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Inspecting and replacing the brake pads on your utility ATV is a vital maintenance procedure for obvious safety reasons. Generally, utility ATVs are heavier machines, and without a properly working braking system to get things slowed down, you’re going to find yourself in a heap of trouble. And if you’re lacking a little in the mechanical department, don’t worry–inspecting and replacing brake pads are a fairly simple procedure.

Step 1: For starters, you will need a few common tools that are more than likely already sitting around the garage, such as a socket wrench set, a C-clamp, a flathead screwdriver, an Allen wrench set, and an ATV stand or lift. Let’s start by locking down the emergency brake, which is usually located near your hand brake. This will keep the tires from rolling as you begin to loosen the lug nuts.

Step 2: While the machine still sitting on the ground, break loose all of the lug nuts on the wheels that you will be inspecting. A socket wrench with an extension and a little bit of old-fashioned muscle is all you will need to accomplish this part of the procedure. It’s important not to completely remove the lug nuts at this point, as the quad could become unstable.


Step 3: Now that the lug nuts have been loosened, the ATV will need to be lifted from the ground by using an ATV stand or a hydraulic lift. Once the machine is lifted an inch or two off the ground, be sure that it is stable (you do not want it to fall on you). Remove all of the loosened lug nuts and tires and set them to the side. The brake caliper should now be exposed.


Step 4: On most utility models, manufacturers will include a caliper guard that will need to be removed before gaining complete access to the caliper. Usually they can be removed using a socket wrench. Remove the two slide pin bolts that hold the caliper in position. Carefully remove the caliper from the rotor and hold it in your hand.


Step 5: Now that the brake caliper is removed, unscrew the debris covers, which are over the bolts that secure the brake pads to the caliper, with a flathead screwdriver. Once the debris covers are removed, the bolts that secure the brake pads to the caliper should be exposed. Using an Allen wrench, loosen both of the brake pad bolts without completely removing them.


Step 6: Carefully remove both brake pads by wiggling them loose from the brake caliper. Inspect the brake pads in order to determine whether they will need to be replaced. If most of the brake padding is worn, it’s definitely time to replace them with a fresh set of pads.


Step 7: Using a small-sized C-clamp, carefully push the piston back into the caliper in order to make room for reinstalling the brake pads. Be extremely careful not to damage the piston, as it is a very expensive part to replace. Reinstall the brake pads and rethread the bolts and debris covers back in securely.

Step 8: Now the job is just about completed. Reinstall the caliper after the new brake pads have been securely attached. Put the wheels back on and make sure that the lug nuts are tightened to the proper torque. Now, check to make sure your brakes are working properly and then enjoy your newfound stopping power!

While you’ve got brakes on the brain, you should always flush the brake fluid when you change the pads (check with your repair manual for steps to do this). Excess air in the brake system can be bled by zip-tying the front brake lever to the handlebar and leaving it overnight. Also, determine the type of riding you’ll be doing–sintered metal pads should be used for extreme mud riding, but organic pads perform much better for aggressive riding in drier conditions.