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Kia Optima Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the front disc brake pads on a fourth generation 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and Kia Optima sedan.

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Paul B. Michaels
Author & Photographer
Auto Mechanic Since 1989

2019 Optima Front Wheel
Slightly Loosen Lug Nuts
Raise Front of Car
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the 4th generation (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 model years) Kia Optima sedan in changing the front disc brake pads and lubricating the caliper slider pins.

Owners of other Kia, Hyundai or Genesis vehicles such as the Niro, Sportage, Sedona, Telluride, Sorento, Rio, Forte, Soul, K900, Cadenza, K5, Stinger, Tucson, Santa Fe, Kona, Palisade, Elantra, Sonata, Accent, Veloster, Ioniq, Nexo, Venue, G70, G80 and G90 may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

A few compatible replacement sets of new front brake pads with their part numbers are as follows: Raybestos EHT1826H, Power Stop 17-1826, ACDelco 17D1826CH, Callahan CPK01063 and TRW TPC1444.

The tools and other items needed to complete this procedure include a floor jack, two jack stands, a lug nut wrench, a 14mm socket with a 3/8" drive ratchet, a flat head screwdriver, an "F" clamp and a tube of brake caliper grease.

The first few steps are to drive the vehicle on to a level surface, shift the transmission into "Park" and turn off the ignition.

Engage the emergency / parking brake and place wheel chocks on both sides of the rear tires to prevent the car from moving.

Slightly loosen the five lug nuts on the front wheel by turning them about 1/2 turn in the counterclockwise direction with the tire iron.

Raise the front of the vehicle with the floor jack situated under the frame rail and use at least two jack stands to securely support it.

Please do not solely rely on the floor jack to support the vehicle!


Spin Off Lug Nuts
Five Lug Nuts Removed
Rotor, Bracket, Caliper
I prefer to only work on one side of the car at a time to keep three tires on the ground for extra safety.

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

Carefully remove the front wheel to reveal the caliper, bracket, rotor and suspension.

Some home mechanics choose to place the wheel and tire under the frame rail of the vehicle as a backup support device just in case both jack stands happen to fail or the vehicle gets knocked off the supports.

Front Brake Caliper
Loosen Top Caliper Bolt
Loosen Bottom Bolt
The front brake caliper is held in place to the bracket by two bolts situated on the back side of the caliper.

The two bolt heads face in towards the engine bay.

Loosen the top caliper bolt by turning it in the clockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and a 3/8" drive ratchet.

Then loosen the bottom caliper bolt by turning it in the clockwise direction (when viewed from the outside of the car) with the 14mm socket and a 3/8" drive ratchet.

If the slider pins turn as you are attempting to loosen the caliper bolts, hold the pins in place with a 17mm wrench.

Spin Out Upper Bolt
Remove Lower Bolt
Two Caliper Bolts
Spin out the two bolts the rest of the way by hand.

Set the two bolts aside in a safe place.

Lift Caliper Off Pads
Rest Caliper On Rotor
Two "U" Spring Clips
Carefully lift the caliper out of the bracket and off the old brake pads.

Rest the caliper on the top of the rotor or suspend it from the spring with a bungee cord or some rope.

Try to avoid bending, kinking, stretching or stressing the rubber brake hose.

The front brake pads are equipped with two metal "U" or "V" shaped drag reduction pad spreading spring clips.

Drag Reduction Clips
Remove Bottom Clip
Two Clips Removed
Remove the two spring clips and set them aside for re-installation later on.

Your set of new front brake pads might include a bag of replacement hardware that includes new spring clips.

Small Metal Retaining Tab
Push Down Lower Tab
Release Top Metal Tab
In order to remove the old brake pads from the bracket, you will have to gently push down the raised metal tabs on the pad abutment clips that hold the pads in place.

Use a flat head screwdriver to push down the small metal raised tab on the top and bottom pad abutment clips until you can remove the old brake pads from the bracket.

Remove Old Outer Pad
Wear Bar - Top Inner Pad
Pad Abutment Clips
Remove the old inner and outer brake pads.

Make a mental note of where the wear indicator bar or "squeal" bar is situated on the old brake pads.

On this 2019 Optima LX FE, the wear indicator bar was located at the top of the old inner brake pad.

If your new set of front brake pads includes a bag of replacement hardware, remove the old pad abutment or "anti-rattle" clips out of the top and bottom of the bracket.

Clean off the bracket, rotor, lug studs and caliper with brake parts cleaner spray. Avoid breathing in the brake dust of cleaning spray.

Replace Both Clips
Lower Caliper Slider Pin
Lubricate & Replace Pins
Apply a thin layer of brake parts lubricant grease to the top and bottom of the new pad abutment clips where they will come in contact with the bracket or the ends of the new brake pads.

Push the new pad abutment clips into the top and bottom of the bracket. Make sure they are fully seated in the bracket.

Avoid getting any grease on the friction surface of the rotor.

In order for the caliper to operate smoothly, the two caliper slider pins or "guide bolts" need to be well lubricated.

Do NOT mix up the top and bottom caliper slider pins since they are slightly different.

Remove one pin at a time, apply a thin layer of brake caliper grease to it and then push it back into the rubber dust boot attached to the bracket.


Attach "F" Clamp
Brake Fluid Reservoir
Remove Reservoir Cap
In order for the caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, the caliper piston will need to be compressed back.

Attach the "F" clamp to the caliper and use the back of an old brake pad to evenly distribute the pressure across the piston.

Move to the right rear area of the engine bay and locate the brake fluid reservoir situated behind the air filter box and in front of the cowl near the windshield on the driver side.

Twist off the brake fluid cap 1/4 turn in the counterclockwise direction and set it aside in a safe place.

Removing the reservoir cap will allow the brake fluid to more easily travel back through the system when you compress the caliper piston.

Compress Caliper Piston
Replace Reservoir Cap
Install New Outer Pad
Slowly turn the "F" clamp handle in the clockwise direction to retract back the caliper piston.

Repeatedly check the fluid level in the reservoir while you are compressing the caliper piston to make sure it doesn't overflow.

If necessary, remove some excess brake fluid with a turkey baster, a fluid pump or just soak it up with a paper towel.

Continue compressing the piston until it is just about flush with the rubber dust boot that surrounds it.

Replace the reservoir cap as soon as you are done compressing the piston. Brake fluid is hygroscopic so it readily absorbs moisture from the air, which can lead to reduced braking performance.

If your Optima has been exhibiting shuddering, shaking or vibrations in the front end during braking, the OEM rotors might be warped and should be replaced.

To replace the rotors, remove the two 17mm caliper bracket bolts and take off the bracket from the wheel hub. Remove the two Phillips head set screws on the outer face of the rotor. Slide the old rotor off the wheel hub or "steering knuckle". If the rotor is stuck in place by rust or debris, hit it with a rubber mallet. Slide the new rotor over the lug studs. Replace the two Phillips head set screws and tighten them in the clockwise direction. Re-attach the bracket with the two 17mm bolts and tighten them to the service manual specification of 57.9 to 72.3 lb-ft of torque.

Some compatible replacement front brake rotors with their part numbers are as follows: ACDelco 18A81958, DuraGo BR90138002, Centric 120.51020, Raybestos 981958R and Callahan CRK02123.

Wear Bar - Top Inner Pad
Push Pads Against Rotor
Re-Attach Spring Clips
Apply a small amount of grease to the top and bottom of the pads where they will come in contact with the pad abutment clips in the bracket.

Avoid getting any grease on the friction surface of the new pads.

Install the new inner and outer brake pads into the bracket.

The wear indicator bar should be situated at the top of the inner brake pad.

Push the two pads together until they are flush against the rotor.

If your new pads are equipped with the small holes on the outer edge, re-install the two "U" or "V" shaped metal spring clips.

Drag Reduction Clips
Lower Caliper Over Pads
Spin In Top Caliper Bolt
Carefully lower the caliper over the new pads and into the bracket.

Line up the bolt holes in the caliper with their corresponding holes in the slider pins within the bracket.

Spin in the two bolts a few turns by hand in the counterclockwise direction to make sure they don't become cross threaded.

Spin In Bottom Bolt
Tighten Lower Bolt
Tighten Upper Bolt
Tighten the two caliper bolts in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and a 3/8" drive ratchet to just past hand tight.

If the caliper slider pins turn as you are attempting to tighten the caliper bolts, hold them in place with a 17mm wrench.

If you have a torque wrench, the service manual specification for the front brake caliper bolts is 15.9 to 23.1 lb-ft of torque.

Double check that the two caliper bolts are tight before moving on to the next steps.

Rubber Valve Cap
Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Rotor Set Screws

If your brake pedal has been feeling soft or spongy, you might need to bleed the brake lines in order to remove any air bubbles or moisture.

Check out my Acura MDX Brake Fluid Bleeding Guide for more information on this topic.

In general, you will bleed the brake lines from the furthest wheel from the brake fluid reservoir to the closest one.

The brake fluid bleeder valve is located just below the top caliper bolt. It is covered by a rubber cap.

You'll need a 10mm wrench to open and close the bleeder valve.

If you would like to bleed the ABS modulator, you will need an OBD2 Scanner that specifically lists the ability to cycle the ABS module and perform an auto-bleed for Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

(I included some pictures of the Phillips head set screws in case you plan on replacing the rotors at some point in the future.)

Phillips Set Screw
Spin On 5 Lug Nuts
Slightly Tighten Lug Nuts
Carefully push the front wheel back into place over the lug studs.

Spin on the five lug nuts a few turns by hand in the clockwise direction to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron in a criss-cross or star pattern in the clockwise direction.

Lower Car From Stands
Torque Lug Nuts
Front Brake Job Done
Carefully lower the car from the jack stands by using the floor jack.

Continue progressively tightening the five lug nuts in the clockwise direction to about 1/8th to 1/4th of a turn past hand tight.

It would be best to use a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to the owner's manual specification of 65.1 to 79.6 lb-ft of torque.

Sit in the driver's seat and firmly press the brake pedal a few times to restore the brake line pressure.

I would also recommend checking your driveway, parking spot or garage for fresh drops of brake fluid which might indicate a leak from the bleeder valve or the reservoir bottle.

Check the fluid level in the reservoir and if necessary, add more DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid.

Be sure to record the brake pad change in your car's service records.

Please check out all of my 2016-2020 Kia Optima DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

If you found this guide to be helpful, please consider making a small donation by clicking on the "Donate" button located to the right of this paragraph. Thank you!
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