2002 Highlander Brakes

Here's the story. I bought a 2002 Highlander V-6 new 4 years ago. It doesn't get a lot of miles on it (now has 18,000 mi). When I do drive
it, it gets mostly highway miles. The stopping power of this vehicle was poor at best.
At 9500 miles, my rear brake pads were worn down to nothing and chewed up the rear rotors. The dealer fixed that under warranty, but it still felt like the brake pedal had lots of travel, and the braking power of the vehicle was poor. At 15,000 miles, I was told by the dealer that my rear brakes looked like they had overheated and needed to be replaced again, along with the rear rotors. Also, they said my front calipers were seized and the front pads fell apart when disassembled. Needed new pads and rotors on the front, although they said they were able to free the front calipers. I had a fit as on all of the vehicles I drove in the past, I always got at least 50,000 miles out of a set of brakes.
The dealer says I do not use the vehicle enough and that is why the calipers seized and my brakes keep failing. I have to admit after the last brake job, the Highlander stops on a dime (I don't think it ever stopped this good). I find it hard to believe that I am on my 3rd set of rear brakes and rotors, and my second set of front brakes and rotors in 15,000 because I don't use the vehicle enough. I think the front calipers were messed up from new, and as a result, I cooked my rear brakes. Is the dealer correct?
P.S. One of the two service advisers at the dealer said he never saw anything like this before, and he has people come in with less miles on their vehicles than mine. The other service adviser says she sees this all the time, and I need to use the vehicle more. Someone is telling me a lot of bull.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
John
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Dealer maybe right. Or the dealer's service writer (aka more comissioned salesman than mechanic) gave you a good guess. It's time to have a mechanic rotate your tires every 5000 miles. I hate to spend money needlessly just like you. but a mechanic that you know (and knows you) can inspect the brakes during rotation. Sure is a good time to inspect for rapid wear.
The cause? whoever took off the old parts could make the best guess.

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You will get no help from those in this NG. We know Toyotas will last forever, even if you don't use them often. If you are having problem with the brakes on the one you own it is because you do not maintain it properly. The problem you describe only happen to other brands, particularly domestic brands, NOT Toyotas ;)
mike hunt

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The condition you're describing is usually caused by stuck caliper slide bolts. Hopefully, the technician cleaned them up and gave them a good coating of wheel bearing grease or anti-seize. IMO, whether the caliper slides stick or slide freely is more dependent on environmental conditions and luck than use. I've seen them stick on frequently driven vehicles and on infrequently driven vehicles.
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Ray O
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On Sun, 19 Mar 2006 21:23:55 -0600, "Ray O"

Thanks Ray. The slide bolts were what caused the problem per the service adviser. The tech cleaned them up and used anti-seize. I'll keep a closer eye on this. As someone else suggested, I'll check the brakes every time I rotate the tires. I also work with a guy who knows exactly what to check, and he said he'll be glad to take a look some night after work. So far, everything has been A-OK with the Highlander. Take care everyone.
John
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You're welcome! When the wheels are removed, it takes about 15 seconds to check the brake pads. Basically you're checking for even wear on the inner and outer pads. If one or the other is wearing more quickly, then you probably have a stuck caliper slide.
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conditions
and
I am happy you found out the weirdness, I had a 2001 that went 100,000 on the original pads, but I am telling you this because I long ago got into a particular habit while braking. I am old, I grew up with air-cooled VW's. The master cylinders on those cars were not great, so I got into the habit of coasting and pumping the brakes lightly to pump up pressure before actually stopping. This does not mean I was always nice to my cars, a lot of bad habits carried over, too, like in a VW, you almost always had it floored with the old 40 HP bugs. I still do that. 8^) But when it comes to the brakes, not having to slam them will make them last forever. I had an '87 Camry that went 266,000 on the first set of REAR brake shoes, and I got 104K on the front pads. I am not saying you caused this problem, but thank goodness it was resolved. I still miss the Highlander, it was a great riding, totally utilitarian vehicle while getting good mileage and was super reliable.
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