How to Change the Front Brake Pads on a New Beetle

Updated February 21, 2017

Brakes are not designed to last forever. In fact, they require regular checking and repair, if necessary. As with most vehicles, the front brake pads on your new Volkswagen Beetle will likely wear out before the back brake shoes. This is simply due to the fact that the front brakes provide a greater proportion of the car’s stopping power. When it comes time to install new brake pads, don’t worry about taking your Beetle to a mechanic. With a few basic tools, this is a job most people can accomplish on their own.

Place your VW Beetle in “Park” and pull the emergency brake. Open the bonnet and remove the cap from the master cylinder in order to allow the brake fluid to escape when you compress the caliper piston. Failure to do this may result in a damaged brake line.

Loosen the wheel lugs on your Volkswagen Beetle. If your Beetle still has the locknut in place, you will need your hex locknut socket in order to remove the wheel. The hex socket should be included with your jack and lug wrench.

Place the car jack behind the front wheel and lift the Beetle until the front tire is about an inch off the ground. Finish removing the wheel lugs and pull the tire off the car.

Check your Beetle’s rotor for signs of damage. If the rotor is severely worn or uneven, you should have it resurfaced or replaced before installing new brake pads. If the rotor is fine, go ahead and look at the back of the caliper. You should see bolts holding it in place.

Remove both caliper bolts using a ratchet and the proper metric socket (the exact size may vary depending on the year of your new Beetle). With the bolts removed, you should be able to work the caliper loose and pull it free from the rotor.

Notice how the old brake pads are affixed to the caliper, then unclip them. Rest the caliper on top of the rotor and be careful not to let it fall, as this may cause damage to the brake line.

Place an old brake pad against the piston, on the inside of the caliper, and then tighten the C-clamp against the pad. Turn the bolt on the C-clamp in order to tighten it against the pad and the piston. Tighten the C-clamp until the piston is completely pushed inside the caliper.

Clip the new pads into place, making sure they are installed in the same position as the old pads. Reattach the caliper to the rotor, ensuring that the bolt holes on the bracket are lined up with those on the caliper. Replace the bolts and tighten them so that they are secure.

Replace the wheel and lugs, then lower the Beetle and tighten the lugs. Changing the front brake pads on the other side can be accomplished using the same steps listed above. When you’re all done, check the Beetle’s master cylinder and top it off with brake fluid, if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Car jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Hex locknut socket (if necessary)
  • Metric sockets and ratchet
  • C-clamp
  • New brake pads (for left and right front brakes)
  • Brake fluid
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About the Author

Arthur Barnhouse has written numerous short stories, contributed content to various websites and was an invited speaker at a university symposium on creative writing. He began writing in 2002 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Barnhouse has driven across the United States numerous times and draws upon his travel experiences in his writing.