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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Brake Pad Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$40 to $150

Talent:

**

Tools:

7mm Allen, flathead screw driver, C-clamp

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (1999-00)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)
VW Golf GTI GLX (2000-01)
VW Golf GTI VR6 (2002-05)

Parts Required:

New calipers

Hot Tip:

Pre-soak rusted bolts in penetrant oil

Performance Gain:

Car stops better

Complementary Modification:

Replace Rotor or disk

Replacing your brake pads is a very easy job to perform on your Volkswagen GTI MkIV 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.

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.

Before you begin working on the brakes, check your brake fluid reservoir.
Figure 1

Before you begin working on the brakes, check your brake fluid reservoir. You will need to compress 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. Be prepared to use a turkey baster of 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.

Disconnect the wear sensor from the harness (red arrow).
Figure 2

Disconnect the wear sensor from the harness (red arrow).

Place a large flat head screw driver between the caliper and retaining clip (red arrow).
Figure 3

Place a large flat head screw driver between the caliper and retaining clip (red arrow). 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 4

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 guide bolts (red arrows).

If you are reusing your guide bolts check them for wear and tear (red arrow).
Figure 5

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 (red arrow).

Pull the caliper back off the rotor (red arrow).
Figure 6

Pull the caliper back off the rotor (red arrow). Sometime 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 see the two brake pads (green arrows) along with the one brake wear sensor (yellow arrow).
Figure 7

With the caliper off you can see the two brake pads (green arrows) along with the one brake wear sensor (yellow arrow). Don't forget to check the condition of the rubber boot protecting the caliper piston (red arrow).

The inner pad has a clip (red arrow) that inserts into the caliper piston.
Figure 8

The inner pad has a clip (red arrow) that inserts into the caliper piston.

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 disk.
Figure 9

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 disk. As inPicture 1 make sure there is room for the brake fluid to move back into the reservoir. Next use a large C-clamp (yellow arrow) and one of the brake pads (red arrow) and compress the piston (green arrow) back into the caliper. Installation 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. Top up the brake fluid and put the cap back on the reservoir. Make sure to pump the brakes a few times before driving. Brake pads need to be "seated correctly" to avoid damage and give you maximum performance and durability. Please follow the break in instruction that come with your pads.

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Comments and Suggestions:
BV Comments: Thank you for providing such a clear explanation and relevant photographs. Together they greatly simplify the work for a novice adventurer.
April 30, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
John Comments: Hi, The right mounting bracket on my MK4 has,a deep groove where the pad sits. Could this be the reason I keep having to replace rotors to eliminate pulsation.
January 8, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, this may have been cause by the pulsation, or the brake pad movement. I would replace the mounting brackets. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nigga Comments: WHY IS THE RIMS GETTING HOT WHEN DRIVING
November 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Some heat from your brakes will transfer to the rims. It may be normal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:35:42 AM