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1990LS400

Front Brake Pads Replaced For 2Nd Time At 145,391 Miles

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I had the front brake pads replaced today for the second time with 74,098 miles on them (odometer reading 145,391) and they were all still well over the minimum 1 mm replacement specification. The work was done, including resurfacing the rotors and using OEM pads, by my favorite indie Lexus repair shop. Total cost including tax was $217 - pretty good compared to what a Lexus dealer charges.

OEM pads last a long time! I tried to take photos but the pads didn't cooperate. The inner pads wore faster than the outer pads. The lowest inner pad was at just less than 2 mm and the other inner pad was at about 3 mm. The two outer pads were at between 4 mm and 5 mm. Same as when they were replaced the first time, the front pads did not wear evenly.

I had planned to drive the car until the "check brakes" warning came on but I was starting to get some noticable pulsating through the brake pedal. And the most worn pad looked thinner than it really was when I did a visual check last saturday when I mounted my snow tires.

The factory installed front pads were replaced in March 2006 at 71,293 miles after the "check brakes" warning came on and also required a sensor replacement. This should be the last time I have the front pads replaced since the third front pad replacement will be necessary at about 220,000 miles and I plan to part with the car no later than 2015 when it will be at about 200,000 miles.

The rear brake pads were replaced for the first time at 120,000 miles and should make it to 240,000 miles when it will be up to its next owner to replace them.

Soooo many people replace brake pads on Lexus cars far earlier than needed - often because dealers and repair shops are looking for a quick buck. I'm getting a kick out of potentially driving a car to 200,000 miles with only two front brake pad and one rear brake pad replacement and no need to replace brake rotors. I never got more than about 25,000 miles out of front brake pads on the last Mercedes I owned and which I drove from new to 210,000 miles and it required a couple of sets of rotors too.

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I have just replaced my rear pads which were also OEM.I would have expected the fronts to wear out faster but they are still good even though they were last changed at the same time as the rears.

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I've repaired a lot of cars over the years, of just about every make there is, and without doubt the Toyota/Lexus brake pads are the best I've ever used. Quiet, excellent pedal feel, no dust (or very little), and long lasting. Perhaps a bit expensive, but with brakes the best is just good enough.

On another note, I rarely go to the dealer showroom, but today I noticed my GS400 remote key battery had failed. Walked into the showroom, gave the key to a service writer, he replaced the battery for me, and handed it back. Have a nice day, no charge (except in the battery!)

I then put a few fingerprints on the IS-F in the showroom - black with dark red leather interior....nice car....

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Jim, did you also have the front rotors resurfaced the first time around? If so that means they were cut twice now and still have enough thickness. I am going to install my snow tires today and will give my brakes a good "looking over". These Lexus brakes are about the beefiest I have ever encountered.

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Jim, did you also have the front rotors resurfaced the first time around? If so that means they were cut twice now and still have enough thickness. I am going to install my snow tires today and will give my brakes a good "looking over". These Lexus brakes are about the beefiest I have ever encountered.

Yes, Randy, the front brake roters were machined during both brake jobs at the same indie Lexus repair shop and they again look like new. I just went out to the garage and measured the front rotor thickness - both are right at 28 mm. The specs listed in the repair manuals for this car say that 28 mm is what they were when new. Amazing! The minimum acceptable thickness for the front rotors according to the specs is 26 mm which I will certainly never get down to.

My snow tires - Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 - went on a week ago today (11/19) and I'm toning down my tendency to blast around freeway cloverleafs. I suspect the Blizzaks have less rolling resistance that the Michelin MXV4's I been using Spring/Summer/Fall. The trip computer said 27.8 mpg after our 370 mile Thanksgiving trip in zero wind conditions which is the best I've observed under similar conditions in 8+ years with this car. I'm not really obsessive ( :whistles: ) but I've tracked every gallon of fuel I've put in cars for about 40 years

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Do most indie mechanics have the equipment needed to machine the rotors (if needed)? Is any special skill needed? The indie shop I have taken my car to in the past is owned by a former Lexus mechanic, but the shop is small. They don't have the equipment to do alignments, for example.

$217 sounds reasonable enough. I saw OEM front brake pads for sale on the internet for $50 (irontoad). What did he charge you for labor? Thanks.

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Also read something called 'brake shims' should be replaced each time new brake pads are put on. Is this true? Tx again.

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Do most indie mechanics have the equipment needed to machine the rotors (if needed)? Is any special skill needed? The indie shop I have taken my car to in the past is owned by a former Lexus mechanic, but the shop is small. They don't have the equipment to do alignments, for example.

$217 sounds reasonable enough. I saw OEM front brake pads for sale on the internet for $50 (irontoad). What did he charge you for labor? Thanks.

Any "good" mechanic would have the equipment to true the rotors. The problem comes when a mechanic takes off more material than needed. The last time I checked, the going rate was around $10-15 per rotor to lathe them. I had my 98 LS400 front brake job done at the Lexus dealer 3 years ago for $300. The pads were about $70, labor 2 hrs @ $100/hr and truing, $30. If you have nominal mechanic skills, I think you could do a complete front brake job yourself for around $100 assuming you do not need new rotors.

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Do most indie mechanics have the equipment needed to machine the rotors (if needed)? Is any special skill needed? The indie shop I have taken my car to in the past is owned by a former Lexus mechanic, but the shop is small. They don't have the equipment to do alignments, for example.

$217 sounds reasonable enough. I saw OEM front brake pads for sale on the internet for $50 (irontoad). What did he charge you for labor? Thanks.

To me, $200 before tax for a front brake job on an LS400 that includes machining the rotors is incredibly reasonable and especially at a shop that specializes in Lexus and when the work is done by a former Lexus dealer mechanic. And the indie shop I use doesn't give me the kind of "B.S." I get at the Lexus dealer -- a Lexus dealer service writer told me about 25,000 miles ago that my front brake pads were so thin that they were dangerous. Yeah, right.

I don't know if all indie mechanics have the equipment to machine rotors but this shop, which I have been using since about 1996, does. The shop is owned by the guy who was my favorite service writer at the local Lexus dealership in the early 1990's. The shop owner even hooked me up with the broker from whom I bought my 2000 LS400 in 2003 - in only two or three hours after I placed my "order" with very specific requirements on color, mileage and equipment ... easiest car purchase I ever made.

From about 1993 to 1996 I used another indie Lexus specialty repair shop that was owned by a former Lexus dealer service manager and which was (the Lexus dealer people hated it) within sight of the Lexus dealership.

$133 of this front brake job was labor and the rest of the $200 was parts and "shop supplies". Based on my measurements of the old brake pads after they were removed, they would have made it to the 150,000 service but a $55 brake wear sensor might have had to be replaced.

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Also read something called 'brake shims' should be replaced each time new brake pads are put on. Is this true? Tx again.

I don't think the indie Lexus shop I use has ever replaced brake shims on any of our cars. The one time I did a front brake job on my previous LS400, I bought an OEM pad kit that included shims and other stuff. I remember that the old shims looked fine and regretting paying so much more for the unneeded extra parts.

I don't see how having the calipers pressing against the shims could wear them out but maybe someone else can enlighten us.

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Thank you both. Very helpful.

@landar -- I haven't been in his shop for awhile, so I don't know what is hourly rate is, but it used to be $65 per. I have three quotes on the pads -- $50, $79, and $95!! Hilarious. The first is an online quote, the second from a dealer far away (but that I sometimes order parts from, because they discount) and the last most expensive quote is from a local dealer. The mechanic doesn't mind if I bring in a part, so it looks like I can get it done for $200 and change. Sounds good!

@1990ls400 -- The indie mechanic I go to now orders parts from the Lexus dealer where he used to work. He's not within eyeball distance, but I'm sure the dealer would like to see him farther away than he is. :-) Yes, the job you got done for $217 is a very good deal (now that I know more) and I hope I can get it done for roughly the same.

Question:

In looking through my maintenance files, I saw that the front pads had 50% remaining two years ago. I just plain forgot about it. But even though I have only driven the car 5K to 6K per year since then, I am pretty sure I need new brakes by now. I have not seen any warning lights btw (this may not mean much since the dash lights are starting to 'go' (flicker).

I feel a kind of sponginess in the brakes if I leave it out overnight and it's damp or it rains. Just something I've noticed. Along with the sponginess is a mild grinding noise(that's probably too strong a word for what I hear, but I am not sure how else to describe it...not quite gravelly either...but definitely a contact noise) which goes away after I use the brakes a few times (twice or so). Have any idea what that is?

I had all new rotors put on a long time ago (four years ago? five? not sure) and to my knowledge they have never been planed.

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I don't know that the shims wear out so much as just needing to be resized to fit the new pads. The shims keep the pad from vibrating in the caliper housing when you step on the brakes and thus prevent annoying squeals or buzzing. The new pads steel backing may be slightly different in size and may (or may not) require new shims. A visual check or gauge can help determine the proper clearance.

Here is a tutorial on doing an early model -> http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/brake/fbpad.html

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I just got off the phone with a parts guy who said the same thing. If the old shims are worth anything, maybe you can sell them on eBay? Just a thought.

I'm thinking it might be a good idea to make a trip for a diagnosis first. It's a bit of a drive but would be worth it, because that way I'll know exactly what I am in for (whether it's pads and rotors or brake sensor just what). What I don't want to happen is to go there with just the pads in hand, then to be told I need other parts to finish the job, that he will want to order on the spot from the stealership. I am not kidding. 50-100% more for some parts than what I can find for OEM parts online.

This forum is a godsend! The gameplan is taking shape. Thanks!

Also read something called 'brake shims' should be replaced each time new brake pads are put on. Is this true? Tx again.

I don't think the indie Lexus shop I use has ever replaced brake shims on any of our cars. The one time I did a front brake job on my previous LS400, I bought an OEM pad kit that included shims and other stuff. I remember that the old shims looked fine and regretting paying so much more for the unneeded extra parts.

I don't see how having the calipers pressing against the shims could wear them out but maybe someone else can enlighten us.

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With 93k miles and having had all new rotors and brakes at some point, it sounds like your brakes may be just fine. That is, the pads and rotors. What does not sound fine is the sponginess. That usually indicates air in the system. Could also be your master cylinder. Bleeding each brake caliper would be in order. If you have never had the brake fluid flushed with new, fresh fluid, then that would be at the top of my priority list. As far as the grating when it sits overnight, that may well be normal. The rotors will begin to develop surface rust incredibly fast and it just takes a couple of stops to clean them up. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

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OK, got it. Good to know. I probably won't need shims. I am going to take the car and have them look at it and tell me what I need. Then I'll order the parts online and have them install.

I don't know that the shims wear out so much as just needing to be resized to fit the new pads. The shims keep the pad from vibrating in the caliper housing when you step on the brakes and thus prevent annoying squeals or buzzing. The new pads steel backing may be slightly different in size and may (or may not) require new shims. A visual check or gauge can help determine the proper clearance.

Here is a tutorial on doing an early model -> http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/brake/fbpad.html

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If so, that would be great ("brakes may be just fine"). I did have the brake fluid replaced once, about six years ago. I will pay more attention to the sponginess issue during the next week, but if memory serves, I only seem to notice that in the conditions described (mornings, if the car has been left out and it rains or is damp). Whether it's damp/wet out seems to be a key factor. Since I wasn't sure what was causing the noise, I was depressing the pedal with great TLC until I could get it looked at. It's possible that I perceived sponginess when there wasn't any (because of the lighter touch I was using on the brakes during the brief period when I was hearing that light grinding noise). I need an oil change anyway, so what I will do is have the mechanic check these things out. It's good to have a general idea of what 'could' be going on though. Fingers crossed. Thanks again for all the help/direction.

With 93k miles and having had all new rotors and brakes at some point, it sounds like your brakes may be just fine. That is, the pads and rotors. What does not sound fine is the sponginess. That usually indicates air in the system. Could also be your master cylinder. Bleeding each brake caliper would be in order. If you have never had the brake fluid flushed with new, fresh fluid, then that would be at the top of my priority list. As far as the grating when it sits overnight, that may well be normal. The rotors will begin to develop surface rust incredibly fast and it just takes a couple of stops to clean them up. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

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