Author Topic: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?  (Read 2257 times)


  • Stubble
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09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« on: June 30, 2016, 09:23:21 AM »
My brakes are pretty much shot, the rotors look like semicircles and I have to be super easy on the brakes to be able to stop.  I probably went way too long (3 years 50K miles) without any brake work.  I got a quote for $580 for a complete job which was better than I thought but I would rather not spend that much.  I priced out "Professional grade" parts (pads and rotors) at Advanced Auto Parts and they are all $5-15 cheaper than the quote shows plus I'd rather learn to do it myself than spend $190 for labor.

Problem is, I've never done much car work before.  The only thing outside of checking fluids was replacing a burnt out blower resistor in the heating system (The blower would only work on max) so while not super easy, at least if I failed, it wouldn't cause major damage to me or my car.  I also don't have any tools, no jack, no torque wrench, etc.

I've asked neighbors and family if anyone can sort of teach me and walk me through it but no dice yet.  Is this doable or should I just bite the bullet and pay?


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2016, 10:51:13 AM »
I just did my brakes for the first time with no car experience by just watching YouTube videos. Search 2009 Kia Optima brakes on YouTube and I'm sure you will find a video that will explain everything for you. As far as tools go all you need is a jack and jack stand, breaker bar, C-Clamp, anti-seize, wire brush, and the right size wrenches to get the bolts off. You can buy all those tools like I did for around $70. Also I don't know how much brake pads and rotors are for your car, but I spent only $100 on mine. Autozone or ORiley Auto parts will match you with a good set of parts for you.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2016, 10:57:01 AM by rgregory »


  • Stubble
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2016, 10:55:09 AM »
It sounds like the job you're thinking of taking on is replacing the rotors and brake pads. The job itself isn't terribly complicated, as there are plenty of YouTube videos and forums out there, as well as a repair manual that you can buy for probably $15-20.

The real issue here to me is the lack of tools. It's up to you whether you have the money and space to store these kinds of things around the house. A torque wrench is probably a good tool to have anyway, but if you aren't really into car work then jack stands and other stuff may not be worth it.

The tools themselves will probably run you around $60-100, depending where in the country you are and whether you can find decent stuff on Craigslist (that's where I got my jack stands). Good luck!


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2016, 10:58:25 AM »
Yes, it's definitely DIY-able--when I was first learning to do my own repair, brakes were one of the earlier jobs I did.  There's nothing particularly complex about the job--90% of it is removing or installing bolts that are pretty easily accessible.  A few thoughts:

1) you'll need to buy or borrow tools.  You'll need a socket/ratchet set, a breaker bar, a jack, and jack stands. sabertooth3 is right about the cost of the tools.  Once you have them, though, you'll be able to use them on future maintenance.
2) youtube is an incredible resource.  I also recommend getting at least *some* sort of manual, either a cheap one from a parts store or the OEM one.
3) is a much cheaper place to get parts than the retail stores.
4) you can borrow tools for free from Autozone.
5) prepare for some frustration.  If the brakes haven't been replaced since it left the factory, it may take a bit of work to get the bolts loose the first time
6) get a bottle of anti-seize compound, and use it when you put the bolts back in, so it's easier next time. 


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2016, 11:09:48 AM »
Since I'm sure you will get ample encouragement, I just want to pitch in with a cautionary tale...just recently, my coworker's 19yo son fixed his brakes with a buddy (not sure how qualified the buddy was), then the brakes went out while driving and his car was totaled...It is possible to royally screw this up. Probably fine to do it yourself, but maybe figure out who can check your work.

Also reminded of a segment from Car Talk: your first priority isn't to fix your brakes. That's your third priority. 1) Don't hurt yourself (or others) 2) Don't break anything else. [The segment was hilarious, about a lady who tried to replace the thermostat on her cooling system and *everything* went wrong...But you don't want to be her.]

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2016, 12:35:08 PM »
You can totally do it.  Just find some good instructions, make sure you have the tools you need, and make sure you understand exactly what you are going to be doing before you start, and of course, be safe.  Have fun!


  • Stubble
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2016, 01:07:41 PM »
I have done brakes on my car.  I did the repair because I have a car where it is expensive to do.  I used to be a rookie and learned lots about cars out of sheer stubbornness and a desire to learn.  Before I took this job on I would want answers to the following non-exhaustive list:

-Can I safely jack up my car (proper jack and stands and know jacking points)
-Do I have all tools needed to complete repair.  Means making lists from videos and repair manuals.  Don't forget torque wrenches in this.
-Do I have a plan if the rotor are rusted onto the car.  There are videos about using some nuts and bolts on the back to create leverage, but a big sledge hammer could work.  Anyway, planning for it matters when the car is on the stands.
-Do I want to flush brake fluid at same time and do I know how to do this
-Do I know how to seat the pads properly after install.
-Do I have a really good friend who can help me out if I screw this up (I do which gives me confidence)
-Would I recognize other damage to the braking system if I saw it.

I am sure there are more questions others on the board could help with.  As a fellow rookie, when I do a repair I research like crazy and decide if it is something I really understand.  If not, I bite the bullet and pay to have it done.  I want to save money but also not ruin my paid for car that I want to drive for 15 more years.  Good luck.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2016, 10:26:25 AM »
Second RockAuto; love them. Google RockAuto discount code (enter it in the "how did you hear about us?" box) and get another 5% off.

I'm in Cambridge, MA and willing to walk you through this at my house (I have all the tools you could possibly need), but only if the schedule works out. Unfortunately, you don't have the parts in hand yet, so if you chase the parts at a local parts store, and can come by Cambridge, I can oversee you doing this at my place tomorrow morning or maybe Monday morning. I'm pretty tied up the following two weekends, but might be able to work you in on the Thurday evening the 21st. (I'm not a repair shop, just a regular DIYer.)

IMO, this is the ideal "first DIY job" on a car, because you mostly can't screw it up without realizing you screwed up. Try it without buying $100 worth of tools, unless you have other uses for those tools.

BTW, the "have to brake really easy" might indicate another problem. If the car stops but just makes noise and/or shudders, that's fine. If the brakes literally don't work unless you push gently, that car is not roadworthy and should be towed to a qualified place to repair it. Mustachianism is about life, not taking crazy Fred Flintstone risks. :)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: 09 Kia Optima brake job - DIY for a rookie?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2016, 08:11:41 AM »
Just wanted to underscore what everyone else is saying.   Brake pad / rotor replacement was one of the first things I learned how to do on a car (the other key thing is an oil change).  Actually showed my 12-year-old daughter how to do it recently, since its an easy way to save a bunch of money and it's a good life lesson on the value of doing things yourself.  It's usually very easy and there are plenty of videos on-line to follow - I just did a quick search on YouTube and found a few.  You'll need to buy the tools others have listed (ie a jack, a pair of jackstands, a big c-clamp, a bit to match the connection for the caliper bolts, etc.)  Probably won't save much over the $190 this first time if you count the tools, but you'll have everything to do this the next time you need to change brakes. 

This is assuming that all you're doing is replacing pads and potentially some rotors - based on the "brakes look like semicircles" comment.  One way to confirm this would be to review the quote you received - is that all the scope they had listed?  If so, you can definitely do it yourself.  The general process to remove is as follows - reverse to reinstall: 

  • Remove wheel
  • Remove caliper and temporarily support
  • Remove brake pads
  • Remove any additional hardware required to pull rotor (if required) - there's usually a support for the brake pads that will need to be temp removed for this to happen
  • Remove rotor (if required)

Just a few recommendations:

  • Never, ever work on brakes when the car is only supported by a jack.  You need those jackstands to do it safely, don't skip this!
  • If you need to replace the rotor (ie if you have grooves cut into it by the brake pad rivets), getting the rotor off will probably take a while.  Over time the road salt, sand, etc will seize the rotor to its mount.  Use lots of WD-40 to get this off if necessary.  A rubber mallet is also helpful.
  • Consider buying the Chilton's (or other brand) repair manual for your car.  It's usually pretty cheap, and for common repairs like brakes there'll be lots of pictures for you to follow.   
  • Coat the backs of the brake pads (ie the part that's not in contact with the rotor) with high temperature brake lubricant - they sell it in little pouches at the register at the parts place.  Will help keep the brakes from squeaking later
  • If you do end up replacing rotors, buy some brake cleaner as well to clean off the new rotor before you install it.  (It will be covered in machining oil, which will prevent your brakes from working properly if it isn't cleaned off before you install it.)

Good luck!