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Toyota Tacoma Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the front disc brake pads on a 3rd generation 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021 Toyota Tacoma.

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2020 Tacoma Front Wheel
Jack & Lug Nut Wrench
Slightly Loosen Lug Nuts
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the third generation (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and probably also the 2022 and 2023 model years) Toyota Tacoma pickup truck in changing the front disc brake pads.

Owners of other Toyota or Lexus vehicles such as the Tundra, 4Runner, Hilux, Highlander, C-HR, Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Supra, Land Cruiser, Prius, RAV4, Mirai, Sequoia, Sienna, Yaris, CT 200h, ES 300h, RX 350, GX 460, LX 570, NX 300, RX 450h, UX 200 and UX 250h may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

A few compatible replacement sets of new front brake pads with their part numbers include the following: Bosch BP976, Wagner ZD976, Akebono ASP976 and ACDelco 14D976CH.

The tools and other items needed to complete this procedure include a lug nut wrench, a floor jack, two jack stands, a small flat head screwdriver and a tube of high temperature synthetic brake caliper grease.

If you would like to also replace the rotors, you'll need a 17mm socket with a 1/2" drive ratchet to remove the caliper bracket.

A few compatible replacement aftermarket front brake rotors with their part numbers are as follows: Bosch 50011243, Callahan CDS02072, Wagner BD126090E and Bendix PRT5458.

The first few steps are to drive the truck on to a level surface, shift the transmission into "Park" and turn off the ignition.

Engage the emergency / parking brake and place wheel chocks on both sides of the rear tires to prevent the vehicle from moving.

The tool kit for changing a flat tire is located under the rear passenger bench seats.

Slightly loosen the six lug nuts on the front wheel by turning them about 1/4 to 1/2 turn in the counterclockwise direction with the tire iron.


Raise Front of Truck
Spin Out Six Lug Nuts
6 Lug Nuts Removed
I prefer to only work on one side of the truck at a time to keep three tires on the ground for extra safety.

Carefully raise the front of the vehicle with the bottle style floor jack and securely support it with at least two jack stands.

Please do not solely rely on the floor jack to support the vehicle!

Spin off the six lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place.

Support With Jack Stands
Remove Front Wheel
Caliper, Rotor, Pads
Carefully remove the front wheel to reveal the caliper, rotor and suspension.

Some home mechanics choose to place the tire and wheel under the frame rail of the vehicle as an extra support device just in case the floor jack and jack stands fail.

The Tacoma, like most trucks and high performance luxury or performance cars, has "fixed" style calipers with opposing pistons on both sides of the rotor. Changing the brake pads in a "fixed" caliper is very quick and easy with basic tools.

Rear of Caliper
Remove Bottom of Clip
Bottom of Clip Released
Gently remove the bottom of the pin retaining clip from the hole in the inner end of the bottom guide pin.

Pull the hook (or "loop") in the middle of the retaining clip from the center of the caliper.

Pull Top Clip From Pin
Retaining Clip Detached
Push Out Bottom Pin
Pull the top of the retaining clip from the hole on the inner end of the upper guide pin.

(The retaining clip is referred to as the "Pin Hold Clip Type A" in the service manual.)

Set the retaining clip aside in a safe place.

Use a small flat head screwdriver to carefully push out the bottom guide pin from the inner edge towards the outside of the caliper.

(The guide pins are referred to as the "Front Disc Brake Anti-Rattle With Hole Pin" in the service manual.)

Repeat the process to push out the bottom guide pin.

If you have trouble removing the guide pins due to corrosion (rust) or debris, try using a hammer to gently tap the screwdriver from the inside of the caliper to the outside.

Lower Pin Removed
Push Out Upper Pin
Top Pin Removed
Set the two guide pins aside in a safe place.

Your new pads may include a bag of replacement hardware with new guide pins.

If not, clean off any rust or debris on the guide pins with a wire brush.

Drag Reduction Clip
Pull Out Spring Clip
Pins & Clips Removed
Gently remove the drag reduction clip or "pad spreader spring clip" at the bottom of the caliper that helps reduce friction by pushing the pads away from the rotor when you are not actively braking.

Set the drag reduction spring clip aside in a safe place. Your new pads might include a new spring clip.

(The drag reduction spring clip is referred to as the "anti-rattle spring" in the service manual.)

Slide Out Outer Pad
Slide Out Old Inner Pad
Remove Old Inner Pad
Use the flat head screwdriver to carefully slide the old brake pads out of the opening in the rear of the caliper.

If you have trouble removing the old pads, try compressing back the caliper pistons a bit with the flat end of the lug nut wrench or a large flat head screwdriver.

Remove Old Outer Pad
Brake Fluid Reservoir
Pull Off Rubber Cap
Make a mental note of where the wear indicator or "squeal bar" is situated on the old brake pads.

On this 2020 Tacoma TRD Sport, the wear indicator bar was located at the bottom of the inner brake pad.

Move to the right rear area of the engine bay and locate the brake fluid reservoir tank situated behind the 12V automotive battery.

Pull of the rubber brake fluid reservoir cap and set it aside in a safe place.

Removing the reservoir cap will allow the brake fluid to more easily travel back through the lines when you compress the four caliper pistons.

Compress Caliper Pistons
Top Inner Piston
Top Outer Piston
To compress back the four caliper pistons, insert the flat end of the lug nut wrench and gently push back the calipers.

A faster and easier method would be use a quad pad spreader such as the Lisle 29100 which I plan on buying for the next front brake job since it has excellent reviews from other Toyota truck and SUV owners.

Repeatedly check the fluid level in the reservoir while you are compressing the caliper pistons to make sure it doesn't overflow.

Clean up any spilled brake fluid immediately since it can easily damage painted surfaces.

Continue compressing the pistons until they are just about flush with the rubber boot that surrounds it.

Try to avoid damaging the rubber dust boots that surround the pistons.

Bottom Outer Piston
Replace Reservoir Cap
Line Up New Brake Pads
Since brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air), replace the reservoir cap as soon as your done compressing the caliper pistons.

If the brake fluid absorbs an excessive amount of water from the air, it will lead to a lower boiling point and reduced braking performance.

If you would like to replace the rotors, remove the two 17mm bolts on the back side of the caliper bracket that secure it to the wheel hub. (Do NOT remove the two bolts that secure the two halves of the caliper together.)

Pull the caliper off the wheel hub and rotor. Hang the caliper from the suspension with a bungee cord or some twine. Avoid stressing, kinking or pulling on the rubber brake fluid hose.

If you have trouble removing an old stubborn rusted on rotor, thread in a bolt into one of the two holes in the outer face of the rotor. Slide the old rotor off the lug nut studs and push the new rotor into place.

I recommend buying the Bosch 50011243 "QuietCast" rotors. I've had excellent experiences with them in the past on other vehicles.

Lower the caliper back into place and tighten the two 17mm bolts in the clockwise direction. If you have a torque wrench, the torque specification for the bracket bolts is 91 lb-ft (or 123 N-m) of torque.

If you do a lot of off-road driving, consider applying some Loctite threadlocker adhesive to the bracket bolts to help prevent them from vibrating loose. You can either choose Loctite "Blue" (medium strength - removable with just hand tools) or Loctite "Red" (heavy duty strength - permanent - requires heat for removal).

Removing a caliper bracket bolt in the future is easy if you use Loctite Blue. If you use Loctite Red, you'll have to use a butane blow torch or a BBQ lighter to heat up the bolt before it can be removed.

Wear Bar - Bottom Inner
Slide In New Inner Pad
Install New Outer Pad
Orientate the wear indicator bar at the bottom of the inner brake pad.

Slide the new inner and outer brake pads into the caliper.

Pads Fully Seated
Push Pads Against Rotor
Holes For Retaining Pins
Make sure the two new pads are fully seated in the caliper.

Push the pads together against the rotor.

Screwdriver - Align Holes
Align Outer Pad
Slide In Top Retaining Pin
Use the flat head screwdriver to line up the holes in the caliper with corresponding holes in the new brake pads.

Apply a thin layer of high temperature synthetic brake caliper grease to the two guide pins.

(Some Tacoma owners prefer to use anti-seize lubricant grease on the guide pins.)

Slide the upper guide pin in from the outer edge of the caliper, through the pads and into the inner edge of the caliper.

Drag Reduction Clip
Slide In Bottom Pin
Spring Clip & Pins Installed
Re-attach the drag reduction spring clip to the bottom of the caliper.

Slide the lower guide pin back into place.

Top Retaining Clip In Pin
Attach Hook - Middle
Insert Clip - Bottom Pin
Re-attach the retaining clip on the inner edge of the caliper.

Make sure the top of the clip is inserted into the hole in the upper pin, the loop hook at the center is secured to the middle of the caliper and the bottom end of the clip is inserted through the hole in the lower pin.

New Brake Pads Installed
Rubber Valve Cap
Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Double check that the new brake pads, guide pins, spring clip and retaining clip are all properly installed.

If your brake pedal has been feeling soft or spongy, consider bleeding the brake lines at this time.

The brake fluid bleeder valve is located on the back side of the caliper and covered by a rubber cap.

To open and close the bleeder valve, you'll need a 10mm wrench.

Replace Front Wheel
Spin On 5 Lug Nuts
Slightly Tighten Lug Nuts
Carefully push the front wheel back into place over the six lug studs.

Spin on the lug nuts a few turns by hand in the clockwise direction to help prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts in the clockwise direction with the lug nut wrench in a criss-cross or star pattern.

Lower Car From Stands
Torque Lug Nuts
Front Brake Job Done
Carefully lower the truck from the jack stands by using the floor jack.

Continue tightening the lug nuts in the clockwise direction in a criss-cross or star pattern to about 1/8th to of a turn past hand tight.

It would be best to use a torque wrench to properly tighten the lug nuts to the owner's manual specification of 83 lb-ft (or 113 Nm).

Check the fluid level in the reservoir and if necessary, carefully pour in some new DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid until it reaches the "Cold Max" level if your truck is cold or the "Hot Max" level if your truck was recently driven.

Be sure to write down the brake job in your truck's service records.

It would also be a good idea to check your driveway, garage or parking spot for drops of fresh brake fluid which might indicate a leak from the bleeder valve or the reservoir.

Please check out all of the 2016-2021 Toyota Tacoma DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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