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My 2002 4x4 V8 Tundra, which I bought new in 2002, has never stopped well. I measure my stopping distance in fractions of a lightyear. You basically need to make an appointment and put it on your calendar to get the truck to stop. I have never locked up any of the brakes even in extremely hard panic stops. There is no ABS, it just has a very long stopping distance with dramatic brake fade.

I am a good defensive driver and have never been in an accident, but I'm getting old and that means my reaction times must be increasing. I'm also pulling a small trailer a few times a week. It's under 2000 pounds, but does push me just a little farther than the usual stopping distance. So I would like to improve my braking.

I understand that Toyota improved the brakes starting in 2005. And they tacitly admitted to the poor braking of the earlier models by producing an upgrade kit. I talked to the Toyota service adviser about getting the upgrade when I had a brake job a few years ago. He said it cost a butt-load of money and only improved them slightly. I asked around and got mixed feedback. Some loved the upgrade and some agreed with the service advisor. There was still room to turn the rotors, so I decided to wait until I needed new rotors and then upgrade the whole system.

In the mean time I have become aware that there are after market brake upgrades out there. (Sorry, I'm not an enthusiast, just a driver, so there is probably a lot that I do not know about upgrades.)

I think my rotors are shot now and it's time to decide. Can anyone answer any or all of these questions?

1. Given that I want the maximum braking and safety, should I go with the Toyota upgrade or with an aftermarket upgrade, and which one? Preferably both rotors and calipers as I think these calipers are pretty wimpy. And please say why. I'm really not well versed in this at all. I'd especially be interested in your assessment of how much improvement I'd see and of the reliability of the system.

2. Is there a reasonable upgrade for the rear drums? I have always felt like they work for the first 100 miles after a brake job, then quickly go so far out of adjustment that they don't seem to do much. I base this on the quick loss of effectiveness of the parking brake, which may not be the best indicator. I am not interested in doing a lot of customization to accomplish this. (I've read about upgrading to discs elsewhere in this forum.) Bolt on improvements is what I need.

3. What safety issues do I need to think about? Will changing the front/rear balance make the truck more or less safe? Will aftermarket units be as reliable as the Toyota upgrade?

4. Will my stock master cylinder be adequate for higher performance brakes?

5. What haven't I thought about?

Please note that cost is not my primary concern here. Safety is. If I'm dead, I can't spend all that money that I saved.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!
 

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My 2002 4x4 V8 Tundra, which I bought new in 2002, has never stopped well. I measure my stopping distance in fractions of a lightyear. You basically need to make an appointment and put it on your calendar to get the truck to stop. I have never locked up any of the brakes even in extremely hard panic stops. There is no ABS, it just has a very long stopping distance with dramatic brake fade.

I am a good defensive driver and have never been in an accident, but I'm getting old and that means my reaction times must be increasing. I'm also pulling a small trailer a few times a week. It's under 2000 pounds, but does push me just a little farther than the usual stopping distance. So I would like to improve my braking.

I understand that Toyota improved the brakes starting in 2005. And they tacitly admitted to the poor braking of the earlier models by producing an upgrade kit. I talked to the Toyota service adviser about getting the upgrade when I had a brake job a few years ago. He said it cost a butt-load of money and only improved them slightly. I asked around and got mixed feedback. Some loved the upgrade and some agreed with the service advisor. There was still room to turn the rotors, so I decided to wait until I needed new rotors and then upgrade the whole system.

In the mean time I have become aware that there are after market brake upgrades out there. (Sorry, I'm not an enthusiast, just a driver, so there is probably a lot that I do not know about upgrades.)

I think my rotors are shot now and it's time to decide. Can anyone answer any or all of these questions?

1. Given that I want the maximum braking and safety, should I go with the Toyota upgrade or with an aftermarket upgrade, and which one? Preferably both rotors and calipers as I think these calipers are pretty wimpy. And please say why. I'm really not well versed in this at all. I'd especially be interested in your assessment of how much improvement I'd see and of the reliability of the system.

2. Is there a reasonable upgrade for the rear drums? I have always felt like they work for the first 100 miles after a brake job, then quickly go so far out of adjustment that they don't seem to do much. I base this on the quick loss of effectiveness of the parking brake, which may not be the best indicator. I am not interested in doing a lot of customization to accomplish this. (I've read about upgrading to discs elsewhere in this forum.) Bolt on improvements is what I need.

3. What safety issues do I need to think about? Will changing the front/rear balance make the truck more or less safe? Will aftermarket units be as reliable as the Toyota upgrade?

4. Will my stock master cylinder be adequate for higher performance brakes?

5. What haven't I thought about?

Please note that cost is not my primary concern here. Safety is. If I'm dead, I can't spend all that money that I saved.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!
Hi, I have a 2000 2x4 I bought new with about 240,000 on it now. Ive had the exact same concerns and problems as you described early on. There are a lot of complaints about this. I totally solved my braking issues by regularly adjusting the rear brakes MANUALLY during every tire rotation or sooner. The problem is that the rear automatic adjusters just don't work. Your rear drum brakes stop engaging enough to be effective and this transfers more work to the front. Front braking is substantially less effective because they are overheating. Essentially, your front brakes start working alone. I don't believe you need to modify or upgrade anything if you don't mind taking this additional step. Hope this helps
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Interesting theory. I'm not so rigorous as you are. I usually forget to rotate the tires until one of them is shot. (My current problem, as a matter of fact!) Maybe I should try the reverse of your system: when the brakes start performing really bad, it's time to rotate the tires! :)

I will try adjusting them manually, but they really have never worked as well as almost any other vehicle I've ever owned - even right off the lot when new. It sounds like even if I do upgrade the fronts, I'll still keep having this problem, just maybe not as bad since the fronts will do a better job of stopping me when the rears quit working.

I wonder if anyone makes a fix for the poor auto-adjustment mechanism.
 

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1. Given that I want the maximum braking and safety, should I go with the Toyota upgrade or with an aftermarket upgrade, and which one? Preferably both rotors and calipers as I think these calipers are pretty wimpy. And please say why. I'm really not well versed in this at all. I'd especially be interested in your assessment of how much improvement I'd see and of the reliability of the system.
2. Is there a reasonable upgrade for the rear drums? I have always felt like they work for the first 100 miles after a brake job, then quickly go so far out of adjustment that they don't seem to do much. I base this on the quick loss of effectiveness of the parking brake, which may not be the best indicator. I am not interested in doing a lot of customization to accomplish this. (I've read about upgrading to discs elsewhere in this forum.) Bolt on improvements is what I need.
3. What safety issues do I need to think about? Will changing the front/rear balance make the truck more or less safe? Will aftermarket units be as reliable as the Toyota upgrade?
4. Will my stock master cylinder be adequate for higher performance brakes?
5. What haven't I thought about?
1. I would highly recommend the EBC Stage 5 Rotors and EBC Yellowstuff pads as a great upgrade. I would not touch the factory calipers unless they are sticking or leaking. Aftermarket/reman. calipers are sub-par compared to a good stock set of calipers.
2. I would keep the rear drums for just standard driving. Stock replacement shoes if needed and adjustment only. I think you would be amazed what my recommendation for #1 will do for you.
3. Going to aftermarket rotors and pads on the front will not change anything you need to worry about. Aftermarket or reman. calipers will affect reliability if you replace good stock calipers.
4. Nothing to do with your master cylinder.
5. Also make sure to clean your pistons before you press them back into the calipers to make room for the new pads/rotors. I would also highly recommend sucking all the fluid out of your reservoir, refilling with fresh and then do a full brake line and caliper/slave cylinder bleed to make sure you have fresh fluid throughout the whole system. Also inspect your rubber lines. If they feel squishy at all you may want to consider replacing with stainless braided.

I have used the same EBC rotor, pads and braided stainless line upgrade on several of my Lexyotas and the improvement is dramatic and I have never had a problem with the rotors or pads.
I would highly recommend giving it a try before looking at further brake upgrades.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
1. I would highly recommend the EBC Stage 5 Rotors and EBC Yellowstuff pads as a great upgrade. I would not touch the factory calipers unless they are sticking or leaking. Aftermarket/reman. calipers are sub-par compared to a good stock set of calipers.
Even Toyota tacitly admitted that the calipers on the early Tundras were inadequate since they sell an upgrade kit to the 2005 design ones. Since I've got 170K miles on my existing calipers, would it make sense to upgrade those to the improved Toyota ones and then use the EBC rotors and pads? I've had this truck for almost 20 years and will probably own it until I die, so I'm not trying to save every dime I can. I want better braking and if I can get it along with Toyota reliability I will be happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
BTW, I recently did something else braking-related that probably improved safety. I switched my brake lights to LED. I read that at highway speeds your vehicle can travel 20 feet in the time it takes for halogen bulbs to warm up and glow. That's a whole car length or more! Since everyone seems to want to tailgate around here, I just just bought the person behind me an extra car length of stopping distance and they don't even know it. (Don't tell them or they will just move in closer!)
 

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I have only done the particular upgrade on 2005 and newer ones and was unaware of the older caliper upgrade to the 05 level. If it makes the front brakes the exact same as the 05' it would make sense to do that upgrade to the factory calipers. I am not sure how that would affect the part numbers for the EBC rotors and pads though. If the upgraded calipers call for the same exact pads and rotors as the 05' then it is easy and you buy the EBC stuff for an 05'.
Brake light speed does make a difference. Just buy some good quality ones from one of the site vendors. The brake lights on my 78' IH Scout II Traveler are the only ones I will be swapping to LED as part of the more resto than mod I am doing right now.
 

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I did the caliper upgrade to my '02. It really does make a measurable difference. Having properly lubricated and adjusted rear shoes are also critical, as is religiously using your parking brake (to effect the adjustment mechanism).

Yes, the pads are different.

Instructions and part numbers for the caliper upgrade attached.
 

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My 2002 4x4 V8 Tundra, which I bought new in 2002, has never stopped well. I measure my stopping distance in fractions of a lightyear. You basically need to make an appointment and put it on your calendar to get the truck to stop. I have never locked up any of the brakes even in extremely hard panic stops. There is no ABS, it just has a very long stopping distance with dramatic brake fade.

I am a good defensive driver and have never been in an accident, but I'm getting old and that means my reaction times must be increasing. I'm also pulling a small trailer a few times a week. It's under 2000 pounds, but does push me just a little farther than the usual stopping distance. So I would like to improve my braking.

I understand that Toyota improved the brakes starting in 2005. And they tacitly admitted to the poor braking of the earlier models by producing an upgrade kit. I talked to the Toyota service adviser about getting the upgrade when I had a brake job a few years ago. He said it cost a butt-load of money and only improved them slightly. I asked around and got mixed feedback. Some loved the upgrade and some agreed with the service advisor. There was still room to turn the rotors, so I decided to wait until I needed new rotors and then upgrade the whole system.

In the mean time I have become aware that there are after market brake upgrades out there. (Sorry, I'm not an enthusiast, just a driver, so there is probably a lot that I do not know about upgrades.)

I think my rotors are shot now and it's time to decide. Can anyone answer any or all of these questions?

1. Given that I want the maximum braking and safety, should I go with the Toyota upgrade or with an aftermarket upgrade, and which one? Preferably both rotors and calipers as I think these calipers are pretty wimpy. And please say why. I'm really not well versed in this at all. I'd especially be interested in your assessment of how much improvement I'd see and of the reliability of the system.

2. Is there a reasonable upgrade for the rear drums? I have always felt like they work for the first 100 miles after a brake job, then quickly go so far out of adjustment that they don't seem to do much. I base this on the quick loss of effectiveness of the parking brake, which may not be the best indicator. I am not interested in doing a lot of customization to accomplish this. (I've read about upgrading to discs elsewhere in this forum.) Bolt on improvements is what I need.

3. What safety issues do I need to think about? Will changing the front/rear balance make the truck more or less safe? Will aftermarket units be as reliable as the Toyota upgrade?

4. Will my stock master cylinder be adequate for higher performance brakes?

5. What haven't I thought about?

Please note that cost is not my primary concern here. Safety is. If I'm dead, I can't spend all that money that I saved.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!
you may want to put a brake controller on truck. and electric brakes on trailer. what i did. works great.
 

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‘02 Tundra bought new. 235000 miles. Upgraded to ‘04 OEM calipers with solid EBC rosters and yellow stuff pads and huge difference in mountains. Used to vibrate while truck going over red mountain, coal bank and molas passes every time. Hasn’t once since upgrade. Get calipers from Olathe Toyota. Sign up for email and wait for shipping discounts. Can do yourself. Also upgraded lines from wheelers
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, guys. I am checking out all of your suggestions. I like hearing from people who have put even more miles on their trucks than mine's still youthful 170,000. You've got a long-term outlook that I can trust. I was in the Toyota dealer to get an oil change when the truck had 120,000 miles. I asked the service guy if I needed to start using high mileage oil. He pointed to a truck that looked exactly like mine and said "Hi mileage? That guy has 475,000 miles on his truck." I asked what he was in for and the guy said "oil change". At the rate I drive, I'll probably be dead before I hit 475,000 miles, so this is probably the last vehicle I will own. And I would prefer to do it right, not just to do it cheap.

I think the trailer brakes are probably not going to happen. It's a pretty light trailer - quite a bit less than 2000 pounds. It doesn't try to steamroll me. It's like trying to stop with a really heavy load in the back. I think it would be OK as-is if I had better brakes and I need better brakes all the time, not just when towing the trailer.

I'm curious about Olathe Toyota. Are they likely to have better prices on the calipers than my local Toyota dealer or just discounts on the shipping? I can drive to my local dealer in about 10 minutes. (Maybe 8 minutes with my new brakes! - uh, or maybe 12 minutes if I can actually stop at the lights along the way...)
 

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Check it out. They charge you the price they sell to auto shops. ~25% off everything
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh, and rear/parking brakes. I read that somewhere else, too, a couple of days ago. That it is the parking brake that does the auto-adjust on Toyota drum brakes, rather than reversing/stopping like in many makes of vehicles. I use my parking brake every time I park and the drums still go out of adjustment pretty quickly. But I have just learned that all of those linkages associated with the rear brakes need to be well lubricated or working the parking brake doesn't do anything. Just yesterday I sat and pumped the parking brake up and down hard a bunch of times to see if I could loosen things up and it had no effect. I guess I'm going to have to shimmy my aching old body under there and see if I can improve the situation. Having rear brakes that actually work would certainly help my overall braking, too.
 

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I'm not sure how many people know you're suppose to bleed the LOAD SENSING PROPORTIONING AND BY–PASS VALVE (LSP & BV) too after you bleed the rear brakes. Most likely it's probably rusted as shit and you won't notice that there's a bleeder valve there. And it doesn't help that no where does it mention this in the page BR-4 of the 2000-2003 FSM manual.
 

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I have had all brake work done at two Toyota dealerships and they have both gone religiously by the book. So if bleeding the LSP... valve isn't in the book then you are right: It's never been done. Another thing for me to check.
Thank you for the advice.
 

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Upgrade the front calipers and make sure you DON'T use ceramic pads......get Semi-Metallic pads and better rotors too, slotted if available.

Renew the rear brakes with new drums and FITTED brakes shoes and new hold down and return springs. Also use a little lube on all shoe contact wear points on the backing plate. Adjust once you get the rear tires back on.
 

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Bgodfrey, sorry about your weak brakes. My 02 has had a soft brake pedal for maybe the last 10 years. But it can lock the wheels. And the ABS does kicks in some times. But I try to avoid hard braking so not often. Defensive driving, yes! If someone wants my safety buffer, "be my guest." I defend it by slowing more. Life's short but I'm in no hurry to die. LOL

I wonder if your proportioning valve was ever checked. That could be a factor. It uses linkage to meter brake fluid flow to the rear wheel cylinders. With empty bed, springs unloaded, less flow; heavy load, springs compressed, more flow. I just disconnect mine to see what happens. Since adding air bags my leafs are not compressed anymore. But I also have a heavy load in the bed. The linkage can't know that so I just tied it up to the bed. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile...

Yes, the parking brake plays an important role. Using it regularly actuates a star nut which ratchets out slop/play between the rear shoes and drums. So whatever fluid gets to the rear cylinders can close the gap and apply brake force.A number of problems can happen to undermine parking brake performance. If mashing the parking pedal to the floor won't stop the truck from rolling on an incline, there's a problem.

A mechanic taught me a trick. Pump the brakes good but just once before stopping. If the pedal firms up, compared to just pressing pedal once until stopped, that's a good clue. In my case the first pump precharged the rear cylinders with fluid. The truck stopped better on the second depress of the brake pedal. The prepump has to be right before. The charge wears off quickly after braking. I just plan ahead and made it a habit and it worked great. Much easier than manually adjusting the rear shoes!

My Tundra is mainly for towing. I know from motorcycle experience how front brakes do most of the stopping. So I didn't over worry weak rear brakes. Instead, I beefed up my front brakes. Drilled/slotted rotors to shed heat better with hard use. Ceramic pads for durability. Both lifetime warranty. So far, so good.

Trailer brakes of course whenever towing anything. Even small/light trailers. But trailers only follow, If the truck brakes don't work well in the first place, then the surge/electric mechanism has no braking force to sense. So it's no substitute for proper brakes on the truck.

All the best!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Upgrade the front calipers and make sure you DON'T use ceramic pads......get Semi-Metallic pads and better rotors too, slotted if available.

Renew the rear brakes with new drums and FITTED brakes shoes and new hold down and return springs. Also use a little lube on all shoe contact wear points on the backing plate. Adjust once you get the rear tires back on.
This raises more questions. I honestly don't know much about brake pad materials. Why not ceramic? Not arguing, just curious.

And what are fitted brake shoes? I tried googling it but all I come up with is articles on how install (fit) brake shoes.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Bgodfrey, sorry about your weak brakes. My 02 has had a soft brake pedal for maybe the last 10 years. But it can lock the wheels. And the ABS does kicks in some times. But I try to avoid hard braking so not often. Defensive driving, yes! If someone wants my safety buffer, "be my guest." I defend it by slowing more. Life's short but I'm in no hurry to die. LOL
I don't have ABS. It would be a nice little extra safety margin, but I learned human ABS long ago. Back when I lived in rural Oregon and drove in a lot of snow during the winter I figured out how to hammer the brakes super quick to keep the wheels from fully locking up. This was before I ever heard of ABS. It works best when you've got a bit of adrenalin flowing, too.

I'm sure I can probably lock up the Tundra's wheels on wet or icy pavement. But since we retired and moved to southern California that is not really an issue. It doesn't snow or ice-up down here and I stay off the roads when it rains because these people don't know how to drive in it. (They are as bad in rain as Portlanders are in snow. They aren't stupid, they just never do it enough to make rain driving part of their culture.)

I do drive defensively and have never had a collision in over 50 years of driving. But defensive driving means both anticipating and reacting to what other drivers are doing. I'm getting old and my reaction times must be getting worse, so I really need whatever mechanical help I can get to balance that out.

I wonder if your proportioning valve was ever checked.
That has been mentioned and I think probably not. I intend to do that once I figure out how.
But...

That could be a factor. It uses linkage to meter brake fluid flow to the rear wheel cylinders. With empty bed, springs unloaded, less flow; heavy load, springs compressed, more flow. I just disconnect mine to see what happens. Since adding air bags my leafs are not compressed anymore. But I also have a heavy load in the bed. The linkage can't know that so I just tied it up to the bed. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile...
Now you might really be on to something. When I bought the truck I lived on the Oregon coast. My daily driving was on very twisty roads and the Tundra handled really terribly. Dangerously so. I don't know how they could sell a vehicle like that. I added a Helwig sway bar on the rear and that helped a lot, but the thing still didn't handle as well as my previous T100 1ton. Since I was frequently hauling heavy loads and towing, and since the T100 was more heavily sprung, I added some helper springs (leaf) in the rear. That improved the handling to the point where I could safely use the truck.

It also raised the bed 1.5 inches. If the proportioning valve relies on a mechanical linkage to gauge the load in the bed, then I bet the rear brakes are always at minimum force and the linkage might move so seldom that it is totally rusted up. At the very least, it is out of adjustment and I am going to look into that.

Also, now that I'm retired I rarely haul heavy loads, only tow this light trailer, and the roads are so much straighter down here, so maybe it's time to remove those helper springs. Always more to think about.

Thanks!
 
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