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Chevrolet Sonic Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the front brake pads on a 1st generation 2012 to 2014 GM Chevy Sonic with photo illustrated DIY steps.

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2013 Sonic Front Wheel
Slightly Loosen Lug Nuts
Raise Front of Car
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the first generation (2012, 2013, 2014 and most likely also the 2015 and 2016) Chevy Sonic in changing the front disc brake pads and lubricating the caliper slider pins.

Owners of other General Motors vehicles such as the Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Impala, Traverse, Tahoe, GMC Terrain, Acadia, Yukon, Buick Verano, Regal, LaCrosse, Encore, Enclave and Holden Barina may also find these DIY front brake job instructions to be helpful.

The items required to complete this procedure include a floor jack, two jack stands, a lug nut wrench, a 10mm socket with a 1/4" drive ratcheting wrench, a "C" or "F" clamp and a packet of brake parts lubricant grease.

A few compatible replacement sets of new pads including their part numbers are as follows: Wagner QC1522 or ZD1522, Bendix D1522, ACDelco 171-1073 or 17D1522CH, Power Stop 16-1522 and Centric 100.15220.

Spin Off 5 Lug Nuts
5 Lug Nuts Removed
Rotor, Bracket, Caliper
The first few steps are to park the vehicle on a level surface, engage the emergency/parking brake and chock the rear wheels to prevent it from moving.

Then slightly loosen the 5 lug nuts on the front wheel by turning them counter clockwise with the tire iron.

Raise the front of the car with the floor jack and securely support it with the two jack stands. (I prefer to work on one side of the car at a time for extra safety.)

Spin off the 5 lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place.

Pull the front wheel off the car to reveal the brake caliper, bracket, rotor and the suspension.

Loosen Upper Caliper Bolt
Spin Out Upper 10mm Bolt
Remove Lower Caliper Bolt
The brake caliper is held in place to the bracket by two bolts on the back side of the caliper.

Loosen the upper caliper bolt by turning it clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 10mm socket and ratcheting wrench.

Then loosen the lower caliper bolt by turning it clockwise with the 10mm socket and ratcheting wrench.

Spin out the two caliper bolts and set them aside in a safe place.

Two 10mm Caliper Bolts
Pull Off Front Brake Caliper
Rest Caliper On Suspension
Carefully lift the caliper out of the bracket and rest it on the suspension or suspend it from the spring with a bungee cord or some twine.

Try to avoid kinking or stressing the rubber brake line.

Wear Bar - Top Inner Pad
Remove Old Outer Pad
Replace Anti-Rattle Clips
Pull the old brake pads out of the bracket and make a mental note of where the wear indicator or "squeal" bar is situated.

On this 2013 Sonic sedan, the wear bar was located at the top of the inner brake pad.

I recommend buying the Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1522 brake pads since they have excellent reviews on Amazon. I also really like how they don't require any backing plates, shims or disc brake quiet gel due to the integrated insulators.

If your set of new front pads includes brake hardware, pull the old metal pad abutment or "anti-rattle" clips out of the top and bottom of the bracket and install the new ones in their place.

Pull Out Caliper Slider Pin
Lubricate & Replace Both Pins
Attach "C" Clamp To Piston
In order for the caliper to operate smoothly, the two caliper slider pins inside the bracket need to be well lubricated.

Gently pull the upper and lower caliper pins out of their rubber dust boots, apply a thin layer of brake parts lubricant to each one, and re-install them.

In order for the brake caliper to fit over the thicker new pads, the caliper piston will need to be compressed backwards.

Attach the "C" clamp to the caliper piston using the back of an old pad to evenly distribute the pressure.


Twist Off Brake Fluid Cap
Slowly Compress Caliper Piston
Replace Brake Fluid Cap
Move to the right rear area of the engine bay (closest to the driver's seat) and twist off the yellow brake fluid reservoir cap in the counter clockwise direction.

Removing the reservoir cap will allow the brake fluid to more easily move backwards through the rubber brake lines when you compress the piston.

Very slowly turn the handle on the "C" clamp to push back the caliper piston while repeatedly checking the level in the reservoir to prevent it from overflowing. Clean up any spilled brake fluid immediately since brake fluid can easily damage painted surfaces.

Continue compressing the caliper piston until it is flush with its rubber dust boot. Try to avoid pinching or otherwise damaging the rubber dust boot surrounding the caliper piston.

Replace the brake fluid reservoir cap as soon as possible since brake fluid is hygroscopic (readily absorbs moisture).

Thoroughly clean off the brake rotor, caliper bracket, brake caliper and the lug nut studs with brake parts cleaner spray. Do not use compressed air or blow with your mouth since inhaling brake dust can be harmful to your health. Brake dust can be carcinogenic (causes cancer) if inhaled.

If your Sonic previously exhibited shuddering, pulsating, or vibrations while braking, you may need to have the rotors "turned" (resurfaced on a lathe) or it may be less costly to just replace them with new rotors. If this is the first front brake job on your car and the rotors appear to be in excellent condition, you should be able to just replace the pads with great results.

To remove the existing rotors and install new ones, remove the two bolts on the rear of the caliper bracket that attach it to the steering knuckle. Then loosen the old rotor with a rubber mallet, pull it off, and slide the new one in its place. Be sure to properly tighten the two bracket bolts with a torque wrench.

Install New Outer Pad
Wear Bar - Top New Inner Pad
Push Pads Against Rotor
Lightly lubricate any surface where there is metal to metal contact such as the outer ring of the caliper piston and the pad abutment clips.

Do not apply brake parts grease or any lubricant to the friction surface of the new pads or the face of the rotor.

Install the new brake pads in to the bracket the wear indicator bar situated at the top of the new inner pad.

Push the pads flush against the rotor.

Lower Caliper Over Pads
Spin In Top Caliper Bolt
Spin In Bottom Caliper Bolt
Lower the caliper over the new pads and in to the bracket.

Line up the bolt holes in the caliper with the corresponding holes in the caliper slider pins within the bracket.

Spin in the two caliper bolts by hand a few turns in the counter clockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Tighten Upper Caliper Bolt
Tighten - Counter Clockwise
Tighten the two caliper bolts by turning them in the counter clockwise direction with the 10mm socket and ratcheting wrench to just past hand tight or about 21 ft-lbs of torque.

Double check that both the upper and lower caliper bolts are tight before moving on to the next steps.

Rubber Valve Cap
Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Replace Front Wheel

If your brake pedal has been feeling soft 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 in order to flush out the old fluid and replace it with fresh DOT3 brake fluid. For more on this topic, check out my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With An Assistant DIY Guide or alternatively the Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With A Power Bleeder Guide.

The brake fluid bleeder valve is located underneath a rubber cap on the back side of the caliper just below the upper caliper bolt.

Spin On 5 Lug Nuts
Lower Vehicle From Stands
Torque Lug Nuts 100 ft-lbs
Replace the front wheel and spin on the five lug nuts by hand in the clockwise direction to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts in a "criss cross" or star pattern with the tire iron.

Lower the vehicle from the jack stands using the floor jack.

Continue progressively tightening the lug nuts in a criss cross or star pattern to about 1/4 turn past hand tight or 100 ft lbs of torque. It would be best to use a torque wrench or impact wrench with a torque stick to properly tighten the lug nuts.

Sit in the driver's seat of your Sonic and firmly pump the brake pedal a few times to restore brake line pressure.

Verify that the brake fluid level in the reservoir is correct. Add some new DOT3 brake fluid if it is low.

Take the car for a short and cautious test drive with the windows down so you can hear any abnormal noises while braking.

To break in your new pads, just drive normally for the first several hundred miles while trying to avoid any hard or "panic" stops which may glaze over the new pads and cause them to be noisy and/or not perform as well.

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

For more, check out my other Chevy Sonic Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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