How to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors on Your Toyota

July 7th, 2022 by

Are you looking to save on brake pad replacement costs? Replacing your brakes yourself is a great way to save! Brake replacements are a relatively easy task for a somewhat skilled do-it-yourselfer and can be completed in a few hours. This is a general guide to replacing brakes and rotors and shouldn’t replace a trained professional if you aren’t familiar with general automotive care and parts.

How do you know when to change your brakes? There are 2 easy ways to tell if your vehicle is ready for new brakes. First, if you notice any signs of wear while inspecting them, and second if you experience any squealing, squeaking or grinding, pulsation from the pedal, steering wheel shimmy (or shaking) while driving.

Follow the steps below for general instructions on replacing your brake pads and rotors. Directly below this paragraph, you can find the supplies you will need to perform this process. Here is a brake pad coupon from Advantage Toyota in Valley Stream to save on your supplies cost.

Supplies You May Need:

  • Brake Pads
  • Brake Rotors
  • Brake Fluid
  • Brake Cleaner
  • Disc Brake Pad Spreader Set (May be able to rent from an auto store.)
  • Tools & Torque Wrench (May be able to rent from an auto store.)

How to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors:

1. Safety First

Park your vehicle on a dry flat surface and secure it using wheel chocks and lifting the car on secure jack points. You should also wear safety goggles and protective gloves.

2. Check Brake Fluid Level

Lift the hood and check the brake fluid reservoir; if full, remove some fluid to avoid overflow when compressing the brake caliper piston.

3. Raise the Vehicle & Remove the Wheel

Loosen the lug nuts on the tire while the car is still on the ground and stationary. Then raise the car with a hydraulic jack from a secure position. Place the vehicle back down on jack stands placed at the appropriate points, then remove the lug nuts and wheel.

4. Remove the bolts and the Caliper

Once the caliper is removed, suspend it with a bungee cord. Some vehicles require different steps to remove the caliper.

5. Remove the Old Pads and Rotor

Inspect the old pads for uneven wear; this could indicate sticking pads due to lack of lubricant, worn pad or caliper hardware, or a sticking caliper piston. The brake pad box should have a guide to reference for inspecting uneven wear.

Once the pads are off, remove the rotor. Some vehicles require you to remove the caliper mounting bracket to remove the rotor—the brake caliper bolts to the brake caliper mounting bracket, which bolts to the spindle assembly. To remove the brake rotor, remove the brake caliper and then remove the brake caliper bracket. This will allow access to the rotor.

When removing the rotor, watch out for rust or uneven wear. You may need help from a rust penetrant mallet to finish removing it from the hub assembly.

6. Clean the Rotor Mounting Surface

The hub surface needs to be cleaned with a wire brush to remove rust and debris. This will ensure the new rotor sits flush on the hub and eliminates the possibility of pedal pulsation, which can be caused by rust as thin as a sheet of paper.

7. Clean and Install the New Rotor

Use brake cleaner to clean the new rotor, then install it.

8. Install Brake Hardware

Replace brake hardware with new hardware. When worn, old brake hardware creates vibrations that are heard at low stopping speeds in the form of brake noise. Replace these clips with each brake job. Apply brake lubricant at the slider contact points before installing the hardware.

9. Prepare Brake Pads For Installation

Note the instructions for the wear-sensor position to install the pads correctly. Different pads have a variety of wear-sensor placements. For example, some pad sets have wear sensors on all four pads, some on just the inner pads, and some do not have wear sensors at all. Once you have read the instructions, install the new brake pads.

10. Inspect Brake Caliper and Piston, Then Compress

Inspect the brake caliper and piston for any brake fluid seepage. If clean, use a disc brake pad spreader to seat the caliper piston safely. You can rent a spread set among other tools from some auto part stores. The caliper pistons screw in on some rear disc brakes and require the disc brake pad spreader set to be seated correctly.

11. Install the Caliper

Remove the bungee cord from the caliper and put it back on. Make sure you DO NOT overtighten the caliper bolts; this can cause big problems. Instead, start tightening the bolts with a socket, then use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts correctly. Consult a service manual for proper torque specs.

12. Check Brake Fluid Reservoir

Top off the brake fluid to the max fill line and secure the reservoir cap before going to the next step.

13. Pump the Brakes

Sit in the vehicle and slowly pump the brake pedal until it feels firm. You do this to ensure brake fluid is flowing correctly and the system is working. Do not push the pedal to the floor; this could damage the brake master cylinder assembly.

14. Check the Brake Fluid Reservoir Again

If you need to, top off again, then re-install the cap to avoid spillage.

15. Install the Wheel and Lower the Vehicle

While the vehicle is raised, install the wheel and tighten the lug nuts. Raise the vehicle with a jack, remove the jack stands, and then lower the vehicle back to the ground. Now you can tighten the lug nuts on the wheel. Read the owner’s manual for the proper torque on your vehicle.

16. Repeat the Above Steps on the Remaining Wheels

17. “Bedding in” Your Brakes

Now, go for an easy drive to break in your new brakes. Accelerate to around 50mph, then slowly apply the brakes and bring the vehicle’s speed down to 30mph. Continue to drive at this speed for 2 to 3 minutes to let the brake cool. Then repeat this process 4 to 5 times so the new brakes will be ready for daily use.

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