This article is from the Toyota RAV4 FAQ, by Ralph Becker with numerous contributions by others.
Changing the brake pads is an easy job. The following set of
instructions look intimidating, but are actually very straightforward.
Most dealers will charge US$100 to $200 to do this job, but the parts
cost about US$25 and can be replaced in under an hour.
From: Thomas A. Yurick <email@example.com>:
Jack up front wheel. Remove wheel. Remove small bolt holding the
flexible brake line bracket on the strut tower. Looking at the caliper
assembly, there are two long sliding pins that the caliper slides back
and forth on. Each has a hex head on the back (away from you) side.
There is a place on the pin that you can fit a wrench and hold it
while you loosen the hex head bolt. Remove the bottom hex head bolt
ONLY. The caliper will now flip up off the rotor, rotating on the
upper pin. Use a piece of string to tie it in the raised position
while you work. Make a note of how the pads are installed. Look at the
wear indicator on the inside pad in particular. Now carefully remove
the pads, the anti-squeal shims and pad support plates (the little
clip-like things at the top and bottom on each pad), noting the way
they are installed and their sequence. The pad support plates may be
stuck to the calipers with grime and crud. Gently pry them out. Clean
any crud from the caliper in the area where the pad support plates
go. Clean up the pad support plates. Reinstall the pad support plates
in the same positions that they were removed from.
You are not supposed to reuse the anti-squeal shims (the two thin
plates on the side of the pads) but I always do if they aren't damaged
and I never have a squealing problem. If your pads come with new ones,
use 'em. Otherwise, use the old or get new ones from your Toyota
Sparingly apply disc brake grease (I use Never-Seize or equivalent) to
both sides of all of the anti-squeal shims. Install the anti-squeal
shims, just as they were removed from the old pads, to the new pads.
Install the inner pad into the pad support plates with the wear
indicator facing up. Install the outer pad. Remove a small amount of
brake fluid from the reservoir under the hood. Using a wooden hammer
handle or other suitable non-marring tool, press in the caliper piston
all the way. If the piston is difficult to push back in, you can open
the bleeder plug on the caliper slightly and allow some fluid to
escape while pushing it in. Untie the caliper and swing it back down
over the rotor. Hold the pin with a wrench again and install the hex
bolt and torque it to 20 ft/lb. Install the flexible brake line
bracket and torque the bolt to 25 ft/lb. Repeat on the other
wheel. Bleed all brakes starting with the farthest from the master
cylinder (right rear) and working to the closest (left front). Fill
the brake fluid reservoir to the full line.
From: Rav4 <Rav4@2929292.com>:
A couple of enhancements to the excellent instructions from Tom on
brake pad replacement.
1. The easiest was to compress the piston is to use a large "C" clamp
with a piece of wood across the piston face to distribute the force
and prevent pinching of the rubber boot. Although you can put the
adjustable part of the clamp inside some pistons, it is not a good
idea to put all the force in the center area of the piston, so use a
piece of wood, it is safer.
2. With ABS systems, it is undesirable/dangerous to compress the
piston back into place without relieving the back pressure. In other
words, it is important that you "crack the bleeder valve" when
compressing the piston. If you use a piece of clear tubing over the
bleeder valve first (rising vertically above the caliper), as the
fluid escapes, it goes into the tube and provides no ingress for air.
This way no air gets back into the caliper when you stop compressing
the piston and you can safely tighten the bleeder valve without
bleeding the whole system unless you really want to.