Changing the brake pads on a Mercedes W202 C-Class is a pretty quick and simple job that you can easily do yourself at home. With that being said though, if you are unsure, please do take your car to a professional. Brakes are an important safety component of your car and shouldn’t be messed with if you’re not sure on what you’re doing.
There are two variants of rear brakes for the W202 platform. This guide will talk you through how to change the later pads with the big single retaining pin running through the centre, rather than the earlier design with a retaining pin at the top and bottom of the pad. Check to see which system your car has before ordering your brake pads!
You’ll need a jack and axle stands, a breaker bar with a 17mm socket (or the wheel wrench provided with the car if you’re feeling extra strong, a center punch, a hammer, a thin but long screwdriver, a small tube of copper grease, a slither of wood and a thin bar.
If you’re like me and like to clean things as you work on them, then I also recommend getting some brake and clutch cleaner and a wire brush; just to get rid of any brake dust and road debris in the caliper.
Once you’ve jacked up and removed the rear wheels of the vehicle, release the parking brake to fully release the rear brakes.
A W202 has a dual piston rear caliper. There is a piston on either side of the brake that presses the brake pad into the disc. A big retaining pin runs through the back of the caliper, through the brake pads and is into the other side of the caliper.
Can you see the end of the pin sticking out of the left hand side of the caliper? That’s where you will need to tap to get the pin out.
Spray either side of the pin with some good penetrating spray, then press the flat side of the centre punch against the head of the pin and tap it with a hammer. It might take a few taps with the hammer to get the pin to move, which is why you should start on the flat side of the centre punch; the spiked end may damage the pin.
Once the pin is moving, turn the center punch around and continue to tap the pin out. The centre punch will only be able to get so far into the hole. Once it gets to the point, change to your long, thin screwdriver and continue to tap the pin out.
As the pin retracts you’ll feel the anti-rattle clip start to come away. It’s normal for it to spring out.
Once it and the pin are out I recommend giving them a good soak in brake cleaner and going over them with a wire brush. Especially the pin. Once the dirt os off of the pin it will make it much easier to put back in.
Now it’s time to take the old pads out!
The pistons inside the caliper will make getting the pads out quite difficult in their current position. If you can retract the piston slightly using the pad, they will be really easy to pull out.
First, take the cap off of the brake fluid reservoir. I’m not sure if this bit is mandatory for W202s. With some cars when you retract caliper pistons the fluid level will rise, mine stayed just under the “maximum” mark for the whole procedure.
Grab a hold of the little tab on the back of the brake pad and give it a wiggle. The pistons really don’t take a lot of force to retract, so doing this should give you enough room to pull the pad out.
Once the second pad is out you’ll be able to look through the caliper to see the piston on either side.
As you can see, a lot of debris builds up around the brakes, give them a spray with brake cleaner and scrape that debris off with a wire brush.
The pistons will need to be retracted as far back as they can go so you can get the new pads in. The easiest way to do this is to put a bit of soft wood up against the piston and press them back with a lever. The lever I used here was a little overkill, they are very easy to push back.
Take a moment to see how far your old pads had worn. Oddly, mine had never come up as an advisory on my MOT. They look pretty tired to me!
Pop a little bit of copper grease on the backing plate of the pad (the side that sits against the piston) and slot them in. Now pop the lid back on your brake fluid reservoir.
The fiddliest bit of putting the brake back together is getting the pin to go through the spring clip. You’ll need to hold the clip with one hand and tap the pin back in with the other. It takes a bit of messing about but it will work.
Once that’s in, pop the wheels back on and lower the car to the ground, jump in and pump the peddle a few times with the car switched off to reset the pistons.
Brake pads do take a little while to bed in, so drive carefully for the first 100 miles or so.
Thanks for reading, I hope this guide has been useful!
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By Richard Francis