Somewhere in Colombia’s coffee country, that familiar sound of worn out brakes started squealing away in the background as we drove. We decided to deal with the problem of finding new toyota tacoma brakes when we got back to Bogota for the third time to pick up my passport (no, we did not optimize our time in Colombia). George removed the pegs that make the noise as a temporary bandage to save our sanity.
As we drove over 4000 meter mountain peaks to Bogota, I tried to block out the state of our front brakes. We were unsuccessful buying brakes at any of the Toyota dealerships in the big B. They simply ‘do not have Tacoma specific parts in Colombia’. ‘We can have them for you in one month’, they said. Hard to believe because Toyota Tacoma parts are almost identical to 4Runner models. They have 4Runners in Colombia as well as the similar Toyota Hilux (what the Tacoma is called everywhere else). It seemed like the guys behind the counter did not want to use their heads and work with us.
On the way out of town for the last time, we swung by the Pasion 4X4 Adventura store that George had seen one day driving along the highway. We stopped in search of new back shocks. The parking area in front of Pasion 4X4 Adventura was full of big toys (off-roading vehicles), a good sign.
Pasion 4X4 Adventura didn’t have the shocks we were looking for, but they had Samuel Olarte and Jose Luis, two of the friendliest guys we have met on our trip so far! Both Jose and Samuel spoke great English and were both Toyota off-road junkies :). Jose had a Toyota Land Cruiser 1998 (I might be 2 years off on the model) and Samuel had the Toy monster featured below :).
The guys quickly offered to help (Jose, Samuel you are welcome to come visit in the states anytime you want!). Jose offered to take George over to the auto parts area of town. It would have been ill advised for us to go it alone because chances were good we would get ripped off. Samuel offered the use of the store’s facilities for free to lift the car and take the old brakes as a model to make sure we bought the right part. And now a technical interlude from George since a little clarification is in order:
We had to take both front wheels off at the same time thanks to the hack (literally) the last mechanics in Nicaragua made. If you remember from this post, those ‘mechanics’ put both outside pads on one wheel and when they got to the other wheel they had to modify (cut) the one pad since one of them did not fit. We had to take one pad from both wheels to make a full set! Thank you Leon – we will never forget you.
Miraculously, George returned with a set of good brakes and another set just in case. One set was dubbed ‘original Toyo’ parts and one set was a Chinese knockoff. You could tell by the difference in price – $90 and $25. George had decided to buy a spare set just in case since the knockoffs were so cheap
New brake pads were great news because the next possible place to find brakes would have meant many more miles of mountain roads. The pieces of s$%t the mechanics in Nicaragua installed were completely done. Did I mention those brake pads lasted only 3000 miles.
At the end of the day, we had new brakes and a opportunity to speak with Samuel and Jose. Man, it’s nice when you desperately need something and in walks some off-roading guardian angels to assist.