VW Passat rear disc brake rotor and pad replacement

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Disclaimer: Before you attempt any brake work on your car, refer to the factory service manual and follow all precautions.  Any and all information presented on this website is superseded by the official service manual and is not a substitute for the services or advice of a certified professional mechanic.  See the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer.  If the brakes are faulty or not working correctly, tow it to a mechanic and do not attempt to drive the car.  Faulty brakes can result in an accident or loss of control so have your local garage do it if you're not qualified to work on the brakes.


This article shows how to replace the rear brakes on a mk3 VW Passat TDI.  The procedure for the rear brakes is different from the front brakes.

The rear calipers need a special tool, listed below, to turn the caliper piston while pressing it back.  The fronts can be pressed back without turning them.  The wheel bearings are inside of the brake rotor.  The wheel bearings are of tapered design.  Make sure that the taper of the bearing races point towards each other and are properly adjusted!

Secure vehicle with car in gear and chocks around the front wheels.  Always use multiple jack stands, never put yourself or any part of yourself under the car if the car is on jacks!  Make sure the car is safely and securely resting on multiple jack stands before doing any work on the car!

Also note that the rear brakes also have a proportioning valve on the rear torsion beam.  It changes the percentage of braking force (brake bias) going to the rear brakes under heavy braking or heavy rear cargo loads.  This is because as the center of gravity shifts while braking or with loads, the brake bias should also change.  See more brake info at 1000q: brake FAQ.  These are almost always frozen and inoperative but do not try to adjust it unless you have the proper tools to measure the brake line pressure and brake balance.  

Many pics mirrored from http://faculty.ccp.edu/faculty/dreed/campingart/jettatech/index.htm

Brake rotor parts and tools

VW special tool 3272 for brake piston retraction , substitute available at autozone
Brake pads
New or resurfaced brake rotors and new wheel bearings
Brake fluid-dot 4 
cotter pin replacement

or brake pad and rotor kit from kermatdi

Wear specs:

Minimum brake pad thickness : 7mm, including backing pad
Brake rotor diameter: 226 mm
Brake rotor thickness: 10 mm
Brake rotor wear limit: 8 mm


Secure car as recommended in the factory service manual.  Here are some additional tips.  Put the car in gear and apply the parking brake.  Chock the front or rear wheels to help prevent the car from moving.

When removing a wheel, I like to jack it up just enough to get the weight of the car off one wheel, making it a little easier to initially loosen the lugs by 1/2 turn.  Once they are loosened, finish jacking up the car, and then secure the car on jack stands.  Now that the car is safely secured and raised, fully remove lug nuts and fully remove the wheel.  


Brake pad removal:

Remove wheel lug nuts, parking brake cable, and caliper from wheel.
Remove securing bolts from brake caliper housing; counter-hold on guide pins.
Remove brake pads, mark if you are reusing them, always install in pairs.

Brake pad installation:

Open brake master cylinder reservoir.
Thread in piston by turning knurled wheel of special tool 3272 clockwise.  The brake piston must be turned AND pushed back at the same time.
Install brake pads always in pairs, grease guide pins with brake grease.

Notes: Install special tool 3272 so that the collar (arrow) of the tool is seated against the brake caliper.
If the piston is difficult to move, use a 13 mm open end wrench on the flats provided for this purpose.
If the piston is pushed back with a piston resetting tool or by operating the foot brake, the automatic adjustment in the brake caliper will be destroyed.

Here is an example of the tool being used on a front brake.  Make sure the head you use has the teeth to turn the caliper piston.

Secure brake caliper housing with new self-locking bolts. 
Reattach parking brake cable to brake caliper housing.

Notes: After each brake pad change firmly depress brake pedal several times with vehicle stationary, so that the brake pads are properly seated in their normal operating position.
After changing brake pads check brake fluid level and adjust as necessary.


Removing brake rotor:

Remove brake caliper, brake pads, and brake caliper carrier (8mm allen wrench)
Remove axle nut, dust cap, cotter pin, and outer bearing.  I suggest using a new cotter pin here.
Remove wheel bearing.  Place on a clean paper towel so that it doesn't get dirty.
Always clean wheel bearing surfaces and races.  The tapered bearing races should point in towards each other.




Installing brake rotor:

Clean and pack bearings with wheel bearing grease.
Installation is the reverse of removal.  If you are replacing the disc brake, always replace the wheel bearings and always regrease the bearings each time they are removed.

To pack the new bearings with grease, first clean everything with brake parts cleaner, do not use water.  With clean gloves, push the bearings through a ball of grease or shove a ball of grease through the bearing's sides until grease comes out the other side.  Rotate the bearing races and repeat until the bearing is thoroughly greased. 

Always use new hardware such as cotter pins and lock nuts.

To adjust wheel bearing, tighten to 10 ft lbs max., turn by hand to ensure proper fitment, then loosen enough so that using a screwdriver it is possible to move the thrust washer by finger pressure, without leverage.  
Wheel should spin freely if bearings are adjusted properly. If they are too loose, the wheel will vibrate.  If they are too tight, the wheel bearings will grind and be destroyed.   Always use a new cotter pin. A rule of thumb is to tighten it and then back off a quarter turn. This is because the metal will heat up once the car is in motion - if it's tight they will bind and grind down.

The lock nut should leave the cotter pin hole in the axle exposed, reinstall a new cotter pin, replace dust cap.  You may have to crimp the edges of the grease cap slightly out of round to make sure it stays in place.
Test vehicle and re-check wheel bearing adjustment as necessary. 

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