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1993 Ford Explorer

How to perform a Front Brake Change

Introduction

The front brakes on any modern car are relatively easy to maintain. They are based on disk brake design and consist of rotors, calipers and disks. The disks are the most frequently replaced item with the rotors and calipers following. In this article we follow an extreme case, but most of this will be relevant to all who attempt this job.

Items Needed Special Tools Needed
Brake Pads: Monroe DX387 Dynamic Premium Brake Pad
Brake Rotors: Motorcraft BRR43 Front Disc Brake Rotor
Calipers
Motorcraft BRCL5RM Front Left Caliper with Pad
Motorcraft BRC4RM Front Right Re-Built Caliper
Ford Hub Removal Socket (specifically for 2wd or 4wd)
3 Ton Jack Stands
2 Ton Floor Jack

Process

The first step involves removing the tire. You want to ensure that the car is supported with a jack just enough to allow for the loosening of the bolts without causing the car to shift its weight. Once you've initially loosened the lug nuts it's time to put the car up of jack stands to appropriately support the vehicle. Once the wheel is up in the air you can remove the lug nuts and pull off the wheel.

Once you've got the wheel off (and front hubs as this is a 4X4 version) you'll immediately see the caliper and rotor of the front disk brake assembly. If you're pulling off the wheel to evaluate the system you'll want to first look at the rotor surfaces (both sides). These surfaces should be good and smooth but not glazed. The overall width of the rotor should be within specifications. While you're doing your investigation also check the disk pads in the caliper. You'll want to figure out how thick the disk brake pad is.

When we checked this rotor we saw some extremely serious grooves. Based on the state of the rotor this particular brake job will require replacement of the rotor. Now, mind you, always replace brake components in pairs. So, if this rotor has to go, then we know that we will be replacing the other one as well.

To start accessing the pads and rotor, the caliper needs to be removed. The first step is to place a really big C-clamp over the caliper so that it hits on the back of the caliper and the front disk pad. Tighten it down to compress the piston contained within the caliper so that it releases the pressure on the rotor assembly.

The caliper is held in place by two compression pins. They're made of a layer of compressible rubber with two metal plates attached on either side. The trick is to compress the front side of the pin with a pair of pliers while simultaneously prying it through from the back. Once the retaining edge is inside the lip of the caliper you can push it through with a big screwdriver and a hammer. Repeat the step for the lower compression pin

Before you pull the caliper away, ensure that you have wire handy so that you can hang the caliper from the front spring. NEVER allow the caliper to hang from the brake hose. You can seriously damage the hose this way which inevitably means risking your life driving the car. Hang the caliper from the front spring. At this point you can remove the disk pads more closely for wear.

While the pads on the passenger side(shown above) were in ok shape the pads on the driver's side assembly were completely worn out. On one pad there wasn't any actual brake pad surface any more. This is, in part, what caused the damage to the rotor.

Once the pads are off it's a good time to check the caliper itself. My guess is that this is the original caliper for the vehicle. You'll see that the rubber gasket is completely shot. This means that the piston was floating inside the caliper and may have not been applying even pressure. So, this unit will need to be replaced as well. At this point, it's a trip to Autozone to pick up the necessary parts.

To get the rotor off you'll need the correct hub removal socket. This varies between 4wd and 2wd models. There's a retaining shim that holds the hub nut in place.

The trick to getting the shim out is to stick a paper clip in there. You may need to put the socket over the nut and turn it slightly. Once the shim is out you can remove the nut with the hub socket.

Once the nut is removed there's a snap ring over the end of the axle. Once you pop off the ring, then there is a splined washer and the 4wd locking assembly to pull off. Now that these have been removed you can finally pull off the rotor. As you pull off the rotor the front wheel bearing will come loose. The rear bearing is sealed into the rotor.

To remove the rear bearing you need to carefully pry up the press in seal that holds it in place. Once that's up the rear bearing will lift right out.

Once the ring has been removed, clean it and set it aside. The next step is to start packing the bearings with fresh grease and start the reassembly. Reassembly is the opposite of removal.

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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