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Does 1992 Camry disconnected parking brake cause brake pad wear; are ceramic pads noisier?

I have a 1992 Camry XLE (V6).

This problem involves three repair shops: A – regular mechanic – trustworthy, turns down work they think is not needed, not always right, but rarely wrong, specializes in Japanese car brands ; B—formerly trustworthy and was referred to by A for work A didn’t do, but now considered untrustworthy by A and one of A’s customers; C—currently referred to by A and considered very trustworthy by A’s customer.

A few months ago, I had a noise in the right rear and my parking brake was always getting stuck on. Shop A said it was the parking brake cable and that I should try not to use the parking brake. But the habit of pressing the floor pedal for the parking brake was so ingrained that when Shop A told me the repair would be about $300 I asked Shop A to disconnect the cable, which they did and the noise stopped.

Recently the state inspection at a 4th shop revealed that the car needed a flex pipe repair. So I took it to Shop B because it had repaired the flex pipe two years ago upon referral from Shop A. B repaired the flex pipe (it was more complicated than two years ago) and told me that the rear brake pads were worn and gave me an estimate of about $250 for pads and rotors. So I took the car to Shop A, as it also does brake work and it is my preferred shop. Shop A estimated the repair at $360, explaining that they use Toyota parts, not after-market parts, and that they prefer metallic pads, as opposed to the ceramic pads on Shop B’s estimate, because ceramic pads tend to squeal. The boss at Shop A said that if the 92 car were his he’d go to Shop B and save money. He then went back to the repair area. The counter person at Shop A then said that they no longer recommend Shop B. A customer at the counter then chimed in saying she’d had her car repaired at Shop B and then later took it to Shop C, which found all sorts of things wrong with Shop B’s work. The counter person said that Shop A now recommends Shop C and suggested I take it there to get another estimate and to see if the brakes really needed repair. “Do you feel any problem stopping?” the counter person asked. “No,” was my reply.

So I went to Shop C, who told me that the parking brake cable had been cut and gave me an estimate for $300+. I told him I knew that. He then said the pads (which he called shoes) are indeed worn, but the rotors (which he referred to as drums) are OK. So can you just repair the shoes (pads), I asked. He said that if they didn’t fix the parking brake, they couldn’t warranty the repair, because the parking brake cable helps hold something in place (perhaps the ball bearings, which he said are loose) and that causes the pads to wear out. He also said he prefers ceramic pads, because metallic pads squeal.

Shop C did not mention the parking brake and they would warranty the ceramic pad as long as I own the car.

Also, after I left Shop C, the right rear was making noise again.

So there are two questions:

  1. Does the disconnected parking brake really cause the pads to wear more quickly?
  2. Which type of pad-shoe causes more noise – metallic or ceramic?

If you have drum brakes in the rear then the parking brake keeps the shoes in adjustment. I don’t know if you will get more wear on the rear shoes but, as the shoes wear, the lack of adjustment will make them less effective and you might start getting more brake pedal travel.

I have used many different kinds of brake shoes and, based on my experience, I would use the cheapest ones. Brake shoes in the rear do much less braking than front pads and have much more surface area so they last a long time, no matter which ones you buy. I have not noticed any difference in noise based on material used in brake shoes. Brake PADS (used on rotors) is another story entirely. In the case of brake pads I find metallic to be noisy and ceramic to be quiet, in general.

  1. No.
  2. Ceramics are supposed to be quieter and produce much less brake dust.

If you have disk brakes in the rear, you have pads and rotors, but you also have shoes! The shoes are for the parking brake only. The drum part of the equation is built into the “hat” of the rotor. Cutting the cable should have absolute no effect on the functioning of the regular brakes (pads).

In my state, a working parking brake system is required to pass annual inspection. The surest way to make the parking brake non-functional is to not use it. The cables then, you guessed it, seize up with rust.

From what I can see online, this car has rear disk brakes and parking brake drums.

OP, can you clarify which is warn down, the pads (disk brakes) or the shoes (parking brakes)?

Thanks all, this is helpful.

“If you have drum brakes in the rear then the parking brake keeps the shoes in adjustment”

This is incorrect.

The drum brakes are what are called self-adjusting.

How this works is, as the vehicle is backing up and the brakes are applied, a cable pulls up on the adjusting lever. Then when the brakes are released, the adjusting lever comes down and turns the star wheel on the adjuster. This then causes the brake shoes to move out slightly to compensate for any wear in the brake linings.

If you want to prevent brake noise, always install components that meets or exceeds the vehicle manufacturers specifications.


Some cars use brake drums only for the rear brakes. Some cars have disk rear brakes which also have small brake drums incorporated into the rotors. What is the case here?

A '92 XLE might have rear rotors with the small drums for the parking brake.

The only cable in the rear brakes of my Camry are the parking brake cables. I to believe the rear drum brakes on a Camry are kept in adjustment by using the parking brake. I just can’t find where it is written in the shop manual at the moment.

Here’s what I’d do: Go back to shop A, tell them you want your car to have a working parking brake, and do whatever it takes using OEM parts to fix it. And to replace whatever other components – pads, etc – need replacing in the rear brakes with Toyota OEM parts to return them to full service again. Then pay their invoice.


“Ceramics are supposed to be quieter and produce much less brake dust.”

I can only partially agree with that

I’ve found some ceramic brake pads to be EXTREMELY noisy. But I agree there is less brake dust

“If you have disk brakes in the rear, you have pads and rotors, but you also have shoes!”

While I believe you are correct in the case of OP’s car, there ARE many vehicles with disc brakes all around, but no shoes. In those cases, the parking brake cables act on the caliper, which causes the pads to grab onto the rotor.

I’m not sure if you were referring to OP’s car specifically, or just making a statement in general


I've found some ceramic brake pads to be EXTREMELY noisy.
For sure. ANY brake pads can be noisy if there is something flaky with something else in the system (rotors grooved, caliper sticking or misaligned, etc.), but ceramics are SUPPOSED to be quiter, all else being equal.
I'm not sure if you were referring to OP's car specifically, or just making a statement in general
I was referring to the OP's car specifically.


I have found that some ceramic brake pads ARE noisey. And it’s the pads, because the rest of the system is absolutely perfect. Rotors machined and/or replaced with factory parts, new pins, sliders, etc. Everything lubed up correctly with the proper grease, and everything is moving freely. No stuck pistons, nothing cocked and/or bent. Everything toqued to specs, new hardware and bolts. No runout, no brake thickness variation

Yet that brake job you just did perfectly is noisey

Explanation = those particular ceramic brake pads suck, even though they were top of the line and pretty pricey

Over the years, I’ve come to a conclusion . . . the only ceramic brake pads that I can trust to be quiet are factory ceramic brake pads. And only if the car was originally equipped with ceramic brake pads.


No argument from me. I think one of the key things you touched on is whether the car was originally equipped with ceramic pads. In fact, that’s the only time I recommend them to customers. On my own vehicles, I follow the same rule and I haven’t had any noise problems with aftermarket ceramic pads. YMMV!

I’ve found it even goes beyond if a vehicle originally came from the factory with ceramic pads

I’ve also encountered numerous instances where the only way to avoid noise was to keep using factory ceramic pads

I have had NUMEROUS noise problems with aftermarket ceramic , even/especially on vehicles that came from the factory with ceramic pads

I’ll just say one more thing . . . it’s not just Wagner ceramic pads that I’ve had problems with, but a few other brands

I mentioned Wagner because some of the other guys swear by Thermoquiet, whereas I’ve had almost nothing but trouble, as far as they go :smirk:

I am surprised by two things;

A. That any mechanic would intentionally cut the parking brake cable and leave it unrepaired
2. That any state inspection would pass a car with an non-functional parking brake