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Mazda CX-9 Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to replace the front brake pads on a 2007-2012 Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV with picture illustrated instructions.

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Brake Fluid Reservoir
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Remove Reservoir Cap
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Mazda CX-9 Front Wheel

This automotive "how-to" guide was specifically written to assist owners of the 2007 to 2012 Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV in replacing the front brake pads.

Owners of other Mazda vehicles such as the MAZDA2, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDASPEED3, MAZDA5, Tribute SUV, and CX-7 crossover may also find this guide to be helpful.

The tools needed to complete this front brake job on a 07-12 Mazda CX-9 include a floor jack, jack stands, a tire iron or lug nut wrench, a set of new brake pads, a "C" clamp, and a 17mm socket with ratcheting wrench.

New brake pads for the 2007-2012 Mazda CX-9 range in price from $25 for "economy" semi-metallic pads to over $100 for performance ceramic brake pads.

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Loosen 5 Lug Nuts
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Floor Jack & Jack Stands
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Remove Lug Nuts
The first step is to remove the cap on the brake fluid reservoir located at the back right of the engine bay near the firewall on the driver's side. It needs to be removed in anticipation of compressing the brake caliper pistons later in the process.

Engage the parking brake to lock the rear wheels before using the lug nut wrench or "tire iron" to slightly loosen the five lug nuts on the front wheel. (The tire iron is located under a carpeted panel in the rear of the CX-9 cargo area along with the scissor floor jack.)

Then raise the front of the vehicle with the floor jack and support it with the two jack stands. Spin off the five lug nuts the rest of the way and put them aside in a safe place.

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Remove Wheel & Lug Nuts
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Brake Rotor & Caliper
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Loosen Lower 17mm Bolt
Locate the lower caliper bolt on the back side of the caliper and loosen it with a 17 mm socket and ratcheting wrench or a 17mm box wrench.
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Remove Lower Caliper Bolt
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17mm Caliper Bolt / Pin
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Swing Up Caliper
Slide out the lower caliper bolt which also acts as the lower caliper pin. Then lift the caliper off the old brake pads and swing it upwards away from the rotor.

Secure the brake caliper to the suspension tower using some sturdy twine or rope. This will keep the caliper from falling down on your fingers or the rotor while you are replacing the brake pads.

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Tie To Shock With Rope
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Pull Off Old Brake Pads
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Wear Bar - Top Inner Pad
Pull the old brake pads off the rotor and set them aside. Make a mental note of where the wear indicator or "squeal" bar is located on the old pads. On this particular 2011 Mazda CX-9, the wear bar was situated at the top of the inner brake pad.
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Brake Parts Cleaner Spray
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CRC Disc Brake Quiet
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Brake Caliper Pistons

Thoroughly clean off the brake rotor, caliper, caliper pistons, and caliper bracket with some brake parts cleaner spray and an automotive rag or paper towels.

To help prevent braking noise, apply some CRC Disc Brake Quiet gel or a similar product to the rear of the brake pads where they come in contact with the caliper.

If your vehicle exhibits shuddering, pulsating, or vibrations while braking, you may need to have your rotors "turned" (resurfaced) or better yet just replace them altogether with brand new rotors. If this is the car's first brake job and the rotors are in excellent condition, you should be able to just replace the pads with great results.



 

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"C" Clamp Compressing
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Check Brake Fluid Level
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Install New Brake Pads
In order for the brake caliper to fit over the significantly thicker new brake pads, the two caliper pistons will need to be compressed backwards with a "C" clamp.

If you haven't already, remove the cap from the brake fluid reservoir in the engine bay to allow the brake fluid to more easily travel back through the brake lines when you compress the caliper piston.

Place an old brake pad on top of the brake caliper pistons to help evenly compress the pistons at a gradual pace to prevent damage. Be sure to occasionally check the brake fluid level in the reservoir while compressing the pistons and avoid allowing it to overflow.

Only compress the brake caliper piston as far back until it is flush with the rubber dust boot.

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Squeal Bar At Top Inner Pad
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Pads Flush Against Rotor
Install the new brake pads into the caliper bracket with the wear indicator or "squeal" bar orientated at the top of the inner brake pad.

If the lower caliper pin was adequately lubricated, re-insert it and also check that the upper caliper pin moves freely by oscillating the caliper back and forth a few times. If the lower caliper pin wasn't well lubricated, apply some high pressure moly grease or "caliper pin" grease to it and also remove the upper caliper bolt / pin to lubricate it as well.

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Cut Twine
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Lower Caliper Over Pads
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Line Up Rubber Dust Boot
Cut the twine and carefully lower the brake caliper over the new brake pads and on to the rotor. If the caliper won't fit over the new pads, use the "C" clamp and an old brake pad to compress the caliper pistons a bit more.

Make sure that the rubber caliper pin dust boot on the caliper bracket lines up properly with the bolt hole in the caliper.

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Insert Lower Caliper Bolt
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Tighten With 17mm Socket
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Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Insert the lower caliper bolt/pin into the caliper and tighten it with the 17mm socket and ratcheting wrench to just past hand tight. If you have a torque wrench, tighten both caliper bolts to about 25-30 ft lbs.
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Replace Wheel & Lug Nuts
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Check Brake Fluid Level
If your brake pedal previously felt mushy or spongy, the brake fluid may be contaminated with water or the brake lines may contain air bubbles. It would be best to bleed the brake lines at this time to flush out the old fluid and replace it with new DOT3 brake fluid. For more on this topic, check out my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding Guide.
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Replace Fluid Reservoir Cap
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Lower Vehicle
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Tighten 5 Lug Nuts
Replace the front wheel and spin on the five lug nuts by hand to prevent cross threading them. Progressively tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron in a "criss cross" or "star" pattern.

Next lower the vehicle until the tire holds enough weight to keep it from rotating and complete tightening the lug nuts. It would be best to use a torque wrench or an air gun with a torque stick to tighten the lug  nuts to 100 ft lbs.

Get into the driver's seat and pump the brake pedal a few times to restore brake line pressure. Then check the brake fluid level in the reservoir and verify that it is above the "MIN" (minimum) line. Once the brake fluid level is correct, replace the brake fluid reservoir cap.

To break in your new brake pads, just drive normally for the first few hundred miles while trying to avoid any hard or "panic" stops which may "glaze" the new brake pads and cause them to squeak.

It's also a good idea to regularly inspect your driveway for drops of brake fluid which may indicate a leak, verify the brake fluid level in the reservoir, and also check that the lug nuts are still properly tightened. 

For more, check out my Mazda CX-9 Repair & Maintenance Guides page.
 

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