'03 Tundra Limited Brakes

I have a 2003 Toyota Tundra with about 57,000 miles and noticed that it takes more “push” to get the brakes to engage. (The brake pedal has to travel further towards the floor) There is no squealing or any other sounds and the brake fluid tank is almost full, I have not added any brake fluid or had any brake work done since I bought the truck in the fall of 2008. I am wondering what the problem could be and the possible cost involved to get it fixed. Brake Pads Wearing? Air Bubble? I’m not sure. I would appreciate any insight on the problem. This has been ongoing for about 3 weeks, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any worse. Thanks.

Unfortunately, none of us can accurately diagnose a brake problem via cyberspace.
However, after 57k miles and at least 4 years, it is very possible that you are ready for brake pad replacement. It is also possible–based on your description–that the master cylinder is in need of replacement.

Some folks can get more than 57k miles from their brakes, but then again, many folks have to replace brake pads by…35k or 40k miles. Since you are well beyond those numbers, it would not be at all unusual for your brake pads to be worn out. And, while 57k miles would be VERY early for replacement of a master cylinder, it is not impossible for it to be worn out–especially if it was defective from the start.

Whenever there is ANY question regarding the effectiveness of your brakes, you need to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic IMMEDIATELY. “Qualified mechanic” almost always means avoiding chains such as Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO, etc.

I strongly suggest that you drive (very slowly and carefully) to a local independent mechanic with a good reputation. Rather than dithering and delaying about this problem, I urge you to take action immediately. Once you wind up in an accident–possibly involving injury or death of other people–any delay will seem rather short-sighted.

I have a 2002 Tundra that had a known problem with the front brakes - at least the dealers were aware of it. I don’t think there was an official recall but I was able to get mine repaired by the dealer free of charge, but that was because they didn’t listen to me when I told them my problem was with the rear brakes but they repaired the front brakes instead of listening to me.

I told them I had a brake problem and the dealer immediately said, before the truck was even looked at, that it was a problem with the front brakes, so I knew they had an issue with the 2002 Tundra.

It turned out that they replaced the front brakes but the actual problem was the rear brakes, which they fixed at no charge. I’m pretty sure I wrote about this at this website back when it happened, so a search might show something more accurate.

My point is, the 2003 Tundra may have had a similar problem that you might be able to get repaired for a discount if you can do an internet search and find a history of these problems and show it to your dealer.

As said above, not possible to diagnose this on the net. But since you haven’t had any work done on the brake system, and you haven’t ever added fluid, my guess is the master brake cylinder is failing. When it fails, you’ll notice the pedal going futher down, and eventually as it gets worse and worse it will sort of just keep creeping down the more your press on it. But you can pump the pedal to get it to temporaily return nto normal. It’s a leak, but an internal leak inside the chambers, so you don’t notice any loss of fluid.

I’m assuming you don’t drive this car too many miles per year. Or it is a manual and you use the compression to help brake. Or you are just a good careful driver and don’t go for the jackrabbit starts and quick stops. I’d expect you’d have otherwise noticed the fluid level go down as the front pads wear. The prior owner may have put new pads on before he sold it. How many miles have you put on it since you’ve owned it?

Nothing changes VDC’s advice to immediately get it to a shop.

A rear brake issue plausible especially if the rears are drum. All it would take is a sticky/otherwise malfunctioning self-adjuster.

You’re well overdue to have the brake fluid replaced.

1st step would be to get the brake fluid flushed out so you have fresh fluid in the system. On a vehicle this should be done every 3-4 years regardless of miles. You just might have water in the system due to condensation and that could make the brakes spongy. The master cylinder could be bad, but change the fluid first before getting into replacing the master.

Also, get the rear brakes cleaned and the parking brake adjusted properly. The rears are drums and if the self adjusters get rusty and stick then the rear drums can get out of adjustment.

Once you have fresh fluid and the rear brakes set up properly if your brakes are still spongy then you start looking at the master cylinder, rubber sections of the brake lines (for evidence of swelling and softness), and the front calipers.

Thank You All for the advice. I appreciate it. I am going to take it to the mechanic as soon as possible. It is an automatic and only put about 25 to 29,000 on since I bought it (from a dealer). It has been used in some pretty brutal Alaskan conditions, including 55 below zero and been through a lot of snow, ice and slush. I am going to have the brake fluid flushed and changed and have them clean and look at all of the components of the brake system. Thanks again. All great advice. :slight_smile: