Replaced brake pads & rotors on the Speed3

Back in August when the Speed3 was in the shop, the service advisor told me I’d need new brakes. I got the usual ‘performance pads’ spiel, I heard the same thing when I had the Trans Am. The dealer quoted me $275 for the Mazdaspeed brake pads (OUCH!) that’s more than the $110 Pontiac quoted me for the Trans Am pads. Then it would be another $180 EACH for the rotors, plus labor about $100. That’s $735 EEK! Back when I had the Trans Am the total for the rear brakes would’ve been $270 (including labor), I got the pads for $49.99 and replaced them myself on a Saturday afternoon. So there was no way I’d pay $735 for a brake job. That’s just utterly ridiculous.

I went with the Hawk HPS street pads from at $85 a pair plus shipping. Savings about $180 savings just on the pads. Instead of resurfacing the existing rotors, I chose to replace them with new ones. While I would’ve really liked some slotted and cross-drilled rotors, they were more or damn close to the price of the Mazda rotors. I went with the Centric plain rotors, at $69 each plus $23 shipping that’s a savings of $199. So far I’ve saved $379 on parts alone. Today I decided to spend the afternoon saving the labor costs by doing the job myself. 🙂

Want to see how I did it? Of course you do 🙂 First, thing is to loosen the wheel lug nuts before you jack up the car.

Now let’s see where we can jack up the car (I recommend using a good floor jack and jackstand).
I placed my 2 1/4 ton Craftsman floor jack in the pit of the rail. I jacked the car up enough to put a jackstand behind the jack. I left them both there while I worked on brakes. I first removed the wheel making note of where the valve stem was positioned and the wheel lock as well. Not sure this is necessary but just in case it affects the balance I wanted to put the wheels back the way they were when I started.

jack point

After the car is jacked up and wheel is removed, now it’s time for the fun to start. Remove the 2 17mm bolts which attach the caliper to the strut. You will probably need to use a breaker bar or poll on a socket wrench to give you leverage to loosen the bolt. Trust me you need to give it a good push to get these bolts loose (wear mechanix gloves to avoid busting a knuckle or two).


Don’t remove the Torx screws, they hold the caliper together. You might have to give the caliper a bit of a smack with a mallet to remove the caliper (my second one did), the first one did not. Then make sure you hang the caliper with a coat hanger (or other strong wire) from the strut spring to alleviate any pressure on the brake line. You definitely don’t want to break that line or you’ll have brake fluid spewing everywhere. That would be BAD! 🙂


Before removing the old pads take a C-clamp and compress the inner brake pad (the one connected to the piston) and compress the piston. Might want to loosen the brake fluid reservoir cap to alleviate the pressure.

Once you have compressed the piston back in, you can now remove the pads. Using a screw driver pry out the inner pad (the one on the piston). It should pop out relatively easily. Now you can remove the outer pad. On the Trans Am the outer pad was EASY, it was simply held in place by the caliper body, but on the Speed3 it is held by a spring clip. Let me warn you springs + screwdriver = POTENTIAL EYE LOSS. Thankfully, I had it pointed towards the inner wheel well when it sprung out. 🙂

Once I had the spring removed, I used a screwdriver to push the pad out.
Spring retainer

Clip installed

I figured out the best way to remove and reinstall the spring. Use a C-clamp to clamp down one side of the spring, then wrap a wire around the other end loosely, then use a flat head screwdriver to pry it loose. The clamp and wire keep it from springing it out and potentially putting your eye out. Putting it back in is very similar. Clamp one end (making sure the end of the spring is lined up correctly near its final installed place). Then use the screw driver to pry the other one back down into place. Be VERY CAREFUL this is the dangerous part and the spring is a bit lively.

Now you can remove your rotor. These usually get rusted on, so you need to use either a rubber mallet or a regular hammer tapping the rotor hat. The hat is the part where the rotor gets placed on the bolts. Don’t be afraid, sometimes you need to give it quite a good whack. Pull it off.
Here is what it looks like with everything off.


Scared yet? It’s really not that hard to put humpty back together.

Examine your pads, as you can see I really needed brakes bad. But remember I was told I needed them back in August of 2009. It is now January 2010. So sometimes when you’re told you need something fixed on a car, you still have more time. 😀

The old pad is on the left it was completely worn down to the metal. I probably needed to replace these last month. The new pad is on the right, see how much material should be on the pad?

Old vs New pads

Now it’s time to put this back together. I like to put the pads into the caliper before putting on the rotor. Best way is to put the pad on the piston first, then the outer pad. Be careful putting the spring clip back on. See my comment above.

new pads installed

Now you want to put the rotor back on, make sure you push it flush with the wheel hub and use 2 of your lug nuts to hold it in place. Simply hand tighten it but make sure it is flush. Now you can slide the caliper with the new pads onto the rotor. You’ll probably have to remove it form the coat hanger be careful not to put too much pressure on the brake line. Hold it in place and put the bolt to hold it in place. You only need to hand tighten this at first, then get the second bolt on. Alternate tightening each bolt until they’re tight. Now use a breaker bar or poll on a socket until it’s very tight. If you have a torque wrench that’s probably the best thing to use. I’ve always just tightened them really tight 🙂 Maybe I’ll add a torque wrench to my wish list.

Here is everything all together:

Rotor and pads installed

Now repeat for the other side 🙂 It took me about 4 hours to do both sides, I started around 3pm and finished about 7pm. The first wheel was the hardest as I tried to figure out what I needed to do. The second wheel took about 45 minutes.


3 thoughts on “Replaced brake pads & rotors on the Speed3

  1. Wow, you really had a hard time doing the job but i bet it was well worth it. Considering the fact that you saved a lot and you also learned a lot. I can definitely vouch that some auto shops can really overprice with their labor and car parts. It’s a nice guide for replacing car brake pads and it is definitely a good walk through on what to do when you face this scenario.

  2. well what will people say; just as they did about open source “it’s only free if your time is worth nothing!”

    yeah, well i think it’s awesome you can do this yourself.

  3. When using a c-clamp to push in the caliper piston keep in mind that you’ll get small amounts of rubber from the seals in your brake lines. To avoid this you should definately open the release valve and let the brake fluid escape. Otherwise you may end up getting these small amounts of rubber in your abs sensor and will have to replace the sensor.

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