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Lexus brake repair

I own a 1997 Lexus ES 300 and am replacing the rear brake pads, and have run into an unexpected problem. I removed the long bolt at the bottom of the caliper assembly that connects the caliper assembly to the wheel, slid the caliper assembly up, and unclipped the brake pads. Very simple, no problem doing this. I used a C-clamp to push to caliper flush, then clipped the new brake pads in. However, I could not get the caliper completely over the new pads. The caliper is not in the way, but caliper assembly will now not fit down so that the long bolt housing lines up with the caliper assembly. Any suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong? I’ve changed pads numerous times in the past (not on this car) and have never had any problems. Thanks in advance.

Have you double checked that the new pads and other parts are exact replacements for the old ones? When I did my '96 ES300 rear brakes, there was an extra tab on the new ones that wasn’t on the old ones.

Thanks. Was the tab something that made the pads wider that made them not fit, or just a tab on the end of the pad? The new pads look identical and I had the parts shop confirm they were the same, but it’s probably worth checking again.

The tab stuck out the end, preventing installation, so it sounds different from your problem. Do you mean you could slide the caliper with new pads over the disk, but not far enough to line up the hole for the bolt?

That’s exactly right. It’s like the pads are too thick for the caliper assembly to go down far enough to line up the hole for the bolt.

Well, you confuse me - by ‘too thick’ (which I think of as the pad thickness) do you mean ‘too wide’, the middle dimension of the pad (length being the largest, thickness the smallest)? If they are too wide (my definition), that should be apparent in a carful comparison of old and new pads.

By too thick, I’m talking about pad thickness - the part of the pad that wears down with use. The old pads fit because they are worn down and not as thick. In all other respects the pads seem identical.

Well, once the caliper is able to fit over the disc, pad thickness shouldn’t prevent the caliper from aligning correctly, unless the pad is of a different length or width.

It appears you are not fully pushing the caliper piston back in. First make sure this piston is not related to your parking brake and make sure it does not need to be rotated (the piston) to fully retract. Then try pushing the piston in with the bleeder port open (which you should have been already doing)