How to Remove and Replace Brake Pads on 86-91 Vanagon

By Ken Wilford

A quick how-to on changing brake pads on Vanagons with Girling Calipers (’86-91 including Syncro).

1. Place van on level, hard surface

2. Chock the rear wheels or put on the emergency brake or put it in park.

3. Jack up van (I used the jack that came with the van)

4. Remove the wheel.

5. Remove upper Caliper bolt that is on the backside of the caliper (hold guide pin with 17mm wrench and remove bolt with 13mm wrench).

6. Loosen lower caliper bolt

7. Swing caliper down out of the way.

8. Remove old brake pads.

9. Crack caliper bleeder screw. (7mm wrench)

10. Use a clamp to compress caliper piston (a 6″ wood clamp will work by placing the body of the clamp against the back of the caliper and the screw side against the rim of the caliper piston. Now tighten the clamp until the piston is almost completely compressed- brake fluid will squirt out so have something to collect it with).

11. Before removing the clamp, close the bleeder screw (this minimizes the amount of air that gets into the system).

12. Place new pads in place of old ones.

13. Swing the caliper back over and align with guide pin.

14. Reinstall guide pin bolt and tighten (see Bentley for Torque Values)

15. Replace wheel

16 Lower van

17. Do brakes on the other side in the same manner

18. Lower the van

19. Fill the brake reservoir to Max.(You will find the reservoir under your instrument cluster cover.)

20. Bleed the brakes (have someone pump up the brakes and hold the pedal down. Crack the brake bleed screw on the caliper and you will hear the air and brake fluid squirting out. Have something to catch it in or you will have a mess on your hands. Now with your friend still holding the pedal down close the bleed screw. Repeat this process as many times as is needed to remove all air from the system. Repeat on the opposite side caliper.)

21. Fill the brake reservoir to Max. Do this at your own risk, disclaimer, legal blah, blah, blah.

I crack the brake bleeds and compress the caliper rather than just compressing the caliper piston in order to prevent crap from being forced back up into the brake master cylinder. If you don’t do it this way you could be doing your master cylinder in.