2009 Toyota Highlander, Brake Backing Plates
Mark: Good morning! It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers, and we're talking cars.
Mark: How are you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: Today's victim is a 2009 Toyota Highlander with a brake backing plate issue. What was happening with this Toyota?
Bernie: This vehicle, our clients were concerned. There was a squeaking noise, kind of intermittent but coming from the rear of the vehicle somewhere. That was their primary concern. It's kind of a rotational squeaking noise. When we looked at it, we found it looked like the noise was coming from the back brake area.
Mark: And what else did you find?
Bernie: Well, we did a brake inspection. What we found when we took everything apart, was a lot of rust on the brake backing plate, in fact, the right rear backing plate was so badly rusted, it was starting to disintegrate. And when that happens, the rotors, parking brake shoes, things start to rub in ways that they're not meant to rub, so that was causing the squeaking sounds.
Mark: Okay. Why would that happen?
Bernie: Basically, the backing plates, it's rust. There's vehicles from back East, eastern US, where they use a lot of road salt. I'll just get in some pictures right here, so we can have a better idea of what's going on, but it's road salt.
Here's our Highlander. I mean, as far as road salt, you'd never guess, the outside of the vehicle looks in good shape, and I have to say, auto manufacturers have really done a great job over the last couple of decades making their cars out of good quality metal, because back in the ... especially the seventies, and eighties, a lot of cars, especially some Japanese cars, were really bad. They just rust out, and cheaper quality cars, rust was a big problem.
But nowadays, we do find problems underneath the vehicle, where vehicles have been driven in those kind of corroded conditions. Here's the left rear back plate. This is actually the one that was in better shape, a little more solid than the one on the right, but you can see, a lot of rust here, a lot of rust; the paint's basically gone. And down here is sort of the worst area on this side, but on the other side, it was literally ... It rusted so bad, it was breaking apart.
You can see here, the parking brake shoes have never been changed. There's still some material on this shoe, but the angle I took the photograph on, the rear shoe had very little friction material left. This is kind of the ugly part of it, and getting back to ... That's a replacement. This is on the right-hand side, the side that was worse worn. You can see the plate is solid, the shoes are thick, and there's a final picture. That's the brakes back together, new rotor, new ... Sorry, not new ... New pads, new rotor. The calipers were actually still in good shape, so we're able to clean and lubricate them, and make all that work.
Mark: Were there other brake components that were worn out as a result of the rust?
Bernie: Well, not necessarily as a result of the rust, but at this point, other things needed to be replaced. The pads and rotors were worn. You know, rotors tend to take the brunt, especially in salty climates, rotors tend to get damaged really quickly. The surfaces rust, because it's bare metal, and they heat and cool, heat and cool, and with salt, they just start to rust pretty badly. Driving around this kind of climate where we use very little road salt, they can tend to last a long time. But in saltier climates, they go pretty fast.
Mark: Well, let's be specific. In snow, in climates where they get a lot more snow, where they use more road salt.
Bernie: Exactly, yeah, that's a good distinction. Yeah. No, I'd say road salt climates are the worst. But actually, interestingly enough, if you live near a coast, where there's a lot of wind and sea spray, that can actually have a pretty bad effect on your vehicle, too. We do see some vehicles that have damage from that. You have to be a little cautious if you live somewhere by a windy coastline. Almost have to treat your vehicle almost like you would driving it in road salt kind of conditions.
Mark: What can you do to alleviate or kind of take some preventative actions in an area where there's a lot of road salt or it's just basically a salty climate?
Bernie: Well, best thing to do is flush the undercarriage of your vehicle as frequently as possible, and that's always easier said than done, especially if you live somewhere where the temperatures remain sub-zero for maybe a month or two on end, and you're basically just left with having the salty grime under the vehicle. It may not be possible, but where it is possible, flush underneath the vehicle as much as you can, because that will prevent this kind of thing happening.
And that's really getting a hose into a back brakes, it's getting it underneath the vehicle, spraying all over the place, because this is where the salt sits and starts corroding things like brake lines and fuel lines and brake backing plates, thin sheet metal kind of pieces.
That's the best preventative thing you can do, if possible. I also had a client once from Montreal, where they use a lot of road salt, and she told me ... had an older Volvo. I said, "It's surprising how little rust there was in this car." It was a 10-year old Volvo. And she said, "The secret, what I've done is, I never let ... when it's road salt season and cold out, I never put the vehicle in a heated garage. It always stays outside so it stays cold all the time." I thought, that's a pretty smart idea. Something you might wanna take on if you live in such a climate. You don't get the privilege of getting into a warm car in the morning, but at least your car will last longer, which is probably a good thing.
Mark: And the joys of scraping your windshields.
Bernie: Yes, yeah. There's all sorts of other things there, but preventing ... Once you bring a car, it's got salt on it and moisture in a nice, warm climate, the salt just starts eating at the metal and ...
Mark: The chemical reaction takes place.
Bernie: Chemical reaction's having a good time.
Mark: How are Toyota Highlanders for reliability?
Bernie: Well, they're awesome. Yeah. Really good, nice little SUV. Smaller size. You know, very reliable. Not much bad I can say about them. They really ... Do the maintenance, they'll last a long, long time.
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for any kind of brake backing plate issues or squeaking or service on your Toyota Highlander in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead. They're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. We've got hundreds of articles and videos on there over the last eight years, as well. Our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Again, hundreds, literally. Getting close to a thousand, actually, on there, and all makes and models and types of problems and repairs, and of course, thank you for watching the podcast. And thank you, Bernie!
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. And thank you for watching!