View Full Version : 1999 4Runner brake rotor advice

11-02-2009, 12:17 PM
My girlfriend drives an 99 4Runner Limited, and the rotors are warped yet again. The remanufactured Toyota calipers were installed with new toyota pads back in January, and one rotor was slightly out of spec. That rotor, and probably the other one, have now given up the ghost to the extent that she's driving my 80 series to get back and forth to work while I take the bus and fix her 4Runner.

After much research on the 4Runner brakes, it appears that many people have had problems with them and some have even upgraded to Tundra rotors / calipers / pads. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to go to that effort, and instead I need some recommendations on which rotors I should put on her 4Runner to get it back on the road and safe.

Several on the forums have suggested Brembo. I usually go with OEM, but her first set got warped badly and were OEM, and I'm not sure that's the best bet considering this vehicle plays in the mountains quite a bit. Any other recommendations? I'd prefer to get them locally or shipped very quickly so that I can do this one evening before this weekend. I really just don't want to do this job this week, and then have to do it again next year as well...

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


11-02-2009, 12:26 PM
How about DBAs? Nakman seems to have had very good luck with his...Maybe some slotted ones to help with cooling. Not sure if anyone local carries them.

You might try calling Christo/Slee and see what they suggest as a solution as they may have run into this before and might even carry what you need :)

11-02-2009, 01:06 PM
Rotor slots don't help primarily with cooling. Slots are designed to keep the faces of the pads from glazing by running an edge over them constantly, like a deli meat slicer. To that end they do work, but eat up pads faster at the same time. If rotors are warping due to heat it could be because there's not enough mass and removing some for slots isn't gonna be to your advantage.

What my guess happened is the cooling fins (the area between the inside and outside surfaces) are clogged and the rotors overheated or heated unevenly. Personally I use Toyota OE rotors, but DBA and Brembo are also fine. There's a guy here at work that races rally cars (an old BMW E30 325) and he uses OE blanks over the slotted or cross drilled ones. It's all about surface area and mass and flat faced new rotors offer the most of both. If he's not going fast enough for those slots and cross drilled holes to help, then I suspect none of us are either (except the supercharged FZJ80 guys).

It is possible that you'd benefit from frozen rotors in this case. Running a cryogenic cycle on the rotors might help remove some residual internal stresses left over from heat treating that make them prone to warping. Of maybe she's riding the brakes coming down from the mountains. Does the 4Runner happen to have an auto tranny?

Also something Crash mentioned to me once about all of this, are you sure the rotors are warped? Rotors sometimes build up brake material on the rotor faces that make the pedal pulse like they're warped. A few hard stops at speed can help clean them.

11-02-2009, 01:11 PM
Slee carries a nice set of crossdrilled and slotted rotors. They did seem to help with braking performance on the 80s when I worked there. They could be the ticket if everything else on the vehicle is up to par.

1st, is your rear brake adjustment up to specifications? A quick check would be to pull the parking brake. Does the brake lever click more then 7 times? If it does your out of adjustment. Also does your brake pedal have a double hit feel? This also indicates a brake adjustment issue.

2nd, Make sure your axle seals in the rear are dry. Lubrication on the shoes is not too good.

3rd, inspect the color of the front brake pads you installed. Green is the correct color pad for this vehicle. Blue was the factory installed pad that was found to be too hard and had difficulty with heat dissipation. Black is the cheapest line of toyota brake pads for the 4runner, they have the issues that blue pads have along with squeaking issues.

The best options is the tundra calipers and rotors. That combo stops faster, the brakes stay cooler and they look sweet (big calipers).

11-02-2009, 02:11 PM
Robbie also said he likes the DBA's and the Brembo's as well. I may well go with one of them, depending on availability and cost...

A little more background... My girlfriend started complaining about her brakes about a year ago. They were not as bad then as they are now. Since I'm no brake expert, I had Robbie assess the situation. At that time the truck was on the original front calipers, but the rotors had been upgraded to an unknown brand of the drilled and slotted variety. The PS rotor was just only slightly out of spec, so we went ahead with the new OEM pads and reman'd calipers. The braking was substantially better after that, and the vehicle felt safe. As of a couple weeks ago, the truck started shaking pretty hard in a fashion that I've only ever experienced on a vehicle with severely warped front rotors, leading me to believe that the front rotors were probably toast.

At this point I'm going to check all 4 brakes and see what jumps out at me, if anything, including the color / brand of pads, brake dust build-up, etc, and then report back. There is the chance also that the reman'd calipers are not 100% causing the brakes to drag, causing excessive heat, resulting in them warping much faster than driving down the mountain with a foot on the brakes.

Also, the girlfriend has been coached on how to down shift coming down the passes so as to keep from getting overheated and warped rotors once again.

Thanks for the replies!!


11-02-2009, 02:18 PM

You might consider a set of el-cheapo Chinese rotors for now, and then line up the Tundra upgrade parts. I did this on my '98, and the Tundra brakes are a treat - no warping, no drama, no overheating. Basically, a 50% thicker rotor, and wider-throated caliper to go with it. I got the rotors (turned lightly once) on eBay for cheap, and scrounged up a recalled set of calipers. I have a manual trans, so the 4Runner not as hard on brakes, but I tow a camper with it and do some mountain driving.

The biggest problem with the Tundra upgrade is that if you're sourcing used parts, it's tough to do it quickly.

I put cheapie Chinese rotors on my FZJ-80 and they have been warp-free and have worked nicely for 6 mo. $34 each.

11-02-2009, 02:28 PM
What year Tundra brakes?

11-02-2009, 02:39 PM

I put cheapie Chinese rotors on my FZJ-80 and they have been warp-free and have worked nicely for 6 mo. $34 each.

That's a great idea! I may end up going that route. Where did you get rotors for $34 each?

11-02-2009, 03:50 PM
What year Tundra brakes?

I would look for 2003 to 2006 to get the biggest caliper. The 2000 through 2002 had a chance of a bigger caliper if the customer had the brake vibration TSB done. Both are bolt on for the 4runners, slight backing plate trimming needed. Your required to run 16" wheels also.

11-02-2009, 04:34 PM
I had the pre-recall calipers and rotors - the ones regarded as 'not big enough' for the Tundra. So - 2000-2002 is about right for that. There are web pages that detail this swap, so do some search engine hits on 'tundra brake upgrade'

The cheapie FZJ rotors I got at Bap-Geon, a foreign car parts store here in Colo. Springs. They had '87 Camry rotors for $19.95 each - only a little more than the cost of turning them. I'm not sure if they have Denver stores - but I know they get parts from a Denver warehouse...

11-02-2009, 05:15 PM
Might be IPW, Import Parts Warehouse here in Denver. They are located on Kalamath a block south of 6th (so 5th and Kalamath). They are the block north of the Breckenridge BBQ on Kalamath. They are a huge import parts supply house.

11-02-2009, 07:03 PM
First off spending $10,000.00 on brakes isn't goin to do shizzz if her driving habbets are hard or bad. If she tailgats or speeds and slams on the brakes there going to eventually warp and it dosent matter how fancy the pads and rotors are.

How does she drive ? Grandma or race car ?

If grandma then upgrade or fix the problem
if race car get the cheap crap. Because you'll be doing it again

(granted better pads an rotors will prolong be side affects of heavy braking):cheers:

11-03-2009, 09:27 AM
Naw, it is a common and known issue with that generation 4Runner. 70% chance they're gonna warp, all there is to it. Sooner or later.

My wife is easy on her 97 4Runner (soon to be mine)... and warpo. Twice now.

[edit] huh... I wonder why several eBay sites list the same caliper for Tundra and 4Runner? Is it a crap shoot which one you will get? I kinda lean toward Toyota Reman personally, but...

11-03-2009, 09:59 AM
[edit] huh... I wonder why several eBay sites list the same caliper for Tundra and 4Runner? Is it a crap shoot which one you will get? I kinda lean toward Toyota Reman personally, but...
Looked into the Tundra swap for my truck, but the 16" wheel requirement stopped that cold, so take this with a grain of NaCl.

Wonder if this is the same question as the famous 'V6 4Runner' swap on older mini trucks in that you have to use the numbers in the master cylinder and caliper castings to know for sure. So maybe Tundras and 3rd gen 4Runner shared some parts?

For example all of the T100 but only some later 4Runner had S13WB calipers, but all 89-95 trucks and 4Runners came /minimally/ with the S12W calipers. So when you buy calipers or master cylinder for a later 4Runner it's possible that you have either the 1" master/dual 43mm combo or the 1-1/16" master/dual 45mm combo depending on year and options. But if you order parts by T100 you /always/ get the larger brakes. This is potentially a problem if you get S13WB calipers but use the 1" master. Well not a problem so much as it will change the pedal feel.

In the same way then some 3rd gen 4Runners had the same brakes as the Tundra depending on year, model and options you might get lucky. But if it's listed for Tundra then it will always be the bigger option?

11-03-2009, 11:50 AM
Ya know I put cheap Ebay rotors on, had them machined and used Toyota pads on my 99 Auto Runner and have never had an issue. The key is getting them machined first. the best part is they were only 60 for the pair...

11-03-2009, 02:48 PM
I'm running super cheap Tundra rotors on my Taco and it is still stopping great, I think they were like $25 each at Advanced Auto. I was initially going to do OEM ones but the shop that turned them messed them up royally, actually made the runout worse- so I had to make a decision on the spot and went with the cheapest thing possible. when/if I see an issue, I'll likely go with Brembo's..

but +1 on yes do the Tundra upgrade... wow.

11-23-2009, 10:03 AM
Just an update... I bought two new OEM style rotors from napa and installed them this weekend. The brakes feel pretty good now, and I think they're safe at the minimum. I am warrantying the PS re-manufactured caliper as I still think it may be suspect.

I'm hoping these brakes make it through the winter at the minimum. At this point I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to keep a 4Runner with over 150k that's 10 years old for a while longer or if the princess is ready for something newer. If we keep it then I'll begin gathering parts for the tundra upgrade.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and advice!