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Hi all. I'm new to this site but am having a problem I hope someone can help me with. I have a 1997 ES300 which I love except for one annoying problem. The front brakes make the loudest, most annoying grinding noise when applied. I've had them changed a couple of times to try and correct the problem and have used the best ceramic pads I can get but the problem persists.

I came to discover at Edmunds' website (http://www.new.edmunds.com/products/maintguide/index.html) that Lexus issued a Technical Service Bulletin (number BR001-99; NHTSA number 604676) titled "Brakes - Groan or Grinding Noise in Front" on this problem in March 1999 and will correct the problem if pressured. Has anyone had a similar problem or have a story to tell about how Lexus fixed the problem on your car (hopefully for free).

My car is up for its 60,000 mile service and I intend to try and convince the dealer that they should fix the problem for free even though the car is out of warranty. I've complained to them about the problem three times since January 1999 (all during the warranty period) and each time they say they can't replicate the noise (yeah, right...PLEASE!!!...are they stone-cold deaf :angry: ?!) or find anything wrong with the brakes. They must have hearing-impaired techs at this dealership because people literally turn their heads and look when I come to a stop sign or redlight.

Any feedback would be most greatfully appreciated :P .

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i have had problems with my 94 es with the wipers and engine mounts a few months after the warr expired

but i had to talk to lexus head office

and they were great the service manger actually called me and got my car fixed 8 months after

for free

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You say you've had the brake pads replaced with higher quality pads, have you had the rotors turned or replaced? If I had to say what it is I would say that it sounds like a scored rotor. That being said unfortunately I dont think Lexus will pay for it because brakes are a wear item that Lexus and all carmakers expressely state is not covered under any warranty. You would have no legal ground to demand that they be replaced free of charge. If you call Lexus HQ and cause a stink you may get a better result. Even if they had found scored rotors they wouldn't have covered it under warranty even at 30,000 miles because brakes are a wear item.

Did you buy the car new or used?

You said there was a TSB, a TSB isn't like a recall, TSB's aren't performed free. All a TSB is is a bulletin sent out by Toyota to Lexus dealerships saying "The cars tend to do this, this is how you fix it". What I would do is print out a copy of the TSB and take it with you to the dealership, see if they tried it before.

In all honesty a full front brake job with new rotors wouldn't cost more than $300 on an ES300, and at 60,000 miles its probably due anyway.

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SW03ES said it best. If you have put top of the line ceramic pads on at it still makes a gringing noise, then the problem most likely lies in the rotor. It may be glazed, warped, or scored. Have them turned or replaced altogether. The 02 ES had a rotor problem and was usually found by the first 5k miles and the dealer fixed for free.

At 60k, it would be tough to get the dealer to do any "warranty" work on brake pads or rotors.

As for "not being able to replicate the noise", are you riding with them on the test drive to find/hear the noise. If you can hear it, then point it out to them. Be there when they "can't replicate the noise".

Lastly, a small gringing noise upon initial application of the brakes for the first time each day or after a long sit is somewhat normal. It is the removal of very light surface oxidation. This will go away upon the second or third application of the brakes. I get this alot being in a coastal town with lots of damp salt air.

good luck


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i would say bad rotors too. my rotors were last changed at 40k. i'm at 102k now. but they make a small squeaking noise at this moment. not sure if i wanna spend the money on it. the brakes respond great, but there's a small squeaking noise that appears every now and then.


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ok, I was just logging out and another thought came to me.

The ES uses a drum-in-disc parking brake system. A friend recently had alot of brake noise due to a very dirty parking brake. It sounded like grinding.

The parking brake mechanism is on the rear wheels. Is the grinding noise coming from front or back? If it is the back, then have it checked out. Midas, Speedy, Meineke all can do this. If you don't use the parking brake every time you park, they tend to get rusty and dusty. The don't self calibrate or adjust and then get sticky.

Have someone stand outside the car to listen as you drive in a circle around them and apply the brakes.

post you findings.


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the car is a 4 wheel disk brake system

but the emergency brake is applied through the inside of the disk on the rear

also i mentioned this somewhere else today but

when you get new brakes you have to slowly break them in

if you go back to regular driving style they will squeal

you need to bed them in and start stopping early and gently for the first few 100 miles

new brakes are just like when you get a new car the new parts have to break in

also if you are not a very good driver(sorry) who presses the brakes hard and suddenly too often

then there will be large amounts of heat causing warping of the disks

( so if you get pulsing in the pedal alot you might want to adjust you driving style as this is a tell tale sign of bad driving habits

( my mother inlaw does this alot,got her drilled and slotted rotors to help change her braking style)

i hate brake dust on my rims so i brake as lightly as possible and always have before so my rotors look polished

i had one guy at a show ask me if i chromed them LMAO

also if the anti sqeaul shims are not placed begind the pads you will get squealing

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Hi all. Thanks for the responses. To answer a couple of the questions...I bought the car new in July 1997 and it has never been driven hard. The car actually has 57,000 miles on it and I had the rotors cut at 54,000 miles. But I've not had them replaced before. For reasons I'm not sure why, I don't use the parking brake at all unless parking on a hill. I'm not sure if the shim kit has ever been replaced but I doubt it. Regarding when the problem occurs, it starts only after driving for a few miles so I suspect it's more heat/rotor related.

The reason I'm going the warranty route is the TSB indicates that "This repair is covered under the Lexus Basic Warranty and repairs will be made under warranty based on customer's specific complaints." I just figured enough people were complaining about the problem that it caused them to issue a TSB. It's quite specific about what vehicles are affected (it covers 1997 through 1999 ES300's built before VIN Tsutsumi: JT8BF28G**0179640) and instructs the dealerships to make the fix under warranty. And I've been complaining about this since January 1999.

I'm taking it in this week for the 60,000 mile service (not sure what that costs elsewhere in the country but it's $1,095.00 here in Pittsburgh...ouch!) but will also ask them to give me their diagnosis on the brakes :unsure: . I'll post the outcome.


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If the TSB states fixable under warranty then definately push the issue. Push it with Lexus.com, the area rep and several service shops. If push comes to shove, contact you local news station, they must have a consumer advocate. Lexus won't want bad publicity on the 6pm news.

If you are going to shell out $1100 for the 60k (that's what a 90k costs in Boston, 60k is around $700) then reason with the service manager and see if he will throw it in for free, again push the TSB. If you don't use the parking brake, take it to Midas to have the parking brake system cleaned.....couldn't hurt.

skp, I agree 100% with your braking style. My dad used to teach driver education and he drilled this into me as well as always use the parking brake (even when not on a hill).

Drum in disc.....look at the hub of the rear wheels. They are bigger than normal hubs. The e-brake is a drum style shoe inside this bulbous hub. Go find a honda or some other hub that uses an different system, the hub is smaller.


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