If you've lived in central Florida for any length of time, you know that the local weather conditions can do a number on your Honda's brakes. Brake pads in particular take a beating due to the intense heat and humidity. As a result, you'll need to replace your brake pads more frequently than residents of states with more mild climates. Here's a quick overview of everything you need to know about brake pad replacement and upkeep.
What Are Brake Pads?
Brake pads are rectangular chunks of material that sit between the calipers and the rotors. When you hit the brake pedal, a piston inside the caliper presses the pads against the rotors. There are three types of pads on the market: semi-metallic, organic and ceramic. Sooner or later, pads wear down to the point where they can't adequately slow down your vehicle and must be replaced.
Signs That Your Pads Are Bad
If your pads have less than a quarter of an inch of material, it's time to replace them. Common symptoms of failing pads include squealing noises when braking, pedal vibration or pulsation and excessive pedal travel when coming to a complete stop. While some of these symptoms can be caused by old brake fluid or warped rotors, lousy pads are the most likely culprits.
Choosing New Brake Pads for Your Honda Civic
When the time comes to replace your pads, you'll need to carefully peruse the available options and pick the best hardware for the job. Any pads that you purchase should meet OEM Honda specifications if you want to achieve the best results. Check your Civic's VIN for the country of origin (i.e. Japan vs the United States) to ensure that your pads fit properly.
How to Replace Brake Pads From Start to Finish
Replacing a Honda Civic's brake pads isn't particularly difficult. If you have decent upper body strength and a few simple tools, you can swap out front or rear brake pads in under an hour.
Assemble Your Tools and Hardware
To change your pads safely, you'll need a solid floor jack and a few jack stands. You'll also need a decent tire iron, a breaker bar or a tire iron, a set of sockets and a C-clamp. As far as fluids and lubricants are concerned, you'll need at least one aerosol can of brake cleaner, some caliper grease and some silicone brake grease.
Loosen the Lug Nuts and Raise the Vehicle
Begin by jacking up your Honda slightly so that the tires are still making contact with the ground. Loosen the lug nuts so that they can be turned by hand. Next, raise the vehicle entirely and place jack stands underneath the appropriate support points behind or in front of the wheels. Finally, remove the tires and set them aside.
Remove the Calipers and Pads
In order to slide off the calipers, you'll need to loosen the upper and lower carriage bolts. With those out of the way, you can use a screwdriver to compress the piston and lift the caliper up and away from the rotor. Be sure to support the caliper using a piece of wire or rope and pry out the old pads.
Install the New Brake Pads
Brake pads are held in place by the calipers themselves. Most brake pad sets come with metal shims called anti-squeal bars that are positioned at the tops and bottoms of the pads themselves. Make sure that your anti-squeal clips are installed securely on the pads and slide the assemblies into place. Apply a small amount of silicone lubricant to each pad's outer surface.
Reattach the Calipers
Before you can slide the calipers over the new pads, you'll need to use a large C-clamp to push the caliper pistons back into their housings. Go slowly to avoid damaging internal seals. Apply a fresh layer of caliper grease to the carriage bolts and tighten them up. Make sure that the calipers are properly seated before proceeding any further.
Bleed the Brake Fluid
Over time, the brake fluid in your Honda Civic accumulates moisture and breaks down. That's why it's a good idea to bleed the fluid to avoid spongy brake pedal response and vibration. Attach a hose to the bleed valve on the back of each caliper and have an assistant pump the brakes to purge the system of old fluid.
Reattach the Tires
Slide the tires onto the wheel studs and tighten each lug nut by hand using a star pattern. Next, lower the jack until both tires are touching the ground but not supporting the weight of the vehicle. Tighten the lug nuts with a tire iron using a star pattern. Finally, lower the vehicle completely and tighten each lug nut one last time.
Installation Tips Worth Remembering
If your Civic's brake pads haven't been changed in awhile, you may find it difficult to remove the lug nuts. Spray them with a penetrating oil like PB Blaster and let the nuts soak overnight if they're not budging. While you're at it, spray the bleed valves on the calipers with penetrating oil to remove rust deposits that can result in broken needles. Buy a decent torque wrench to take the guesswork out of tightening lug nuts and caliper carriage bolts.
Making Your Civic's Pads Go the Distance
Quality OEM brake pads last an average of 50,000 miles under ordinary circumstances. You can make them last longer by modifying your driving behavior. First off, try to avoid hard stops during the first few hundred miles driven after installing new pads. Increasing your following distance will save you from having to brake suddenly. Lastly, make sure to have your steering aligned regularly to avoid uneven pad wear.
Finding High-Quality Pads for Your Civic
Honda Civic owners in the greater Vero Beach area and beyond have a lot of choices when it comes to buying genuine OEM brake pads. Savvy drivers rely on HondaPartsFlorida.com for their replacement hardware. Visit us at our flagship Vero Beach location or online to source the finest OEM Honda parts that money can buy. From selection to price to customer service, we offer the complete package to our loyal clientele.