How to Change Volvo Brakes

Updated February 21, 2017

Brake pads do not last forever. Even the most diligent and conscientious of drivers will cause wear and tear on their brakes, meaning they need to be replaced on occasion. Although any car garage will be able to replace brakes and pads for you for a fee, knowing how to change the brakes on your Volvo is a useful skill to have.

Lift the first front wheel using the car jack, ensuring the car is stable enough for you to work on. Remove the front wheel using the wheel brace or a socket and extension bar of the correct size for the wheel nuts. Locate the two bolts on the calipers that hold the caliper guide bolts in place. Hold the locknut on each bolt in place using the wrench while each bolt is removed.

Remove the brake assembly from the rotor. If the brake pad gets stuck, insert the screwdriver between the caliper and rotor and use it as a lever to lift the caliper off the rotor. Slide the pad retainer spring on the back of the caliper off the brake pad.

Attach the hose to the bleeder valve. Open the valve and squeeze the pistons using the pliers. If the pliers you are using have teeth, cover them with tape to avoid damaging the pistons. If your brakes are ABS, close the brake hose with a clamp before squeezing, to prevent fluid going back into the main system.

Apply anti-squeal paste to the back of the brake pads. Apply brake grease to the contact points on the pad and the calipers. Install the brake pad on the calipers. Reposition the pad retainer spring clip. Replace the assembly on the rotor. Re-attach the caliper guide bolts and locking bolts. Replace the wheel and lower the car back to the ground. Remove the jack. Repeat for the other front wheel.

Lift the first rear wheel on the car jack, ensuring the car is stable enough to work on. Tap the two caliper pins to the rear of the brake pad out with a hammer. Repeat for the two pins to the front of the pad. Remove the retaining clip holding the pads onto the caliper.

Lever the brake pad off with a screwdriver. Attach the hose to the bleeder valve. Open the valve and squeeze the pistons with the pliers (again, keep any teeth on the pliers covered with tape to prevent damaging the pistons). Remember to clamp the brake hose on ABS brakes before squeezing the pistons, to prevent backwash.

Check the condition of the anti-squeal shims that are installed behind the brake pad. If it is in good condition, you can reuse it, otherwise it will need replacing. Apply brake grease to the contacts on the brake pad and the caliper. Install the brake pad. Re-install the caliper pins and replace the retaining clip. Replace the wheel and lower the car back to the ground. Repeat for the other rear wheel.


Once the new brakes are installed, it is best to seat them correctly, so they wear in properly. The easiest way to do this is to take the car for a drive. Accelerate to around the 30mph mark then break evenly, coming to a halt. Repeat this process four or five times to ensure the brakes are seated correctly and functioning normally.


On older Volvos, parts may have worn out or begun to erode. Because of this, it is recommended that you replace the retaining clip and the retaining pins at the same time as replacing the brake pads on a car that is more than three years old. This will ensure the brakes function at peak efficiency and avoid problems associated with worn parts.

Things You'll Need

  • Car jack
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Hose
  • Anti-squeal paste
  • Brake grease
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About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, April Kohl has been writing since 1992, specializing in science and legal topics. Her work has appeared on the Second Life News Network website and in British Mensa's "LSQ" magazine. Kohl holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Durham University and a diploma in English law from the Open University.