Q: I just had my front brakes replaced and now I notice a squeal when braking?

A: Several things may cause that condition. If you did not go to a Toyota dealer then the brake material may not be correct for the vehicle. If you went to a dealer they used Toyota approved front pads and this can also be the problem. Toyota in a effort to keep repair costs down have gone in the last year to a domestic source and sometimes these result in a squeaking condition. Toyota parts are guaranteed for 12 months and the dealer can apply a liquid that will reduce the noise. This is not a safety problem just annoying.

Q: Since my front brake pads were replaced I'm now getting a pulsation in my brake pedal and steering wheel.

A: I've found that the improved performance of new brakes will bring out any our of round condition in the brake rotors. This does not affect braking ability and can be eliminated with machining of the front brake rotors. I do recommend that the dealer use the on the car lathe for the best results.

Q: My Land Cruiser needs front brakes but I only have 23,000 miles.

A: This is very common since the weight of the vehicle requires greater braking effort to stop. The Land Cruiser was designed to be an serious off road vehicle that was built like a tank. Today it is a status symbol and costs 50,000 but it is still a serious off road vehicle with leather and CD's.

Q: My 4X4 brake pedal is low and the brakes do not stop well, I installed new pads but no change.

A: This has several possibilities. The front calipers may have sticking pistons (some have 4 on each wheel), if the pins for the brake pads were not cleaned and lubed the pads will stick and not move properly. You may have to remove the rear brake drums and adjust the rear brakes, the rear brakes are only adjusted when the emergency brake is used.

Q: My brake warning light is coming on when I drive but my brakes seem fine, should I have them checked?

A: The reason that light comes on is low brake fluid in the master cylinder for whatever reason. The most normal reason is that your front brakes have worn and the fluid needed to "fill:" the space left from wear has lowered the level in the master cylinder. You should have your brakes checked as a precaution but probably just adding a little DOT 3 brake fluid will solve the condition. You probably notice that this is most common in the morning of if you are at the base of a hill and stopped.

Q: I get a noise from my Toyota in the morning but then it goes away soon and is fine all that day. Is this a problem? Paul D.

A: I'm not sure where you live or what model you have so here are several examples of possible causes. Over night the brake surface on the rotors or brake drums will be affected by moisture and a light coating of surface rust will develop. When you use your brakes for the first time the next day your braking action is wiping the surface clean and that is the noise you are hearing. The 95 -96 Avalon has a different problem in that the brake pad material needed to be changed to correct just that noise complaint. If you own an Avalon and have this problem your dealer has the updated brake pads to correct the noise.

Q: I have an 97 Camry and I notice that after I drive around town or after getting of the freeway I get this strange noise from the brakes, I've had them checked but the dealer can't find a problem. Jack C.

A: This has been and ongoing problem for about a year. It was made worse by a fire in Japan that damaged the factory that makes brake pads for the Camry. In July of 98 Toyota finally came out with a fix.. The fix is a little different for vehicles with ABS and those without. The repair will replace the rear wheel cylinders and front brake pads with hardware, the rotors are turned. We have done about a dozen and all are still quiet. The repair takes about 3 hours to do so if you are having this noise problem contact your dealer for an appointment.

Q: I own an 97 4Runner with ABS brakes and sometimes two things happen that worry me. I notice that when I'm going slow over speed bumps and braking I get this noise and chattering from the brakes and sometimes I feel that in damp weather when braking the brake pedal goes to the floor and it takes what seem. forever to stop. Ken C.

A: I'll answer them in order. The first braking condition may be the ABS kicking in before the speed bump. We sometimes fail to realize how much these vehicles weigh and what it takes to stop them. If a dealer has checked the vehicle and hopefully rode with you to experience the condition and tells you that this is what is probably happening believe them and enjoy the 4Runner. The second question is similar in nature. If the road surface is slippery then the ABS will apply the brakes as needed and you have no control, except with the brake pedal pressure. I had a customer that complained of this and it took quite sometime to duplicate the condition because he would not remember under what driving conditions it happened. I drove the vehicle home one night in the rain and was forced to brake quickly from 35 mph and felt the pedal go (what I thought was to the floor) then that ABS kicked in and the stop was completed. Remember we drive these SUV as cars but they may weigh 1,000 lbs more with everything bigger and they don't brake or accelerate like a passenger vehicle.

Q:I have a 96 Land Cruiser with 35,000 miles. I just had my vehicle in for its 30K service and they told me I needed front brake pads and the rotors needed to be machined. Is this early for front brake pads to wear out and should the rotors always be resurfaced, won't this make them wear out sooner? Jerry

A: In a quick answer to your brake wear mileage is no, this is fairly common for replacement at this mileage. Remember this is a very special vehicle meant to be used the world over in areas where the terrain is harsh and you can't afford a breakdown, and we use it to go to get a video and groceries. The brake rotors do not need to be machined each time the brake pads are replaced unless the rotors became scored, or there is a vibration when braking. I sometimes find that after a pad replacement a vibration may occur since the brakes are doing a much better job. I would contact the dealer since the machining or replacement is still covered under warranty for 36 months or 36K, the pads are not.

Q: My son (who is 150 miles away) feel that he is not getting any brake fluid to his rear brakes. He has tried to bleed the brakes but no fluid is coming out of the bleeders, Any ideas. Peter

A: Your vehicle may have a valve that adjusts for loads and prevents the rear brakes from locking up. There is a bleeder on this valve that needs to be bled before fluid will reach the rear cylinders. This valve is located above the rear axle and has brake lines running to the rear cylinders. The master cylinder may also have a problem. Loosen the lines at the master cylinder to see if any pressure is being generated from the cylinder. The brake proportioning valve may also have a blockage, but this is very uncommon. Your son will have to work his way back to locate the blockage if the master cylinder is in good condition.

Q: I can't get my rear brake drums off my 95 Corolla. Is there a special tool ? cslayer

A: What you need to do is to get two metric bolts that will thread into the machined holes on the face of the brake drum. Make sure that the vehicle is securely supported and the emergency brake is off. Thread the bolts into the threaded holes to "press" off the drum, do this fairly evenly or the drum will cock. When the drum is off try not to breathe the dust and wash your hands after, clean off the parts and dump the dirt into the trash.

Q: I'm an independent garage with a 91 4Runner with a brake problem. The brakes lock up after about 20 minutes of driving. The customer has had major brake repairs at Montgomery Ward ($1000.00) with just about new everything. If you crack a brake line the brakes free up, the brake booster seems to be working fine and the brake push rod is not too tight. Help me.

A: When I first read this all sort of things went through my mind but I thought that the brake proportioning valve was a good candidate for the culprit. I did not know if all brakes locked up or just the front or rear. After they got my response with questions and possibilities the garage kept at the repair. To make a long story short it was the brake master cylinder. In retrospect they almost never go bad but if the wrong fluid was used or a seal had distorted it will prevent the master cylinder from returning to neutral. Good work.

Q: How can I ensure a high, firm brake pedal? I have manually adjusted the brakes but the pedal remains soft and low. Brake fluid has been bleed and new carbon-metallic pads added. Any suggestions.

A: This is a question that I deal with a lot at the dealership. You will never get a high firm brake pedal with the 4Runner. You seen to have tried several things without success. Adjusting the rear brakes helps, if you use the emergency brakes a lot it will keep the rear brakes adjusted. There is a rod that can be adjusted between the master cylinder and brake pedal. Sometimes this can be adjusted to give you a little firmer pedal but too much will cause the brakes to drag. The problem is the vehicle weight 1 1/2 tons and we drive it like a car, add bigger tires and it just takes a while to stop or the feeling that it is taking too long. I usually find that the brakes are fine and all four wheels will lock up when used. Sometimes its our driving habits that needs some adjustment.

Q: I read in USA Today that ABS brakes need a lot of maintenance and cannot be counted on to work when needed, sometimes we are better off without them. What is your opinion. Peggy D.

A: I saw the same article. I'm glad that they were referencing all American built vehicles since to my knowledge, as with all of Toyota's products, we don't have much trouble. The ABS system is a wonderful safety feature if used correctly. Read your owners manual regarding use and it will give you an excellent description. The system does not require any additional maintenance except I do suggest replacing your brake fluid every 3 years since it does absorb moisture. If the ABS system were to fail a warning light would come on but your basic power braking system is still intact and you will not notice any braking change. If the light is on take it to your Toyota dealer and the problem is normally a wheel speed sensor.

Q: I hear grinding from my rear brakes sometimes but almost always after a rain storm. My dealer tells me that it is brake dust and from time to time needs to be cleaned. Are they for real or just another "dealer" story. SD.

A: Well in almost all cases they are for real. What is happening is on drum brake vehicles the brake drum keeps a lot of brake dust and just plan dust trapped inside the brake assembly. The dust will not do any damage but when trapped between the brake surface will make strange noises until it is ground up, water adds to the noise since the dust forms small balls (like BBs) and so more noise. The dealer will remove the brake drums and use a special cleaner to "wash" the brake assembly and normally adjust the brakes at the same time. So its no story but a real needed service.

Q: My anti lock rear brake light came on, but everything works fine. Local garage can't find a problem. Is it safe to drive? What causes this ?

A:You probably don't have a 98 with 150k but the problem is most likely the rear speed sensor that bolts into the rear differential. Its common for this to fail but be prepared to have some difficultly in removing and installing the new sensor. Your brakes will work normally and the only loss because of the failure it the anti-lock feature.

Q: My emergency brake cable has broken I was wandering if there is any way to repair this at home or is it a dealer job. I have access to mechanic tools and such. I already have replacement cable. Thanks for any help you may offer.

A: If its the front cable then by all means go to the dealer. Its fairly difficult to do.
While you are there have them correct what really caused the cable to break. If you make it a habit of going there more often they may be able to prevent the truck from having other problems before they happen. The cable was preventable.