.0L really only needs a few tools. Most of what you see in the picture are just sprays, recommended but not really needed. This job can be done with a 7mm Allen wrench, C-clamp and rock if you really want to get cheap.

The tools and products I used and recommended for the job:

  • Socket Wrench with a four-inch extension
  • 7mm Allen head (hex) Socket
  • Caliper Reset Tool Part #27111 (free rental)
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Can of Disc Quiet (optional)
  • Brake Cleaner (optional)
  • Liquid Wrench, PB Blaster, WD-40 Etc.
  • Anti-seize
  • Large Phillips Head Screwdriver

Autozone will rent you the caliper tool for free, but you will need to pay for it up front. Once you return it, they return your money. For the front brakes, you really could just use a large c-clamp to compress the caliper piston, but this tool makes it so much easier and will be needed if you are doing the back brakes too. So why not just rent it for free: it is part #27111. If you just would rather buy it, you can pick it up at Harbor Freight for around $30 if you trust the quality.

The brake quiet, anti-seize, caliper pin grease, and blue thread lock can all be picked up in little dollar packets at most auto stores and will be enough for a single job.

Down to the cans my man. The most important is a few 24oz cans of Steel Reserve; after that a can of Liquid Wrench, or whatever penetrating oil you prefer to help loosen the rotor and clean the rust off of the hub. You can buy a can of brake cleaner for a couple of bucks. So why not? Spray down the calipers, ABS sensor, and new rotors to get all the crap off.

2.0 Slow Job Step By Step

First, loosen your brake fluid reservoir cap, so you don't have any pressure while you compress the caliper piston. If you forget to do this, you are preparing yourself for a struggle.


Next, loosen your lug bolts while the car is still on the ground, jack up the car at the proper points and rest the car on your jack stands if you care about your safety. Remove your wheel and spray the whole area down with Liquid Wrench, PB Blaster, etc.. While the rotor and hub soak, open your beer, relax, and read on.

If you look at the top (back side of your caliper), you will see a hard rubber/plastic shaft. At the end of this shaft, there is a plastic plug that you should be able to pull out with your fingernail if not you can use a small screwdriver. On the bottom, you will find the same. Pull them both out.


Inside the shafts, behind the caps, there are pins that hold your caliper to the hub, you will need a 7mm Allen head socket, extension and socket wrench to remove the pin. They are only tightened with about 25lbs of torque so they should be very easy to remove.

Once they are completely loosened, you may have to keep turning the wrench while pushing them out with your finger or flathead screwdriver till you can completely remove the pin.

Tool Note: The socket wrench with a four-inch extension is perfect for the job; it is long enough to clear the brake lines and short enough to work without hitting the back wheel well. You can do the job with or without a long extension like in my picture, but it makes it a little more complicated.


Tool Note: You can buy the 7mm hex (Allen head) socket at any auto parts store for about six dollars. You can also buy a full set of hex sockets (sizes 4mm - 17mm) for about ten bucks at harbor freight part #67880. That 17mm is great if you plan on changing your transmission fluid. The rubber mallet can also be bought there as well for a couple of dollars (you will need it if you plan on doing your back brakes too)


Once you have the back pins out, unscrew the Philips head screw holding the rotor to the hub (don't lose the screw if you do not have a replacement).

With your rubber mallet tap the top of the caliper at a downward angle till you can remove it from the rotor. It also helps to hit the rotor a few times so you can loosen it from the hub and move it around.


Rest your caliper on something high so it does not pull on your brake line. I'm using my tire cause it's crappy. If you care about your tires use something else. Like a milk crate, old mini-garbage can, just something so the caliper will not hang and rip your brake line.

By now you should be able to pull off your rotor and pull the old brake pads out of your caliper.

Have your lovely assistant (in this case my wife) start coating the back of the new brake pads (MKD 768) with Disc Quiet so you can get a few coats on and let them dry in-between coats. Also if you have someone helping you, have them start cleaning the caliper pins, because you'll need all that old dried up grease and burnt plastic removed, so they look fresh and new before you grease them up again.


Not needed, but recommended, is to spray down the hub with PB Blaster etc, and scrub it clean with a wire brush to remove any old rust and residue. Once it's clean I like to smear anti-seize all over the hub and into the rotor screw bolt.

  • You will now need either a big C-clamp or a brake caliper reset tool (part #27111) like I mentioned in the tool section above. I have never tried it with a c-clamp, so I recommend renting the caliper reset tool for free from AutoZone. It makes the job easy as long as you remembered step one and unscrewed your brake reservoir cap.
  • The tool is pretty self-explanatory once you pull it out. Fit the tool into the caliper using the flat adapter piece against the caliper piston. Unlike the back calipers, the piston does not need to be turned, just pushed back in. Once the tool stops turning with ease, the piston should be all the way back to its reset point.

At this point, you can pop your new pads into your caliper. This car does not have a wear pad warning sensor, and nor do the pads. If your car has a plug for pad wear sensors, and you did not buy brake pads with plugs, then you have a few options:

  • live with the "low brake pad" light on your dash
  • return the pads and buy the ones with a sensor plug
  • Cut the plug off of your car, strip some of the plastic off of the wires and twist them together (cover with electrical tape or a cap ). That will keep the light off on your dash.

As long as you pushed the piston back all the way, you can put your caliper back in position nice and easy. Notice on the bottom that there is a little lip on the caliper, so when you're trying to get it on start at the bottom and slide it on at an angle.


Clean all the old grease and any dry rubber off your caliper pins so they look nice and new and grease them up with synthetic caliper pin grease. I also like to put on a couple drops of blue thread lock on the threads so I know they are not coming back out, but that's up to you. Thread the pins back in; you will have to push on the caliper a little, so it helps to have someone to help out.


If you're using a torque wrench tighten the pins to 22 ft-lb. Put the plastic caps back on the ends and put everything back together and pump the brakes a few times to get the fluid back in there and the pads against the rotor. Don't forget to tighten the cap on the brake fluid reservoir.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Writen4u