How To Adjust Disc Brakes

If you need to know how to adjust disc brakes, you should remember that cars fitted with disc brakes have the advantage over drum brakes because they are self-adjusting and rarely require maintenance. Disc brakes are clamped by a caliper, which is connected to the suspension leg holding it in place above the disc. The caliper uses two friction pads, which are forced onto the disc by a hydraulic fluid inside the brake lines.

What you'll need:

  • Caliper
  • Wrench set
  • Drip pan
  1. The way to adjust a disc brake, usually after a caliper has been removed, is to pump the brake pedal a few times with the engine switched off, then again with the engine turned on. This forces the fluid into the caliper and sets the brake pads the perfect distance away from the brake disc itself.
  2. Brake calipers vary in their layout. Cheaper calipers are usually a single piston layout, which is cheaper to manufacture, but reliable as there are less parts to fail. Dual piston or even four pistons are available, which increase braking feel and performance.
  3. If you have a brake pedal which sinks to the floor and offers little or no braking power, the master cylinder seals will be worn, causing a hydraulic leak. Do not drive the car in the case; you can get the master cylinder over-hauled or buy a new one. The braking system will need to be bled and checked for any further leaks before driving the car again.
  4. When you feel like your disc brakes on your car need adjusting, look for any signs of leaking fluid and check that the caliper's pistons are pushing the pads onto the discs, as well as returning back to their starting position.

Over time, the caliper can seize up from rust or dirt build up. The pistons inside the brake caliper, which are pushed out by the fluid onto the pads, have rubber seals. These can perish, wear out and cause problems such as loss of braking power, brakes pulling to one side and a lack of confidence through the brake pedal.