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Toyota RAV4 Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to replace the front disc brake pads on a 3rd generation 2006 to 2012 Toyota RAV4 with picture illustrated steps.

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RAV4 Front Wheel
Loosen 5 Lug Nuts
Raise Front of Vehicle
This automotive "how-to" guide was specifically written to assist owners of the third generation (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012) Toyota RAV4 in replacing the front brake pads.

Owners of other Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles such as the Corolla, Camry, Matrix, Yaris, Tacoma, Prius, Tundra, Sienna, FJ Cruiser, Venza, Highlander, Avalon, 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, IS 250, ES 350, GS 350, RX 350, FR-S, iQ, tC, xB, and xD may also find these front brake job DIY instructions to be helpful.

The items needed to complete this procedure include a floor jack, jack stands, a tire iron, a 14mm socket with a 3/8' drive ratchet, a "C" or "F" clamp, and a set of new front brake pads.

A few compatible aftermarket replacement front brake pads for RAV4 models with out the 3rd row seating with their part numbers include: Wagner QC1210, Akebono ACT1210, Bosch BP1210, Monroe CX1210, Wagner ZD1210, Bendix D1210, Centric 10512100, Raybestos PGD1210C, and ACDelco # 17D1210CH.


Please verify the correct replacement brake pads for your RAV4 by using the Amazon Part Finder website. The correct part numbers may vary depending on the model year, trim level, if it has the third row of seats or just a 2nd row of passenger seats and the transmission type (4WD four wheel drive or RWD rear wheel drive).
Spin Off 5 Lug Nuts
Front Rotor, Caliper, Bracket
Loosen Upper Caliper Bolt
The first two steps are to engage the emergency / parking brake and chock the rear wheels to prevent the vehicle from moving.

Then slightly loosen the 5 lug nuts on the front wheel with the tire iron.

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

Spin off the 5 lug nuts, set them aside in a safe place, and pull off the front wheel.

Loosen Lower Caliper Bolt
Pull Out Upper 14mm Bolt
Remove Lower 14mm Bolt
Loosen the two bolts on the back side of the caliper by turning them clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and ratcheting wrench.

Remove the caliper bolts and set them aside with the lug nuts.

Pull Off Brake Caliper
Rest Caliper On Suspension
Remove Old Outer Pad
Carefully lift the brake caliper out of the bracket and rest it on the suspension.

Try to avoid stressing, bending, pulling or kinking the rubber brake line.

Wear Bar At Top
Inner Pad - Wear Bar At Top
Remove Upper Slider Pin
Pull the brake pads out of the bracket and make a mental note of how the wear indicator or "squeal" bars are orientated.

On this 2012 RAV4, there is a wear bar at the top of both the inner and outer pad.

In order for the brake caliper to work properly, the caliper slider pins need to be well lubricated.

Pull the caliper slider pins out of their rubber dust boots, apply some brake caliper grease and push them back in to their rubber dust boots.


Lubricate Lower Caliper Pin
Replace Pad Abutment Clips
Remove Brake Fluid Cap
I recommend buying the Wagner QC1210 "ThermoQuiet" brake pads since they have excellent reviews on Amazon and they include the brake installation hardware. I also like how they don't require any backing plates, shims or disc brake quiet gel due to the built in insulators.

If your set of brake pads came with new metal pad abutment or "anti-rattle" clips, pull the old ones out of the bracket and install the new ones.

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

If your vehicle exhibits shuddering, pulsating, or vibrations during braking, you may need to have your rotors "turned" (resurfaced) or just replace them with brand new rotors. If this is the car's first front brake job 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, just remove the two 17mm 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.

"F" Clamp - Compress Piston
Install New Pads
Press Pads Against Rotor
In order for the brake caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, the caliper piston needs to be compressed backwards.

First move to the engine bay and twist off the brake fluid reservoir cap.

Removing the cap will allow the brake fluid to more easily travel backwards through the lines when the piston is compressed.

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

Slowly compress the piston while repeatedly checking the brake fluid level in the reservoir to avoid having it overflow.

Install the new brake pads in to the bracket with the wear bars situated at the top of each pad.

Press the pads flush against the rotor.

Lower Caliper Over Pads
Insert Upper Caliper Bolt
Thread In Lower Bolt
Lower the brake caliper over the new pads and line up the bolt holes in the caliper with the bolt holes in the bracket.

Thread in the two caliper bolts by hand a few turns to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Hold Pin With 17mm Wrench
Tighten Both Caliper Bolts
Rubber Valve Cap
Tighten the two caliper bolts by turning them counter clockwise (as seen from outside the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and ratcheting wrench to just past hand tight or about 20-25 ft lbs of torque. If the caliper pin spins as you turn the caliper bolt, hold it in place with a thin 17mm cone spanner wrench.

Double check that both 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 some 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 DOT3 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.

Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Replace Front Wheel
Spin On Five Lug Nuts
Replace the front wheel and spin on the five lug nuts by hand to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Lower the vehicle from the jack stands using the floor jack until the front wheel holds enough weight to keep it from moving.

Slightly Tighten With Tire Iron
Lower Vehicle From Stands
Torque Lug Nuts
Progressively tighten the lug nuts in a "criss cross" or "star" pattern to about 1/4 to 1/3 turn past hand tight. 

It would be best to use a torque wrench or an electric impact wrench with a torque stick to tighten the lug nuts to about 75-100 ft lbs of torque.

Sit in the driver's seat of the vehicle and pump 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, add some new DOT 3 fluid.

To break in your new front 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 also verify that the lug nuts are still tight.

For more, check out my other Toyota RAV4 Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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