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Q: Changing brake pads

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Are changing brake pads a task for a mechanic or is it something anyone can do? People tell me most duallys have drum brakes but I guess mine doesn't since companies make rear brake pads for it. I was wanting some tips for changing them myself, cause I would like to feel like a man knowing that I'm able to change my own brakes.

My car has 101000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Changing brake pads "alone" is re...

Changing brake pads "alone" is really not a task that exists. If a vehicle needs new brake pads, or brake shoes in the case of drum brakes, that means that the rotors (and/or drums) have to either be turned, replaced, or at minimum (i.e., if attempting to use as is) measured for run out, thickness variation and inspected for other defects such as hard spots and deep scoring. In addition, brake calipers (or wheel cylinders) will often have to be replaced if the vehicle is more than 5 years old (calipers corrode and get sticky; re-use in that circumstance guarantees quick ruination of new brake pads). There are sliding pins on the brake caliper torque plate that have to be removed, as well, thoroughly cleaned and re-lubricated with special purpose, high temperature brake grease. Ideally, all four wheels should be bled anytime brake work is performed, and in any event every 4 or 5 years at most if glycol-based fluid is used, so that all moisture laden brake fluid expelled from the system (brake fluid loves moisture and moisture destroys brake systems from the inside out). Typically, bleeding the brakes at all four wheels requires a pressure bleeder. So, the answer to your question is merely changing the brake pads will not restore your brake system to like new condition, as of course it should be restored to. There are many version of the 3500 and, consequently, I wasn’t able to determine, for sure, whether your vehicle is 4 wheel disc or not. You can determine this visually. I would say that, if this is a job that you would like to do now, simply get the factory service manual and follow the instructions exactly (line by line) but even at that some stuff is omitted. An option for you is to have a certified professional from YourMechanic perform the brake pad and brake rotor or drum replacement at your location and during the work you are more than welcome to watch and ask questions. Once you see how it is done and what all is replaced or restored, then the next time around you will be well equipped to perform the service completely independently. In principle, there is nothing on your vehicle that is beyond your capability to repair. But, if you want to do such repairs, you MUST have the Factory Service Manual in hand (often 1,000 pages or more these days) and you must be able to follow what are often very detailed instructions. And, of course, you must have a safety ethic and PRIOR knowledge of ALL (every last one) scenarios where you could get hurt or killed working on the vehicle. I am positive you can do it but if you like, we can walk you through the first instance if that meets your needs.

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