2003 Volkswagen Beetle Change the Rear Brake Pads

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The new VW Beetle may look retro, but it is actually based on the same platform as the Golf. Thanks to this platform sharing, the Beetle is also as easy to work on as the Golf. This of course applies to the brakes as well. Changing the rear brake pads is a straightforward process, though it does requires a special caliper tool to do the job properly.

Tools Used[edit]

Floor jack
Jack stands
Socket set and ratchet
Brake cleaner
Brake fluid
VW brake caliper tool
New brake pads

Change the Rear Brake Pads[edit]

  • Loosen the lug nuts that hold on the rear wheels. Lift the rear of the vehicle with a floor jack and lower it onto jack stands placed under the car at the supporting points on either side. Remove the lug nuts and the wheels and set them aside.
  • Locate the brake caliper and rotor. Spray brake cleaner on the caliper and nearby components. Wipe everything down thoroughly with a clean rag. Pry the plastic caps off of the caliper bolts with a screwdriver. The bolts face the wheel well and are located on the bottom and top of the caliper. Loosen and remove the caliper bolts with a socket and a ratchet, holding an open-ended wrench on the inboard nut.
  • Slide the caliper off of the rotor. While you work, support the caliper on a cardboard box or tie it to the chassis so that the weight of it does not drag on the soft brake line and damage it. Remove the old brake pads. The inner pad will probably still be in the caliper (or may have even fallen out) while the outboard pad will probably be mounted in the caliper carrier.
  • Open the hood and unscrew the lid for the brake fluid reservoir. Remove a small portion of the brake fluid (about 1/2 inch) with a syringe and discard it. Place the special caliper tool onto the caliper piston so that the metal dowels on the tool are in the holes in the caliper piston. Turn the tool so that it turns and retracts the piston into the caliper to make room for the new brake pads, which will have will have more material on them and will need more clearance to fit.
  • Install the new brake pads in the same orientation as the old ones. Slide the caliper back over the rotor. Reinstall the caliper bolts and put the caps back on the bolts. Repeat for the other side of the car. Reinstall the wheels and lower the car to the ground. Fill the brake fluid reservoir with fresh brake fluid. Pump the brake pedal until the pedal feels solid again.

Tips & Warnings[edit]

  • Never work on a car if it is supported only by jack stands.