How to Repair the Front Brakes on a 2001 Jeep Wrangler

Though it went by a different name, the Jeep Wrangler's history stretches back to the release of the Willys-Overland-built Jeep CJ-2A, in 1945. In 1987, the Wrangler -- the YJ-series -- took over for the CJ-series of Jeeps, but was strikingly similar to its predecessors. The YJ remained for nine years, and the TJ-series replaced it. The TJ-series of Wranglers had even more styling cues taken from the CJ-series -- most noticeable being the round headlights. The 2001 Wrangler came standard with four-wheel drive and front disc brakes, so it could handle rough and mountainous terrain. Replacing the front brake pads on this rugged vehicle is a simple process that most weekend mechanics can complete in an afternoon.


  1. Open the Wrangler's hood, and unscrew the lid from the master cylinder reservoir. Siphon out about half of the brake fluid, using a turkey baster, and transfer this fluid to a small container for later disposal.
  2. Loosen the front lug nuts, using a ratchet and socket. Raise the front of the Wrangler off the ground with a floor jack, and slide jack stands under the SUV's frame rails. Lower the Jeep onto the frame rails. Remove the front lug nuts, and pull the front wheels off the vehicle.
  3. Remove the two caliper-retaining bolts, using a ratchet and socket, and pull the caliper off the caliper bracket. Suspend the caliper from a nearby suspension component, using mechanic's wire.
  4. Press one side of the outer brake pad inward until the tab on the rear of the pad is free from the hole in the caliper, then pivot that side of the brake pad out of the caliper. Repeat this process on the other side of the outer brake pad to remove the pad from the caliper.
  5. Position an 8-inch C-clamp over the caliper so its screw part touches the inner brake pad and its fixed part contacts the rear of the brake caliper. Tighten the C-clamp until the inner brake pad stops moving and the caliper piston behind it is fully retracted. Remove the C-clamp.
  6. Grab the inner brake pad and pull it toward the outer part of the caliper -- notice a set of metal "fingers" secure it in the caliper piston. Remove the inner brake pad from the caliper once the "fingers" are free of the caliper piston.
  7. Remove the screw securing the brake rotor to the front hub, using a Phillips screwdriver. If the screw does not turn easily, lightly tap the head of the screw with a hammer to free it. Pull the rotor from the front hub, and inspect it for defects, including deep grooves, mirror-like shine or stress cracks. If any defects exist, discard the rotor and replace it with a new one.
  8. Set the rotor on the front hub, and tighten its retaining screw with a Phillips screwdriver.
  9. Line the "fingers" on the rear of a new inner pad with the cavity in the caliper piston, and press the pad onto the caliper until the pad seat on the caliper.
  10. Set the outer pad on the caliper body, and pry the metal clip on one side of the pad upward, using a flat-head screwdriver. Slide the pried side of the pad into the caliper until the tab on the rear of the pad inserts into the hole in the caliper. Repeat this step on the other side of the pad.
  11. Apply a generous coat of disc brake grease onto the smooth part of both caliper bolts. Set the caliper back onto its bracket, and slide the caliper bolts into the caliper and bracket. Hand-thread the caliper bolts, then tighten them to 11 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench and socket.
  12. Repeat Steps 3 through 11 for the brake pads on the other side of the Wrangler.
  13. Reinstall the front wheels onto the Wrangler's front hubs, and hand-tighten the lug nuts. Raise the SUV off the jack stands, using a floor jack, and remove the jack stands. Lower the Jeep to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts, in a crisscrossing pattern, to 110 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench and socket.
  14. Press and release the brake pedal until it feels firm. Add DOT 3 brake fluid to the master cylinder reservoir until the fluid level reaches the "Max" line on the reservoir. Tighten the cap onto the master cylinder reservoir.
  15. Take the old DOT 3 fluid remove in Step 1 to a used auto fluid-recycling center. Some auto parts stores take old brake fluid free of charge.