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Installing Tundra Brakes on a 3rd Gen 4Runner

April 1, 2019.

You know that feeling when you've got a project to do that you're a little apprehensive of because you're not sure if it'll go well, or if you've got all the right stuff to make it happen?

Well, for once, I wasn't feeling that way! It was a great feeling, and one that I can only hope to have again - perhaps sometime in the distant future when I finally know what I'd doing around these Toyota trucks.

Today, it was time for a project that I was completely comfortable with - installing Tundra brakes on a 3rd gen 4Runner. See, I'd done this twice before - once on the Tacoma, and on Mike's (@Digiratus) Tacoma. Today, I hoped to complete the entire project in less than two hours - one hour per side - since from everything I knew, it would be an easier upgrade on the 4Runner than it was on the Tacoma.

And, the 4Runner really needed this. When we bought it, the previous owner mentioned that the brakes were the worst thing on the vehicle. The rotors had warped over time and the whole front end wobbled when the brakes were applied - definitely not a fun feeling. Oh, and there was the time that the driver side caliper stuck - we got a nice wobble at 45mph and a smell "to die for" that let us know that something was "a bit off."

At any rate - I got started as I always do - I assembled the parts and tools that I'd need. For a bunch of reasons - which I covered last time - I once again decided to go OEM on this upgrade. As I've said to many people who've asked about the best way to do this - when you're upgrading your brakes to have more braking power, you want to go with the highest quality, most surface area components you can - and in this case, that means OEM. For even more background, check out this article.

I also got all the tools together that I knew I'd need - there's not much for this project actually, especially on a 4Runner.

And then - hoping my confidence wasn't misplaced - I was off! And soon, so were the 4Runner wheels. I really do love this Milwaukee impact wrench. I debated for several months whether or not I should get it, and it's one of my favorite tool purchases to date. I smile every time I use it.

Next, it was time to remove the brake line from the caliper. This is the only part of the process that's different on the 4Runner than the Tacoma - the 4Runner has a hard line into the brake caliper where the Tacoma uses a soft line. The 4Runner design is a much better design, and made this part of the process go much easier.

First, locate the bracket that holds the brake line to the spindle. Using a 12mm socket, remove the single bolt so that the line is free to move. Next, using a 10mm flare nut wrench, remove the hard line from the caliper. When you do this, brake fluid will want to start leaking out, so use a small rubber vacuum cap to seal off the end of the line (Hint: push the fitting up the line so you can get a tight fit on the flared end of the line itself).

Having seemingly just started, the job of removing the old components is nearly done! With a 17mm socket, the next step is to remove the two bolts that hold the brake caliper to the hub. I've never had any problem removing these, but some people report that they rust into place. If that's the case for you, I guess you could be nearly done for quite a while.

Of course, once you have the bolts removed, just pull that caliper off and keep it oriented so any brake fluid it contains doesn't spill all over your pants. Ask me why. Then, pull off the old rotor as well - you won't need either of these parts again. Or, rather - you'll want to return the calipers to get your core charge refunded, and you can try to see the rotors to your local scrap guy. Or give them to him for free. Or just put them in the recycle bin.

Or, do what I did - stack them in the garage and hope to forget about them in time.

With all the parts removed, there's one step before installation of the new parts - and that's cutting the dust shield a bit so that the new rotor and calipers fit. This is reasonably straight forward for the most part. Hold the caliper in place and mark on the dust shield where it interferes with the caliper.

Then, cut that bit off and hit it with a bit of spray paint to prevent rust. Don't spend too much time on this part - get the cut close but it doesn't need to be perfect.

Oh, and make sure to check the portion of the dust shield that fits "inside" the center of the rotor. That seems to rub sometimes / for some people - but not for others. For me, it's rubbed one of six times.

With that done, it's time to start re-assembly. The easiest part - of course - is putting on the new rotor. It just slides right on over the studs, and you should secure it - finger tight only - with two lug nuts, so you can get the caliper installed more easily.

Next, put the caliper in place and secure it with the two 17mm bolts. I finger tightened these first, and then torqued them right down to the speced 90 ft-lbs. After-all, I had no plans to remove them again - and as you'll recall, I was trying to get this done quickly!

Zooming through the last few steps, it was time to put the new brake pads in and secure them. Having purchased OEM pads and shims, that means I first needed to assemble them, which is easy. It sandwich goes pad - slotted shim - a little grease - solid shim - a little grease. Then I had this nice little sandwich that I could slide into the caliper.

Once I'd done that, it was a simple matter of installing the spring clamps to hold them in place and then using the flare nut wrench to re-attach the hard brake line to the caliper and the 12mm socket to reattach the brake line bracket to the spindle. Oh, and I re-torqued the wheels back on the truck - 89 ft-lbs.

Then, I stopped my stopwatch.

Well, I looked at the time anyway. 45 minutes. Not too shabby for an old guy. All that was left was to bleed the lines - something that @mrs.turbodb was happy to help with.

And now, we've got amazing braking on the 4Runner. Even better than the Tacoma, since there's not all the extra armor and gear weighing it down!

 

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