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The brake pad caper

Back in Texas, I asked my son-in-law to examine the brakes on the Mexican Sienna to see if they needed work. He told me the front pads were about 1/8 new size and they needed replacing ASAP. I drove back to Mexico, 840 miles and drove around for 6 weeks. I did buy new ceramic pads in Cordoba, but time passed without our cousin helping me find a mechanic to install them.

I finally told him I need to change them NOW. He asked if he could watch so he would know how to do it. He has always paid someone, because not knowing how he was afraid to do it himself.

Today was the day. He was an hour and a half late, so I finally started without him.

I do not have a floor jack. Neither does he, because a good one costs several weeks income. Thus, I could not find a way to get the jack stands in a optimal location. Finally, I said, “Well, sometimes a man has gotta’ do what a man has gotta’ do.”

So, I realized that I could not have a proper place to put the jack stands and would have to, er, punt and support the car with the scissors jack. I know, I know, but there was no real choice, except to keep driving with marginal pads or pay a mechanic of uncertain ability which could be worse.

I put a spare wheel/tire assembly under the front of the car as a back-up. When I got the car up and the wheel off, I put that wheel assembly under the car, just behind the jack location. I felt and I still feel this reduced the chance of being seriously injured or killed to a very low level. Plus we had no intention of getting well under the car any more than needed to get the job done.

It has been a long time since I replaced pads, so to be sure to be correct, I went to Youtube and watched every relevant video, making sure I missed nothing.

By the time he got here, I had the left wheel brakes nearly done, except for putting the new pads on and screwing things down again. I explained the need to pump the brakes before moving the car. And, he helped me hold the caliper to use the C-clamp to compress it.

When reassembling, it is necessary in many cases to hold the second nut while tightening the outer 14 mm nut. I had a 17 mm wrench, but it was too wide to fit in there. So, he dug around and found a thin 3/4 wrench which did the job. So, I wonder if it is 17 mm as stated in the manual, 3/4 doesn’t seem to be 17 mm.

I had no torque wrench, but think I will buy one later this week when I go to Tehuacan. Later in the spring, when I return to Texas to renew my d/l I may check out a floor jack for maximum safety. It looks like a pretty good one might run $300 or more. I realize I could get by with a cheaper one, but I am sure he will be wanting to borrow it for a variety of things other than his Yukon and my Sienna, so for an extra couple hundred I can get one which will serve us both for all needs for a long time.

On the right side, he was there the whole time. He is pretty smart, so by the time we got that one done, I am sure he can do his own brakes in the future. In the past, he has had to pay around two days income (when he has income) to a mechanic to do the job. That is also about the cost of the new pads.

I let him do most of i once he showed upt, because he tends to learn by doing. I even had him start the car and pump up the brakes again so he knew what it felt like. I had told him about watching the reservoir for overflow, but the level didn’t move that much.

I got on Youtube and his son’s Ranger is almost identical except it takes a 15 mm to take off the caliper. The Yukon simply has a different wrench, maybe an Allen wrench, I am not sure what year it is.

So, I felt real good about today. I not only got my pads installed, but he also learned how which means his sons will soon enough know as well. This comes under the category of teach a man to fish rather then giving him a fish.

Since I bought this car used, I need to check the rear pads soon, just in case.


I’m curious why you would buy an expensive floor jack. You aren’t planning to work on the car before putting it on jack stands, are you? Traveling with a nice, big, expensive floor jack would be a PITA in my opinion. It’s not that I think buying a nice expensive floor jack would be a bad idea, but I wouldn’t want to lift one in and out of a vehicle (and deal with safely securing it inside the vehicle), so I would rather travel with one of the smaller ones that can be lifted in and out of my trunk with one hand (and can be safely secured with a couple bungee cords).

Either you and he make very, very little income or you have extremely expensive taste in floor jacks. :relaxed:

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$300 for a floor jack isn’t that much, IMO

But then again, I’m looking at it from a professional angle

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I can see I should have written a book? I did not mean to imply that I was going to carry it with me on trips. This thread had to do with working on brakes. In other words, raising the car and working down there, not changing a tire on the highway.

Toyota recommends raising or supporting the car only at 6 places. I do see videos where they sit jack stands in other places, but I am not confident that they know better than Toyota engineers. Sure, they might, but I am not confident. Or, better said, if it is safe to raise and support the car in other locations, I do not know them. So, I am assuming that I will not experiment.

Two of the six places are in the center front and center rear. One cannot raise the car in those locations with a scissors jack, for sure. At least I don’ think so. And, if you raise the car at one of the 4 jack points (just behind the front wheels and just ahead of the rear wheels) you can’t put a jack stand where the jack is.

So, without a floor jack, the most likely choice is to use the scissors jack to support the car while working on it. Yet, every source I have read says it is a bad idea to support the car on that scissors jack.

After considerable thought, I realized that putting those two wheel-tire assemblies at the two locations I chose makes it almost impossible for that car to fall and crush someone, even if the scissors jack does fail. I cannot say the aluminum wheel would still be drivable if the car slammed into ti, but I think so, and in any case I would still be usable. Heh, heh. So, we went ahead and did the brakes.

However, in the long run, I would like to be able to do it properly.

Two days later, I checked the rear pads and they are also very slim. So Friday I am going to try to get the rear pads and do them later. I am guessing the front pads were already replaced. the car only had around 50,000 miles on it, but those miles were in a large city. And, remember one of the bolts to take off the caliper was not properly torqued, which would also agree with a dunce having worked on it already.

Thanks. Using a measuring tape, I estimated 18 or 19, but the source which said that nut is 17 is not necessarily correct. I don’t know, but I’m I sure got it tightened up fairly well.

My Camry also has only 6 approved jacking points and when I use a floor jack at the front or rear wheel there is no approved place to put the jack stand.
usually lift the car with the floor jack, remove the wheel and put the jack stand under a sturdy point right behind where the wheel was.

Some might object to removing the wheel before the stand is in place but doing it my way ensures that I don’t have to get under the car to place the stand.

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Also TSM:

True, he has very little income, but I have enough if I choose to do it.

This is a small village in Mexico. The entire section where we live at the east edge on the skirts of forest, almost everyone is family, at least by the rules of the Catholic Church. I love those folks, and they treat me with respect.

If the word gets out I have a floor jack, every cousin is going to come knocking when he needs to work on a car. The cousin I usually mention has a Ranger; and a 1976 Chevrolet pickup; also a late 90’s Yukon. BUT, he also has a compressor. A portable compressor used in quarry work, this is a quarry town, with a big, old German diesel motor on it. Make that big; old; heavy German diesel motor And, there is other heavy quarry equipment, too.

So, while I am buying a floor jack, I need to anticipate the entire use that it will face. And, when I buy it, buy for the worst expected use. And, hope it lasts quite a while. Not sure how long they last when properly treated.

I do not know a lot about floor jacks, but yes, I think I need a professional quality floor jack for the family.

Amazon, no, that makes no sense, Autozone, had a $1600 floor jack, I think it was rated nearly 10 tons if I read it correctly, and that would probably not be a bad idea, except for the $1600 part. Hee, hee. So, when I go back in March I may try to pick one up and bring it with me, but not the $1600 one. The choice should be much bigger in the USA.

I expect to pay around $200 to $400, not sure. I may ask for advice at that time, not point in asking now because if I write it down, I am sure I will lose the paper anyway.

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I recommend Hein-Werner, former known as Lincoln jacks . . . they’re made in USA, and still painted blue and yellow

I had the advantage of buying an extra aluminum rim and putting a tire on it. So, I can put one wheel under there BEFORE I take the wheel off the car. Cousin also felt secure with those two wheels under there.

Heh, heh. I will try to ask you again in March, but I will make an abortive attempt to write it down. What price range are Hein-Werner in and can one usually buy them locally? McAllen is a good sized town. Thanks for tip.

Bed time, thanks all. A widow is being evicted from a family owned apartment at the end of the month, and the cousin and I are making livable the house she owns. She lived elsewhere for a while, and they knocked in the wall to steal the copper wiring. My wife fell off a ladder last summer and was in rough shape for a while. The widow came over several times a day to massage and put on lotion. Thus, I cannot see expecting her to move into a house with no door or wiring at all.

So, cousin and I roughed in some minimal wiring to make it livable. And, tomorrow we (ahem, he) will install a door over the opening and get some good locks on it. It has a corrugated metal roof; it is currently dry season, but in spring before it starts raining, we will take off the metal roof in one room where it is filled with holes and put on new. Should cost around $100.

Well, I don’t quite remember what the price range is

I believe there are a few different sizes, 2 ton, 3 ton, 5 ton, 10 ton, etc.

You are a good man . . . glad to hear you’re helping that widow out :thumbsup:

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I’m not sure why I thought you would be traveling with your floor jack, but I didn’t think you’d be traveling with it all the time, just when you intend to help out a friend.

The only place (on my car) I use my floor jack is where the pivoting suspension components connect to stationary components (I’m not sure what to call them), putting pressure only on the stationary component, and only so I can raise the car to put a jack stand where the scissor jack would raise the car (if I ever used it).

I guess my main point is that I don’t see the point of spending a lot on a floor jack if its only purpose is to raise the car to put jack stands underneath. If an inexpensive one were to fail, I would never be underneath the vehicle when it does. In any case, I’m sure you know what you’re doing, so I was just curious about your thought process, not second guessing it.

Irlandes, I appreciate your understanding and meant no disrespect. It’s hard for me to place myself in cultures in other parts of the world where lives depend on resourcefulness rather than income.

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That is exactly what daily life for poor Mexicans is: resourcefulness rather than income.

Not just using tires instead of floor jacks. But, things like moving things. Once on the highway from Puebla into Mexico City, a car froze up apparently. It simply could not move and it was in the traveled lane. On a busy highway like that, it soon had a lot of traffic backed up.

What to do? In the US, traffic would have to wait for a tow truck. In Mexico, a large group of men came up, talked a minute, then they started bouncing the car on its suspension. At the instant it was light on the suspension, that is, the up bounce, several would push the car vigorously from the side and as we watched, they moved that car onto the shoulder with pure muscle. Bounce; push; bounce; push.

Though I am not very strong, I learned it as well. When we first lived here, there was a 1200 pound rock which I wanted to move to block some knucklehead from driving into my land. I estimated 1200 pounds because it measured at 8 cubic feet @ 150 pounds per cubic foot.

I took a large crowbar thing and stuck it under the edge, and sort of pushed it around. I could only work a few minutes without being tired, so it took me weeks of elapsed time to move it that 30 feet. But, I did it. In the US, over 100 pounds or so we look for some sort of mechanical device.

Not only do they use resourcefulness, but they are also very cooperative, as in the frozen car problem. Since no one here can afford a floor jack, I am going to buy one for everyone to use. When I do something like that, I tell them they can borrow it. And, if they break it, they don’t even have to pay for it. I will buy a new one, WHICH THEY WILL NOT BORROW. :smiley:

Someone put a foto on Facebook some months ago. They wanted an electrical wire way up on a steep place where the electric company truck could not go. They had a small battalion of men muscling this gigantic light pole up a steep hillside.

Anyway, I do hope everyone understands why I am going to try to buy a jack suitable for my neighborhood. Sorry to write so much.


You can get a nice floor jack that would do the job for under 50 bucks. You should not need a torque wrench for that. Just get good and tight. Auto zone may rent a torque wrench. Its a free rental.

Re: jacking points

Same for my Corolla, 6 allowed jack points. I generally use a floor jack on a center point, then install jack stands at the two points on the rocker panels. I’ve made some pieces of wood with a groove so as to not damage/bend the seam weld there on the rocker panels.

Using the floor jack at the rocker panel point works too, if I’m just removing a tire temporarily, say to check the brake pads. When I do that, I place something under the car at the rocker panel or the center point to catch it if it falls off the jack, like the tire and a 4 x 4 or something. I don’t ever crawl under the car configured like that tho. Only work from the side unless there are also jack stands holding it up.

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“nice floor jack that would do the job for under 50 bucks.”

Please define “nice”

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Good one, db. I was looking, I forget if it was on Amazon or an Autozone, but they have reviews like Amazon does. A man reported he bought a floor jack under $100. He had the car up on it, ready to put under the jack stands, and as he watched, the jack settled down. He said if he had been under it, he’d be dead.

Again, I am buying for my neighborhood and am going to select accordingly. A group floor jack so to speak.

Knocksensor lost me there. These days I confuse easily. I do not understand what the torque wrench has to do with the jack. Sorry to be so dense.

I went into Tehuacan and went to Autozone to buy the rear brake pads. I asked about torque wrenches. I chose to buy the best one they had which came out to $50 USD. I think my Son-in-law spends a lot more than that for a torque wrench, but he is sort of like Toolman and has almost every tool you can imagine. He insists on first grade tools, too.

I tend alas to buy the least I might need, thinking it will be good enough, then have to pay the second time to get something good. Like the OBD reader and soon I had to buy a freeze frame version and when i did, I realized I really needed one that can graph the O2 sensors. So, in this case, as far as floor jack I want to buy more than I think I need for once.

George, what you do is what I want to do. Use the floor jack to raise the car and put in the jack stands. Currently, I have to use the scissors jack to raise the car and put the tire under the center in case the scissors jack. All information I have read says not to trust the scissor jack, and I believe it.

At my age, now, anything important that I buy will go to my heirs, or the fastest neighbors. :smiley: So, I don’t mind buying good stuff.

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