Sunday, March 23, 2014

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How to change the brake pads on a Mazda MX5 (NC)

Though it might sound dramatic, changing the brake pads by yourself is quite easy and risk free. As long as you tighten back the screws you untightened and don't end up with 'spare' parts, you are good to go. There is only one trick at the rear brake pads but if you read this blog post you shouldn't have any issues.


Front brake pad

Changing the front brake pads is straightforward. 

Remove the two screws on the exterior side of the caliper - the screw heads are facing the engine and you might need to use a second wrench to hold the pin from rotating while you are unscrewing the bolt.

If you cannot figure out which screws to undo, maybe you should let a professional handle this operation.

Pull out the caliper - after removing the screws, you should be able to pull out the caliper with your hands. If you cannot do that, use a screwdriver to force it out. Pay attention not to yank the brake hoses after you set if free - place the caliper somewhere safe so it will not hang. After pulling it out, you will see that besides the brake pads, there are also two shims - don't throw those away as they are not usually supplied with the replacement kit.

The two brake pads and shims are identical so you don't need to worry from which side you pulled them from. I noticed though, that the left inside pad had a clip on the upper side, probably the ware indicator - I made sure I put the clip back on the new pad and in the same position.

Put the new brake pads in and the caliper - put back the brake pads and shims making sure you do not grease any of them (you can apply some copper grease on the brake piston where it touches the shim). As the new brake pads are considerably thicker that the old ones, the caliper will not fit that is why you will need to use a C clamp to push it back a few mm. While doing this, you should also remove the master cylinder cap in case the brake fluid level will rise.


Rear brake pads
The only difference in the rear is that the brake piston will not move when you try to use the C clamp on it. That is because of the mechanics of the emergency brake. 

Rear brake caliper piston

In order to push the piston in, you need to screw it using the cross it has engraved on it. If you don't have the special tool for this, you could try using a normal screwdriver on it's side or better still, I used the tire and jack lever which comes with the car. If you get creative, you will see that the sharp end of the lever can be used very efficiently to rotate the piston (again, on it's side, not perpendicular on the piston). After you rotated the piston enough, the caliper should fit back in and you can put everything back together. Pay attention to align the cross on the piston with the notch on the brake pad shim. 

That is all. Don't forget to take the car on a test around the block and make sure everything is good to go and road safe. The brake pads require break-in so they will not feel very strong initially. 

Good luck!


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  2. Rogeramjet , great instructions , don't forget to cycle the hand brake a few times to get the adjustment back ,