Repairing your own brakes is a job a DIY’er can undertake, obviously, brakes are super important, and getting it right is crucial for safety.
I’ve been a mechanic for more than twenty years; brake jobs are easily one of the most common repairs I make. On this page, you’ll find brake tools that will help you nail brake repairs safely and successfully.
Remember, most rear brake calipers are parking brake integrated, and in such cases, the caliper pistons need to be pushed and turned simultaneously; you’ll find a tool below for that called a Wind back tool.
Note: Cars equipped with EPB (electronic parking brake) systems will require a scan tool capable of placing the EPB in service mode.
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Wind Back Tool
This is a great caliper piston wind back tool. It will work for a wide range of vehicles, and importantly it works on front and rear calipers. Rear calipers need to be twisted and compressed simultaneously; this kit makes that look easy.
Brake Fluid Moisture Tester
Brake fluid moisture tester, this simple tester is a really fast way to check the moisture content of your fluid. Brake fluid should be changed every three years. Moisture inside the hydraulic system is, as you know, bad for a couple of reasons.
First, it reduces brake performance when the fluid gets hot, and second, moisture inside the system attacks metal components, causing corrosion. This will lead to caliper, brake line, master cylinder, and possible brake controller damage.
Brake Pad Tool
The brake pad inspection tool saves a ton of time, and it makes checking brake pads really easy; it’s designed to reach into the pads without removing the wheel, of course only possible with wide-spoked wheels. The tools employ the traffic light system; Red meaning change the pads now, Orange/Yellow is advisory, and Green is all good.
Brake Shoe Maintenance Kit
Drum brake repair isn’t fun, but this kit makes the job a ton easier. It contains all the tools you’ll need to remove springs and clips and adjust brakes. Drum brakes are almost a thing of the past, and that’s a good thing.
Brake Bleed Kit
Useful one-man vacuum brake and clutch bleeding kit that won’t hurt the pocket. It’s perfect for occasional brake maintenance chores, is easy to use, and gets the job done.
Brake Pipe Flaring Tool
Compact brake line flaring tool; the best thing about this tool is its size. This little guy is ideal for flaring brake lines while on the vehicle, but the handle is detachable for bench work too. Flares 3/16 SAE double flare steel and copper.
Pro Scan Tool
The Autel MaxiCOM is a shop-level tool. It is capable of reading, clearing fault codes, coding a new battery, placing the EPB module in service mode, and calibration after the repair. It is also capable of activating ABS modulator solenoids when performing a full brake bleed procedure.
Armed with this, you’ll be fit to read any code on any control module – engine, airbags, ABS, transmission, etc. It resets service messages, calibrates systems, codes injectors, runs DPF regen on diesel vehicles, and much much more. You won’t need another scanner.
It’s not a bidirectional tool; if you need to activate components, you’ll need to move up a scanner grade. A bidirectional tool is excellent for diagnosing component or switch issues.
Copper grease is used widely for many applications. It protects from corrosion and galling, the main cause of frozen bolts. Copper grease is great in hot locations, too; unlike other greases, it won’t run when hot. Anti-seize applications are used on wheel hubs, spark plug threads, O2 sensor threads, etc.
Permatex is a premium brake lube used on pads, floating caliper rails/slides, and hubs. It doesn’t wash off and is resistant to heat and moisture. Prevents brake squeal.
Synthetic Silicone Grease
3M Silicone grease is grease compatible with both rubber and metal. Regular grease causes rubber seals, boots, etc., to swell, and swelling usually causes bigger problems later. A mechanic commonly uses silicone grease on floating brake caliper fasteners where nylon bushing and rubber seals are present.
3M makes top-quality products. Brake cleaner is likely one of the most used products in a pro shop. It is used not just to clean brake components and prevent brake squeals but also to clean spilled liquids like brake fluid oil and grease. The cleaner is an aerosol and is powerful enough flush grit from components.
I can’t work without good light; if I don’t have good light, I find the job goes downhill quickly. Enuotek built these tough; I’ve had several of these lamps, not because they break but because I lose them.
I’ve bounced mine on the ground so many times, and it survived. They are a real MacGyver of a lamp, magnet, hooks, LED area light, and spotlight.
Antivibration gloves are important; using impact guns for prolonged periods can damage nerves in the hands and arms. It’s a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), and as yet, there’s no cure. If you intend to use an impact wrench for a living, please wear anti-vibration gloves.
The Vgo is a good quality glove; it’s tough, offers anti-vibration protection, is breathable, and is touch-screen capable.
Torque Wrench 1/2″
I use a Teng torque wrench; it’s tough, easy to use, and reliable. A torque wrench is used to tighten fasteners like lug nuts, cylinder head bolts, front covers, oil pans, etc. Mechanics will need a 1/2 drive and a 3/8 in the drive.
Torque Wrench 3/8″
Teng is my favored torque wrench; three sizes are available. This is the mid-size model; it’s a 3/8 inch drive and ranges from 3.5 ft. lbs. (5 Nm) to 36.5 ft. lbs. (50 Nm). This is the type of torque wrench ideal for tightening plugs, front covers, etc. It’s 14 inches long, easy to use, durable, and will go the distance.
Prestone Brake Fluid
Prestone is a leading supplier of quality automotive fluids. This is DOT 3 so remember to check your reservoir cap before ordering. This product is sold by Amazon and is conveniently delivered to your door. Picture links out to Amazon.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.