One of the frustrating things about relying on professional mechanics is the potential misrepresentation of necessary repairs. Knowing how to measure and discern your own braking components for a more accurate longevity can help save you money. As you learn more about your Toyota braking system, you can even do some of the vehicle maintenance yourself.
Brake Pad Thickness and Longevity
When new, brake pads are nearly 1/2-inch thick, depending on the model of your Toyota. You can inspect the brake pads by lifting your car on a jack and removing the tire. On most models, you do not need to remove the caliper or unscrew the brake pad mounting pin in order to inspect the thickness of the brake pad. When looking at the brake pad, there is a discernible difference between the metal plate and the actual braking surface that makes up the pad. The more frequently and harder you brake, the more quickly your pads will wear out.
Rotors also need to be of a certain thickness, which can also vary among Toyota models. Rotors should be inspected whenever the tire is removed, and in most cases visually, without having to remove the tire. The rotor should not have any grooves, uneven wear, rust or cracks. You can remove the rotors and have them resurfaced at a mechanic's shop or an auto parts store. According to Tomorrow'sTechnician, new rotors have become relatively inexpensive, as well as of a lesser quality, than in the past. Therefore, it is advisable to consider new rotors before resurfacing.
When To Replace Brake Pads
If you regularly hear squealing coming from the front brake pads, it is most likely a sign of impending brake pad disintegration. If you hear metal-on-metal grinding, then your brake pads are already worn out and you should stop driving and replace them immediately. To continue driving your Toyota with grinding brakes could lead to rotor damage and a failure to come to a stop.
How To Replace Brake Pads
Jack the car and remove the tire, just as when you checked your brake pad's thickness. Some Toyota caliper and brake pad systems do not require you to unbolt the caliper from the rotor assembly in order to remove the pads. If you do need to remove the caliper, use a torque wrench to loosen the bolts. Remove the brake pad mounting pin or bolt and insert the new pads into the caliper system. Push the caliper piston back into its hole with a C-clamp. Once you have replaced the pads, pump the brakes a couple of times to bleed air out of the braking system.
- Photo Credit Car Brake image by Joelyn Pullano from Fotolia.com
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