How do I bleed the brakes on a 2003 Toyota-Runner

Have a 2003 Toyota 4Runner (2wd, V8, with ABS). Had to replace the right front caliper due to frozen pistons when I changed the front pads at around 80K miles. Thought I got the system bleed properly with crude tools but I only bleed that one caliper since no others were changed or brake lines opened. Brakes work Ok but require a lot more pedal pressure. Had dealer “check it” at last routine service and they said I needed to bleed all wheels as any air will go to the rear with the ABS…so they supposedly did that. However, the pedal still requires the same amount of pressure, which is a lot more than before I changed the pads and the one caliper. Got a new toy, a MityVac 8500 Siverlite Elite, and want to give it another try but don’t know the correct procedure, sequence, etc and if there is anything specific that I need to do because of the ABS.

If you paid to have the brakes bled by Toyota and the problem persist I’d have them redo the job. Apparantly there is still air somewhere in the brake lines. Toyota is responsible to do the job properly which is evidenced by normal brake petal pressure. Once you start messing with the brakes yourself you are letting Toyota off the hook.

Yes I see your point but I was the one that did the initial work and that is when the problem first occurred. I just asked the dealership to “check” them. I really have no way of knowing if they did anything or not, I was not charged anything, only told that they bleed the rear brakes. I have had issues with this shop in the past where work was billed but not done…If I can fix the problem my self I would rather do so.

Your best bet - given that you are as far as doing brakes and such - is to blow $20 on a repair manual (Haynes or Chilton’s at auto parts stores). This will have instructions for the past work including the recommended bleeding procedure. Autozone’s online repair manuals probably also give a procedure.

At any point during the brake job or prior bleeding procedure did you let the fluid level in the master cylinder go all the way down?

If your ABS module needs to be bled this is typically a procedure that requires specialized computerized tools.

The rest of the system is likely more routine - for the more routine parts of the system the typical order is to bleed the wheels in the following order: right rear - left front - left read - right front. The master cylinder must stay full.

That is just generic. There may be things about the 4-Runner that I don’t know.

Thanks, I’ll check into the manual…is one better than the other? I assume a authorized factory service manual from Toyota is not availabe or if so cost prohibitive.

No the fluid level never even got close to going all the way down.

It requires an ABS scan tool to bleed the brake system correctly. If it was brought to the dealer to get the brakes bled, they would have had the proper scanner for the ABS.



Is there anyway to do the job myself without the scanner?

I’ve read that the scanner is required to bleed the master cylinder but not necessary to bleed the lines.

My beef is that when I took the vehicle to the dealer (selling and servicing since new, now ith 94K miles) and asked if they could do a brake system flush, the service writer looked at me like I had 3 eyes and said they don’t do brake flushing. I told him what I had done changing the caliper and lack of pedal pressue and he said they would “check it”. I doubt they did anything as I was not charged and have on one occasion been charged for parts and labor that were never done. I caught this and brought it to their attention and they initially denied any wrong doing but when I showed the proof they became very apologetic. I was reluctant to take the car back to them for service but since it is the only Toyota dealer in the area I did so. Thus my wanting to try to resolve the problem myself.

If a scanner is necessary than it will go back to the dealer.

No. You need a scanner to command the valves in the ABS unit to open in order to bleed the brake system. You don’t need to take it to the dealer to have this done. Any indepenent shop with the proper ABS scanner can bleed the brakes.


Thanks…will check into an independent shop.