When Jeep Wrangler brakes start to persistently squeak or make scraping or grinding noises, it is time to replace the brake pads or brake shoes. Early Wrangler year models through 2007 tend to have front disc and rear drum brakes, while most later models have all-disc brakes. Learn more about brake components and find out how to change brake pads or shoes for more affordable maintenance.
How Do Brake Pads Work?
Disc brakes depend on brake pads to create friction against rotors to slow and stop wheels. The brake master cylinder sends pressurized hydraulic fluid down brake lines to pistons in the calipers on each wheel to bring brake pads into contact with the rotor. When pads wear down, you may hear squeaking, squealing or grinding noises while braking or feel vibration in the brake pedal.
A Jeep Wrangler with rear drum brakes relies on hydraulic wheel cylinders to bring brake shoes into contact with the brake drum. Always replace brake pads or shoe sets in pairs. It may also be necessary to resurface rotors or replace rotors or drums. Retailers that carry Jeep Wrangler auto parts should stock components for all-disc, front disc, rear disc and rear drum brake systems.
When To Replace Brake Pads and Shoes
Brake pads last 25,000 to 65,000 miles depending on the material. Ceramic or metallic pads have the longest lifespan. Rear disc brakes on Jeep Wranglers may require more frequent brake pad replacements. Change the rear brake shoes on earlier models approximately every 35,000 miles. Most brake shoes have a synthetic aramid lining. Switch out components such as Jeep Wrangler oil filters and air filters more frequently.
How To Safely Install New Brakes
To replace disc or drum brakes, it is necessary to loosen wheel lug nuts, lift a Jeep Wrangler with a floor jack and secure the vehicle on a jack stand. Work on both of the front or rear wheels or replace all of the brakes at the same time. Gain access to disc brake pads by detaching and securing the caliper assembly to avoid damaging the brake line while you remove old brake pads from clips on the rotor and insert replacement pads.
Specialized tools may be necessary to replace brake drums and shoes. Remove the drum dust cap and loosen the axle bearing nut. Remove the drum, springs, clips and the parking brake cable before replacing the set of brake shoes on the backing plate. Locking pliers may be helpful for some of these tasks. Disc brake rotors may require resurfacing or replacement and it may be necessary to replace brake drums.
It is important to know if your Jeep Wrangler has all-disc brakes or a combination of front disc and rear drum brakes. The type of brake system determines the frequency of brake maintenance and the necessary components. Most Jeep Wrangler YJ and TJ models have rear drum brakes. Even if your Wrangler JK or JL has rear disc brakes, these brakes may require more frequent brake pad replacement than front disc brakes on a four-wheel drive vehicle.