Ford F-150 Front Brake Repair
Repair done on a 1998 F-150 4x4
This tech article was originally posted at FordF150.net. It is primarily intended for 1997-2003 Ford trucks but most likely also applies to other Ford vehicles.
This repair is front disc brakes only, not rear drums/discs.
- Sledge hammer
- Regular hammer
- WD40 or similar penetrating oil
- 13mm socket & ratchet
- 18mm socket & ratchet
- Pry bar/large flat-head screwdriver
- Extra large plumbing pliers (adjustable)
- Brake kleen spray or similar degreaser
- Anti-seize compound such as "Never-seeze"
- Lug nut wrench/iron
- Hydraulic jack & stands
- Paper towels
- Drain pan or oil drain container
- Mask if desired
- Loosen the lug nuts on the front wheels (don't remove).
- Lift the vehicle by the large cross-frame member between the frame rails about 2 ft behind the front bumper. Use a couple 2x4's on top of your jack to get the necessary lift.
- Place two jack stands on the ends of the frame member in case the hydraulic jack fails as you're working. Lower the vehicle so it places slight pressure on the jack stands. Leave hydraulic jack in place.
- Remove the lug nuts and pull off the tires/wheels.
- Wear your respirator mask (for brake dust which may contain asbestos). Put some newspaper down below each brake assembly to catch rust chunks/dirt. Makes for easier cleanup.
- Use the 13mm wrench/ratchet to undo the two caliper slide bolts on the back side of the caliper. Pull the caliper off the disc rotor and use some thick wire to support it in the air. Do not hang it by the hydraulic hose!
- Use the 18mm wrench/ratchet to remove the two large bolts that hold the disc retaining bracket on. You may need a hammer to pounds your wrench as these bolts are on tight. Then remove the whole bracket.
- Use a flat-head screwdriver or your prybar to pull out the old brake shoes. Leave the anti-rattle clips in the disc retainer bracket as they are. If they are cracked replace them with new ones.
- With everything removed and the disc rotor accessible it supposedly should pull straight off. It definitely does not pull off. Put the little straw type tube on your WD40 sprayer head and spray alternatively every inch in the back of the rotor. Look at your new replacement rotor to see where the joining surfaces are. Then rotate it and spray every so often on the backside. Now spray into the tiny space between the wheel lugs and the face of the rotor. Let it soak a few minutes. Turn the rotor to let the WD40 seep in there good. Take your regular hammer and give it a good smack between the lugs, hammer all the way around on the face of the drum. Sometimes this is enough to loosen it. You will hear the "clang" change when it dislodges.
- The rotors are usually very stuck. Next take your sledge or back of a large chopping axe and give it a decent whack on the edge of the rotor in a few places around the edge. Either turn the rotor or change your hammering spots. If it still doesn't move go again liberally with WD40 as mentioned above. Let it soak. Work on the other wheel.
- Looking at the disc rotor assembly, on the rear side or the edge of the disc which points toward the rear bumper where the caliper was... take your sledge and give the rotor a good smack from the inside of the wheel-well outwards. Rotate the rotor and smack it in a few places. This should dislodge it. Keep rotating the rotor and smacking it to get it off. Don't damage the lug threads though. Don't hammer too hard or you may do damage to the bearings in the hub assembly.
- Place a drain pan under the brake assembly to catch the overspray/drippings.... spray brake kleen or similar on the hub face and use paper towel to get it clean of rust/dirt. Apply some anti-seize compound thinly to the face of the hub between the lugs. Don't go too thick here. Thin like paint only. This will make it much easier to pull the rotor off the next time you have to do this.
- Pull your new rotor out of the box and spray both sides of the brake surface with brake kleen or similar to remove all traces of oil/grease. Use clean paper towel. It should dry fairly quick. Set it aside.
- Place a larger wrench across the face of both pistons in the caliper and use your large plumbing pliers to press the pistons back into the caliper. The level of brake fluid will rise, take care not to overflow it, you may need to siphon some brake fluid out of the master cylinder reservoir prior to this procedure. It's tough, use your muscles to compress the pistons. Otherwise use two large C-clamps if you have them or one with a wrench across both pistons. This is the preferred method. Be careful as you can chip the surface of the piston. They are made of a composite material.
- Now mount the cleaned new rotor on the hub. Hold it on with a couple of wheel nuts if you like.
- Remount the disc retaining bracket with the 18mm bolts. Apply anti-seize to the bolts so these will be easier to remove next time. Tighten them good!
- Apply anti-squeal shims to the backsides of your new brake pads, or apply silicone type anti-squeal on the back of the pads (where they contact the pistons).
- Mount the pads into the retaining bracket. Make sure that you have at least one shoe with a metal tab on either wheel which will squeal when your pads have worn out. No harm done in having both squealer pads on one wheel as brakes wear evenly side to side. The inner & outer pads are identical. Squeeze the pads together with your fingers so it's easier to mount the caliper.
- (this step optional) Pull the rubber boots back on the caliper slide bolts (wear caliper is bolted to) and check to make sure there is plenty of hi-temp brake grease under those boots. Move the caliper slides back and forth to make sure they are lubricated well. Cover the slides with the rubber boots (should just let go of the boots and they should snap back as they were.
- Take the caliper off the wire hanger you used to hold it up in the wheel well. Make sure the pistons are fully depressed into the caliper (flush). Slide the caliper over the pads and into the retaining bracket. Watch to make sure the caliper fits over the pads including the anti-squeal shims!
- Fasten the caliper with the 13mm bolts, apply some anti-seize so these will be easier to remove next time.
- Remove the nuts from the lugs if you used some to hold the disc rotor on.
- (this step optional) Bleed the brakes. See article on this site.
- Remount your wheel/tire assembly and torque the nuts down in a star pattern.
- Test the feel of the brake pedal, should be same or better than before.
- Take the vehicle for a test drive. Make 8 gradual stops from 50kph (30mph). Don't slam the brakes on. Do this by your house if you can. Park the vehicle after these "break-in" stops and let the rotors cool for at least an hour or half an hour before driving anywhere. This will ensure your rotors won't warp and your pads will "seat" properly on the rotor surface.
- Check your wheel lug nut torque again.
- Clean up the mess.
- Re-torque your lug nuts after 50-100 miles or your first long trip.
See the article on Brake Bleeding which should be performed as the next service on this vehicle or while you still have the wheels off after a brake job.
You're done. Congratulate yourself on having saved at least $300 .
Thanks to Peter Ferlow from FordF150.net for contributing this article.