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Toyota Avalon Brakes, ABS, VSC, etc.



  • danbethdanbeth Posts: 17
    Hi nomad56, I have another question for you. A couple months ago you helped me with heater/ac problem which worked out very well with your advice. My question today deals with replacing the front brake rotors which are warping. When you remove the brake caliper do you have to disconnect the brake hose banjo bolt fitting? I know the caliper bracket has to come off but I would prefer not to open the brake fluid system(ABS).From what I understand the sealing washers have to be replaced if this is done. Also since this is my first attempt on rotor removal on a Toyota how difficult is the process of rotor/caliper/pad replacement. Give me as much detail as possible. Is an impact wrench necessary? thanks danbeth
  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    NO! You definitely do NOT have to uncouple the caliper from the brake line. No, you do NOT need an impact wrench, but a torque wrench is necessary. Especially, for re-installing the wheels! Do the wheel bearing also! This is a relatively simple project. Funny that you ask, I am doing mine next week! -nomad56-
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Here are some helpful hints.

    1. The brake rotors come off, or should come off rather easily. Make sure the car is secure on a lift or other device, not a jack but jack stands.

    2. Get a Haynes service manual or the Toyota serice manual.

    3. No, you do not have to disconnect any brake lines to service the rotors.

    4. There should be two bolts that mount the califper to the axle and another two bolts that hold the caliper together. Get a couple of wire hangers to hang the caliper to the coil spring or strut. Never hang the caliper by its rubber line.

    5. It may take a couple of swift bangs with a rubber hammer to loosen it if it is an older model.

    6. IMO!!!! Never cut the rotors. Replace them with premium rotors. If you can take it, get SLOTTED rotors and use premium pads, ceramic or semi metallic, if you can take the brake dust. You will notice your Avalon now stops much better.

    7. Use brake caliper grease on the outer squeal shims and other places to revent vibration and noise.

    8. What else. I cannot think of right now. Take your time. Do not do it if you just ran the car or the brake rotors may be hot.

    9. Again, you do not have to take off the brake line and this will not interfer with the ABS. However, you brake fluid should be changed every 3 years, REGRADLESS of mileage. It soaks up mositure and leads to a spoggy feeling pedal. It also deteriotes over time secondary to the heat produced by the braking system.

    I hope this helps.

    "Feed the forum"

  • danbethdanbeth Posts: 17
    Abfisch/nomad56, Thanks for the detailed helpful hints. I find it always helps to confer with the people who have experience in completing this type of project. I will give it a whirl and let you know how it turned out. thanks danbeth
  • danbethdanbeth Posts: 17
    Abfisch, I just completed the rotor and pad replacement on the Avalon. It took about 3.5 hours. I ordered the Brembo blank rotors and the Toyota OEM pads. The pads were the premium version but did not come with new shims. I had to clean the shims and reuse them, but it turned out pretty much how you described it. Thanks again for your help. danbeth
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    It always makes me feel good, giving real advice and someone taking it and it working out well. This substantiates all of these wonderful forums. Congradulation. I am sure it was stressful the first time, but the second time and third times you will cut down your time and you have the satifaction of doing it correctly!! And you know what you did. In the future, you may try the following: If you desire more stopping power, slotted discs with semi metallic pads. The trade off is a vibration when hitting the pedal and brake dust if you are on the brake alot. Remember to suck out the fluid every three years, and you will never have a spongy pedal other than leaks elsewhere in the system. Brake fluid degrades via heat and time through absorbing moisture. It is a little messy but Griot's garage, sells a manual pump to suck the brake fluid out. Look that up on the internet. Also use brake caliper grease so prevent squealing. Thanks for the response made. It was worth my time to tell you how to do it.

    In regards to a vibration at engine speed, not at car speed, I am stumped. Never heard this complaint. But....... this is NOT NORMAL, and they do not care. It is not their problem. So...get the Toyota service manual, to see if they have an alogorithm to engine vibration, not speed vibration or brake pedal. Take it to an independent mechanic. Make a compliant on the internet to Toyota corp. and document three attempts at the dealership (Lemon law) or check your states requirements.

    NOMAD 56 Any ideas???? I honestly have not heard of this but someone needs some direction.

    "Feed the forum"

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Need to change my brake fluid. Three years almost up and starting to get spongy pedal. How many liters do I need. Can I get away with 1 liter or do I need two???


  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    abfisch-I have NO idea what the actual capacity of the brake system is (Good question). I usually do mine at my buddy's shop and fill from a BIG DRUM, so it is less than 55 Gallons!! I am sure you'll want at least two liters on hand, though! Even if capacity was published, there is no way you could ever add THAT much and GO! You HAVE TO bleed the lines... and, you will lose fluid, when you bleed the system. I even looked in my service manuals, and the "capacity" is left blank. And, any instruction that refers to filling the brake fluid, mentions "bleeding." -nomad56-
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Manual, I believe, states DOT3. DOT 5, synthetic, obviously should NOT be used as the properties are much different. Going to try though DOT 4, ATE Blue Something; remember the name. Brake pedal starting to get spongy after 2.5 years and 43K. I let the forum know how it goes once I bleed the lines and refill the reserve.


    "Feed the forum"

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I had the fluid changed (after 3 years)for the entire brake system (resevoir and lines). We were able to do it with 1000ml (l liter) bottle.

    Energy suspension has a new PU bushing for the lower front suspension arm. The arm attaches to the ball joint and the frame. What benefit do you think this would have on the steering, response, and what how do you think this would negaively impact the ride/vibration. There are only 1 or 2 rubber bushing on that lower front suspension arm, and I am wondering if it would correct somewhat for the Avalon's rather "light and fuzzy" steering feel. I am sure it will not correct the feel as far as being over assisted but it might make the steering more precise albeit letting a little more vibration into the cabin. The part number is the same in the 2000-03 models as it is for 1999-1997(6). I want to have the front suspension mounts (which one is squeeky) replaced with the new ones redesigned, and since I will have to realign the front again, I thought I would get some input from you regarding this small modification.

    Any thoughts??? Any experiences?????


    "Feed the forum"

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Ever use the Russell Performance Speed Bleeders to bleed the brakes for you Avy???? I had a friend who used them on his Sienna van and liked them for 1 man ease of changing the fluid.

    Any comments??

    "Feed the forum"

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Does anyone know if the order in which you bleed each brake is different for ABS brakes.

    I read on the internet that for a Honda, you do RR,LF,LR, and then Right Front.

    Usually the order is Right Rear, Left Rear, Right Front, then Left Front.

    The service manual is not keen and only says perform the rear brakes before the front ones.


  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Brake bleeding sequence is determined by whether it's front or rear wheel drive. ABS makes no difference in bleeding sequence.
    Rear wheel drive is RR, LR, RF, LF.
    Front wheel drive is RR, LF, LR, RF.
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    Post 2687 under "Toyota Avalon" is in conflict with the advice under Post 417. Since 2687 quotes the Toyota manual, I suggest we follow 2687. It requires what Post 417 calls the 'rear drive sequence'.
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    Checked the Toyota repair manual for my Avalon and it does not give any order for brake line bleeding. All it says is repeat the procedure for the line to each wheel (page BR-6). Mine is a 96. Suggest one check for proper bleeding sequence for the specific model year
  • csaxoncsaxon Posts: 8
    The service manual is very specific, rr,lr,rf,lf. There's even a "NOTICE": page BR-4 of service manual.. Bleed air of rear brake first. If front is bled first, the rear brake air cannot be completely bled. This is for current generation Avalons from 2000 on.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I emailed Toyota to get clarification on the debate above. The service manual does say rear first then front, but does not give the exact sequence.

    The response I got was (probably from a mechanical genius) that there is no scheduled service for brake fluid for our vehicle, therefore it is not needed. Additionally, changing brake fluid should be done, secondary to the danger, only by a qualified technician knowledgeable in this procedure.

    Don't ya just love the corporation and the arrogant propietary response to a customer's simple question. Even their own service maunal is incomplete. If you compare the service manual of a Honda car, there is a nice concise legible table of all serviceable items for that vehicle (my wife has a 03 Civic EX).

    "Feed the forum"

  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    It is increasingly common to find the "customer service" department not meeting our requirements, regardless of the industry. Humorous writer, Dave Barry of the Miami Herald, loves to dwell on this misnomer.

    Having said this, Abfisch, I am wondering what portion of some very specific posts on this subject you don't understand. Aren't you making rather a meal out of this? -- a humorous reference to your slogan "feed the forum'.
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Posts: 668
    Agree with post 422. For me, it has become rare that a company customer service offers anything but frustration, though on rare occasions I still find some that help.

    Abfisch, don't call Honda and expect anything better than what you received from Toyota. Talking with Acura customer service has been like talking talking to a stone wall, with e-mails not far behind.

    My experience with Jaguar customer service was outstanding.

    I've found that some car dealers more than make up for poor manufacturer customer service.

    I looked in the service manual for my MDX and like abfisch said, Honda's service manual is better than my Toyota manual. Interesting that Honda wants brake bleeding (fronts first) opposite of Toyota (rears first).
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Funny. But not interested in dancing with you mccleary. Find someone else. Thanks for the offer. Just the truth which can sometimes be elusive. The parts department also stated "todays vehicles are complex and brakes should only be done by the service dept." Other references refer to rountine maintenence of brakes being included in a routine main. schedule, not eluded to well in the "shop manual".

    Multiple mauals on Brakes support changing the fluid (DOT 3) every 2 years or three years, taking care to ensure things are perfect before setting out.

    Thanks for concurring with my observation about the comparison of Honda vs Toyota Service (Shop) manuals. I am glad I am not the only one who purchases them and there are other owners who prefer to do at least some of the work themselves.

    I am gong to have the strut brackets., front, replaced on my 02, secondary to some tiny squeak from the R front, that is driving me nuts with the windows open. Going to replace the lower suspension arm bushing with PU, as Energy suspension makes them now for the 00-03 Avalon. Will report back with the pros and cons, as usual.

    "Feed the forum"

  • toydrivertoydriver Posts: 227
    Need information.

    My car has warped front rotors, with front vibration when applying brakes at speed over 40mph

    What would the "ball park" cost of replacing front rotors (and probably pads) with labor charge??

    Anybody with recent experience with this??
  • bigbluekybigblueky Posts: 11
    Toydriver, I myself have a 1997 Toy Avalon and the front brakes is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix. The pads run between $20 - 50, and the rotors are usually between 25-60 depending where you get them. I baught my last set of rotors at NAPA for $28 a piece. Ebay has drilled rotors for a good deal and as far as the pads I highly recommend Ceremic pads which cost about $50 for the fronts and are worth every penny, because they don't squeek or put off much brake dust. Drilled rotors are going to cost more but are nice for keeping the brakes nice and cool, it just depends on what kind of driving you do to justify the added cost of the drilled rotors. As far as labor is concerned it shouldn't take no more than an hour to do both sides of the front. Let me know if I can be of any help to you, you could probably fix them yourself with know problems.
  • jgeorgejgeorge Posts: 1
    Hi, I have a 03 Avalon with 20k on the clock. In March my wife complained about several idiot lights on at once. The dealer suggested checking the brake fluid level I did and was very low so it was filled (about half a pint sized container). Then again in mid-June the same thing happens. There are no leaks or puddles in the driveway. The dealer says the reservoir is rather small and this usage could be normal. I have scheduled a appointment next week to have the brake system looked at. My question, is this consumption of fluid normal in this amount of time? i have never had a vehicle use this amount of fluid in this short a time. Thanks in advance.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 594
    Of all the things an Avalon can consume, jgeorge, brake fluid is *not* one of them. You have a problem. All those lights can't be wrong.

    If there is absolutely no fluid leaking under, or on, any part of the car then you have two possibilities: the engine is sucking it out of the brake system (could this even happen?) OR you never had enough when the car was new and are still filling up the lines each time you add fluid (more likely).

    Whatever, the dealer should fix the problem immediately as air, like water, will NOT work in a fluid brake system. A quick drain and fill of the brake system, to remove trapped air, may be the easiest solution. Or maybe the first step in finding the trouble.

    Others in the forum may have more ideas... but fluid consumption like this is not normal. My '03 XL has 37k on it... a wonderful car, it does not consume brake fluid. Enjoy your Avy...
  • stocktxstocktx Posts: 2

    I also have a 97 avalon and am getting ready to do the brakes. Any special tools required for the Avalon? I've done my Suburban and Grand Prix before. I have 75K miles. Will new rotors be required or can I just turn? Thanks.
  • toydrivertoydriver Posts: 227
    Thanks to nomad56 and bigblueky for cost estimates for my '95 Av front brakes.

    This will be the second front brake job (140K mi).
    The first, at 80K mi included new pads and had the rotors turned. Since then, major VIBRATION when braking hard at speed over 40mph. The Toyota service mgr claims that the original rotors can be turned 2 or 3 times before needing replacement.

    Question is, do I risk having the same vibration if I have them turned again, or should they be able to smooth out the imperfections that must be the cause of the vibration? (Different shop people this time around). The estimated difference in cost for new vs. turned rotors is
    around $250.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    IMO, do NOT turn rotors. Besides getting more vibration when applying the brakes, they will have thinned the metal enough to have them start to warp sooner, and this becomes a viscous cycle. To answer you question, it can smooth out the warpage, but it is not the same thickness anymore, and the rotor cannot cool the same. In addition in may cause the rotor to be out of balance so you never achieve a good balance in your wheel/tire combination anymore.

    I have found the OEM parts (Toyota parts) regarding brake components to be INFERIOR, NOT SUPERIOR in quality. Many manufactures have "cheaped out" contracting to lesser qualtiy companies to manufacture there brake parts.

    I recently had to replace my rotors and pads after about 48K and used all aftermarket parts with the exception of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) front pads. I put on SP Rotors, slotted and drilled in the front and back with new pads all around and also flushed and changed the brake fluid (DOT 3 or DOT 4 but NOT DOT 5). There is a place on the net, called Raceshopper, out of Syracuse, NY that carries higher quality parts, albeit, not cheap, but reasonable. My brakes are sure, solid, and strong better than what came originally on the car.

    IMO, don't compromise on this part of the car!!! It is one of the most important parts and can mean the difference b/w life and not life. Use the best components and either do it yourself or have someone do it, who is knowledgeable and meticulous in details. You notice you Avalon never braked better.

    Good luck.

  • nnz2llnnz2ll Posts: 1
    You may be able to help me. I've done brake jobs on Chrysler Corp. vehicles for years. However, I now own my first Toyota, a 2003 Avalon. I'd like to replace the front pads, but would like to know what's different on Toyota. Anything special about removing the caliper or rotor? I refuse to spend $175 for the shop manual to find out. Thanks for your help.

    [email protected]
  • will6will6 Posts: 1
    I had the same problem. One mechanic told me that I got the rotors to hot and change the metal on the surface. He wanted to turn the rotors.


      Another said I probably let the care set outside where there was a lot of moisture (like

    near the ocean) in the air and it caused a rust film to form on the rotors and this causes the squeaking.


    I haven't done anything, I just continue to drive the car. The squeaks seem to have gone away.
  • zone1zone1 Posts: 11
    Condensate will build up in the brake system of any car. You're right, the system is sealed, but it's not that tight. Moisture can get into the reservoir. And if I'm not mistaken, hot brake fluid is hydrophyllic, and will attract water vapor from the air. As the fluid cools the water will precipitate out. Left long enough, the water will pit the cylinders and cause leaks and spongy brakes. Happens on all cars.
    Now, whether 38,000 miles is when the system should be flushed, and whether a "power flush" is required are good questions.
    My experience has been to have the brakes bled to push the water out. Maybe the power flush does a better job.
    I guess what you should research is how much brake repairs can cost versus having the system flushed.
    I'm not real big on using Dealers for maintenance. If you still have suspicions, find a good mechanic and ask him.
    As to the transmission, I have heard that Toyota transmissions can be pretty brutal on the fluid so its a good idea to keep up on the changes. I also know that if you have an oil cooler, (most cars have one in the radiator; others may have a separate unit) that filings from the transmission can migrate there and then settle out in the bends of the tubing, where they begin to restrict the fluid movement. The effect can be that your transmission gets hotter than it should, and that's not good at all. So flushing once in a while is a good idea. Again, whether 38,000 miles is enough to cause a build up that you should be concerned about is something I don't know. But keep in mind that this stuff happens to all automatics, not just Toyota.
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