How to Change the Brake Rotors on a Toyota Corollaby David McGuffinUpdated November 07, 2017
Items you will need
Needle-nose pliers (optional)
Rubber mallet (optional)
Replacement brake pad springs
Socket wrench and adapters
Knowing how to change the brake rotors on your Toyota Corolla is a moderately challenging initiative for do-it-yourself auto mechanics. However, if you have changed brake pads before, it will be a relatively easy fix. Doing your own maintenance not only saves your hard-earned money, but also enhances your ability to take care of and troubleshoot your own car. If you are changing your rotors, then it would also make sense to change your brake pads too, unless they are relatively new. Oftentimes, it is recommended to change the rotors and brake pads at the same time.
Park the car on a level surface. If you are changing all four rotors and brake pads, then you will need two sets of jack stands. However, if you are only doing the front or the back, then it is advisable to place wood blocks behind the wheels that will remain on the ground to prevent any rollbacks while working on the Corolla. Usually brake pads and rotors wear out more quickly on the front than the back.
Place a floor jack underneath the frame of the Corolla about 6 inches to a foot back from the tire. Lift the driver's side of the Corolla with the floor jack, making sure that the front tire is elevated off the ground at least 4 inches or more. Secure the car in place by inserting a jack stand underneath the frame. Slowly release the floor jack and repeat the same process for the passenger side of the car. Before proceeding, make sure that the jack stands are both centered under the frame and are level on the ground.
Remove both wheels with a lug nut socket wrench. Set the lug nuts aside, face up, so that they do not get dirt inside of them.
Disconnect the bolts for the brake caliper, which are found behind the wheel hub. Remove the brake pads and shims from the caliper once it is removed.
Use a C-clamp to push the caliper piston back into the caliper body to allow space to reinsert the brake pads into the caliper. If the C-clamp will not work, you may need to use a pair of needle-nose pliers to rotate the piston clockwise to retract it into the caliper body. Different caliper designs will have different pistons. Since the Corolla has been manufactured for several years, there will be different designs according to your particular model-year.
Use a socket or torque wrench to disconnect the brake caliper mounting bolts. This will give you access to the rotors.
Remove the retaining screw from the rotor's disc mounting hole. This is the final piece that must be removed before the rotor can be replaced. Slide the rotor off the wheel hub. If it is jammed, you may need to tap it gently with a mallet in order to release it from rust between the rotor and the bearing hub.
Use both hands to hold the rotor and slide it gently along the wheel until it is secured against the bearing hub. Screw in the retaining screw. Bolt the brake caliper mount back into place.
Install the new brake pad back into the caliper assembly. If the pads do not fit due to the caliper piston sticking out too much, you may need to depress it back into place with a C-clamp. Use a torque wrench set between 16 and 23 foot-pounds to bolt the caliper assembly back onto the mounting bracket.
Bolt the wheels back into place and carefully lower the car. You will need to pump the brakes a couple of times, also called bleeding the brakes, to make sure that the brake fluid reaches the braking system.
The process for removing the rear brake rotors is the same as for the front rotors. However, for the rear braking assembly, you must also disconnect the parking brake cable. Be sure that you do not accidentally remove the brake fluid hose.
Do not use the scissor jack that comes with your Corolla. Scissor jacks are not meant for suspending your car for extended periods of time. Use a floor jack rated to at least 2.5 tons.
David McGuffin is a writer from Asheville, N.C. and began writing professionally in 2009. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and Montreat College in history and music, and a Bachelor of Science in outdoor education. McGuffin is recognized as an Undergraduate Research Scholar for publishing original research on postmodern music theory and analysis.