Brakes on my 2002 4WD Highlander...first time

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Oct 12, 2004
Hi everyone,
I have studied and researched the process of completing a brake job on my 2002 Highlander, and I would like to replace the pads and rotors. This will be my first brake job, so please don't make fun of my questions. The Highlander has 79,000 miles on it, and I think the brakes have been replaced once before.
This evening I had the opportunity to have the Highlander on a lift, so I removed the tire to have a look at the various bolts I need to remove. I was able to take the caliper bolts and slide the caliper off. I noticed that inside the caliper it looks a bit dirty with some rust. Is the rust normal? Does that mean my caliper is shot? Is there a way to clean inside the caliper? Is it just a process of shooting some brake cleaner in there? Is a C clamp the best way to push the caliper piston back in? Should I have been able to easily remove the caliper off of the pads?
I also noticed that the inside of the rotor is very worn with grooves actually cut into it. It appears to be the same on both sides. The outside face of the rotor seems fine, with no grooves. Why would such deep grooves only be on the inside of the rotor? Do the grooves point to a bad caliper?
The other question relates to grease/lube that is used when completing a quality brake job. What specific parts receive grease? I assume that I should put brake lube of the outside face of each pad? What about the caliper "slide pins"? What exact type of grease should I buy?
Also does the caliper mounting bracket need thread locker on the bolts?

I think that it is for the least for the moment!

Thank you,


Frame waxer
Apr 5, 2003
Southern NH
I'm convinced that people replace rotors way too often. I replaced the pads (all 4 corners) on our '04 Highlander at ~100K "just because", but they were the factory original pads. The rotors have never been replaced, and we have 150K on it now. I drove it today for the first time in weeks, and I noticed a slight brake vibration like warped rotors, so I guess it will get new ones this summer.

The pads and rotors on my '05 ES still look virtually brand new, and they are original from the factory, car is just shy of 100K.

The pads were super easy to replace. Remove one pin, swing the caliper up, pull the old pads out. Compress the piston with a big clamp (keep an eye on the reservoir), then just put it all back together. I like to use SylGlyde on the caliper pins, and this orange "Disc Brake Quiet" goop on the pads. Don't forget to torque everything.
Mar 30, 2007
x2 on the rotor replacement - I'm on my original set with 213K miles on them. Several pads have been replaced though.
I've miked them and they're not too thin, yet.
Good job on taking on this easy wrenching task of changing brake pads!

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