I had a flat repaired and my tires rotated. The mechanic said my disc
brake pads are low all around at 108,000 miles. I haven't looked at it
myself though yet. I checked prices at the local garages for a brake
job and they all said the rotors would probably have to be replaced
since they can't machine them anymore. Apparently the newer cars have
thin rotors to start with.
I don't have any vibration when applying brakes so I'm not sure the
rotors need any work anyway. If I don't need rotors I could change the
pads myself. What is your experience?
Whether you need rotors or not, you can replace pads. And if you do need
rotors, you can replace them too.
The determining factor on the rotors is if they are still smooth. If they
have small ridges, then it's possibly okay to machine them true and flat.
When the rotors are removed, there is a MIN thickness specification stamped
on the back -- I've wondered for years why this is not on the front where
you can see it before taking the rotors off -- and if the rotors are thicker
than the MIN spec, and they will still be thicker after machining, then if
is safe to have them turned.
Generally speaking, rotors are not turned anymore because of the weight that
is pushed around for years and tens of thousands of miles. It is not
impossible to turn them, but generally this is a practice that is no longer
Another general rule is that rotors should last through two sets of pads,
assuming you change the pads before they are worn so far as to do damage.
Rear pads last for two sets of front pads.If this holds up, then you do
front pads, then front pads and rotors and rea pads, then front pads, then
front and rear pads and rotors. Two sets of front pads to a set of rear
pads, and two sets of pads to a set of rotors. Obviously, your mileage may
vary, but this is the typical ratio of pads and rotors that I've seen on my
You said you have 110,000 miles on the car, and brakes are good for about
50,000 miles. So, at this point you should be looking at the second set of
front pads and a set of rotors, and a set of rear pads. There is no reason a
mechanically competent individual cannot put brakes on his own car at home,
both pads and rotors. Your budget should be about $50 per rotor, and $50 per
set of pads. You can go more or less expensive, but food for thought should
put an axle set of pads and rotors at about $150 for parts.
What you need is a strategy for opening the calipers so the new pads will
fit inside. Some people used a C-clamp to push the piston back in, but I
like to use a prybar to pry the caliper so that the piston is pushed in. If
you intend on using the rotors over again, then you have to pry without
damaging the rotor surface, which is why people use the c-clamp.
Checking the rotors for grooves and striations is important, If there are
deep grooves and a lot of them then you'll be losing braking advantage. If
there are few grooves and the rotors are only glazed you may be able to get
away with sanding them to get the glaze off. Removing that glaze is
important as well to get better braking. I would recommend doing some web
searches to get some input to when rotors need to be turned rather then just
getting off a glaze. Some folks will tell you one must always turn rotors
when fitting new pads, but my experience tells me otherwise. The basic rule
I use is not to skimp when it comes to safety.
Measure the thickness or look for a lip around the edge where the pad does
not rub. I own/have owned Toyotas and Mercedes/BMWs. The German cars
seem to have pads/rotors that will have the rotors wear down to where they
need replacing every second brake pad change. The rotor actually wears and
generates a lip around the edge (gives you an idea of the wear which can be
a lot). Rotors are not turned so much any more because factory finishes
are best and they are so easy/inexpensive to just buy new. My Toyota
rotors never wore and were never replaced unless there was a wheel shimmy
when braking. Changing them is easy when you get the caliper off. My
guess is you can skip changing the rotor on your Camry unless it is scored.
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