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2008-2012 GM Chevy Malibu Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to replace the front brake pads on a 7th generation (2008-2012) Chevrolet Malibu with picture illustrated instructions.

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Malibu Front Wheel
Loosen Five Lug Nuts
Floor Jack - Raise Vehicle
This automotive "how-to" guide was specifically written to assist owners of the 7th generation (2008 to 2012) GM Chevrolet Malibu in replacing the front brake pads.

Owners of other General Motors vehicles such as the Cruze, Sonic, Volt, Impala, Corvette, Camaro, Tahoe, Colorado, Equinox, Traverse, Buick Regal, Enclave, LaCrosse, GMC Acadia, Terrain, Yukon, Cadillac CTS, ATS, XTS, Escalade, Pontiac Grand Prix, Grand Am, G6, G5, G8, Oldsmobile Alero, Silhouette, Bravada, Aurora, and Intrigue may also find these DIY front brake job instructions to be helpful.

The items needed to complete this procedure include a tire iron, a floor jack, two jack stands, a 14mm socket, a ratcheting wrench, a "C" or "F" clamp and a new set of brake pads.

A few of the aftermarket brake pads compatible with the 08-12 Malibu include the following with their part numbers: ACDelco 14D1160CH, Raybestos PGD1160C, Wagner QC1160 or ZD1160, Bendix D1028 CQ, Monroe CX1160, and Wearever Platinum Premium Ceramic # PNAD1160.

Spin Off Lug Nuts
5 Lug Nuts Removed
Front Wheel Rotor & Caliper
The first two steps are to chock the rear wheels and engage the emergency / parking brake to prevent the vehicle from moving.

Then slightly loosen the 5 lug nuts on the front wheel before raising the vehicle with the floor jack and securely supporting it with at least two jack stands.

Spin off the lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place.

Remove the front wheel to reveal the front brake caliper, rotor and bracket.

Loosen 14mm Caliper Bolt
Loosen Lower 14mm Bolt
Remove Caliper Bolts
Use a 14mm socket with a ratcheting wrench to loosen and remove the two front brake caliper bolts by turning them clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle).
Pull Off Caliper Assembly
Front Brake Caliper Piston
Brake Pads In Caliper Bracket
Gently pull the caliper assembly off the brake pads and away from the rotor.
Pull Out Brake Pads
Wear Bar - Top Inner Pad
Old Brake Pads Removed
Remove the old brake pads from the bracket and make a mental note of how the wear or "squeal" bar is situated. On this 2011 Malibu, the wear bar was positioned at the top of the inner brake pad.
2008-2012-GM-Chevy-Malibu-Front-Brake-Pads-Replacement-Guide-016 2008-2012-GM-Chevy-Malibu-Front-Brake-Pads-Replacement-Guide-017
Remove Lower Caliper Pin
Check Caliper Slider Pin & Lube
In order to maintain optimum braking performance, the two caliper slider pins should be removed to check for adequate lubrication.

Gently pull the caliper pins out of their rubber dust boots and if they aren't well lubricated, apply a generous amount of high pressure moly lubricant or a silicone based "caliper pin grease".

Then re-insert the caliper slider pins back into the caliper bracket until their rubber boots pop back in place over the metal lip on the pins.

I've always had great experiences with the Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1160 ceramic brake pads and they have excellent reviews on Amazon. So I would recommend purchasing them over other brands.


Replace Anti-Rattle Clips
Insert New Brake Pads
Squeal Bar - Top Inner Pad

If the new front brake pads kit included new metal anti-rattle clips, remove the old ones from the top and bottom of the caliper bracket and install the new ones in their place. (Wear gloves to keep from cutting your fingers on the sharp metal edges.)

Thoroughly clean off the brake rotor, caliper bracket, brake caliper assembly and the lug nut studs with brake parts cleaner spray. Do not use compressed air or blow with your mouth to clean off the brake parts since breathing in brake dust can be harmful to your health. Brake dust may be carcinogenic (causes cancer) if inhaled.

To help prevent or reduce braking noise, an optional step is to apply some CRC Disc Brake Quiet gel or a similar product to the rear of the new brake pads where they come in contact with the caliper. (Do not apply anything to the friction surface of the new pads.)

If your vehicle exhibits shuddering, pulsating, or vibrations during braking, you may need to have your rotors "turned" (resurfaced) or just replace them with brand new rotors. If this is the car's first front brake job and the rotors appear to be in excellent condition, you should be able to just replace the pads with great results.

Push Pads Against Rotor
Brake Fluid Reservoir
Remove Brake Fluid Cap
Install the new brake pads into the bracket and push them flush against the rotor.

In order for the caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, the caliper piston will need to be compressed back with a "C" clamp.

First move to the engine bay and remove the brake fluid reservoir cap to allow the fluid to more easily travel backwards through the system when you compress the caliper piston.

"C" Clamp Compress Piston
Lower Caliper Over New Pads
Attach the "C" clamp to the caliper piston using the back of an old brake pad to evenly distribute the force. Slowly compress the caliper piston until it is flush with its rubber dust boot.

Screw the brake fluid reservoir cap back in place as soon as possible since the fluid readily absorbs moisture from the air.

Lower the brake caliper over the new brake pads and down into the bracket.

If the caliper won't fit over the new brake pads, you may need to compress the piston back a bit further with the "F" clamp.

Insert 14mm Caliper Bolts
Tighten Lower Caliper Bolt
Tighten Upper Caliper Bolt
Line up the bolt hole in the caliper with the bolt hole in the caliper pin. Insert the two 14mm caliper bolts and thread by hand a few turns to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Tighten the two caliper bolts to just past hand tight or about 25 ft lbs of torque with a torque wrench.

Double check that both the caliper bolts are securely tightened before continuing on to the next steps.

Bleed Valve Cap
Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Replace Brake Fluid Cap
If your brake pedal previously felt soft, mushy, or spongy, the brake fluid may be contaminated with water and/or the brake lines may contain air bubbles.

It would be best to bleed the brake lines at this time in order to flush out the old fluid and replace it with fresh DOT 3 brake fluid. For more on this topic, check out my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With An Assistant DIY Guide or alternatively the Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With A Power Bleeder Guide.

If you haven't already, don't forget to replace the cap on the brake fluid reservoir.

Replace Front Wheel
Spin On Five Lug Nuts
Slightly Tighten Lug Nuts
Replace the front wheel, spin on the five lug nuts by hand, and slightly tighten them with the lug nut wrench.

Lower the car from the jack stands and the floor jack. Progressively tighten the lug nuts in a "criss-cross" or star pattern to about 1/4 to 1/2 turn past hand tight.

It would be best to use a torque wrench or an air gun with a torque stick to tighten them to about 75-100 ft lbs of torque.

Lower Car From Floor Jack
Tighten 5 Lug Nuts
Check Lug Nuts - Torque Wrench

Sit in the driver's seat of the car and firmly pump the brake pedal a few times to restore the brake line pressure. Then check the brake fluid level in the reservoir and verify that it is at the proper level.

To break in your new front brake pads, just drive normally for the first several hundred miles while trying to avoid any hard or "panic" stops which may glaze over the new brake pads and cause them to be noisy and/or not perform as well.

It's also a good idea to regularly check your driveway for drops of brake fluid which may indicate a leak, check the brake fluid level in the reservoir, and also check that the lug nuts are still properly tightened. 

Please check out my other 2008-2012 Chevy Malibu Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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