How To Change the Brake Pads on a Corvette

Checking and servicing the braking system on your Corvette is an easier task than most people think and this can be done with only simple tools.  Magazines and the internet are packed full of do-it-yourself articles explaining how to check and change the brake pads for Corvette owners but before jumping into a brake job on your own there are a few things that you should check.

When you find a do-it-yourself article you should make sure that it applies to your generation, year and trimline of Corvette.  Different trimlines had different braking system components but regardless of which generation and trimline of Corvette you have only basic tools are needed.

Items Needed:

Jack

Jack Stands

Wheel wrench

Socket set

Large adjustable pliers (channel lock style is best)

Brake pad lubricant

First, you want to take a wheel wrench and break loose the lugnuts on the wheels which you plan to remove.  It is much easier to loosen the lugnuts with the car on the ground but you only want to apply force until they break loose.  Once the lugnut has turned at all, move onto the next one.  Making sure that all of the lugnuts are broken loose will make the wheels much easier to remove once the car is off the ground.

Next, to do any brake job you will need a jack and jack stands.  Unless you have experience working on braking systems it is best to always do a brake pad change one wheel at a time.  This way, should something go wrong, you always have the other side to look at and see what the side you’ve already worked on should look like.  When you begin on a certain wheel, jack up that side and then put the jack stand under a safe support point on that side.  Then jack up the other side of the car and put a jack stand under the car.  This way you don’t have the jack in the way and you have both wheels off the ground.  Once the wheels are off the ground, removing the lugnuts should be very easy since you broke the nuts loose with the car on the ground.

C1, C2 and C3 Corvettes use a similar braking system that is very unlike the C4, C5 and C6 models.  The older model Corvettes use a brake caliper with a pin running through the top of the brake pads that hold them in place.  To remove this style of brake pads you will need to remove the small clip that secures the pin, located on the rear side of the caliper.  The pin running through the pad and caliper can gather road dirt and brake dust so it may be tough to remove.  Once you have it out, it’s a good idea to use a wire brush and some light grit sandpaper to clean up that pin. 

Next, apply some brake pad lubricant to the contact surfaces between the new pad and caliper and along the back side of the pads.  Install the pin through the pad and caliper and put the safety clip back into the pin and you are done!  Repeat this to the other side and your brake pad change is done for your C1, C2 or C3 Corvette.

If you have a C4, C5 or C6 model, the brake pad change is a bit more intricate.  Jack up the car and remove the wheels as mentioned above but once the wheels are off, the work is a bit harder.  C4-C6 brake pads are under a floating caliper and you will need the socket set to remove the bolts on the rear of the caliper.  They should be attached to a point in the caliper with a rubber boot to allow the caliper to move freely over the pads.  Once you remove those bolts the caliper top will lift off and you can remove the brake pads.  From there, add some lubricant to the caliper and brake pads and then put the calipers back together and tighten the bolts.

After this, put the wheels back on and tighten them properly.  Remove the jack stands and lower the car, rechecking your lugnuts once the car is on the ground. 

Finally, before driving your Corvette, you will want to pump the brakes a few times until the brake pedal feels normal.  Failure to do this can cause what seems like brake failure so before you drive the car, let it roll slightly and tap the brakes to make sure that everything works properly.