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Brake Pad Replacement

My 1997 Toyota Avalon has 88,000 miles. The Owner’s Manual says that there will be an audible squeal when the pads are due for replacement. My brakes do not make any noise, yet the pads have never been replaced on this car. Even though the brakes seem to work very well, at high speeds (70 mph on a smooth exprressway) there is a slight shudder when I apply the brakes. There is no shudder when braking a low speeds. Should I have the pads replaced? Should I have the rotors turned?

I’ve seen wear indicators on brake pads never make a noise even when the brake pads were worn almost to the backing plates. So they don’t always indicate brake pad wear.

But since you’re expieriencing a slight shudder when the brakes are applied at high speed is an indication that’s there excessive run-out in the brake rotors. So that’s a good enough reason to have a brake inspection performed.

And if it does need brakes, replace both the pads and rotors. And then follow any proper break-in procedure for the brakes supplied by the brake pad manufacturer.

Tester

I’ll agree with that!!

Yeah, I’ve never been able to hear those wear indicators for 30 years. Must have been too many teen dances. My wife claims she can but I can’t. Best way is to periodically pull the wheel off and check how much is left.

A brake shudder that you don’t feel at the pedal is probably on a rear brake. If you can see the brake rotors through the holes in the wheel and one rotor is more chewed up than the other, you have probably found the culprit.

The mechanic might say which one and he might not know my secret process.

You need some attention at all four brakes. If the mechanic says that the rotors can be resurfaced but they will be close to or at the minimum thickness, let him resurface them. Then have them all changed the next time.

Another way to do it is to get the new rotors now if you plan to sell the car after another 40,000 miles or so. Hopefully, that will prevent you from having to replace things just before you sell it. You get to drive the new stuff instead of the next owner.

I guess some cars can be braked hard at high speed with no noticeable shudder, but I’ve never owned one…I think it’s fairly difficult to have 4 perfect rotors on a car at any given moment…

I would have them checked to see how much pad is left. If there’s plenty left I would leave the pads and rotors alone. I would get the brake fluid changed during the inspection if it’s more than 3 years old.

Pads can last a very long time if you drive gently. The last time I replaced pads was after 70,000 miles on my Accord. They still had ~50% left, but the rotors had become rough and noisy, so I replaced the pads and rotors.

My '96 ES300 got exceptional wear (>100k) out of the front pads, but the rear pads wore out at about 60k. A simple visual inspection of all 8 pads (requires removing each wheel) will let you know how they’re doing.