Tag Archives: brakes

How Do You Know if Your Toyota Needs Brakes?

The brake system on your Toyota is arguably the most important safety equipment on board. The brake rotors and brake pads on your vehicle make sure you can stop as quickly and safely as possible, helping you maintain control of your vehicle in almost any circumstance.

Like any other part of your car, the brake system must be regularly maintained, in order for them to continue doing their job correctly. Unfortunately, some drivers may not notice the signs that their Toyota needs brakes, leading to a dangerous and expensive situation! Not only is this dangerous to you and everyone around you, but ignoring needed maintenance on your brake pads can lead to damaged rotors, which then can lead to even worse damage to your wheel. Protect your Toyota, and everyone within and around it, pay attention to the signs that your brakes need service…

  • One sign you may notice, that tells you it’s time to replace your brakes, is vibration from the brake pedal. When pressing your foot on the brake pedal causes a slight jittering in the braking, then this most likely means the brake rotors have been warped, due to overheating. To return the brake rotors to smooth operations, they’ll need to be machined or replaced.
  • If you hear a clicking or shaking noise whenever you apply your Toyota’s brakes, then it probably means you have gotten to the point of needing to replace your brake pads. This rattling would normally be stopped by the manufacturers’ device, designed to stop the shaking of brake pads when the brakes are applied, but when the brake pads have worn out, the clips and springs may not be able to keep things from rattling around.
  • Another way of knowing that it your Toyota needs brakes, is by making a visual inspection, through the car wheel. You should be able to at least see the outboard brake pad, and also see how much of the pad is left. With a flashlight and inspection mirror, both cheaply available, you might be able to see the condition of the inboard brake pad, as well. If less than 3 mm of the friction material remains, then it’s time to start looking for new brakes.
  • Manufacturers have installed a device, designed for the very goal of this article. Sometimes referred to as a “brake squealer,” a small metal tab sticks out beside the pad, to alert the driver that the brake pad is close to its minimum thickness. When you hear a loud squeal coming from your brakes, and it happens consistently, every time you apply the brakes, then it probably means you have hit the metal piece. At that point, you must really take into consideration getting new brake pads.
  • Hands down, the worst sound you may hear would be grinding rotors. If the brake pad wears completely out, then the metal brake pad backing plate is the only thing contacting the brake rotor, which causes a terrible grinding noise will damage the rotors. If this is ever the case with your Toyota, you must go and get new brake pads, as well as brake rotors, as soon as possible. This is a scenario you will hopefully not find yourself in, but if you do, getting your brakes taken care of is your number one priority. You may also see grooves within the rotors, from the brake pads being worn down too far. If you see this, then it is definitely time to replace your brake pads. If the grooves are more gouges, then you will need to replace the rotors, too.
  • If you apply the brakes, and the car pulls to one side, without you moving it that way then this probably means that there is some unbalance in the brakes, such as a hydraulic problem or a seized caliper. If it pulls without applying the brakes, then it most likely not your brakes causing the problem.

These warning signs are something you should always keep in mind, while you are driving down the road. You should especially start looking and listening for these symptoms if you are reaching 30,000 miles since your last brake pad replacement, or if you stop and go frequently, such as in city driving. Some brake pads last longer then others, and may also cause different symptoms than others, so keep an eye on your brakes in general, too. If you pay attention to what your Toyota needs, and keep your brakes maintained regularly, you should be good to drive it for many years to come.

How to Remove a Frozen Brake Rotor

Sometimes, replacing just the brake pads won’t fix all of your brake problems. At some point, your vehicles brake rotor will need to be replaced or resurfaced, which means you will need to remove it from the car. Unfortunately, something that may sound relatively easy can quickly turn into a frustrating mess, and a seized or frozen brake rotor can easily explode one of those situations. When you have a frozen brake rotor, there are a couple steps to follow to conquer the challenge.

  • Step One: If you are reading this article, you most likely have already had your car jacked up, the wheel off, and noticed the frozen or rusted brake rotor. If you have not already done this, go ahead and do it now. When you jack your car up, use caution and common sense to safely lift and support it. You will also want to gather your tools necessary for the job, in this case, a mallet or hammer, ratchet, sockets, and wrenches, and also two bolts with two nuts and washers, that can screw into the now-open holes where your caliper was.
  • Step Two: Once you have all your tools and your car is ready to go, grab your mallet to try to break the frozen brake rotor loose. Obviously, you will want to have taken your brake caliper off before doing this. Using your hammer or mallet, start tapping liberally along the top hat of the rotor, not the surface area of it, especially if you are planning to keep using the rotor by resurfacing it. Take care not to hit the wheel studs, because the threads are easily damaged. This step may be the last step, for some, as hitting it may shake it up enough to break loose. If you are successful, congratulations! If not, or you just want to know the other way of braking it loose, then keep on reading to see the next step in removing your frozen brake rotor.
  • Step Three: Look behind the rotor. You should see two holes where the caliper was attached. Those two holes are where you are going to put the bolts at. Start with one and point the screw-end of the bolt towards the rotor, going through the top hole. Then put two washers on and screw a nut on as well. Add a second nut as your leverage piece. The first nut will be your tightening nut, so make sure there is a small gap between the two nuts. Do the same process on the bottom hole.
  • Step Four: Put your wrench on your tightening nut and the ratchet on the bolt. Begin tightening the bolt so it begins to pressure on the frozen brake rotor, alternating between the two bolts, listening for the pop of the rotor. Once it pops, give both bolts a few more turns and then your rotor should come right off.

These steps of removing your frozen brake rotor can turn what seems to be a difficult project into a relatively simple process. The frozen brake rotor will also come off with minimal damage, only a scarring where the bolts were pushing. You have most likely taken off your rotor to get it resurfaced or replaced so the minor scarring is nothing to worry about. So if your vehicle has a frozen brake rotor, you are now equipped with two bolts and a guide to help you overcome this issue like a pro.

Pro Tip: When installing the new rotor, or the old resurfaced rotor, make sure both the hub and rotor are clean of rust and that the rotor easily slides into place. Use a dab of anti-seize lubricant, around the center of the rotor only, to make future removal easier.