How to: Brake pads for the Audi RS3 (8v, front and rear)

This has come up a few times, and it’s a relatively common swap for those of us who are tracking our cars regularly. I’ve still got to go back and add some pictures, but for those who can handle written only instructions, here you go!

I run CarboTech 1521 (front and rear) on the street, and swap to some combination of CarboTech XP12/XP10 for the track. I’ll discuss heat build up and other such sundry items in another post.

Note on wear sensors: I don’t personally use them. I have them zip-tied out of the way, and i change my pads so frequently that I simply pulled them off of the pads and pushed them aside. I can put them back on if needed.

First off, what level is this? The average DIY’er with little knowledge should be able to tackle the fronts in about 30 minutes, and the rears in about 1 hour the first time, less in subsequent times. To start, here’s the list of tools you’ll need:

Front:

  • Jack + Jack Stands
  • Torque Wrench
  • Something to remove the front wheels (I use a Ryobi Electric impact wrench)
  • 17mm socket (wheels)
  • Medium hammer
  • Nail-punch
  • Screw-driver (doesn’t really matter what kind)
  • Mechanics gloves are a must if you’re working at the end of a track day to swap for the drive home, as they will be extremely hot.
  • Brake Pads

Rear:

  • Software solution to put the rear parking brake into “service” mode (I use a Carista)
  • Wheel Chocks
  • 7mm ‘button’ socket
  • Non-needle nose pliers (something a bit more beefy, such as channel locks)
  • Flat head screw driver
  • At least two jack stands
  • Floor jack
  • Torque Wrench
  • Impact Wrench
  • 17mm socket (wheels)
  • Piston spreader (or c-clamp)

Instructions: Front

  1. Start by jacking up the car and placing a jack stand under the corner marked with the arrow molded into the side skirt
  2. Remove the front wheel and set aside
  3. Using the nail punch and hammer, tap out the two pins holding the pad retaining springs into place. They will only come out so far with the punch, and you’ll need a hand to press the spring down a bit and the other to pull the pin fully out. Set this and the spring aside
  4. Using a screwdriver, pry the corner of the brake pads away from the rotor so that they can be removed. (Note: you may wish to pop the hood and see how full your fluid reservoir is prior to prying back the pads, as you may overflow it into your engine bay!)
  5. Remove the pads, and prepare the calipers for the replacement pads by pushing the pistons back a bit so that the new pads fit (if you’re swapping to track pads, this may not be necessary depending on the wear).
  6. Once you’ve done all four on the caliper, re-insert the spring and pin, and then tap the pin back into place. There will be a definitive change in the pitch of the hammer on the pin as you’re tapping it back in when it ‘seats’ itself.
  7. Re-install the wheel and move to the other side. Don’t forget to re-torque the wheel to the proper torque (90 ft/lbs)
  8. Repeat for the other side.
  9. Pump the brakes back up when you get back into the car and be mindful that your braking will likely have changed depending on the pad you replaced it with, so take the first few stops a bit gently to ensure you’re comfortable with your new pads habits!
  10. Check the fluid to make sure you didn’t use too much when pumping the brakes back up.

Instructions: Rear

  1. Choose the appropriate method for your car to put the parking brake into ‘maintenance mode’
  2. Chock the front tires so that the car cannot move.
  3. Using a floor jack, raise the rear corner of the car, and place the jack stand under the corner where the arrow is molded into the side skirt.
  4. Remove the rear wheel and set aside.
  5. Using the pliers, remove the pad retaining clip and set aside. You’ll use a twisting motion to make this happen, while pulling away from the car.
  6. Use a flat head screwdriver to remove the two plastic dust caps from the rear bolts of the caliper and set aside.
  7. Using a 7mm ‘button’ socket, loosen the two bolts holding the caliper to the bracket.
  8. Place the extra jack stand next to the caliper, and raise it to a height approximately an inch lower than the caliper.
  9. Remove the caliper, and place the caliper on the jack stand so as not to flex the wires for the wear sensors (if installed), parking brake cable, or brake lines.
  10. The pads should pretty much fall away from the caliper at this point – be mindful of which is inside and outside
  11. Use a spreader/c-clamp/etc to push the piston back so the new pads fit.
  12. Install the new pads
  13. Place the caliper back onto the carrier bracket, and install the 7mm bolts, as well as the dust caps.
  14. Install the retaining clip with the pliers used to remove it.
  15. Re-install the wheel and lower the car.
  16. Do the other side following the same instructions.
  17. Using the software solution chosen in step one, take the car out of ‘parking brake maintenance mode’
  18. Torque the rear wheels down to 90 ft/lbs
  19. Test the brake pedal to make sure it doesn’t feel soft, and be mindful that your braking will have changed depending on the pads you’ve installed.

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