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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I haven't gotten myself into this situation for a long time, but I'm afraid I've rounded the nut on one of my brake line fittings. Would love to get some advice/second opinions on how to proceed.

My 19-year-old son is about to take my 2011 RAV4 on a cross-country trip. It's got 111,000 miles on it and I think it's up to the task. But I decided to check some things over carefully and do a little preventative maintenance.

The brake hoses are the factory originals and while they appear OK, I figured after 10 years of service it wouldn't hurt to put new ones in (I'm servicing the brakes anyway so as long as I have easy access figure may as well do it).

Soaked all the fittings in penetrating oil in the morning (Mopar variety, works pretty well), gave them a second application at noon, and cracked the fittings loose with a 10mm flare nut wrench. All but one--the passenger side rear wouldn't budge. So I gave it another shot of oil, waited a couple hours, and tried it again. I put some effort into the wrench, which was properly seated on the nut, and it moved. Only it wasn't the nut moving--it was the wrench rounding over the corners of the nut. Ugh. I had to tap the wrench pretty good with a ball peen hammer just to get it free.

I soaked it again, let it sit overnight, and tried it again today. I took a small steel-wire "toothbrush" and cleaned above and below the nut thoroughly.

Still wouldn't budge--and if I really lean into it the wrench just slips.

I tried several times and it looks like I ended up bending the brake line slightly so it doesn't sit at a 90-degree angle from the nut anymore.

So...do I just stop and leave it be? My son is scheduled to leave next week and I'm afraid if I mess with it any more I'll be buying and installing a whole new brakeline which probably is going to delay his trip. As long as the fitting doesn't leak, it should be fine, right? Should I try bending the line back to where it's at the proper angle to the fitting or just let it be?

Any tricks to getting it off there with the nut rounded? Or do I just wait until he returns the car in November and tackle it then--being prepared to replace the whole brake line. If I do end up replacing that line I'd like to get a piece of cunifer in there. How long is that line to the passenger side rear? Does it run all the way from the master cylinder? Where's a good place to buy replacement prebent lines?

Thanks for any advice. Here's photos:

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If it's not leaking,I would leave it alone and he will be fine driving it.
You need to clamp on a pair of vice grips and loosen it. It should have enough oil penetration now, using more probably wont help. Try using a propane type torch to heat it a little also to help loosen it.
Replacing the flex hoses isn't a bad idea but I wouldn't change the steel lines until they leak.
Try Rock Auto for pre bent brake lines. Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for confirming my hunch that I should leave it until he gets back from his trip.

I tried vice grips and this thing isn't budging. Must really be frozen in there good--or maybe the factory over-torqued it. The other 3 all cracked loose fine.

Not sure I want to heat up my brake line with a torch--wouldn't that boil the fluid?

I'm a RockAuto regular but they don't list any pre-bent brake lines for the RAV. In the past when I've had to replace brakelines I've used cunifer which is doesn't corrode and is easy to bend and flare. Does that line at the rear wheel well run all the way to the master cylinder in one solid piece?

I hate dealing with hard brake lines!
 

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You are a great father to make certain that your son will have a safe vehicle especially for such a long drive. Agree with others that I would leave the stubborn brake line connector alone if it isn't leaking until your son returns. Personally I've never changed brake lines even on 20 year old vehicles and even my 30 year old motorcycle unless they have visibly deteriorated and have never had one fail, but my experience won't help you now. Good luck - using a strong vise grip may be all that you can do apart from taking your RAV4 to a shop which may have the necessary tool to do the job.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Took one last crack at it this morning and managed to undo the fitting using vice grips. Installed the new hose, need to check for leaks as soon as I finish redoing the front brakes. Don't like that bend in the pipe out of the fitting but hopefully the flare will seal properly on the hose. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for advice/encouragement.

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Good job. Brake lines can bend and it doesn't effect the structural integrity. If it's not leaking, it should be fine for many miles.Did you use heat? A regular propane torch isnt hot enough to cause any issues with overheating the fluid.
Ever watch videos of them trying to remove a bleeder screw? It gets red hot to remove them and then they just bleed off a little brake fluid.
I find the look of that worn nut and bent pipe gets better the more you don't look at it! :) You could also spray it with a heavy black paint like rocker guard.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
No heat. Maybe it just took a few days for that penetrating oil to really work its way in there. I also positioned the vice grips a little differently today and clamped 'em down hard. Then took a 17mm wrench and rotated the brake hose fitting. Took quite a bit of oomph to get it started, but once I felt it budge a little I knew I had it licked.

After bleeding the brake system I'm not seeing any leaks. Afterward I pushed down on the pedal pretty hard (maybe 75% of full effort) and checked everywhere for leaks, didn't see any.

Now here's another question. With the engine off, when you push the brake pedal, is it supposed to stiffen right up and then stop rock hard about halfway down, or does it creep down a bit as you apply force?

I like a pedal that stiffens up partway down and then gets totally hard...so you can push with all your might and it won't budge but the pedal is still well up off the floor.

This feels a little soft after it stiffens up and seems to creep down. Air in the system somewhere? Or is that what happens with the brake booster when the engine's off? I bled all four calipers in the correct order until there were no bubbles so it should be air-free. But maybe there's air in there somewhere? I have an appointment at the dealer later this week for a final pre-trip inspection, but I'd like to have the brakes 100% solid before then if possible.
 

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Good job getting the brake hoses changed.
You may be feeling the new hoses flex a little under pressure as they are new and the old ones were rock hard.
Every car is different I find with pedal firmness and travel distance. I've got three Toyotas and they are all different.
It's good to be careful and thorough with the brake system and I'm sure you bled the brakes properly. I think you're overthinking yourself. :) Drive the car for a few days and the brakes will be back to your liking. No leaks equals no problems. As long as you didn't run your brake reservoir dry when bleeding each caliper, you're good to go!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You know the pedal was a little soft after the last brake job I did last summer (replaced the rears and flushed the fluid). I bled and bled (basically flushed out all the old fluid and replaced with fresh) and saw no bubbles anywhere, but I couldn't get the pedal high and rock hard. Plenty of stopping power, never felt like the braking performance was compromised, but there was just more travel in the pedal than I like and you didn't have that really stiff resistance you get with (what I consider) well-tuned brakes.

I was just Googling a bit on this and it seems lots of 3rd generation RAV4 owners have commented on this issue. So maybe it's just how the car is designed? Doesn't make intuitive sense to me though.

I'll ask the tech. to test drive it and see what he says when I go to the dealer for the final check-up.

How does your brake pedal feel?
 

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Funny you ask about my brake pedal.
I was also concerned that it had a lot of travel at one time. It seems its normal for our vehicles . It's a sign that your pads are worn when the pedal travels far I was told, on Rav4's anyways.
My 2017 Camry with 100,000 kms has a high firm pedal with original pads. My 2006 Corolla has a fairly high pedal, but when it gets to have more travel, I adjust my rear brake shoes , then it's high again. The Rav's calipers seem to retract all the way back every time after braking ,making the pedal travel seem like a lot when braking. I just replaced my rear rotors and brake pads and gained a little height on the pedal travel.
The tech is going to tell you everything is fine.....take care
 

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I've often heard complaints about the mushy feel of the brakes on the 4.3 with the I4 engine. Nobody seems to complain about the V6, which has larger front brakes. The I4 with 3rd row seat also has the larger brakes.
 

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I've often heard complaints about the mushy feel of the brakes on the 4.3 with the I4 engine. Nobody seems to complain about the V6, which has larger front brakes. The I4 with 3rd row seat also has the larger brakes.
Having changed my small front brakes to the larger V6 ones but nothing else, I can tell you the difference is like night and day. I did flush the 7-year-old fluid out at the same time but it certainly didn’t make the only difference. I can’t fathom why Toyota used such small brakes on the front end of a 3400 lb crossover (4-cyl 2-row models) when the larger brakes of the V6 were available.

For anyone thinking of changing to the larger brakes, DO IT. It’s absolutely the best mod I’ve done or will do to my trucklet and I highly recommend everyone should do it.

Parts needed:
Front calipers
Front pads
Front rotors

All for the V6 or 3rd row model. Also brake fluid.
 
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Didn't know you could upgrade the front brakes. Wish I'd known that before I replaced the pads and rotors this week. Thanks for the tip...next time.

I took the RAV4 to the local dealer for a final pre-trip checkup. On the way I noticed a disconcerting vibration whenever I took my foot off the accelerator at high speed (like over 45mph). Never felt this before...although admittedly my son has been driving it almost exclusively since the pandemic started.

I asked the dealer to check out the drivetrain carefully. Lo and behold, they found that the u-joint at the rear differential was very loose. They recommended replacing the whole driveshaft, which they said was pretty rusted--plus they can only get the parts as a unit. Given that my son is about to drive this thing cross-country, I didn't hesitate to have them order the part and make the repair. First 4-figure repair bill I've had in a long, long time (since I started doing my own vehicle maintenance about 15 years ago--too many bad experiences with various shops). Should end up being about a grand (part was $900!). I checked RockAuto just out of curiosity, they were out of stock for new but had a reman. for $400. I know I'm paying a lot of extra to have the dealer do it but it's good peace of mind (the mechanic who looked at the car and showed me the u-joint seemed super-competent).

I rebuilt the entire drivetrain on a 1973 Dodge 4WD pickup one time--it was a lot of time and effort. Satisfying for sure, but in this case I don't really have the time or energy for that!

As for the brakes...they were definitely soft. I asked them to bleed the system--hopefully that will take care of it. I left the car at the dealer and if all goes well will pick it up tomorrow afternoon. Will let you know how it goes.
 

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Didn't know you could upgrade the front brakes. Wish I'd known that before I replaced the pads and rotors this week. Thanks for the tip...next time.

I took the RAV4 to the local dealer for a final pre-trip checkup. On the way to the dealer I noticed a disconcerting vibration whenever I took my foot off the accelerator at high speed (like over 45mph). Never felt this before...although admittedly my son has been driving it almost exclusively since the pandemic started.

I asked the dealer to check out the drivetrain carefully. Lo and behold, they found that the u-joint at the rear differential was very loose. They recommended replacing the whole driveshaft, which they said was pretty rusted--plus they can only get the parts as a unit. Given that my son is about to drive this thing cross-country, I didn't hesitate to have them order the part and make the repair. First 4-figure repair bill I've had in a long, long time (since I started doing my own vehicle maintenance about 15 years ago--too many bad experiences with various shops). Should end up being about a grand (part was $900!). I checked RockAuto just out of curiosity, they were out of stock for new but had a reman. for $400. I know I'm paying a lot of extra to have the dealer do it but it's good peace of mind (the mechanic who looked at the car and showed me the u-joint seemed super-competent).

I rebuilt the entire drivetrain on a 1973 Dodge 4WD pickup one time--it was a lot of time and effort. Satisfying for sure, but in this case I don't really have the time or energy for that!

As for the brakes...they were definitely soft. I asked them to bleed the system--hopefully that will take care of it. I left the car at the dealer and hopefully will pick it up tomorrow afternoon. Will let you know how it goes.
Ooiggh...

There are a couple of threads lately dealing with just that u-joint failure. A driveline shop can replace the joint alone, but it sounds like it might be too late for that for you. Seems the 4.3s are getting to that point now, as this has been a frequent topic. Some members were able to get the repair done for about $300 IIRC but with the upcoming trip, it depends on your available time.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Ooiggh...

There are a couple of threads lately dealing with just that u-joint failure. A driveline shop can replace the joint alone, but it sounds like it might be too late for that for you. Seems the 4.3s are getting to that point now, as this has been a frequent topic. Some members were able to get the repair done for about $300 IIRC but with the upcoming trip, it depends on your available time.
Interesting. I replaced every single u-joint on my pickup truck back 15 years ago (not a fun job!), there were 6 of them. I intentionally bought the greaseable ones made by Spicer, since in theory they will last a long, long time if you grease them periodically. Are the RAV ones greaesable? Or is everything sealed nowadays? Guess in hindsight I should've replaced that U-joint years ago. Interestingly I had the dealer replace one of the axle seals in the rear differential 18 months ago, seems like he would've noticed the u-joint going bad if it was starting then. Maybe it's just been the last few months.
 

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Interesting. I replaced every single u-joint on my pickup truck back 15 years ago (not a fun job!), there were 6 of them. I intentionally bought the greaseable ones made by Spicer, since in theory they will last a long, long time if you grease them periodically. Are the RAV ones greaesable? Or is everything sealed nowadays? Guess in hindsight I should've replaced that U-joint years ago. Interestingly I had the dealer replace one of the axle seals in the rear differential 18 months ago, seems like he would've noticed the u-joint going bad if it was starting then. Maybe it's just been the last few months.
I’ve got a FWD model so no direct experience myself, however I was following the threads. No, nothing is serviceable anymore, all are sealed now: ball joints, tie rod ends, U-joints, etc. The suspension bits could (may) take grease fittings if one is inclined to drill and tap the housings, but no option exists for the U-joints. For whatever reason we’ve seen a bunch of vehicles with this pop up in the last few months - seems it’s that age. As for the dealer finding the problem when they did the seal, it’s apparently a sticking joint, not a loose one, so it may not behave in a way that would be as noticeable during that operation.

If it’s not too late and you have time before your son leaves, you can have a look for the threads and check the solutions, maybe find a shop nearby that can repair rather than replacing the whole driveshaft. Or, you may be able to order from an online source for a lot less money - in this case the part is the majority of the cost, rather than the labour (about an hour) - heck or you could swap the shaft yourself. If the part hasn’t arrived, you may still decline having the dealer do the work.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I checked RockAuto--they were out of the new shafts and didn't have any u-joints. I think at this point in order to get my son safely on the road I'll just bite the bullet and have the dealer take care of it. If I had more time and leisure I would tackle it myself. Then again I've just spent a good part of the last several days redoing brakes, ATF, coolant flush/new hoses, drivebelt, etc. so I'm a little burned out on vehicle work!
 

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...Then again I've just spent a good part of the last several days redoing brakes, ATF, coolant flush/new hoses, drivebelt, etc. so I'm a little burned out on vehicle work!
I can understand that feeling! I’m sanding drywall this Saturday and then installing 3rd Row rear springs in my RAV on Sunday. Monday is a hiking day, so I’ve been informed by the boss (wife). There shall be a beer to finish each day though!

Hope this is everything for the trip, and that your son has a good journey. Now that the RAV is sorted, he shouldn’t have any mechanical concerns.
 
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Picked up the car from the dealer yesterday. New drive shaft was $800 plus an hour of labor. Probably could've saved several hundred dollars if I had the time to order one and install it myself, but under these circumstances I'm OK with it, especially knowing I did all the other work myself with parts from RockAuto.

Question: I have a Haynes manual that says you should check the torque on the driveshaft fasteners every 3000 miles on 4WD models. Is that right? Do those really loosen up that easily? I can do it, just surprises me. I really need to get an FSM for this car--anybody have any sources where you don't have spend a ridiculous amount of money?

I also realized that when I changed the coolant I totally spaced on draining the engine block. The old coolant looked pretty much pristine--had been in there at least since I've owned the car (it's a 2011 and I got it in 2015 at 50,000 miles, now up to 111,000). Think I should take the time to drain the block now or just leave it for next time? I used the Zerex Asian formula which according to my research meets the Toyota specs. How many years/miles you figure that's good for? I always used to change coolant every 2 years no matter what but seems like the technology has advanced quite a bit so that's no longer necessary. Thoughts?

Oh, and the brakes also feel much better after they bled them with their machine at the dealer. But...when I was at a red light, I pushed hard on the pedal and it slowly sank till it was nearly on the floor. Something about these brakes seems odd...shouldn't that be totally hard? Could the booster be bad? I just checked the cost on RockAuto, wow, they're expensive! A new one is $270 with the core exchange. Stopping power is fine...I intentionally did several hard stops on the way home and the brakes worked fine. I just like the 100% confidence of a rock-hard pedal--but maybe I'm old fashioned.

Thanks for the tips and advice everyone.
 

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Follow-up 3 weeks later: heard a rattle around the t-case a day after I picked up the RAV from the dealer so took a peek, found the tech.'s LED light stuck under there. Removed it but still heard rattle. Took car back to dealer--they took a look and found an exhaust hanger by the t-case that had been broken (presumably during the driveshaft install?). Fixed at no additional charge.

Son drove to Montana. Had him take it to a dealer there just to make sure the bolts holding the new shaft in were nice and tight. They found one stud on the t-case yoke broken off, another one where the nut was cross threaded. Fixed everything up.

So I emailed the service manager here were they did the original work. No reply. I called and asked someone at the service desk to tell the service manager to check his email. Nothing. Guess it's time for a phone call.

WTF? How can they let stuff out of there shop in that condition?

Once again this experience reminds me why I stopped taking my vehicles to shops and started doing the work myself. Too many bad experiences paying big bucks to people who don't seem to really care much about the quality of their work.

You think the dealer here should reimburse me for the cost of the repair in Montana and refund me the labor portion of their original repair bill?

I liked the service manager and want to have a good relationship but it's just hard to trust that they'll do good work.
 
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