With the amount of money you can save by changing your own brake pads on your Honda car/truck/SUV, it is worth investing in the right tools to get the job done fast and easily. That’s why I have researched to discover the best tools you will need for doing Honda brake jobs.
So what are the tools you will need for doing brake jobs on Hondas? For working on any Honda’s brakes you will want a 3/8″ metric socket set and ratchet, an 8mm-19mm set of wrenches, pry bar, hammer, brake caliper grease, and many different extensions. It also won’t hurt to have a flare nut wrench set for bleeding the brake lines if needed and a c-clamp for pushing the brake caliper piston back in.
Although these are the most basic tools needed for doing any Honda brake job, you will likely find it easier if you have extra options and lengths of all the tools and sockets. For Honda brake jobs especially having an XL set of metric ratcheting wrenches comes in handy (however not an essential tool).
If you are interested in learning more ways of doing the best possible brake job on your Honda car or truck, read on.
Best Honda Brake Job Tools Prices and Reviews
First, here is a list of the tools you will definitely need if you plan on doing your own honda brake pad change. They will also include links to my favorite products on Amazon that match the description. Click the links to read reviews, check the prices, and see if they meet your budget.
- 8mm-19mm set of ratcheting wrenches. For most front brake jobs you will at least need a 12mm, 14mm, 17mm, and sometimes a 19mm depending on the car.
- Flare Nut Wrench Set Metric. These keep you from rounding off the bleeder valves if you plan on bleeding the brakes at any point (do not use regular wrenches on brake lines).
- XL Set of Metric Wrenches. These come in handy when breaking loose the caliper bolts (if you’re going to remove the entire caliper to clean it or lubricate it).
- Set of Pry Bars (nothing special here, any pry bar will come in handy to encourage the calipers to come off)
- Caliper Grease (this stuff will allow you to lubricate the caliper slide pins without damaging the rubber).
- C-Clamp Set. Use a C-Clamp to slowly push the brake caliper piston back into the caliper. I use the old brake pad left in the caliper to push it back slowly. People argue back and forth whether the bleeder screw should be opened here, I do not always open the bleeder screw. If you do open the bleeder screw you need to bleed the brakes after, or you risk a spongy and dangerous pedal (air in lines). You can also use a large pair of channel locks to get the piston back in (my preferred method, but you can do damage to the piston if you don’t get it going back in straight) it is easier with the C-clamp to not mess this up.
- Impact Driver Set W/ Phillips Bit. Use this tool to remove the extremely frustrating rotor set screws that come from the factory. Without this tool, if you strip these little Phillips you will spend the next half hour swearing as you have to drill it out. Don’t waste the time, just use the correct tool in the first place and never battle these. Pro Tip: if you’re working only on Honda’s buy this special hammer impact screwdriver made specifically for brake rotor set screws.
- 8mm-19mm Metric Socket Set Mid-Length (this one comes with a free 1/4″ set) and a 3/8″ drive ratchet to match the set. I love both of these tools and use them daily! Make sure to get a good high-quality fine toothed ratchet (like the one linked above). Avoid the bulky crappy cheap ones.
- Do you have a Honda with rear equipped electronic parking brake? You will need a tool that turns the caliper rotor back as it pushes it in. They make brake caliper wind back tool sets that work on all vehicles, I highly recommend buying one of these sets.
To see a general overview of what a front honda brake pad job with rotors is like from start to finish watch this Eric the Car Guy video:
Tips to Make Sure Your Brake Job Is Perfect
Always use OEM brake pads. Or if you are going to use aftermarket pads only by pads that have extremely good reviews. Do NOT buy brake pads at an auto parts store near you that are not made specifically for your car. You will deal with tons of time spent when you finally figure out after hours of trying to fit the pads into the calipers that they were the wrong part. Trust me the money you will save on cheap pads you will spend on doing more brake changes.
Pro tip: if you are super broke and need a cheap set of front brake pads just go to your local auto wrecking yard and find a Honda that has the same pads and buys the newest set from the lot. I have done this a ton of times and most yards will charge you like a $1 a pad. Scuff them slightly with fine sandpaper and clean them up, as long as they are not contaminated with grease or oil they can be reused.
Replace Rotors if your steering wheel shakes while braking. In 2019, it is no longer affordable to have rotors turned. Most shops won’t even do it. Just buy some OEM rotors (or high-quality rotors) and replace them. Most common way to tell if your rotors are bad? Does your front end shake when you lightly press the brake pedal while on the freeway? If yes then likely your rotors are warped and need to be replaced with the pads.
- Clean everything and lubricate all sliding surfaces.
- Lubricate caliper sliding pins with silicone paste grease (or other rubber safe high-temp grease).
- Double and triple-check proper torque on all bolts. Use a brake change checklist to be extra safe.
- Pump the brakes before starting and driving away. Because you pushed the pistons all the way back into the caliper, your brake pedal will feel mushy and not do anything the first time you pump it. This has led to technicians and mechanics crashing cars as they forget to pump the pedal first.
- Please remember, PUMP THE PEDAL AFTER ANY BRAKE JOB!
Maintaining Your Honda’s Brakes
These tips and tricks will help to bring you security in the short term. Here are some tips to maintain a safe Honda and make sure the Brake’s always are working great:
- Inspect and change the brake fluid periodically.
- Inspect the brake pads for even wear every tire rotation.
- Perform practice emergency braking to ensure car handles properly. I like to practice slamming on the brakes periodically to make sure I know how fast I can brake if needed, and that the car is performing correctly. When you emergency brake you want to watch for the car pulling dramatically in one direction or the other, and learn how to brake properly if your car does not have ABS.
- Inspect brakes immediately if you hear any loud screeching or noises while braking. You can save tons of money by replacing brake pads before they chew through rotors and do way more damage.
Do I need to always open the bleed screw when doing brake pad changes? No, most mechanics are not opening your bleed screw to allow the pressure of pushing the piston back bleed out. Some mechanics swear that that is the best practice as it prevents junk from being pushed back through the brake caliper, however, if you flush your brake fluid at the proper intervals it is not necessary to always bleed the brake every front brake pad change.
Do I need to replace my rotors every brake pad change? No, that would be a waste of money. If your rotors are in okay condition and not causing the car to shake upon braking then keep running them. You can also have a shop perform a rotor run-off test where they can tell you if your rotors need to be changed. However, most shops will simply drive the car and feel for a big lip on the rotor. If it has a shaky steering wheel or a big lip on the rotor then most likely it is time to change the rotors and it saves you money to change them at the same time as the pads.
What is the best brake bleeder for Honda’s? The best brake bleeder is the one that you can use correctly. I personally love the method of taking a clear tube and running it into a clear glass bottle filled with clean brake fluid. This is the old-school free brake bleeder method, however, you can also buy a brake bleeder kit. The problem with these kits is that a lot of people do not use them correctly. Make sure you know how to use your brake bleeder system before trying, you can easily do a lot of damage and cause your car to have air in the brake lines. Here is a link to the top-rated brake bleeders on Amazon, shop around and see what you like.
How much does it cost for a complete brake job on a Honda? For front brake pads and rotors expect to spend anywhere from $200-400 dollars depending on the price of the parts. If you do the job yourself it should save you a couple hundred dollars everytime you do it. It also depends on if the shop is also doing the rear brakes (which typically wear much slower than the front brakes). For a complete front brake pad and rotor change, rear pad or shoe replacement, and brake fluid flush and bleed you might expect to pay anywhere from $500-1000.
How long will my brake pads last on my Honda car/truck/SUV? It entirely depends on how hard you drive the car. With a lot of traffic and stop and go miles you may see your brake pads only last around 30,000 miles or less. If you do mostly freeway driving and don’t aggressively use your brakes they may last upwards of 60,000 miles or more. Racing your Honda at the track? You can expect to see brake pads last less than a few thousand miles or a couple track days– it really all depends on how you drive.
Is it better to engine brake or to use my brakes? As an older mechanic once said to me, brakes are cheap engines are not. You should not rely on engine braking to slow your car down, and merely only use it to reduce the amount of braking needed. On a passenger style, gas car engine braking is riskier than it is beneficial. That is not to say it isn’t a bad idea to downshift when going down a steep grade, just make sure you are balancing the workload. You want your brakes to do as much of the work as possible without overheating and becoming less efficient.
What is the best brake pad composition for my Honda? The best brake pad for your Honda is the OEM brake pads that the dealership sells. This is without a doubt the safest and best brake pad you can buy. However, OEM brake pads can be more expensive than aftermarket pads at a rate of 3-4x. You can get better deals on pads by buying them online from eBay and avoid paying the dealership prices. Pro tip: if you call the parts department at many dealerships and tell them you want OEM parts but ask politely if they can help you with a price break, oftentimes they will offer you 20-30% off just for asking. Better yet, make friends with someone in the parts department and they will hook it up nicely for you.
What sockets do I need for a front brake pad change on my Honda? You will likely need a couple different options wrenches and sockets to get the job done. The sizes you will need will always be metric, and most commonly on Honda’s you are going to see a lot of 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, and 17mm fasteners. Honda also uses a ton of 19mm bolts and fasteners and it is worth it to just own a couple metric socket sets of different lengths (shallow and mid-length) are my favorite ones.
How to push back brake caliper piston without a tool? You can use a c-clamp, any large plier that can fit over the caliper piston, or a brake spreader tool. You can also use your old brake pads to help you push the piston back and provide you a flat surface to grab with your c-clamp or channel locks. Another option is to use a pry bar and carefully pry against the old pads to guide the piston back slowly into the caliper. The most important thing is to always make sure the piston is going back straight and easily. Do not fight it.
How do I wind back rear caliper piston without a tool? On many cars the rear calipers need to be wound back at the same time they are pressed back into the caliper. Typically they do not need much pressure, and if you do not have the special caliper wind back tool then you can try just using a pair of pliers and spinning the caliper piston in. Most caliper pistons need to spin clockwise to go back in. Do not fight it, if it seems stuck make sure you are going the right direction and use the correct tool.