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I just did my first brake job.

The brake pads I put into the caliper were significantly smaller than the old ones. The old ones needed to be hammered out of the caliper because they were tightly fitted into the caliper.

The new brake pads are supposed to be an exact fit for my car (Toyota Camry 2000) but there is almost a centimeter of free space from the top of the pad to the caliper.

Is there supposed to be space for play in the brakes? It seems like there is too much. I installed the brakes and I do hear noises so I'm guessing Advanced Auto Parts had the wrong size, or I just need to give the brakes some time to break in?

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    Can you post a picture of the free space between the pad and the caliper? It helps a lot in examining if it should be a risk for your safety.
    – Qwedvit
    Apr 21, 2015 at 7:32

3 Answers 3

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Your brake pads need to fit exactly in the width of the caliper. You can't have any space there as it might be dangerous if you need to push hard on the brakes. The pads can be a little longer or shorter than your previous ones. If your pads are longer, the surface of the brakes touching the discs will be larger, thus will generate more friction and therfore better stopping power. In contrast will shorter brake pads generate less friction and therefore a litte less stopping power. Your brake pads must be within certain limits the manufaturer specifies, though. they can't be too large and they certainly can't be smaller than the size of the surface of the brake pistons.

It's normal you needed to hammer the old ones out, as the brake pads might be stuck due to extreme temperature changes. Before you read on, make sure your brake fluid is within the limits on the reservoir, your brake pads touch the discs and the cap of the brake fluid reservoir is closed!

If you just replaced your brakes its best to "brake them in" to make them last longer and let them do their job better. Look for an open road with as few traffic as possible and accelerate to some decent speed and push on the brakes as hard as you can without creating any flat-spots on your tires.. Make sure there is nothing in the car that can get flying, though :). You will notice that there will be a sqeezy noise on the first few brake attempts. This is perfectly normal. You'll know when your brakes are ready when they are almost "silent". While you are doing this, make sure the car doesn't tend to go to the side of the road. Now you're ready to head out and use your brakes as you normally would.

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  • Yeah after going through youtube, the brake pads seemed to fit perfectly within the caliper in the videos, so I'm gonna go back to the parts store and get a replacement. Thanks Apr 21, 2015 at 20:45
  • Hammering brake pads out is a sign that something is inherently wrong! Hammering them in is far worse. The brake pads should be the correct fit (part no.) as specified by the manufacturer. But importantly will need to be fitted properly. The 'brake them in' advice is completely wrong and will result in poor brakes due to glazed pads.
    – charmer
    Jan 6 at 13:35
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This could be a simple case of "Forgotten Shims". Shims are usually provided with the purchase of a new caliper. The shims hold the brake pad in a suspended state within the caliper housing. this allows some space for the shim to move freely during forward and reverse braking operation. usually if the shims are not present the brakes will make a tap noise when engaging in either direction because there is no shim to hold the pad suspended and so it just knock on the caliper housing when engaged during vehicle movement.

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    While this is a valid answer, please do not attempt to edit the question to suit your answer!
    – Nick C
    Nov 23, 2015 at 12:36
  • Thanks for the answer, but I had the shims, the problem was actually that the shop gave me pads for 14" wheels, when my model had 15" wheels (2000 Camry LE) Nov 23, 2015 at 19:37
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I agree with everything said in the previous posts.

I will say though, in my experience, the brake pads must fit snugly but not too tight. You shouldn't have to force the new pad into the caliper. The pads MUST be able to move freely in the abutment clip (lubricate this!) when pressure is release. Newer brakes even come with a little spring tab on the clip to slightly pull the pad off the rotor to prevent premature wear.

Although you may have to "hammer out" old pads and this may be normal on a lot of vehicles, it means the brakes are not functioning normally and you will most likely experience premature wear.

Last thought. Change the rotor (or if you have enough thickness, lathe the rotor). Don't cheap out on this. Your pads will be gone in a year if you have a bad rotor.

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  • And, as always, never let the lubricant get on the braking surface of the pad!
    – Bob Cross
    May 22, 2020 at 11:39

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