1996 Lexus ES 300: Front Brake Change
June 18, 2012
Here's a little secret: I installed new pads and rotors on our 1996 Lexus ES300 a few days before Phil set off on his trip.
Our car had a persistent shake and steering wheel shimmy under braking, a sign of uneven front rotors. A quick check revealed a thinnish pair of front discs that had been turned more than once already. Turning them again was not an option; new ones were in order.
The brake pads weren't necessarily on their last legs, but we decided to match new with new and swap them out, too.
From there Ron Montoya and I made two decisions in the spirit of the debt-free car project: 1) we would shop around for cheaper non-factory parts at local auto parts stores, and; 2) we would change those parts ourselves. After all, brake swaps are not terribly difficult in the grand scheme of potential DIY maintenance projects.
On the first point, Ron did very well. He paid $32 apiece for the rotors and $44 for a set of pads. Our out-the-door price with tax was $118. Later on I spent $5 for a can of high-temperature disc brake grease/quieting compound.
As for the second point, I'll post a DIY pictorial later.
For now it's enough to say our Lexus has new front brakes and the shimmy is gone. We should be good to go for another 30,000 miles or more. Best part is we got all that for less than $125.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing, installed @ 138,804 miles