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Hey everyone,

I replaced the front brake pads in my 2001 RAV4 today, as well as turned teh rotors. I did not disconnect the calipers and I simply had to scoop some brake fluid from the master cylinder to prevent it from overflowing when I was compressing the caliper piston.

Everything during the job went off well, but when I am driving now the brakes seem to have much more travel in them until they engage... Almost as if they're spongey. I don't see how air could have gotten into the system, as I mentioned I never did anything that would really allow it to be.

I read in my Chilton's manual that if the pedal feels sloppy you could, among other things, adjust the rear brakes.

My question is this - I did not adjust the rear brakes after replacing the front pads, as I thought the rears were self-adjusting drums and there is no way to adjust them? Do I need to adjust them and will that get the slop out of the pedal? Is there even a way to adjust them? What else could cause the sloppy pedal feel I am experiencing?

Thanks!
 

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They are self adjusting. You should leave them alone. Maintaining the ratio of brake distribution power is important to maintain control of your vehicle. maybe your rotors are too thin now? I need to do my brakes too and I'm going to replace the rotors. I've had too much trouble over the years with machined rotors wearing or wharping quickly to mess around with it. New is the way to go. Good luck figureing it out. Maybe you need new shoes in the back. How many Kms do you have?
M.
 
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I know that they're self-adjusting, but any drum brakes made in the last ~10 years are. I am hoping they also have the adjustment 'star' or 'wheel', so that I can adjust the rear brakes. My 2001 RAV has 65K KM of mostly city driving on her.

I am just now going to take the rear tyres off and see if I can find the adjustment wheel. hopefully that will reel the pedal play in a bit.

Any other ideas?
 
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Did you find a fix to your problem? I just had the exact same problem, and i adjusted the rear brakes - that only helped a tiny bit. I ended up taking off the calipers and the caliper brackets, so i could get a good look at those stupid clips that the pads slide on.

Turns out that i didn't get the clips in correctly. What a pain. With the caliper bracket off and in my hand, i could properly snap them in place. A test ride afterwards showed that all was back to nomal.

Whoever designed those brakes needs to get another job. All the other disc brakes i've done use the caliper bracket itself as the sliding surface for the pads. Also on my Rav you need to reuse the brake wear sensor or get a new one. What's up with that? All my other cars had the sensor mounted permanently on each new set of brakes. The Rav brakes have way too many parts, hence more can go wrong.
 

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With the factory replaced brakes from the dealer I noticed when you stop and then back-up and touch the brake pedal you hear the front brakes "click" or "knock". This indicates to me that the retaining clip is not the best invention on this brake system.

I don't mind because I know what the sound is but it still seems a bit "Mickey Mouse" to me.

I have to replace my brakes in the front in the next week or so and
I am going to put all new on there. I saw on line the other day a set of ceramic pads. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with these and if there worth it or not.

Rotors will be stock but the pads I would spend a little on to have them last longer. Any other recomendations?

Thanks. M.
 

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Just because the rear drum brakes were designed to be self-adjusting doesn't always mean they do. They get dirty and the adjusting mechanism can get jammed up. I have over 75K miles on my Rav, and I adjust the rear brakes every so often when I feel they are getting weak.

The self-adjusters in the Rav's drum brakes work by applying the parking brake while moving in reverse. If you don't want to adjust the brakes by hand, you can usually get by with the simple method of yanking on the parking brake a bunch of times while rolling backwards. I've done this a few times and found it works a little, but adjusting them by hand works best.

However, if you have the time and tools to lift the back of the Rav up and take off the wheels, you can adjust the star wheels by hand fairly quickly and easily. The adjusting hole is decent sized and located on the front of the drum instead of the back. Just tighten the star adjuster until you feel the brakes drag, and then back up the adjuster a couple clicks. And you're done. Just make sure you make the adjustment with both rear wheels off, so when you spin one drum, the other can spin more freely, and that makes it easier to tell when the brakes begin to drag.

Just a reminder, don't breath the brake dust when you are fiddling with the drums.

I replaced the front pads this past winter, and found the clips to be a pain also. The first time I put the pads in on one side, I bent a clip. But I noticed it right when it happened, so I bent the clip back into shape, and was more careful with the other side. I kept the same rotors because they were in good shape and within thickness specs. Once the pads were done and the wheels went back on, I broke in the pads by doing an assortment of moderate stops, 60-20, 40-10, etc, just enough to get everything nice and hot without damaging the pads or rotors. They have been working fine ever since.
 
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Jeff: Thank you very much for your reply!

I had the RAV up in the air with the rears off, but couldn't find the adjustment star!! I found the peephole on the back of the drum, used to check brake lining thickness, but I couldn't for the life of me find the adjuster!

I guess it's under that harder-to-get-off plug on the front of the rotor! I will definately get teh truck up in the air and adjust it using that this weekend!

Thanks!
 

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When you get the plug off the drum, the hole is big enough that you can feel around inside with a finger. On the driver's side drum, the star adjuster is at, oh say 1 o'clock, and on the passenger side drum it is at about 11 o'clock. There is a lever on top of the star adjuster, which serves two purposes- it advances the star adjuster as the pads gradually wear down, and also locks the star adjuster from reversing. This lever is spring-loaded, so you need to pry it upwards with a small screwdriver in order to turn the star wheel either way.

To make the adjustments, I used two Craftsman flathead screwdrivers with small diameter shafts, one long (12"?) and one short (6"?). I found it works better if you use two screwdrivers with different lengths because it gives you more room to move around with.

By the way, it took a few tries on each side to get the adjustment perfect. Basically you want to advance the star wheel a little at a time, spin the drum, and listen or feel when the pads start to drag. Then you back up the wheel a couple clicks so that the pads aren't constantly dragging on the drum.
 

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New brake pads and rotors have to bed in to each ad that can take a few hundred miles. Until that happens, the pedal will have more travel and the brakes will appear less powerfull because the full area of the pad is not matching up to the rotor.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the comments and suggestions guys!

I am going to try tomorrow to adjust the rear brakes if I have a chance... I bought the RAV for my mother, so she drives ti, I just maintain it :D
 
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