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Defender front brake pads

Les Henson

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There are several makes of brake pads available - some are cheap, and for very good reason - they may squeal, fade under heavy use, or start to crumble while still within the wear limit. Even good quality brake pads are relatively cheap, less than £20 is worth the peace of mind. The usual wear limit on a brake pad is 3-4mm. below this they suffer from heat stress and may crumble, start to break off in chunks, or the reamains of the pad let go of the steel backing. A 'set' of brake pads, means an axle set - or in other words 4-pads. You should always change the whole set, doing otherwise is very dangerous. You should also take time to inspect the wheel, steering gear, and brake pipes/hoses.

Anyway - on with it.

Slacken wheel nuts, then jack up and support whichever corner you are going to do first. Remove the road wheel and then turn the steering so that the caliper is out of the arch as much as possible.


The pads are retained by 2 steel pins, anti-rattle springs, and split pins. Close the split pin and remove it, then withdraw the steel pin and catch the spring.


You now have to close the pistons back inside the caliper body, so carefully tap a small pry bar or similar in between the old pad and disc edge. If the exposed area of the pistons looks corroded, then careful application of WD40 will be a good idea.

Good example of the correct time to change the pads - when the thinnest one is 3-4mm


Use a pry bar or similar to lever between the old pads and disc edge to push the pistons back into the body of the caliper. A small amount of WD40 or similar will help if there's excessive dirt or traces of corrosion on them.


Pistons right back in the caliper housing. The wet is just WD40.


The new pads should fit easily into place with a bit of room to spare.


Replace the steel pins, spring, and split pin (replace it if you think it's necessary)


You must now press the brake pedal a few times to take up any slack between the new pads and the disc/caliper pistons. You'll find that the pedal will go to the floor a couple of times before coming up to it's normal operation. Check also the level of fluid in the reservoir, there's a possibility that after replacing the pads, the fluid will be much too high, or even overflow the reservoir. Use a syringe or soak up excess with a rag to maintain the correct fluid level.

Straighten the steering, replace the road wheel, then move to the opposite side of the vehicle and replace those pads in the same way.

Note that new pads will give slightly less braking performance for a short while until they have bedded in.

Les. :)

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