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Johnny 07-23-12 05:33 PM

2010 RX350 DIY Brakes vs Lexus Dealer
My odo is coming up to 70,000 kms (abt. 44,000 miles), so I wandered into my dealership to inquire about a 4-corner service. I was weighing this against doing the work myself. I have done many of my own cars in the past, both drums and disk, but did not have the need to do so in the last ten years due to frequent car changes. Since I've been so pleased with this RX, I decided to let the kms accumulate, to the point where I've decided to keep it much longer.

My local Canadian dealer's service dept. quoted me $800 + tax to do everything, which would top out at $1K. I stood there dumbfounded wanting to reach over and ask him to repeat what I had just heard. Instead, I asked him how long brake pads lasted, and he told me they recommend a full service at 25-30,000 kms (15-18,000 miles). I said, "What? My odo has 65,000+ kms on it." He just looked at me and said, "You better get it in here, you've been lucky" (more FAIL).

I then asked for a quote for front & rear pads, and he said, $115 per axle. Still in a state a shock, I got quotes and ordered new front & rears for about $120 shipped from Sewell. Checking with a Toyota dealer in Bellingham WA, resulted in a complete replacement quote for $600 + tax. Better, but not much.

So, I decided to do it myself. Brakes have evolved but the mechanisms have changed little over the last 30 years. The only significant changes have occurred on the electronic side (brake modulation, anti-skid, etc...). So my total outlay was thus less than $200 including piston seals, (a piston spreader, Gunk brake cleaner, brake fluid, H/T grease, a wire brush, a 2-day subscription to Toyota's TIS for step-by-step instructions). The bracketed items' cost can be spread out over many changes.

As I said previously, my odo is coming up to 70,000 kms, part of me was curious about the condition of the pads. I jacked up one wheel to get a pad thickness-remaining measurement. Toyota's inspection page says pads are 12mm new. They also say that the safe thickness should not be less than 1 mm. That's pretty thin, and any distortion of the pad backing, whether in manufacturing or operational heat could cause some scoring against the rotor. But, it's in the book. One mm is less than 1/16".

To my surprise, I measured 6 mm on each front pads, which represents 50% wear only. What does that say about Lexus dealers, when even Toyota's pads get well over 100 kms rate of wear. I have to qualify this last remark by stating that my driving involves about 40% on hills, and 60% on the flats. My mix of highway/city is about 50/50. So, I definitely do not anticipate changing anything until at least another year goes by. Considering that I've owned this RX for two years and counting, that certainly says a lot of positive things about Toyota/Lexus reliability and durability, but not so much so about their dealers. At $120/hr labour rates, combined with their nonchalant attitude with regards to taking advantage of unsuspecting owners, I can only surmise there's some serious gouging going on. But we all knew that, didn't we?

I will be following up with photos and detailed procedures at a later date in this thread. Disk brakes are very simple pieces of machinery, and just as simple to maintain. With a little elbow grease, brake pads alone can be changed out in about 20 minutes or less per corner, or 40 minutes if piston seals and the rotor needs to be de-glazed. The rotor can be pulled off easily with two 8 mm bolts and de-glazed with a power wire brush. No need to machine them in my opinion if there's no scoring, or runout (warped). Lexus fit their cars with some of the most stable and rigid rotors that I've ever seen, and I definitely don't drive like a church lady. Even after 70,000, there isn't a hint of distortion when applying my brakes. Kudos to Lexus!

Marqevans 07-23-12 06:55 PM

Wow thanks for the post! I am glad to hear the brakes can last that long. Knowing that the rotors are of such high quality is important because all of the franchise brake businesses try to talk you into new rotors every time you have the pads changed.

UCSB 07-24-12 02:21 AM

Good to know. A few months ago, I had all four disc brake pads replaced on another Lexus that I own for $250 from my local mechanic. He did a great job ... so paying the full Lexus price is often not required.

ejm3 07-24-12 06:30 AM

How were the rotors? Can they be cut or will they need to be replaced?

Johnny 07-24-12 02:30 PM

The rotors are fine as long as you don't get into the 1 mm wear zone. In my opinion, Lexus rotors are so predictable, there may never be a need to machine them. I'm not a big fan of doing that as it decreases the thermal capacity of the cast iron material they are made of, which then increases the potential for runout from overheating. The maximum runout is 0.05 mm or two thousandths of an inch (.00197) for the front rotor, and 0.15 mm or .00591 in for the rear. However, I intend to swap them well before that, perhaps at 2-3 mm (approx. one year from now in my case). The rotors will glaze over, but that can be remedied by un-mounting them; there are two 8 mm threaded holes on the rotor to facilitate that - you basically "screw" them off after removing the hub nut. Once off, a wire brush will clean up the glaze. There is also a thin lip around the circumference that can be filed off. The standard thickness of the front rotor when new is 28 mm and 10 mm for the rear. The minimum thickness is 21 mm in front, and 8.5 mm for the rear. Below that requires a change; new rotors are about $135 each from Sewell including the Club Lexus discount. It's easily conceivable that rotors can last five years or more, depending on the severity of your drive profile, load characteristics, etc...

There are some excellent videos on Youtube that cover many aspects of disk brake maintenance.

ejm3 07-24-12 03:05 PM

Do you know if the dealer quotes you got included machining the rotors or replacing them?

afpj 07-24-12 08:44 PM

Can this thread be stickied? Lots of good specs in one place.

Sandi_k 07-24-12 11:29 PM

I have 62K miles on my 2010 RX350, and my brake pads are still showing ~ 60%, FWIW, in last week's service.

Johnny 07-25-12 12:26 AM


Originally Posted by ejm3 (Post 7378016)
Do you know if the dealer quotes you got included machining the rotors or replacing them?

I was told machining of the rotors would be over and above. Like a Toyota Parts & Service guy in Bellingham once quipped when I was buying oil filters a while back, "If these parts are for a Lexus, I'm going to have to charge you more!". He was just jesting at the time, but it illustrates the prevalent attitudes some dealers have toward high-end products.

afpj 09-19-12 08:20 PM

Have you done your brakes yet? Do you happen to know the torque specs for the caliper bolts?

dozorca 09-20-12 07:07 AM

I had similar experience at a dealer in Ontario. I sent my wife for an oil change in October of last year (2011) with about 60,000 km, and the "service consultant" told her that the pads and rotors need to be replaces immediately for safety reasons. They saw my wife and daughter and played the 'safety first' card on her. My wife instructed the service advisor to call me and I told them not to perform any work aside from the oil change.

One of my friends is a mechanic with 20 years experience working on Lexus/bmw/etc.

I went to him to look at the breaks and sure and behold, 50% of the pad is still there, rotors were perfectly fine.

I kept driving until last week when I replaced both and still had some pads left.

My file at the lexus dealer now had a big note attached to it. No service to be provided unless authorized my me and only me. They don't even ask anymore.

afpj 04-21-13 01:32 PM

ebrake adjustment
This is an old thread but lots of good data in it. Our rears were just changed at 70k miles, had about 3mm or less on the pads so I figured might as well do it while I got some down time. ALso adjusted the e-brake since the pedal was starting to get pretty low in order for it to hold. (changed fronts at about 45-50k miles) Since the ebrake is a separate drum brake you don't need to use the turning tool to rotate the caliper piston in, just push it in.
The only thing I will add is the ebrake adjustment part...when turning the adjusting wheel, you need to turn it upwards. The manual I have only had pics, and were not labeled well at that...had to find out the hard way. Turning the wheel upwards causes the brake drum pads to expand. The manual states to rotate until the disc (hub) locks, then back off (rotate down) 8 notches. At this point the hub should be turning freely. After doing both sides, the ebrake locks solid at 5 clicks on the pedal, rather than 9 clicks, and is further away from the floor. This ebrake readjustment procedure is usually done in conjunction with adjusting the pedal position, but I skipped the pedal part since you have to apply 67 ft lbs pressure to the pedal to adjust and I don't have a trigger gauge with that much pressure . Just an FYI that I hope helps someone else who was looking at the same manual.

Cruiter 04-21-13 05:48 PM

Per popular request
It's been requested to 'sticky' this thread for easy reference. I think it's a good thread too for the do it yourself folks so......


lexu1350 04-23-13 03:49 AM

DIY is the way to go-cheaper,quality,convnience etc. etc. but depends on every owner's reasons.All my 3 car's
and relatives,did all their brakes.from foreigh to domestic.When time's comes about 35k to 40k will do all
4,will use what ever ceramic brakes on sale,check reviews,fallow the stantard procedure like lubes,open
bleeder screws,changed fluid while at it,removing some fluids on resorvoir,used sandpaper or equivalent
to do rotors unless needed to be change.I did hundreds of them it's like routine.Thanks...

euroja153 08-25-13 02:15 PM

Hi Johnny,

Thanks for the great write up. I took off my front wheel today and the front pads have about 3mm-4mm remaining.

I was also quoted a huge amount from my dealer, they told me $340 plus tax for the front pads, no rotors. I couldnt believe it, I think Im going to Toyota, but I think its still about $200+ plus tax (labour here is about $110/h).

I have a Canadian made car, do you know the part numbers for the front and rear pads? I read somewhere that the parts numbers may be different for CA and JP made cars. Do you know if I can use part #0446548150 for the front and part #0446648130 for the rear? I got those numbers from Sewell Lexus online.

Car has roughly 41,000km, 80% city driving.


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