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Replacing Brake Pad Rotors

We have 30K miles on a 2 year old Rav 4 with 1 year left on the lease. Want to keep maintenance costs to a minimum but not compromise safety.

Mechanic tells us the car needs new front rotors and brake pads.

What’s the downside to replacing pads only with the hope they’ll last until the lease is up? Is it really unsafe not to replace the rotors? Is there some way to tell if the rotors are dangerously warn?

There are two reasons to replace the rotors on a safety basis. One is that your are getting pulsation in the brake pedal when you slow down. Are you? It would be especially noticeable when braking from higher speeds. The second is that the rotors are below their minimum thickness. This is probably stamped on the side of the rotor though there should also be a spec in any repair manual. At least those are the two I can think of.

If neither of these things apply then you can just put new pads on. There’s a good chance that the brakes might get noisy for a while. A proper break in procedure will minimize that.

Thanks! No pulsing at all when braking. I’m a bit amazed that the rotors and the factory pads can wear out at the same time. I thought the pads wear first, then after a couple of sets of pads, the rotors are worn to the point of replacement. Are there any public sources for info like minimum rotor thickness?

On my personal vehicles I have replaced pads only multiple times, on customer cars it opens the door for doing free work. Replacing pads only is not a safety issue when the rotors check out OK.

A lot of the time you can get through 2 sets of pads on the same rotor.

But ideas about what to do can vary. A lot of people say that rotors must be turned (resurfaced) any time new pads go on. But then the rotors become thinner and more prone to heat related problems such as warping. So then many will just say to replace the rotors.

Find out exactly why your mechanic wants to replace them. Not replacing them or not turning them can cause problems. Some shops might just do it to avoid come-backs.

Are you sure the pads need replacing now or do they need to be replaced in the future? Mechanic just might be anticipating need to replace…if rotors are not badly grooved then you don’t really need rotors.

Mechanic tells us the car needs new front rotors and brake pads.

I don’t know your mechanic so I guess I don’t trust him. Do you? If so I would follow his advice. Explain your plans and ask for his advice. He can see them, we can only guess.

I’m suprised you need brskes at all on a Rav 4 with 30k. Get a second opinion.

Thanks for all your great comments. We do trust our mechanic and he will carefully check the rotor thickness against Toyota specs before taking any action.

Pads have asbestos dust and various other components that when heated up leave a residue on the rotor. If you don’t change the rotors then the pads will “glaze up” and eventually significantly reduce your stop time.

CRC makes a product called “De-Squeak”…You spray it on the rotors during the brake job. It “beds in” the new pads almost instantly while it removes the glaze from the rotors…Stops / solves a lot of problems. Your 2 year old vehicle with only 30K miles should not need new rotors unless you have run the brakes down to the metal. Today, brake shops try to sell new rotors regardless…

If the rotors are not worn down enough to be unsafe you certainly can replace pads only.
The big issue is that you should NOT point the finger at your mechanic if a day, week, or 3 months later those new pads start squeaking, squealing, or if they start developing a shudder.

The proper repair is to service the rotors. Anything other than that should be on you if the job goes sour.

I’d get a second opinion also…

Because there isn’t much weight on a Rav 4 the pads should last much longer than
30,000 miles. If the pads are worn out, check both sides to make sure there is even wear.
If only one pad is worn, then there may be a problem with the rubber line or caliper.
Check for Technical Bulletins to see if there were any recalls from rubber brake lines,
master cylinder, etc. Talk to other Rav 4 owners. If only the front pads are worn out
then check the rear pads/shoes to see if they’re working. Self adjusting shoes only
adjust when they’re adjusted. Sometimes, they get out of sdjustment. When this happens,
turn/resurface the brake drum adjust the shoes to fit and the front pads will wear less
(the front end dips less to let you know the rear brakes are working).

Brake pads are usually replaced when the thickness is worn down to the half way point.
Seventy Five percent of the life of pads are on the first half.

Rotors are replaced when they reach the minimum thickness. The minimum thickness is usually stamped on the rotor. The discard/min. thickness might be under specifications in the owners manual. They’d definitely be in a shop manual. Some parts store might even
give you the specs over the phone.

Rotors are resurfaced every time pads are installed and when installing new rotors.(to
prevent installing a warped rotor.) Words on a box saying these new rotors do not need turning, means nothing. If you were to do a scratch test on new rotors, you’d find
99 percent are warped. Resurfacing usually costs $10 to $12.00 each. Some rotors are sold new at the minimum thickness and its the manufacturer’s suggestion to replace these types
every time.

There are 3 types of pads: cheap, mid-grade and expensive… the cheap pads usually squeak and cause more than normal dust. The expensive pads last a long time but wear out the rotors… Use the semi-metalic mid-grades.

Take the car out on a straight road with no traffic and apply the brakes. The car is suppose to glide to a stop with out jerking to one side or the other and the brake peddle should not pulse. Hit the brakes on a dirt road and see if all tires lock up.
Hope this helps.

Thank you all very much!!!