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Toyota Avalon Brakes, ABS, VSC, etc.

rcegglrceggl Posts: 31
I have the extended 100,000 mile bumper to bumper on this car. Presently, 38,000 miles. At regular service last week, I was informed that the next service should include a Power Flush on both the Automatic Transmission and the Brake line. Reason, "condensation has added moisture to especially the brake line". The brake line is a sealed system and it seems to me that if there is moisture in it, then there is something wrong with the system and should be covered by the warranty. Honestly, I do not believe there is any moisture in the system. Am finding Toyota to be suspect.


  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Common practice: charge for those power flushes. They cost $150 instead of $30. But if you ask them which they include in their standard warranty-level maintenance, it is the $30 dealie, so you probably just have a service advisor there that is either trying to spike you for some extra $$ or honestly does not know what he/she is talking about.

    And you are right, if there were moisture in the brake system, that would indicate a problem that requires a repair, which would be under warranty if your 100K is a bumper to bumper.

    By the way, the power flush is just a way of getting more of the old fluid out of the system, on the transmission. It can't hurt, but is probably a waste of money.

    Try a different dealer?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    I have a 2k accord and it has a 3yr/45k requirement for brake fluid change. And moisture is the reason. As for being a sealed system. That may be true if just considering the lines, wheel cylinders and other parts that are filled with brake fluid and do not have an exposed surface to outside air. But the master cylinder is not air tight and moisture(in the form of humidity) can get absorbed into the fluid. This moisture when heated to the typical temperatures in a brake system will turn to steam with air being one of the components. Now we all know air in the brake system is a bad thing.(Air is compressable). This would result in less braking ability.
    Follow the owner's manual recommendations and keep your warranty valid. And that goes for the tranny as well.
    Well, that's my guess anyway. Sounds pretty good to me. And then there's also the sludge thing which would be especially bad for cars with ABS.
    If you have the extended warranty, one sure way to have Toyota deny a claim would be to not have the fluids changed according to the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    I've had my exploder for two years, and the hydraulic fluid is getting darker. I decided to flush the lines in my 90 ranger after 5 years, and gawd, was the old fluid nasty, dirty and red! brake fluid is very hygroscopic, if there is any air exchange possibility to the resivoir that fluid will suck up the water. the rest of the story is an old one.

    the stuff needs to be changed when it is noticeably not see-through any more -- original fluid is variously mildly honey-colored to clear depending on the phase of the moon and the width of ties.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Water does not get into brake hydraulic systems through condensation:
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Brake fluid doesn't wear out so you probably don't need to change it unless you think water got into it. Dealers have their own maintenance schedules which have all kinds of ripoffs like engine flush which are not recommended by manufacturer. Best to find an independent shop and let them follow factory maintenance schedule. That way you are protected under warranty. Independents often have better techs with more experience and prices are usually lower.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    When peforming a brake pad replacement, the master cylinder reservoir may be opened up when the tech squeezes the pistons in to get the caliper back onto the rotor. That would be where the moisture may come from.

    Flushing the brake fluid is a cheap insurance for brake system reliability.

    Automatic trans flush. A simple drain and refill of the ATF only replaces about 80% of the old fluid.
  • mamatrahanmamatrahan Posts: 2
    I have a related question about Avalon brakes. I currently own a 1999 Avalon. I bought the car because it came so highly recommended, by members of Town Hall, Consumer Reports, etc. However, I am having problems with the brakes squealing nearly all the time.

    I have taken it to the local Toyota dealer, where the tech has twice told me that the problem is because the asbestos was removed from brakes, they squeal alot more. If this is the case, why doesn't every car on the highway have squealing brakes? He further stated that every couple of months I should do a "panic stop" in order to clean the brakes and reduce the squealing.

    Any light anyone can shed on this would be most appreciated... it drives me crazy!!!
  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    Did you buy it new or with mileage. If not new, then it may have had a brake job where they did not use Toyota pads. The lifetime pads are much harder than OEM and will cause squealing. I just had the pads on my parents altima replaced for the squealing. They were like brand new, but the squealing was horrible. Had nissan pads put on and it's now as quiet as can be.
  • mamatrahanmamatrahan Posts: 2
    Bought the Avalon a year ago with around 34,000 miles on it. The tech says it still has 70% of the pad left. Will check and see if they are original Toyota pads. If not... may get that brake job after all... Thanks for the info.

    (Still driving me crazy...)
  • Does the pads on your Avalon have the proper shims installed on them? The shims cost as much as the pads ($30 to $40) so sometimes they are not replaced when a pad replacement is done. Switching to soft, so called 'organic' pads will stop the squeak, but they must be replaced more often. The cheap 'organic' pads, however, will not wear out the rotors as fast, saving some money on rotor cutting or replacement.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    Just wondering, are these the OE pads?

    If replaced, are they the Toyota OEM ones? Do I have to assume it was a dealership job?
  • I just bought a 1999 Toyota Avalon and it needs to have a brake job (front and back and rear rotors) and the struts done. What is a reasonable price for this work.


  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    figure $450 or so for the brakes including rear rotors. Suspension work varies a lot - they use a standard book to determine the amount of time it will take, and you can buy the struts yourself ahead of time at the best price you can find, and just give them to your mechanic.

    Prices vary a lot by region.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • csv1csv1 Posts: 3
    My dealer replaced the rear pads on my 2001 Avalon at only 22K miles. He said they had only 1 mm left, whereas the front pads are only 1/3 worn.

    Why so soon, and why such unbalanced wear? Anyone else had a similar experience?

    I'm no leadfoot - on my previous car (1992 Camry) the pads lasted 50K miles or so.
  • csv1: My last car was a '99 camry and I had a similar experience. As part of reg. 30000 mile service they adjusted the emergency brake. They over did the adjustment and damaged (excess wear) the rear drums and pads. They did the repair free of charge but would not admit any mistake on their part. It is also possible in your case that the emergency brake is not releasing completely and causing a drag on your rear rotors and pads. Also check the self adjusting system which could be the source of the problem.

  • finfin atlantaPosts: 594
    This brake pad wear problem is not unique to Toyota. My daughter drives a V6 Honda Accord. Same thing. The rears brakes went out BEFORE the front. Honda dealer suggested the emergency brake did not fully release. It happens, usually with no warranty.
  • eelpeelp Posts: 6
    where have my brake fluid gone. I have pour in about a pint of brake fluid in the last four, months. I checked all 4 wheel for leaks, the master, the everything, couldn't find any. My pads are still at 50%. Has anyone had this problem? thanks
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    As pads wear, caliper pistons move outward and more fluid from the reservoir is required to fill the caliper bores.
    Also, remove the master cylinder from the booster (leave lines attached) and check for presence of brake fluid. A leaking m/c rear seal can allow fluid to be drawn into the booster and eventually burned in the engine.
  • csv1csv1 Posts: 3
    Thanks for the two responses to my post on excessive rear brake pad wear.

    The owner's manual for my car says my parking brake is a 'drum-in-disk type', and further refers to 'brake shoes' which need 'bedding down' when either the shoe or the drum is replaced.

    From this description it appears that the parking brake is separate from the rear brake disks and pads. How then does improper adjustment of the parking brake affect rear pad (not shoe) wear?

    I ask this question because I can't see the parking brake when I peer under the car, and because I'm planning on taking the car to another dealer soon and request an inspection and adjustment of the rear brakes. I want to be prepared beforehand for any glib explanations I get from the service rep about what they've found and what they've done for me.
  • eelpeelp Posts: 6
    I'll check it out.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    You're welcome. Let us know what you find.
  • eelpeelp Posts: 6
    Took my 03 XLS (bought it in Aug 02) to the dealers today and told them what you said. Serv Mgr called said tech couldn't find anything either. SMgr kinda asked where I was out the brake fluid. I had a chuckle, told him in the radiator..Ha Ha. Said they'll do more checking.
    Lo and behold that booster was soak and wet. I can't believe the master went bad. This started around 4 months ago. Thanks again
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    You're welcome. Glad to hear you got it resolved.
  • '00 'valon. When I'm on the freeway (usually the 405) and have to step on my brakes the steering wheel wobbles back and forth. So I'm thinking I should probably get the rotors machined and maybe put some new pads on. Then I was wondering if there might be something wrong with the calipers because the steering wheel shakes pretty badly so it might be more than warped rotors.

    My question is, can I rotate the back rotors to the front the same way I do the tires? Should I clean my calipers by soaking them in denatured alcohol? Should I change the pads too while I'm doing any of this? Thanks.

  • My experience has been that if the rotors are no longer true (warped) they need to be replaced. If they are hot spotted they sometimes can be machined, but if the spotting is more than mild replacement is needed.

    Common causes for rotor problems are brake pads that are too hard and over or uneven lug nut torque. Driving conditions that cause heavy brake use can also cause heart related problems with brakes too.
  • Do you know what the torque settings should be for the lugs?
  • For my 1996 it is 76 lb ft. Look in the specifications section of the owner's manual.

    In general, most cars have about 80 lb as the spec. I've had one with 65 and one with 100. All of the rest have been around 80.

    When an air impact wrench is used to put the lug nuts on there is a greater chance they will be over torqued and or the wheel will not be mounted with even torque all the way around. I've observed many tire store people that use a torque wrench do not use it properly.

    I've watched as the torque wrench was used to make sure a lug nut was as least as tight as required rather than using the wrench to make sure the lug nut was not tighter than (and at the correct torque). Fortunately there appears to be enough slop in the spec that a little over torque doesn't hurt most of the time - except when one tries to change a flat tire using the little lug wrench that comes with the car.

    Some shops have torque limiters for the impact wrenches, but I have found the results to be uneven at best, with some over torque common.
  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    lidoshuffle-YES! It is probably warped rotors. The amount of "shake" is usually a factor of how badly warped they are. Not necessarily the calipers.

    NO! You cannot switch front and rear rotors, though this would be self evident once you pulled 'em. They are different sizes and the rears have the emergency brakes (drums) in them.

    I would NOT replace the pads without changing or "turning" the rotors.

    If you do the rotors (change or turn 'em), NEW pads are a must.

    ...once you've gotten this far a brake/caliper rebuild kit could also be done. This should take any "play" out of the calipers.

    FYI-my smoothest braking came after the rotors were "turned" ON the car. -nomad56-
  • I'll machine the rotors when I change the pads then.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I usually agree with Nomad56 as he is one of the most in the know about Avalon. However, from my experience, with Hondas and Toyotas now, I NO LONGER have any rotors "turned". What they do, is flaten or take a small slice from the top much as a Deli counter take a slice of meat or cheese from a big loaf. No bad in and of itself, but HEAT is the #1 problem with braking, ESPECIALLY in Front Wheel drive vehicles. Everything is done on the front wheels. Too add insult to injury, the freakin Avalon, being moderate in weight and having soft shocks, tends to "front dive" when you have to suddenly brake or brake harder than normal. What do you think this does over time???? Heat up those rotors till they almost glow and warp the metal in the process.

    Since rotors are a relatively cheap item, the labor is the deal. Unless you can do it yourself, which isn't too bad, but if you cannot, then the labor is the deal.

    Bottom LINE: Do not cut rotors. Replace them with Better than OEM rotors (Premium rotors and new pads). There are many online companies or places selling them. Have the Brake Fluid all sucked out and replaced with NEW fluid(should be done every 3 years, REGARDLESS of mileage.) Cutting the rotors thins them, and you will get warpage again, much sooner, having to do the process all over again, but now you will have to replace them anyway.

    Good luck. Feed the forum.

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