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Front Brakes Replacement


head hunter
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LS430, 2002 45k miles. Told less then 1% left on front brakes. Low mileage replacement because of mostly stop/go driving? No warning light showed. Why not?

Probably because you have more pad left than whoever told you you had. Look for yourself. Measure with a micrometer. If you look at a repair manual for your car, you will probably find that one millimeter is the minimum pad thickness - that's when the sensor triggers a display of a warning message in your trip computer.

Repair shops just love to do early brake jobs -- it's easy money. I had a repair shop tell me that my rear brakes were worn out 50,000 miles before I replaced them ... and they still had probably 10,000 miles of life left.

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LS430, 2002 45k miles. Told less then 1% left on front brakes. Low mileage replacement because of mostly stop/go driving? No warning light showed. Why not?

not sure why you characterized 45k as low mileage for front brake replacement given local driving

sounds pretty goods to me

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I'm going to move this to the proper forum...

I too would be happy with 45k life out of front tires on a big heavy car like the LS...

Based on the comments, I'm now very happy also. Thank you. BTW Ithought this was the correct forum. Where am I?

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It's the "1% left on front brakes" I'm finding bizarre. Do the math: 1% * 12 mm = .12 of a millimeter. That's right at the average thickness of a human hair! :wacko:

Based on nearly 300,000 miles of driving these "big heavy" LS cars in mainly city/urban driving, I would expect front brake pads on pre-2007 LS cars to last between 70,000 and 75,000 miles on cars mainly used in city driving and if the brake pads are changed at the recommended minimum 1 mm thickness.

Brake pads wear at very different rates on different Lexus models and particular in the most recent model years where they seem to wear much faster.

Your LS front brake pads may be completely worn out at 45,000 miles. I'm just curious about how much front brake pad thickness is really left. It is most likely way more than 1%.

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Agreed. The idea of being able to state "1%" thickness is laughable, and is obviously a scare tactic. In fact representing pad thickness by percentage is a mugs game in the first place. Measured thickness, as a fraction of original thickness, is best. Anything less than the thickness of a five cent piece means replace "soon".

In the industry ( of which I was once a part...) brake work is known as "gravy" work - meaning one could make or beat the flat rate every time. Easy, no-brainer stuff for a tech. So they like to sell brake work. And you can scare the customer with all sorts of "safety" issues.

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Yes and if your rotors are still true (non warped) and no real scoring I have replaced pads without getting rotors resurfaced. If you factor in the extra labor and machining costs it seem more like a revenue grab than a must have. I also worry about the overzealous machinist who thins the rotor too far so it is more likely to warp.

Brakes are one of the easier DIY repairs.

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Anything less than the thickness of a five cent piece means replace "soon".

That is an excellent way to gauge how much brake pad life is left. Forget about using a micrometer to measure. Just use a nickle which is 2 millimeters thick or even a dime which is just over 1 millimeter thick. Even if a person drives like he's in a NASCAR race, front brake pads on an LS430/430 that are 2 millimeters should still have at least 5,000 miles of life left before they get down to the 1 millimeter recommended replacement thickness.

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The dealer said there 4MM of front brake pads remaining and 1MM to the sensor. The rear brakes have 5MM of pads remaining and 2MM to the sensor. I always go to the dealer for scheduled maintenance. I know I'm paying a premium, but I have more confidence in their integrity then all of the comments here suggesting a rip-off. Am I naive about the dealer trust? I would think if there was an issues, it would be easier to get it resolved compared to a an independent mechanic.

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All dealers are different, but I'll tell you my opinion about my dealer.

They're great, the dealership is beautiful, great loaners, great lounges, its like being at a W hotel. Very upscale experience. Service is expensive with labor rates like $120 an hour...so you pay for those amenities.

Issue is as cars get older and need repair, Lexus dealers don't look at maximizing the value out of the wear-consumable items in the vehicle, such as brakes, struts, tires, etc. They have their book that says when things "should" be replaced, and they just say replace them...without without worrying about you getting the best value out of those items you paid for when you bought the car.

Now...the work will be done right...and the car will always be safe. But, you will have spent MUCH MUCH more to keep it that way than you had to.

I always liked using the dealer, but now I use an independent Lexus specialist who looks at things and says "Yeah you can replace these brakes, but I think we should just look at them again in 5k miles and see how they look then", costs me much less.

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Steve, All very good points and factual. I know I'm paying for those amenities. But, in my situation, the 2002 LS430 has 45K. I do stretch the recommended routine maintenance schedule and get minor service about 1x a year. So, I do see it as a treat for me. I haven't had very good luck with local mechanics doing non-scheduled repairs on other vehicles I've owned over the years. Thanks for your comments.

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The dealer said there 4MM of front brake pads remaining and 1MM to the sensor. The rear brakes have 5MM of pads remaining and 2MM to the sensor. I always go to the dealer for scheduled maintenance. I know I'm paying a premium, but I have more confidence in their integrity then all of the comments here suggesting a rip-off. Am I naive about the dealer trust? I would think if there was an issues, it would be easier to get it resolved compared to a an independent mechanic.

Have a look at NEW brake pads. The rears will be about 10mm thick when new, the fronts maybe 11 or 12. Sounds to me like they are keen to replace them at about half life. Only harm is to your wallet.

Obviously your confidence level is very low regarding us....and you don't like independents.....so why are you here? Do you want us to tell you to use the dealer? That doesn't seem necessary given your views.

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The original post had nothing to do with 'is a dealer better then an independent'. My question was about brake pad replacement at 45k miles with the specific pad MM left. I thought the comments validated the need to replace. So the forum was very helpful. The dealer did NOT suggest replacing the rears. According to your math, the front should have been replaced. Yes, I have confidence in this dealer. I suggest you read again the threads to my op. Your comments 'obviously' reflect more of your bias then my objectivity.

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The main thing is that you are happy with your dealer. That's great! The problem some of us on this forum have is that we often know more about Lexus cars and automotive technology in general than dealer service writers who are often salesmen/saleswomen operating from a script.

Auto dealer employees can be under a lot of pressure to "up-sell" and produce revenue. I know. I retired after 31 years from a company that, besides being the leading insurer of U.S. franchised auto dealers, provided training to auto dealer employees on how to up-sell and increase revenue. I feel so dirty! :pirate:

I've used the same independent Lexus repair shop - owned by my favorite former Lexus dealer service writer - since he opened in 1996 but have continued to take cars to the Lexus dealer for simple repairs - road force wheel balancing, alignments, etc. I wish I could trust the Lexus dealer. A darned "head hunter" tracked me down and persuaded me to un-retire last year and make a 5-year commitment to work a few blocks from the Lexus dealer. The dealer would be wonderfully convenient, but having a dealer service writer tell me 17,000 miles ago that my front brakes were worn out and dangerous wasn't an indicator that they've changed for the better. At least the Lexus dealer has been consistent during my 21+ years of dealing with them.

A set of OEM repair manuals can pay for themselves over and over. I almost always buy a set when I buy a car. Information is power. I've had some humorous experiences pulling out my repair manuals and even owners manuals to explain repair operations to service writers and mechanics. Information on car forums can help but keep your B.S. filter operating at all times.

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...."Yes, I have confidence in this dealer."...

Most dealers do excellent work. Lexus monitors their quality to make sure the brand is not damaged by a rogue dealer. I'm not sure why you started the post though as you seem to have made up your mind coming in.

...."but I have more confidence in their integrity then all of the comments here"...

Fine. Again not sure why you came here then. As you depart though who is financially motivated to get you to do maintenance early? Your dealer or a bunch of strangers on a BB?

If you think financial motivations dont lie behind service recommendations you must be a very trusting sort. Youll be horrified to know most service writers are on financial incentives based on $$ spent at the dealer. Thats right the more you spend the more $$ in their wallet.

The motivation is clear in your case as you are being asked to change pads well before they need it. Its never an overt thing. Always subtle. Like "the brake pads are starting to wear down you should think about getting them done. We could squeeze you in while youre here for your $89 Lexus minor service (i.e. oil change.). We can save you the trouble of coming back again.".

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Not well said, IMO. Again, my OP wasn't asking about dealers vs. independents. If you are saying the dealer 'lied' about how much was left on the pads,to make additional commissions, you are naive about risk and rewards. Do you really believe all Lexus owners are that dumb to just say 'yes' to whatever the dealer recommends for repairs? Are you suggesting that when the car was in for service and the service adviser called with the brake recommendation, I should have told him to wait until I could return (in the loaner car) to actually do a check on the MM's? Yes, I have confidence in this dealer. Please read all of my comments. BTW.. this is the same dealer that recommended replacing the timing belt on a minor service visit in 2010. But, he said lets take a look at it together to make that decision. It didn't need replacement. Yes, he gave up his commission on that transaction. But, the dealers who are doing well value relationships before transactions. BTW.. please let me know where this Lexus dealer is that will do a $89. minor service. Thank you.

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If you are saying the dealer 'lied' about how much was left on the pads,to make additional commissions, you are naive about risk and rewards. Do you really believe all Lexus owners are that dumb to just say 'yes' to whatever the dealer recommends for repairs?

I wouldn't use the word "dumb" but most people tend to believe service writers. And most people do not have the knowledge or skills to verify that they are being told the truth when it comes to car repairs.

Why are you taking this so hard? That's just the way it is and the way many American businesses operate - not just car dealers.

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I have to ask the same question...why are you here head hunter?

You admonish us for saying that the dealer might be less than truthful about the brakes requiring replacement at this point...but you came here asking us if it sounded reasonable that the brakes would require replacement at this point...

You have to understand that doesn't make any sense. If you trust your dealer implicitly to tell you nothing but the truth and not have you replace wear items before they absolutely need replacement...then why would you not simply take everything they say at face value? Why would you even seek out our opinions...when by your very statement you trust the dealer far more than all of us. Obviously you also trust the dealer more than the manufacturer, because the manufacturer installed wear sensors at a specific point...a specific point at which they felt the brake pads would require replacement. Since you haven't gotten to that point, the dealer is recommending replacement before the manufacturer does.

We're all just enthusiasts with a lot of experience to offer...and we're offering it to you...for free...in our free time. If you don't want it, fine. Stop wasting our time and the site's bandwidth though if you aren't interested in what we have to say.

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I'm sure this welcome quote wasn't from you 'It's possibly the best place on the web for sharing information, figuring out how to maintain your car or just chatting with like minded petrol-heads!. I'm surprised that as Forum Manager you feel it's within your purview to discourage an exchange of information. I defend my responses as being thoughtful and not insulting. Your comments are quite the opposite. As Forum Manager you should be setting a better example to encourage participation. I assume your question as to why I am a member was rhetorical; requiring no reply. I do want to save the bandwidth space for more arrogant and rude comments such as yours.

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I'm sure this welcome quote wasn't from you 'It's possibly the best place on the web for sharing information, figuring out how to maintain your car or just chatting with like minded petrol-heads!. I'm surprised that as Forum Manager you feel it's within your purview to discourage an exchange of information. I defend my responses as being thoughtful and not insulting. Your comments are quite the opposite. As Forum Manager you should be setting a better example to encourage participation. I assume your question as to why I am a member was rhetorical; requiring no reply. I do want to save the bandwidth space for more arrogant and rude comments such as yours.

You sir, are a textbook example of passive-aggressive behaviour. I can find nothing in Steve's comments that seem "arrogant and rude". Many clinicians would pay money to interview you. I'm quite sure that you could reduce Oprah Winfrey to fisticuffs....

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I'll try to get the final word. Please look up the definition of Passive-Aggressive personality traits. That's not me, sir. And. BTW the rumor is that Oprah's last show is today. So, she can't book me. Let's put the brakes on this topic. You will feel better at the end of the day.

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