How to Change the Rear Brake Pads on a VW Passat

Brake pads are an important part of your Volkswagen Passat's braking system. They are the replaceable friction pads that pinch the brake disc or drum when the brakes are applied. You should replace the brake pads before they wear beyond a quarter inch or risk damaging your Passat's brake discs.

Park your car on a level surface. If you have a stick shift car make sure the car is in gear. Do not set the parking brake. Place blocks in front of the front tires so the car does not move while you are working on it.

Open the hood of your car and locate the master cylinder. If necessary, remove brake fluid until the level in the container is less than half full. A turkey baster is a good tool for this. Put the brake fluid in the plastic container and dispose of it the way you dispose of motor oil.

Raise the rear end of your car with your car jack. Remove the rear tire or wheel assembly.

Remove the parking brake cable from the back of the caliper. Use the pliers to remove the cable clip (restraining clip).

Use the socket wrench to remove the upper mounting bolt from the caliper. If the upper guide pin moves while you do this, use a back-up wrench to hold the upper guide pin.

Rotate the caliper downward, pivoting it on the lower caliper bolt. Remove the inner and outer brake pads from the caliper.

Turn the caliper piston clockwise to retract it into the caliper housing. Insert the new brake pads into the caliper.

Swing the caliper upward and into place. Apply a thin coat of thread locking compound to the bolt and use the socket wrench to tighten the bolt to 271 inch lb. (35 Nm).

Reattach the parking brake cable to the caliper.

Replace the tire wheel assembly. Lower the car to the ground.

Pump the brake pedal a few times to seat the brake pads. Do this before trying to move your car.

Add fluid to the master cylinder container to replace any you removed before you removed the old brake pads.

Season the brake pads by making only gentle stops when you are driving for the first week after you install the new brake pads. Try not to do any hard stopping when you are seasoning the brakes.


The master cylinder is a metal cylinder located in front of the steering wheel on the metal firewall that separates the engine from the body of the car. On top of the cylinder there is a plastic container that holds brake fluid for the system. When you work on the brakes you adjust the level of fluid so that the container is less than half-full. Parking brakes are operated by a long, steel cable that runs between the handle in the cockpit and the rear wheels. The parking brake cable is the cable that runs from the caliper backing plate to the car body. The brake cable is very thick and rubber-coated. Be careful. The brake cable is easily confused with the brake hose, which is a steel tube connected to the car body with a short rubber hose. Use pliers to remove the parking brake cable. It is held in place with retaining clips. The caliper is the arc-shaped, cast iron piece attached to the brake rotor. It is usually on the upper-rear of the brake rotor. Caliper bolts are located on the back side of the caliper. Use penetrating oil to loosen the bolts if necessary.


Be careful using brake fluid. It is an eye irritant and is hazardous if swallowed. Always wash your hands thoroughly after you have been handling brake fluid. If brake fluid does get in your eyes, immediately use clear, running water to flush your eyes for 15 minutes. If your eyes are still irritated after you rinse them or if you swallow any brake fluid, get medical assistance immediately. Be careful when you are handling used brake parts. The dust and dirt on the brake parts may contain asbestos fibers that can be hazardous to your health if they are inhaled. When you clean brake parts, always use a damp cloth, not compressed air, wire brushes, scouring pads or anything else that could move the dust and dirt particles around. Throw away any cleaning cloths that you use and swept up dirt and dust in a sealed, impermeable container. For more information, visit the library or go online to view the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines and procedures for handling or throwing away anything that might contain asbestos fibers.

Things You'll Need

  • Blocks
  • Car jack
  • Lug nut wrench
  • Turkey baster
  • Heavy duty plastic container
  • Allen head, star head or 6-point socket wrench
  • New brake pads
  • Thread locking compound
  • Brake fluid
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