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Audi A4 Front Brake Pad Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Audi A4 Front Brake Pad Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$50 to $150

Talent:

**

Tools:

7mm Allen, flathead screw driver, C-clamp, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

Audi A4 (2002-05)
Audi A4 Cabriolet (2003-06)

Parts Required:

New brake pads

Hot Tip:

Pre-soak rusted bolts in penetrant oil

Performance Gain:

Car stops better

Complementary Modification:

Replace rotor or disc

Replacing your brake pads is a very easy job to perform on your Audi A4 and a great way to get started on "Doing it yourself". In general, you should inspect your brake pads and rotors about every 25,000 miles, and replace them if the material lining of the pad is worn down enough to trigger the pad replacement sensor or there is less than a quarter inch of material on the pad. In reality, most people don't inspect their pads very often, and usually wait until they see the little brake-warning lamp appear on the dashboard. It's a wise idea to replace the pads, and inspect your discs as soon as you see that warning lamp go on.

If you ignore the warning lamp, you may indeed get to the point of metal on metal contact, where the metal backing of the pads are contacting the brake discs. Using the brakes during this condition will not only give you inadequate braking, but will also begin to wear grooves in your brake discs. Once the discs are grooved, they are damaged, and there is often no way to repair them. Resurfacing will sometimes work, but often the groove cut will be deeper than is allowed by OEM specifications. If your pads are grabbing or pulsing when you come to a stop, there is a very good chance your rotors are warped and in need of replacement as well.

While this article will show you how to replace your front brake pads without opening the brake lines, now would be a good time to flush your brake fluid and bleed the system. Please see our articles on these procedures for additional assistance.

First thing you need to do is get the car up on jack stands and the front wheels removed. Please refer to our article on jacking up your car for more information.

This photo illustrates the front brakes on the Audi A4.
Figure 1

This photo illustrates the front brakes on the Audi A4. You can see the rotor (red arrow), caliper (yellow arrow) and the brake pads (green arrow, one shown).

Begin by disconnecting the brake pad wear sensor from the harness (red arrow).
Figure 2

Begin by disconnecting the brake pad wear sensor from the harness (red arrow).

With the sensor disconnected release the locating plastic pin on the sensor from the mount (yellow arrow) by gently prying it out and then turn the sensor connection sideways (red arrow) and remove it from the metal mount on the caliper.
Figure 3

With the sensor disconnected release the locating plastic pin on the sensor from the mount (yellow arrow) by gently prying it out and then turn the sensor connection sideways (red arrow) and remove it from the metal mount on the caliper. Also remove the ABS wheel speed sensor from the mount (green arrow).

There are two 7mm Allen bolts holding the caliper to the mounting bracket.
Figure 4

There are two 7mm Allen bolts holding the caliper to the mounting bracket. They should be covered with plastic caps; if your calipers still have them, remove the covers by gently prying them out with a flathead screwdriver (red arrow).

Use a 7mm Allen and remove the two bolts (red arrows).
Figure 5

Use a 7mm Allen and remove the two bolts (red arrows).

If you are reusing your guide bolts, check them for wear and tear (red arrow).
Figure 6

If you are reusing your guide bolts, check them for wear and tear (red arrow). It is a good idea to clean them up with a scotch brite pad and put a little white lithium grease on the smooth guide part of the bolt.

Place a large flathead screwdriver between the caliper and retaining clip (red arrow).
Figure 7

Place a large flathead screwdriver between the caliper and retaining clip (red arrow). Pry the clip from the caliper and set it aside. Use caution when removing the clip, as it is under pressure.

Pull the caliper back off the rotor (red arrow).
Figure 8

Pull the caliper back off the rotor (red arrow). Sometimes the brake pad will stay in the mounting bracket on the exterior pad (yellow arrow) and sometimes it comes off with the caliper. If the caliper is really stuck, you can push it in on the piston side, compressing the piston and giving you more room to wiggle it off.

With the caliper off you can remove the inner pad.
Figure 9

With the caliper off you can remove the inner pad. The inner pad has a clip (yellow arrow) that inserts into the caliper piston. Don't forget to check the condition of the rubber boot protecting the caliper piston while you are there. Remove the brake pad wear sensor from around the hard lines on the caliper (red arrow) noting direction for installing the new sensor.

If the outside pad (red arrow) is still in its mount (yellow arrows) remove it now.
Figure 10

If the outside pad (red arrow) is still in its mount (yellow arrows) remove it now. Make sure to clean the mount, as dust in this area will cause squeaking.

You will need to compress the caliper piston back into the caliper to make room for the new pads.
Figure 11

You will need to compress the caliper piston back into the caliper to make room for the new pads. This will cause brake fluid to travel back up into the reservoir. You need to make sure there is room for it (red arrow). Carefully clean around the reservoir before opening, as you do not want any dirt or debris getting into it. Be prepared to use a turkey baster or fluid pump to extract some of the brake fluid if necessary. Make sure whatever you use is clean; you do not want any contaminants getting into the fluid.

The new pads will be thicker than the old ones and will necessitate pushing the brake piston back into the caliper to make room to get them over the disc.
Figure 12

The new pads will be thicker than the old ones and will necessitate pushing the brake piston back into the caliper to make room to get them over the disc. Use a large C-clamp and one of the brake pads (red arrow) and compress the piston back into the caliper. Installation of the new pads is the reverse of removal. If your pads do not come with a peel off anti-squeal pad on the back, you may want to apply a little anti-squeal paste to the back of the pads. Make sure to pump the brakes a few times before driving.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Mart Comments: Just want to say a big thank you for providing these excellent guides. I've just done the front pads & rotors on my dad's A4 and although I've done brakes on other cars it's good to have a guide showing exactly what's what on a car I've never worked on before.

I would just add that when I removed the old pad with wear sensor wire, I didn't think the plug end of the wire was small enough to fit between the gap around the brake pipe and mounting bracket so what I did was remove the 10mm bolt holding the brake pipe and mounting bracket seen in fig 9 and lift it up slightly just enough to thread the sensor wire through. When pushing back the piston to accommodate the new thicker pads/rotors, I find it much easier to crack open the bleeder and only needs moderate thumb pressure to push back the piston. I usually bleed the brakes once done.

I also noticed that the pads with the sensor wire attached are directional with markings to indicate which side of the car they are to be fitted - they look identical so not sure why this is?
July 27, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The arrow may be directional for different models, not applying to your vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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