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Rear Brake Pad Replacement: A Doozy

We have a 2016 Mazda 3. I needed to replace the rear brake pads.

I’ve done this before on other cars, so I thought it would be easy. Due to my inexperience and lack of tools, it was not.

Getting everything to the point of removing the caliper went fine. Then, I needed to compress the caliper piston. The idea is to move it in the direction of the red arrows.

I was trying to force the piston straight back in.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the official tool, so I got creative. I tried forcing it in with several items.

  • C-clamp that didn’t quite fit
  • Spare piece of wood
  • Spare piece of aluminum
  • Spreading apart neighbors pliers

After breaking my neighbor’s pliers, I gave up for the day, and re-assembled everything with the old brake pads still in the car. 😠 😭

I became furious, then cried a little bit, then went online and ordered the tool.

The tool looks like this.

The key is actually to rotate/screw the caliper piston back in, as opposed to pushing it straight in.

This is true for the back brakes, not the front ones. The process is different because the parking brake is connected to the back brakes.

After screwing, the piston moved back into position.

Now that I know how the piston needs to rotate, I’m not sure that the tool was actually required. I probably could have used pliers.

However, I had a new problem! It looked like the rubber seal was completely messed up as a result of the twisting.

Nooo, Why?!

Luckily, this turned out to be no problem. I easily pushed the rubber seal back in place with my thumbs.

Whew, close one.

After swapping out the old pads for new ones, the brakes were ready for re-assembly!

The car is now back on the road.