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Toyota Brake Service – Questions You Should Ask Your Mechanic

When you first start to notice your Toyota’s brakes squealing there is a little voice inside of you telling you, “that’s not going to be cheap to fix.”

Maybe you’ve even gone down on your hands and knees, looking at your wheels, trying to see if there is any scratching or scraping just inside the rims. You’re looking for any sign that you’re not going to have to spend hundreds of dollars fixing your brakes.

When your brakes are the loudest, all of the sudden you see banners and signs along the road for $99 brake replacement with “lifetime” warranty. It’s so tempting to pull into any random brake repair shop and spend $99 after you called the Toyota dealership last week and got a quote for $300 to replace just the front brakes.

So what is the difference between the “brake specialists” and the dealership? What’s the difference between $99 and $300 when it comes to your Toyota brake service?

Here is a list of questions to ask your mechanic when going in for a Toyota brake service.

Toyota Brake Service Question 1: What Type of brake pads are you using?

There are VAST differences in brake pad composition (quality of build).

Brake pads for your Toyota can range from fully organic materials to semi metallic, to fully metallic, to ceramic.

Each material has its own benefits.

  • Organic pads are easy on the rest of your brake system, but they tend to wear out quickly and create a lot of brake dust.
  • Metallic pads will last the longest, but they tend to wear out other brake system components and are prone to squeaking.
  • Semi metallic pads are a good balance of both worlds.
  • Ceramic pads are even better – They have similar properties to semi metallic, yet they perform better in high temperature environments, rarely squeak, and do not create much brake dust.

Each material has its proper application, but for a Toyota that is driven on a “normal” daily basis, we at Highline recommend Ceramic brake pads.

Old brake pads are worn down and show major signs of use.

Old brake pads are worn down and show major signs of use.

New brake pads are easy to spot.

New brake pads are easy to spot.

Toyota Brake Service Question 2: What about my brake rotors?

On most newer Toyotas (with some exception), your brake rotors can be re-used.

You might hear mention of machining, turning, or resurfacing your brake rotors. These all refer to the same common process in which the imperfections and warping are removed from your brake rotor (by removing rotor material on a brake lathe) to make them just as good as new.

Digging deeper into the brake rotor process, there are two different ways to machine a brake rotor. The first way to machine a brake rotor is a bench brake lathe in which your rotor is removed from the car and machined. The other method is an on-car brake lathe in which your brake rotor is machined while mounted on your car.

The on-car method is hands down, THE absolute best way to machine a brake rotor. The reason why is that your car may have inconsistencies that will cause a perfectly machined brake rotor to be off center once mounted on the vehicle. Machining the rotors in their final mounted position ensures perfect alignment.

At Highline, we absolutely will not replace your brake pads without resurfacing your brake rotors. And we have also invested in having our very own on-car brake lathe in our shop.

Our practice of resurfacing your brake rotors when replacing your brake pads is how we can guarantee your brakes will not squeak, pulsate, or wear prematurely and also we offer a month, 24,000 mile nationwide warranty on your services.

Toyota Brake Service Question 3: Do my brake calipers need replacement?

You may not know what brake calipers are, but a mechanic will and knowing if they should be replaced is going to save you money.

It is very unlikely that the brake calipers will need replacement on your Toyota – Toyotas are built to last.

While a brake caliper is a crucial component of your brake system, it does not typically wear out (over the course of ordinary use – although there are always exceptions). At Highline, we will service your calipers with every brake pad replacement to ensure proper function. This means we will lube them and replace any required hardware while replacing your brake pads.

Toyota Brake Service Question 4: Should I replace front and rear brakes at the same time?

Replacing front and rear brakes at the same time isn’t necessarily recommended. While you absolutely should replace left and right brakes at the same time, you do not necessarily need to replace rear at the same time as fronts – and vice versa.

While each vehicle has its own characteristics, we at Highline have typically found that front and rear brakes tend to wear out on different schedules. Replacing them separately will not diminish your Toyota’s brake function.

Toyota Brake Service Question 5: What about my brake fluid?

Any question about brake fluid is a good question – and the answer of whether or not it needs to be replaced will vary.

While you do not necessarily have to perform a brake fluid flush during a Toyota brake service, Highline does recommend performing a brake fluid flush service every 30,000 miles. Your brake fluid will become contaminated over normal use (constantly heating up and cooling off causes it to absorb moisture), and can damage more expensive components if it is not replaced regularly.

Ask Highline if you are unsure of your brake fluid condition.

The Real Difference Between $99 and $300 Toyota Brake Service

As you can see, there are many factors that go into a Toyota brake service. At Highline Car Care, we will monitor our customer’s entire brake system from visit to visit and only suggest maintenance, repairs and replacement when necessary.

We make it a policy to use quality parts that will have your vehicle braking as good as (sometimes even better than) new.

We will machine your brake rotors with our on-car brake lathe whenever possible, we will always use quality brake pads, and we will always service your calipers and replace all required hardware.

This is the only way to do it right.