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Toyota Highlander Rear Disc Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the rear disc brake pads on a 2nd generation 2008 to 2013 Toyota Highlander SUV with pictures.

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2013 Highlander Rear Wheel
Slightly Loosen Lug Nuts
Raise Rear of Vehicle
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the second generation (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013) Toyota Highlander in changing the rear disc brake pads and lubricating the caliper slider pins.

Owners of other Toyota or Scion vehicles such as the Tacoma, Corolla, Yaris, Prius, Camry, RAV4, Tundra, Sienna, FJ Cruiser, Venza, Avalon, 4Runner, Sequoia, xB, xD, tC, iQ and FR-S may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The items needed to complete this procedure include a lug nut wrench, a floor jack, two jack stands, a 14mm socket with a 3/8" drive ratcheting wrench, a pair of pliers (to hold the slider pins), a "C" or "F" clamp and a tube of brake parts lubricant grease.

A few compatible replacement rear brake pads with their part numbers are as follows: Wagner QC1325, Bendix D1325, Toyota 04466-0E020, Power Stop # 16-1325, Akebono ACT1325, ACDelco 17D1325CH, Wagner ZD1325, Bosch BC1325, Raybestos ATD1325C, Callahan CP10090B and Monroe DX1325.

Spin Off 5 Lug Nuts
5 Lug Nuts Removed
Caliper, Bracket & Rotor
The first few steps are to park the SUV on a level surface, make sure that the emergency / parking brake is not engaged and chock both sides of the front wheels to prevent the vehicle from moving.

Slightly loosen the 5 lug nuts by turning them counterclockwise with the tire iron.

Raise the rear of the vehicle with the floor jack and securely support it with two jack stands.

(I prefer to work on one side of the car at a time to keep three wheels on the ground for extra safety.)

Spin off the 5 lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place.

Remove the rear wheel to reveal the caliper, bracket, rotor and suspension.

Rear Brake Caliper
Loosen Upper 14mm Bolt
Spin Out Lower Caliper Bolt
The rear brake caliper is held in place to the caliper bracket by two bolts on the rear of the caliper with the bolt heads facing towards the center of the vehicle.

Loosen the upper caliper bolt by turning it clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and 3/8" drive ratcheting wrench.

If the caliper slider pin turns as you are trying to loosen the caliper bolt, hold it in place with a pair of pliers or an adjustable crescent wrench.

Loosen the lower 14mm caliper bolt by turning it clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle).

Remove Upper Caliper Bolt
Two 14mm Caliper Bolts
Lift Caliper Out of Bracket
Spin out the two caliper bolts and set them aside in a safe place.

Lift the caliper out of the bracket and off the old pads.

If you have trouble removing the caliper, double check that the emergency / parking brake is released.

Rest Caliper On Suspension
Remove Old Outer Pad
Wear Bar - Bottom Inner Pad
Carefully rest the caliper on the suspension or suspend it from the spring with a bungee cord.

Pull the old brake pads out of the caliper bracket and make a mental note of where the wear indicator or "squeal" bar is situated.

On this 2013 Highlander, the wear indicator bar was located at the bottom of the inner brake pad.

I recommend buying the Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1325 brake pads since they have great reviews on Amazon. I also like how they have built in insulators so they don't require any backing plates, shims or disc brake quiet gel.

Replace Pad Abutment Clips
Pull Out Caliper Slider Pins
Lubricate & Replace Pins
If your new set of rear brake pads included replacement brake hardware, pull the old metal pad abutment or "anti-rattle" clips out of the top and bottom of the bracket.

Apply a thin layer of brake parts lubricant grease to the new pad abutment clips and install them in to the bracket.

In order for the brake caliper to operate smoothly, the two caliper slider pins or "guide pins" need to be well lubricated.

Pull the pins out of their rubber dust boots and apply a thin layer of brake parts grease to each before pushing them back in to place.


Attach "F" Clamp To Piston
Pull Off Brake Fluid Cap
Compress Caliper Piston
In order for the caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, the caliper piston needs to be compressed back.

Attach the "C" or "F" clamp to the caliper using the back of an old brake pad to evenly distribute the pressure across the piston.

Move to the right rear area of the engine bay (closest to the driver's seat) and pull off the brake fluid reservoir cap.

Removing the cap will allow the fluid to more evenly travel back through the rubber brake hose when you compress the piston.

Slowly turn the "F" clamp handle to push back the piston while repeatedly checking the level in the reservoir to prevent it from overflowing.

Clean up any spilled brake fluid immediately and flush the area with water since brake fluid can easily damage painted surfaces.

Continue compressing the caliper piston until it is flush with its rubber dust boot. Try to avoid pinching or otherwise damaging the rubber dust boot surrounding the piston.

Thoroughly clean off the brake rotor, caliper bracket, brake caliper and the lug nut studs with brake parts cleaner spray. Do not use compressed air or blow air with your mouth to clean off the brake hardware since inhaling brake dust can be harmful to your health. Brake dust may be carcinogenic (cancer causing) if inhaled.

Spread a thin layer of brake parts grease to any surface where there is metal to metal contact such as the outer face of the caliper piston. Do not apply lubricant to the friction surface of the new pads.

If your vehicle previously exhibited shuddering, pulsating, or vibrations while braking, you may need to have the rotors "turned" (resurfaced) or it may be easier and less expensive to just replace them with new rotors. If this is the first rear brake job on your Highlander and the rotors appear to be in excellent condition, you should be able to just replace the pads with great results.

To remove the existing rotors and install new ones, remove the two bolts on the rear of the caliper bracket that attach it to the steering knuckle. Then loosen the old rotor with a rubber mallet, pull it off, and slide the new one in its place. Be sure to properly tighten the two bracket bolts with a torque wrench.

If you have trouble removing old rotors that are stuck or "frozen" in place by rust, try beating them with a rubber mallet or tighten a 10mm bolt into one of the two holes on the outer face of the rotor. You can use the 10mm bolt from the front of the battery hold down clamp or any other relatively unimportant 10mm bolt in the engine bay.

Push On Brake Fluid Cap
Install New Outer Pad
Wear Bar - Bottom Inner Pad
Replace the reservoir cap as soon as possible since brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air).

Install the new brake pads in to the bracket with the wear indicator bar situated at the bottom of the inner pad.

Push Pads Against Rotor
Lower Caliper Over Pads
Spin In Lower Caliper Bolt
Push the new pads flush against the rotor.

Lower the caliper down over the new pads and in to the caliper bracket.

Line up the bolt holes in the caliper with their corresponding bolt holes in the slider pins.

Spin In Upper Caliper Bolt
Tighten Counterclockwise
Tighten Lower 14mm Bolt
Spin in the two caliper bolts a few turns by hand in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Tighten the upper and lower caliper bolts by turning them in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and ratcheting wrench to just past hand tight or about 25 ft-lbs of torque.

Double check that both of the caliper bolts are tight before moving on to the next steps.

If your brake pedal previously felt soft or spongy, the brake fluid may be contaminated with water or the brake lines may contain a few small air bubbles.

It would be best to bleed the brake lines at this time in order to flush out the old fluid and replace it with fresh DOT 3 brake fluid.

For more on this topic, check out my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With An Assistant DIY Guide or alternatively the Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With A Power Bleeder Guide.

The brake fluid bleeder valve is located underneath a rubber cap on the back side of the caliper just below the upper caliper bolt.

Push On Rear Wheel
Spin On 5 Lug Nuts By Hand
Slightly Tighten Clockwise
Replace the rear wheel and spin on the 5 lug nuts a few turns by hand in the clockwise direction to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts in a "crisscross" or "star" pattern in the clockwise direction with the tire iron.

Lower From Floor Jack
Torque To 80 ft-lbs
Rear Brake Pads Replaced
Carefully lower the vehicle from the jack stands using the floor jack.

Continue progressively tightening the lug nuts in a crisscross or star pattern to about 1/8 to 1/4 turn past hand tight or about 80 ft-lbs of torque.

It would be best to use a torque wrench or an impact wrench with a torque stick to properly tighten the lug nuts.

Sit in the driver's seat of the SUV and firmly press down the brake pedal a few times to restore the brake line pressure.

Check the brake fluid in the reservoir and verify that it is at the proper level. If it is low, pour in some fresh DOT 3 fluid.

To break in your new brake pads, just drive normally for the first few hundred miles while trying to avoid any hard or "panic" stops which may glaze over the new pads and cause them to be noisy and/or not perform as well.

It's also a good idea to regularly check your driveway for drops of brake fluid which may indicate a leak, check the brake fluid level in the reservoir, and verify that the lug nuts are still tight after a short test drive.

For more, check out my other Toyota Highlander DIY Repair Guides.

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