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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2006 Camry LE
46k miles


New owner of an old Camry here. The brake petal is soft--there seems to be significant travel before I feel any positive pressure feedback.

Fluid level is fine. Color is normal. I haven't tried bleeding the system yet. I've found no TSB's specific to a soft brake petal, though there are plenty of "soft brake petal" posts in this forum and others but with seemingly zero solutions.

All of this concerns me. This is my first Toyota. I'm worried that what I perceive as distractingly abnormal petal feel may be a characteristic of this year/make/model and a common complaint with a no remedy.

Anyone have experience with a known-good repair?
 

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2010 Camry SE V6
2008 Camry LE
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3,160 Posts
If my memory serves me correctly 02-06 LE 4 cylinders all have rear drum brakes. Good possibility the rear drums need a good cleaning and adjustment. Jack up the rear of the car and spin the back wheels. You should hear the shoes just contacting the inside of the drums. Also, check your parking brake. My bet is it doesn’t engage until the top of its travel. To adjust you simply remove the drum and turn the adjuster a few turns and put the drum back on. Repeat that process until your shoes just begin to contact the drums when spinning them


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2001 Camry LE
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657 Posts
I think these Camrys just have soft brakes... I've driven my friend's cars and rental cars of other brands before and none have had brakes as soft as my Camrys. Adjusting the rear drums probably will help a little bit, as well a brake fluid flush, but I think you'll find that your brakes are still softer than what you're used to. I borrowed a friend's 2014 ES350 for a few months while he was out of the country, and I found the brakes on the ES (essentially the same car as the Camry) to be a little less soft than the Camry but still softer than most other cars. But, very soon you'll get used to it!
 

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Or just back the car up and forward and use the parking brake to stop, which many never use. As the adjustment occurs the travel of the parking brake lever will become less and less, looking for 6-7 clicks before full engagement. Last time I fixed one that way it would not even stop with the parking brake alone, easily stopped with it after getting the adjustment done, using the brake lever, I just held the button in and kept pulling that sucker over a hundred times. Many people never use the parking brake which is the cause of the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Your memory is dead on, jiantao.
A 2006 sedan... with drum brakes. Unbelievable.

<plaintive sigh>

h'welp...
That'd definitely be one cause for a soft petal. The upshot, of course, is that adjusting drum brakes isn't terribly difficult.
 

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2010 Camry SE V6
2008 Camry LE
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Your memory is dead on.

A 2006 sedan... with drum brakes. Unbelievable.



<plaintive sigh>



h'welp...

That'd definitely be one cause for a soft petal. The upshot, of course, is that adjusting drum brakes isn't terribly difficult.


If I were you, I’d pull the drums and inspect the linings and give everything a nice cleaning with a shot of brake clean, and a good manual adjustment. As mentioned above, once you’ve adjusted them as long as you brake in reverse or use the parking brake often the self adjusters should do their job and keep everything in order


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2004 Camry LE
Cars
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Or just back the car up and forward and use the parking brake to stop, which many never use. As the adjustment occurs the travel of the parking brake lever will become less and less, looking for 6-7 clicks before full engagement. Last time I fixed one that way it would not even stop with the parking brake alone, easily stopped with it after getting the adjustment done, using the brake lever, I just held the button in and kept pulling that sucker over a hundred times. Many people never use the parking brake which is the cause of the problem.
This trick, unfortunately, does not work on my 2004 Camry. Once a year, or so, I remove the drums and manually turn the star will.



This even shortens the brake lever travel as well.



Sam
 

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Personally, I'd bleed the brakes. Brake fluid is cheap and you can do this yourself with a glass jar to catch the fluid and a piece of clear tubing. I do this by topping off the reservoir, placing the jar on the ground next to the brake that is being bled, run the hose from the nipple down to the jar and opening the valve. Then, while crouching next to the driver's door, I press the brake pedal while looking at the tube/jar. If there are bubbles, I press again until all the bubbles are gone. Then refill the reservoir.

You can do this as much as you want and do a complete flush this way too. Just make sure you don't drain the reservoir and get air back into the system.

The previous owner may have let air into the system during a brake job but that should never happen if you simply compress the caliper piston slowly and replace the pads (on the front). The brake fluid is a closed system and in most cases there is no reason to let air get into it.
 

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08 Toyota Camry 2AZ-FE R9K Tuned
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Personally, I'd bleed the brakes. Brake fluid is cheap and you can do this yourself with a glass jar to catch the fluid and a piece of clear tubing. I do this by topping off the reservoir, placing the jar on the ground next to the brake that is being bled, run the hose from the nipple down to the jar and opening the valve. Then, while crouching next to the driver's door, I press the brake pedal while looking at the tube/jar. If there are bubbles, I press again until all the bubbles are gone. Then refill the reservoir.

You can do this as much as you want and do a complete flush this way too. Just make sure you don't drain the reservoir and get air back into the system.

The previous owner may have let air into the system during a brake job but that should never happen if you simply compress the caliper piston slowly and replace the pads (on the front). The brake fluid is a closed system and in most cases there is no reason to let air get into it.
I will always prefer to two person method as that I believe is the safest way. One person pushes while the other can make sure there are no bubbles and that only good fluid is pushed out and nothing goes in.
 

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2004Toyota Camry V6
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That is how the brakes are on this model of Camry. I have tried everything I know to do to improve brakes on my 04 V6 and still consider the brake system marginal. The later model Camrys I have driven seem to have better brakes. Avalons too. Live with it.
 

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my 2002 camry has a spongy break pedal also, i did a complete service yesterday and replaced the pads with akebono ceramic pads, centric e coat rotors and i replaced the calipers (cardone calipers) as some of the guide pins were stuck. and then bled all the brakes. this solved my spongy brake pedal feel, my pedal is now nice and firm with good stoping power.

if you are willing to spend $150, then i highly recommend you do it.
 

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I will always prefer to two person method as that I believe is the safest way. One person pushes while the other can make sure there are no bubbles and that only good fluid is pushed out and nothing goes in.
^^^
Clearly the best way to do it. I simply did it solo because I didn't want to bother the rest of the family and I was more interested in exchanging the fluid in a flush rather than looking for bubbles.
 

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^^^
Clearly the best way to do it. I simply did it solo because I didn't want to bother the rest of the family and I was more interested in exchanging the fluid in a flush rather than looking for bubbles.
I prefer fluid in one way, fluid out one way.
 

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This trick, unfortunately, does not work on my 2004 Camry. Once a year, or so, I remove the drums and manually turn the star will.



This even shortens the brake lever travel as well.



Sam
Same here on my 05. I have looked at and held the star wheel while a friend yanks on the e-brake and the lever does not advance near enough to tighten the adjuster. 10k mile manual adjustments are my only 'solution' as well.

Tight drums and a fresh bleed help, but the brakes on these cars are just spongy and soft.
 

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If a quick bleed doesn't work, which it most likely won't unless there was a leak/bubble somewhere, check the rotors. I searched endlessly for the cause of my soft pedal and it turns out it was a warped rotor. After many rebuilds and tear downs, I broke down and replaced the rotors and all is good. I suspect the warped rotor was pushing the caliper back in a few thou and resulted in the need for more travel and thus a soft pedal. Never had any issues with stopping power, just didn't get instant braking which felt like a soft pedal. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Petal feel and travel improved noticeably after I replaced the shoes, tightened the star-thingy to snuggly goodness, and bled ~25oz of fresh DOT-4 through the system. But the degree of firmness I anticipated didn't materialize. Hmmph.

I've never heard of a rotor causing a soft-petal--this just strikes me as highly improbable. It's not possible to detect a warped rotor visually. One typically uses a dial test indicator that measures to the ten-thousandths to confirm that condition (The rotors and pads on this Camry are in spec). Calipers are a different story, of course.

Before I resign myself totally, I'll bleed the system again after a week or so to check for air at each corner. If I see a bubble, then there's yer problem, lady. ...and it comes down to ferreting out the source (eg, leaky bleeder, worn piston seal, bad cylinder, cracked line, etc) and proceed accordingly. If I find no bubbles, I may overhaul the master cylinder with an OEM seal kit. (I'll also contemplate swapping out the drums for a pair of disc brakes scavenged from the rear of an SE.)

If, after all that, I recognize zero improvement, I'll learns me the zen of a soft brake petal.
 

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Speedkar99 on YouTube
2003 Camry
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2006 Camry LE
46k miles
This is my first Toyota.

There's your problem. Most Toyota's have soft brakes. If you are coming from another brand, say Honda, you'll immediately notice the difference. Sadly, it kinda makes the car feel piggish as it takes a lot of travel to get the brakes to react.


You may want to take the car out on a slippery surface and activate the ABS system a few times, then come home and bleed all four wheels. I was surprised at the huge air bubble I bled out of my old Solara, and that helped to make things firm again.


That is how the brakes are on this model of Camry. I have tried everything I know to do to improve brakes on my 04 V6 and still consider the brake system marginal. The later model Camrys I have driven seem to have better brakes. Avalons too. Live with it.

I've upgraded my front calipers, rotors and pads to dual piston ones from a Lexus ES330. Much better braking performance, especially at high speed. While most would still call the pedal soft, it does have more feel than the stock calipers. The only downside is the minimum rim size must be 16".
 

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Petal feel and travel improved noticeably after I replaced the shoes, tightened the star-thingy to snuggly goodness, and bled ~25oz of fresh DOT-4 through the system. But the degree of firmness I anticipated didn't materialize. Hmmph.

I've never heard of a rotor causing a soft-petal--this just strikes me as highly improbable. It's not possible to detect a warped rotor visually. One typically uses a dial test indicator that measures to the ten-thousandths to confirm that condition (The rotors and pads on this Camry are in spec). Calipers are a different story, of course.

Before I resign myself totally, I'll bleed the system again after a week or so to check for air at each corner. If I see a bubble, then there's yer problem, lady. ...and it comes down to ferreting out the source (eg, leaky bleeder, worn piston seal, bad cylinder, cracked line, etc) and proceed accordingly. If I find no bubbles, I may overhaul the master cylinder with an OEM seal kit. (I'll also contemplate swapping out the drums for a pair of disc brakes scavenged from the rear of an SE.)

If, after all that, I recognize zero improvement, I'll learns me the zen of a soft brake petal.
I think you're awesome...
 
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