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When doing a DIY brake job, I understand that it's necessary lubricate several components of the pad/caliper assembly. From various sources, I have been told that the following are the places where brake grease should be applied:

  1. The slide pins connecting one side of the caliper to the other (generously).
  2. The hook-shaped bits on either side of the pad which sit on the caliper.
  3. The metal back of the pad which contacts the hydraulic piston (lightly).
  4. The edges of the hydraulic piston.

I've also seen people recommending using anti-sieze lubricant in-between the end of the axle and the rotor, so it's easier to remove the next time the brakes need to be done.

My question is, have I missed any important areas that need lubrication? Or included some that really shouldn't be lubricated? Also, I have heard some people say that anti-sieze should be preferred instead of brake grease - is this true?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Personally, I'm not the hugest fan of anti-seize. I feel like you use it once and it follows you around for the next month. You end up finding it in your sock drawer for heaven's sake. I use similar lube except it's a gold color. It seems to be do lot less following me around, and applies in a much cleaner fashion.

Brake Lubrication

  • Lube all contact surfaces between caliper, mount, and pads including:

    • Back side of brake pads
      • Don't forget any shims that are present between the pad and the piston.
      • If the pads have aluminum clips that "snap" them into the piston then make sure to lube these.
      • Style points count on this: don't slop it all over the place. I usually explain "too little" as: "If you're trying to be Picasso, you're not using enough".
    • Put a light layer of lube between the large center opening of the rotor and the hub, and on the rotor hold-down screw, if the vehicle has one.
      • This helps keep the metals from bonding/rusting together and requiring extensive force (some real swings of a hammer) for removal the next time it's needed.
    • If the caliper is equipped with slide pins, then pull them out of the caliper housing, clean them off, apply your lube, and put them back in.
      • Once you have the pins reinstalled, work them back and forth a few times to make sure that the lube is spread properly and there is no binding.
    • If there are metal slides that sit between the caliper and mount, lube (lightly) between the slide and the mount, and also between the caliper mount and where it contacts the brake pad ears.

For me, it was easier to just explain how I lube brakes and their components. You seemed to have touched most of the same points as I did. If you end up lubing the area between the hub and rotor, just make sure not to get any anti-seize on the threads of the lug bolts/studs. I hope this helps reassure you about your procedure.

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This is very thorough! Thanks! Any chance you have some insight on this potentially-related question as well?… – CmdrMoozy Jul 23 '13 at 22:54
Thank you. And I replied to your other question just now. – cinelli Jul 24 '13 at 6:36

To be safe, the general consensus appears to advocate SilGlyde type grease for the piston area, also the sliding pins of the caliper; many who tried other lubes regret it eventually as the moly greases slowly swell the rubber of the boots and bushings. The moly type generic "brake grease" is to be applied sparingly to the metal-metal areas only, like the sliding points where the end tabs of the pads track as the pads move in and out with the few millimeters of play during braking. Greases may look alike, but you need to know the base type to understand whether over time it's going to behave as intended - dyes and colorants make a rainbow of greases look alike, but have no relation to the base chemistry.

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Some slide pins have rubber components, i.e. a seal in the groove. If you have those, make sure you use appropriate 'rubber-friendly' lubricant. Those seals designed to allow air through but prevent the pin from wobbling or vibrating in the calliper. If wrong grease is used, it can cause the seal to swell and turn the pin-calliper into a piston-cylinder arrangement, so when calliper heats up the trapped air will push on the pin and gently press one of the pads into the disk. It will not feel any different while driving, but over time one of the pads will wear substantially more than the other, as it will constantly rub against the disk.

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