Brake calipers are large pistons that are powered by a vehicle's hydraulic power system. When a driver activates the brake, the hydraulic system expands the piston, causing the brake pads to sandwich the brake rotor, causing a vehicle's wheels to stop spinning. Calipers generally last the lifetime of a vehicle, but occasionally, due to a lemon part or a car accident, the calipers need to be replaced. Replacing rear calipers, or any automotive caliper, is recommended for persons with automotive experience.
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Things you need
- Breaker bar ratchet
- Lug socket
- Hydraulic lift
- Pair of jack stands
- Hex key set
- Aftermarket rear caliper
- Compatible brake fluid
- Cable clamps
Place blocks under the front tires on both side to prevent the vehicle from rolling while lifted. Use the breaker bar and lug socket to break loose the lugs on the rear wheels. Roll the hydraulic lift under the rear of the vehicle and lift on a structural point. Place the jack stands under structure points and lower the lift until the weight of the vehicle is distributed between the lift and the jack stands.
Remove the lugs from the hub bolts and place inside the wheels. Push the wheels underneath the vehicle for extra security. Use the hex key set to remove the caliper retaining bolts and pull the caliper away from the rear rotors. Remove the brake pads from the caliper.
Pop open the bonnet and locate the brake fluid container. Remove the cap and use the cable clamps to close the caliper fluid line running out of the caliper, usually at the top. Pull the fluid line off of the caliper by removing the retainer clip with a pair of pliers--a little fluid should leak from the line. Attach the fluid line to the new caliper and ensure it is secure. Reinstall the retainer clip over the fluid line after being attached.
Place the brake pads into the new caliper and secure them with the pad clips. Use the C-clamp to push the piston open, if necessary. Slide the caliper back onto the rear rotor and secure with the retainer bolts. Reinstall the wheel and tighten the lugs. Remove the jack stands and drop the lift. Check your brake fluid level and add any if necessary, then reattach the brake fluid cap.
Tips and warnings
- Ensure that the cable clips have a proper hold on the fluid line. Most brake lines are metal until they reach one to two feet to the caliper. Be sure to clamp the rubber cable, not the metal cable. Failure to do so will cause the brake fluid to uncontrollably leak until properly clamped.
- Be sure to remove the brake fluid cap under the engine compartment. This will allow the fluid to release pressure in the case that the new caliper's piston must be pressed open.
- Disassemble one side at a time. This makes it possible to refer to a complete side if necessary.
- Check the brake fluid level after completion of the project. Fluid outside the normal ranges can result in dangerous operating conditions, including brake failure.
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