What Tools Do I Need To Change Brake Pads?

What’s nice about changing brake pads is that it’s a job many people can and do complete at home. This DIY project isn’t terribly difficult, and with the right tools, you can save money over the years each time you change the pads.

To change brake pads on most cars and trucks you just need a jack and jack stands to raise the vehicle, a lug wrench to remove the wheels, a couple of wrenches (10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm and 16mm) to remove the brake caliper bolts, a larger flathead screwdriver to push the piston in so you can remove the caliper, and new brake pads to complete the job. To effectively and safely change your brake pads, you may also want to get some gloves and eye protection. 

To learn more about the specific tools you’ll need and the investments required, keep reading. We’ll be discussing the importance of each tool in changing brake pads and answering frequently asked questions, as well.

Tool Brands

Craftsman Tools

You are always free to choose the cheaper tool for the job, which may work for this job, but I like to always recommend to never waste money on crap tools. Invest into good tools and they will serve you for decades and even centuries.

I highly recommend the Craftsman brand tools. It is not the best brand but they are great quality tools that don’t have insane prices. Craftsman tools may be a bit more expensive but are a better investment because they are made well and last a long time, plus they have their famous lifetime guarantee, where if it brakes, you can just bring it to the store (Lowes) and swap it out for a new one. I have had Craftsman tools for decades and they have served me well.

In this article I will recommend an economy tool and a Craftsman version that you can choose from depending on your situation.

Jack and Jack Stands To Raise The Car Or Truck

Jack Stands

You can’t do this job at home without a car jack and jack stands. These parts are responsible for getting your vehicle off the ground so that you can remove the wheels and replace the brake pads safely.

Some cars come with a jack, but it’s best to invest in a high quality jack and jack stands to be extra safe. If you have the jack, you absolutely must pair it with the stands. With proper care, they’ll last you years to come.

A decent car jack costs around $50.00, while jack stands cost closer to about $30.00-$60.00.

You will also want to place some wheel chocks (about $15) behind the wheels of the vehicle so it doesn’t try to roll on you while you’re working on it.

Wrenches To Remove And Install The Brake Calipers


Most cars and trucks have similar design of the braking system and for most this information will apply. There are however vehicles out there that went out on their own and designed their own way of braking so in those cases you may need to seek further information. But for the majority, let’s take a look what tools you will need.

Wrenches or a ratchet and a set of sockets are some of the most important parts necessary to change brake pads at home. If possible purchase full sets of tools as an investment for future projects. Buying sets may cost more up front but buying individually is going to cost you much more over time. Without these tools, you won’t be able to loosen and tighten parts to remove and replace them. And you’ll need a variety of different kinds of wrenches, including the following:

  • Allen wrenches (about $10 to $20 for set) or Craftsman Allen Wrenches ($49 for the set) – small, hexagonal steel rods, may be necessary to remove/install caliper bolts
  • Lug wrench (about $15 to $25) – an X-shaped tool necessary to remove the lug nuts as you take off the wheels
  • Regular wrench set (about $25 to $60) – Craftsman Wrench Set ($54 for the set) – although you probably only need wrenches sizes 10mm through 14mm I would recommend to get a full set because it is an investment that you can use in the future
  • Brake bleeder wrench (about $13) – not necessary for all brake pad changes, but useful if you need to bleed air from the brake lines

Ratchet And Sockets To Do The Job Faster

Ratchet & Sockets

Although you can use wrenches to do most jobs, a good set of ratchet and sockets can make the job so much easier. It allows you to get into areas where a wrench just won’t fit and remove the fasteners faster and make the job more efficient. Using a ratchet also makes it easier on your arms when trying to remove a stubborn bolt or a nut.

A decent ratchet + socket set, such as the small Dewalt Socket Set costs around $30.00. If you can I would recommend the Craftsman brand Socket Set  ($150 for the set) as a great investment into your future projects.

Flathead Screwdriver To Push In The Brake Piston


No toolbox is complete without screwdrivers, and the same is true of mechanic tool boxes. When changing your brake pads, you’ll likely need a large flathead screwdriver to pry push the brake piston back in so you can remove the calipers. In some cases you may need a Phillips screwdriver to remove a clip that holds the brake hose.

Don’t buy the cheap screwdrivers, they won’t last long. I am talking from experience. Ever since I got the Craftsman screwdrivers, I haven’t had to get new ones for ages. They handle broke once when I was beating on it with a hammer but I just took it to Sears at that time and swapped it out for a new one. Sears went out of business but they sold the Craftsman brand to Lowes I believe, so you can get them swapped out there now.

Screwdrivers (about $15 to $30) – Craftsman Screwdriver Set ($27 for the set) – you will need at least a large standard screwdriver to push the piston in so you can remove the calipers, but also a good idea to have a full set for future projects.

Brake Pads And Rotors

Obviously, you’ll need all of the parts required to replace your old brake pads, and some fluid if you intend to bleed your brakes at some point during the process.

A set of new brake pads costs an average of about $100 to $170, depending on factors like location, car model, and the quality level you decide to go with.

Sometimes, if you’ve been grinding the rotors with spent brake pads, metal to metal, you will find out that you need to replace the rotors also. The cost of new brake rotors is about $60 each.

As for brake fluid, you can purchase a decent bottle for relatively cheap – around $3-$10 on average.

Safety Tools You Might Want

Before you can safely DIY your brake pad replacement, you need to protect yourself. Acquire the following safety tools, which are fairly affordable:

  • Disposable Nitrile Gloves (about $14) – To keep your hands clean and safe from fluids that may leak on you as you work.
  • Safety Glasses (about $7) – To keep dust and debris out of your eyes
  • Dust Mask (about $10 for a pack) – To keep from breathing in all the dust and smells

Without gloves, you’ll get auto grease all over your hands and possibly into an open wound. And without a dust mask, you could breathe in dust from your brakes, making it difficult to breathe. As for your eyes, you need all the protection you can get when doing mechanic work, as there will likely be debris falling from above while you’re looking up at it.

Miscellaneous Tools Needed

Last but not least, don’t forget to cover all of your bases. Since you’ll be working with your car brakes, you’ll need some special tools to work with the calipers.

You’ll can get a brake caliper piston tool (to retract the pistons and reattach them to the new brake pads). This is not necessary as you can just use a screwdriver but if you want to do it by the book, i’m not going to stop you. The brake caliper press tool costs around $18 to $25 on average.

You might also want to get some brake grease to clean and lubricate certain brake parts while you’re down there.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been wondering, what tools do I need to change brake pads?, then hopefully our guide has cleared things up for you.

Changing brake pads at home is a great way to save money on auto labor, and once you buy the tools, you can continue to save money in the future. You’ll need several types of wrenches, ratchets, sockets, screwdrivers, and a car jack set to get the job done. This job also requires the use of safety tools that you can’t neglect.

Good luck changing your brake pads, and remember to buy your tools in sets to save money.


Should you bleed brakes after changing pads?

It’s recommended that you always bleed your brake lines after changing the pads. When you replace old pads, air can accidentally get into the cylinder. This is why it’s safest to buy brake fluid and do a bleed.

Is it easy to replace your own brake pads?

Brake pad replacement is considered one of the easier at-home auto jobs. There are plenty of guides online with step-by-step instructions on how to complete the service. You can save hundreds of dollars this way.


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