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How to Change the Front Brake Rotors and Brake Pads in Your VW Passat
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

How to Change the Front Brake Rotors and Brake Pads in Your VW Passat

Steve Vernon

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$165 to $300

Talent:

**

Tools:

18mm wrench, 14mm flared nut wrench, Flathead screwdriver, 7mm Allen

Applicable Models:

VW Passat (1996-05)

Parts Required:

Rotor, pads, fluid

Performance Gain:

Better, safer braking

Complementary Modification:

Replace your brake lines

The VW Passat has a tendency to do more braking with the front brakes than the rear, and therefore have larger, calipers, pads and rotors on the front. While both front and rears brakes work on the same principle, this article is only applicable for the front brakes.

First thing you need to do is loosen the front wheels while the car is on the ground then safely raise and support the car on jack stands. To loosen the wheels you will need to remove the wheel stud protectors and if your car came with special locking lugs you will need the key that came with them. You should be able to find both of these in your service pouch beside your spare tire. Please refer to our article on jacking up your VW Passat for more information.

With the car safely up on jack stands and the wheels off, open the hood. You are going to be pressing the piston back into the caliper to make room for the new pad and you want to check the reservoir to make sure there is enough room for the fluid that is going to travel back into it. If your reservoir is completely full you are going to need to remove some of the fluid. Again, a word of caution here, brake fluid is extremely toxic and will quickly destroy any paint it gets in contact with. Clean around the cap area before you open it. The hydraulic lines and seals in the brake system are very susceptible to any foreign matter and you do not want to have anything but clean fresh fluid in the reservoir. Take a clean syringe or turkey baster and suck out enough fluid to make room for the compression of the caliper piston.

Begin by disconnecting the wear sensor where it is attached to the caliper. It is a simple push pull plug. Your new pads will have a wear sensor built in.

Move to the caliper and place a large flat head screw driver between the caliper and retaining clip. Pry the clip from the caliper and set aside. Use caution when removing the clip as it is under pressure.

Turn the wheel to give you more room to work. There are two 7mm Allen bolts holing the caliper to the mounting bracket. They should be covered with plastic caps but our project car did not have them. If yours have them remove the covers, then remove the 7mm Allen. There are polished stainless steel and have a long thread on them so just keep turning until they come out. With the Allen bolts removed wiggle the caliper off the rotor and use a zip tie or piece of rope to tie the caliper up and out of the way while you remove the rotor. If the rotors have large wear ridges on them you will have to force the pads back into the rotors a little to get them to clear. You can use a large screw driver for this as you are going to be replacing both the pads and rotors, just make sure you do not damage the seal around the piston in the caliper and DO NOT let the caliper hang by the brake line! Inspect your brake lines for wear, excessive dryness, cracks, bulges or leaks, and replace if necessary.

With the caliper assembly removed, the next step is to remove the caliper mounting bracket. It is held on by two 18mm bolts. Remove the two bolts and set the mounting bracket aside.

Unlike a lot of cars the Passat does not have a locating or securing screw holding the rotor to the wheel carrier. The rotor should now just come straight off, sometimes the rotors will get corroded onto the hub and you need to give them a hit with a mallet to free them up. With everything off clean the mounting surface between the rotor and hub so it is flat.

Move to the caliper and remove the old pads, inspect the seal around the piston and make sure it is not damaged. You are going to have to push the piston back into the caliper to make room for the new pads and rotor. They make a special tool for this but you can just use a large C-clamp. Place one of the old pads over the piston to protect it from damage and slowly push the piston back into the caliper. Make sure you keep checking the reservoir for overflow and use your turkey baster to suck out extra fluid as you push the piston in. With the piston fully retracted into the caliper install the new brake pads making sure to place the pad with the sensor on the proper side and rotation.

Install the new rotor then mounting bracket. Mount the caliper and pads over the new rotor, onto the upright and install the two 7mm Allen bolts. Attach the wear sensor to harness.

If you have not bleed your brakes since you last brake job, now would be a really good time to do it. Please see our article on how to bleed your brakes.

.

To remove the tires you will first have to remove the decorative/ protective covers from the studs.
Figure 1

To remove the tires you will first have to remove the decorative/ protective covers from the studs. VW provides this clip to pull them out but you can use needle nose pliers if you can't find your clip.

Before you begin working on the brakes, check your brake fluid reservoir.
Figure 2

Before you begin working on the brakes, check your brake fluid reservoir. You are going to be compressing the caliper piston which will cause brake fluid to travel back up into the reservoir and you need to make sure there is room for it (red arrow). Carefully clean around the reservoir before you open it, as you do not want any dirt or debris getting into it.

These rotor where heavily grooved (red arrow) and in need of immediate replacement.
Figure 3

These rotor where heavily grooved (red arrow) and in need of immediate replacement.

Disconnect the wear sensor from the harness (yellow arrows) and remove it from its retaining clip on the caliper mount.
Figure 4

Disconnect the wear sensor from the harness (yellow arrows) and remove it from its retaining clip on the caliper mount.

Place a large flat head screw driver between the caliper and retaining clip.
Figure 5

Place a large flat head screw driver between the caliper and retaining clip. Pry the clip from the caliper and set aside. Use caution when removing the clip as it is under pressure.

There are two 7mm Allen bolts holing the caliper to the mounting bracket.
Figure 6

There are two 7mm Allen bolts holing the caliper to the mounting bracket. They should be covered with plastic caps (red arrows) but our project car did not have them. If your have them remove the covers, then remove the 7mm Allen.

With the caliper assembly removed, the next step is to remove the caliper mounting bracket.
Figure 7

With the caliper assembly removed, the next step is to remove the caliper mounting bracket. It is held on by two 18mm bolts. Remove the two bolts and set the mounting bracket aside.

With the rotor removed and the caliper hanging safely (green arrow), clean the mounting flange (red arrow) and remove the old pads (yellow arrow).
Figure 8

With the rotor removed and the caliper hanging safely (green arrow), clean the mounting flange (red arrow) and remove the old pads (yellow arrow).

Place one of the old pads over the piston to protect it from damage (red arrow) and slowly push the piston back into the caliper.
Figure 9

Place one of the old pads over the piston to protect it from damage (red arrow) and slowly push the piston back into the caliper. Make sure you keep checking the reservoir for overflow and use your turkey baster to suck out extra fluid as you push the piston in.

I like to put one or two of the studs (red arrow) on to help hold the rotor in place while re assembling everything.
Figure 10

I like to put one or two of the studs (red arrow) on to help hold the rotor in place while re assembling everything.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Bengee Comments: How is the disc rotor held to the hub? I jut purchased a '54 trend line passat and there is a knocking when I brake an also going over a bump. I removed the wheel and the disc just falls off the inner race, so I presume the securing screw was missing but found it's not meant to have one :S are they meant to be tight on the inner race?
July 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not familiar with that model. BUT - most cars the hub on the vehicle matches the rotor hub. The fit together, without freeplay. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
George Comments: What are the torque specs for the bolts on reassembly?
August 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799.I don't have that info.
I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jerry Comments: Can the rotors for the TTRS be ground to provide a fresh, un grooved surface when replacing the pads? I assume there is a minimum thickness, but am wondering about the cooling holes and whether they need to be chamfered.

Thanx
November 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Generally they are not machined, as they wear as fast as the pads. I would check with a local machine shop, they may have a method to do it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rich G Comments: Great job on this article!
Thanks!
December 31, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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