Changing Brake Pads on a 2006 Scion tC

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The brakes on one of our cars started squealing a few weeks so we bought some new brake pads. I’ve replaced brake pads on my previous cars so this was a task I was familiar with, though I hadn’t worked on this car yet. I held onto the new pads for a little while until I finally had the time (and energy) to replace them this weekend.

If you’ve ever changed brake pads on a passenger car then the process is probably familiar.

Disclaimer: I’m not a mechanic. I work on my own cars when I can to save money. If you damage your own vehicle using my information then, well, you’re on your own.

Before starting I searched the Web and found a forum post by Stefan_TC that outlines the steps. It was good to know ahead of time that I wouldn’t need to purchase a proprietary tool or need an odd socket size.

Rather than reinvent the wheel I suggest you read the forum post, linked above. I didn’t start taking photos for a blog post – it’s a good idea to take photos before you begin working on a car if the project involves something you’re not familiar with.

Here are the tools I used:

Lugnut Wrench (obviously)
Tire Jack
Jack Stands
Wheel Chucks
Brake Cleaner (spray can)
Socket Wrench
14 mm Socket
C-Clamp (4 inch)

I always spray the wheels and brakes with the brake cleaner before starting work. Sometimes I’ll spray the brake again after removing the wheels.

Those little packets of lubricant you get with the brakes – I’ve almost never used them. Most of the time I’d forget to. Now, the best thing is to apply them properly every time (I’m not arguing with that, I just forget most of the time). However, on the other hand I’ve never noticed a problem (squealing) because I didn’t use them (and I’ve changed brakes on three different cars). This is probably one of those maintenance tips that extends the life of the parts and is best followed. Personally, I’m not going to pull the wheels and brakes off because I forgot this part.

My treatment of rotors is similar. I don’t freak out and have them turned or replaced every time I change the brakes and find a groove. Perhaps I should, but I don’t. If I took care of our cars as well as I do our computers there’d be no question that both of these previous concerns would be taken care of every time (but then again, my computer maintenance rarely costs anything).

The original brake pads have three individual pieces of metal that will need to go onto the new ones. They create tension to hold the pads in place. I removed each piece and kept them in order so I’d know how to put them back together.

Ultimately, if you’ve never changed brake pads on a car or would lose sleep over wondering what you may have done wrong, then I don’t recommend doing this yourself. This information is not intended as a step-by-step guide for first-timers but only to provide some information so more experienced do-it-yourself folks will have an idea of whether or not changing the brakes on a 2006 Scion tC is a pain-in-the-ass.

My verdict – of the three cars I’ve owned that I’ve changed brakes on this was the easiest (and I’ve also assisted with changing brakes on others). The low-profile tires on our car made it easier to take them off and put them back on. There were no major surprises during this job.

I did have one heart-stopping moment after the job was done. After lowering the car I hopped in and pumped the brakes. Then I checked under the car and saw brake fluid on the ground near the driver’s side wheel. Rather than freak out (because I knew I hadn’t busted anything or put stress on the brake line) I popped the hood and sure enough the fluid had leaked from a relief valve on the brake fluid reservoir.

I had forgotten to check the levels and initially, lightly pump the brakes (instead of a single, full pump). The extra fluid was caused by the greater amount of fluid that had been added to the car between oil changes as the pads had worn down. With new pads a smaller volume of brake fluid was required. I just failed to account for this.

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