Brake calipers last about 75K miles. If your Toyota is nearing that age, you may start wondering how you can recognize failing brake calipers and then replace them before they get too bad.
This diagnostic guide will walk you through the process of checking your brake calipers and then give you the basics on replacing the calipers.
Signs That You Need New Brake Calipers
Here are some signs that your brake calipers have gone bad:
- Vehicle pulling or steering to one side when the brakes are either applied or not applied
- Squealing or clunking noise coming from the braking system
- Brakes not releasing quickly
Basically, if you notice that your Toyota’s braking performance has become erratic, then you might want to take some time to check your brake calipers.
Checking Your Brake Calipers
Image Credit: hardtopte72
To diagnose worn brake calipers, you have to remove your wheels and then visually inspect the calipers and brake pads. Look for the following issues:
- Uneven pad wear (typically caused by corrosion on guide pin surfaces)
- Brake fluid leakage at the piston
- Stuck or malfunctioning piston
- Cracks on the caliper caused by overheating
- Bleed screw leakage caused by corrosion
Even if you check all of your brake calipers and you find that only one of them is no longer working, you still should replace your brake calipers in pairs (on the same axle).
Why do Brake Calipers Need to be Replaced in Pairs?
If you only replace one brake caliper instead of both calipers on the same axle, you'll notice uneven braking performance. It's because the new brake caliper will cause the pads to grab the rotor better compared to the old one. This will make your car to veer to one side when the brakes are applied, which is unsafe. This also results in accelerated, uneven tire wear.
Luckily, OEM brake calipers can be affordable online compared to dealership prices. You can save a lot of money by ordering genuine OEM Toyota replacement calipers from us.
Replacing Your Brake Calipers: the Basics
Image Credit: hardtopte72
When it’s time to replace your brake calipers, you’ll find that it’s a simple and straightforward process that basically consists of unbolting the caliper from the caliper bracket, disconnecting it from the brake line, and then installing the new caliper. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
1. Replace the Flexible Brake Lines Too
The flexible brake lines will get worn out over time. Like many of the other parts on your Toyota, time, the hot/cold weather, and continual use cause wear and tear. If you're using rubber brake lines, the rubber deteriorates over time, and tiny rubber particles can enter the brake fluid and cause blockage. Rubber brake lines can also get swollen inside the brake line. This narrows the path for the brake fluid, and limits the force the brakes can apply. This means you won't have enough pressure to stop the car quickly and safely. So if you have an old deteriorating brake caliper, chances are good your brake lines are in the same shape. It can't hurt to replace them along with the calipers.
2. Flushing the System is Recommended and Bleeding the Brakes is Required
When you replace your brake calipers, air will get into the brake lines. That will cause a drop in brake fluid pressure, which decreases the power of your brakes. This article offers a more thorough explanation of why you should bleed the brakes while replacing your calipers.
If you are changing the calipers, it's a great idea to also flush the brake system and put in brand new brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means that it attracts water. Old brake fluid usually has water in it. The water will create corrosion in your new calipers much more quickly than clean fluid would. Flushing the brake fluid is cheap and easy, especially compared to the cost of replacing calipers.
3. Always Torque the Caliper Bolts to Spec
You want to make sure that the caliper bolts are tightened to the correct torque spec. Calipers are subject to a lot of vibration, which will cause the bolts to loosen if they are not tightened correctly. If the bolts loosen the caliper can be damaged, and the car can be unsafe to drive.
If you have any questions about checking your calipers or replacing them, we would love to hear from you.
Written by Jason Lancaster