In the following Video, I’ve broken down how to do an entire 4-Wheel brake job, front and rear, on a 1997 Ford Explorer. This is the same process for any Ford that uses 4-wheel disk brakes with an secondary parking brake drum integrated into the rear axle. Per my experience, this includes all late model f-150, f-250, Ford Ranger, Expedition, Mazda light-trucks, etc.
This process is also the same on the front axle to any RWD light truck or SUV. The only difference between 4×4 models and the process in the video is removal of the hub, which has two bolts on the front axle nose instead of a single bolt and cotter pin on a spindle. But on those the Rotor, caliper, and wheel bearings all go on the same, they are simply larger.
Steps to a Full 4-Wheel Brake Job (4-wheel disc brakes)
- Chock the front wheels
- Lift the rear of the vehicle, place jackstands of both sides on the axle tubes
- Remove the wheels
- Loosen the caliper bolts
- Remove the caliper
- Replace or “turn” (resurface) the rear rotors. I strongly suggest replacement as they are 10 dollars a piece, brand names etc. are unimportant as all rotors have DOT regulations about manufacturing quality. The cost difference used to indicate mostly the original “cut” on the rotors (Cross hatched versus single); nowadays even that is mostly the same. In fact, the cheap brands are often exactly the same as the expensive with regards to rotors. And many places cut rotors wrong and it takes a while. Just save the time!
- Renew the rear pads. Here I DO suggest brand name. Cheap pads SUCK.
- Re-tighten the caliper pin bolts after greasing with “brake grease”
- Replace the wheels, lower vehicle, torque the rear wheel
- Engage parking brake with a few pumps
- Chock rear wheels
- Raise front of vehicle
- Remove wheel
- Loosen caliper bolts
- Place caliper out of the way
- Discard old brake pads
- Remove caliper bracket
- Pry off wheel bearing cap
- Remove retainer and cotter pin. Discard the old cotter pin.
- Remove the axle nut
- Take off the front bearing washer
- Remove Rotor assembly
- Turn/Replace rotor. Again, in most cases I say use new
- Pack new/ re-pack old inner wheel bearings. (At 5 bucks each new, I always just replace.). Use proper wheel bearing grease FOR DISC BRAKES
- Pack rotor with grease
- Place inner bearing
- Hammer on inner wheel seal. Always use new with new bearings/ rotors
- Replace rotor
- Pack and insert outer wheel bearing
- Place wheel bearing washer
- Tighten axle nut turning rotor until the rotor “seats” and cannot turn
- Loosen axle nut
- Tighten axle nut to spec
- Make sure rotor turns freely or repeat steps 30-32
- Replace retainer, insert and bend new cottor pin
- Place and tighten caliper bracket, grease caliper pins with specific “brake grease.”
- Place new brake pads. Again, get the best you can.
- Replace caliper
- Tighten Caliper bolts
- Replace wheel, etc.
That’s about it for a 4-wheel brake job.
Looking for more how-to videos?
Try the following:
How to do an oil change
change automatic transmission fluid and filter
How to change a Head-Gasket or Head on a Ford Ranger
Instructions for changing your rear differential fluid
Note about bleeding brakes
I did not show bleeding brakes because for many home mechanics that’s where the trouble begins.
The process goes furthest from the master cylinder (normally passenger rear) to the closest (driver front).
Most systems gravity bleed even on the rear. You crack the bleeder and insure the master cylinder reservoir remains topped off. Go all the way around until the fluid coming out is clean.
Assisted bleeding can cause trouble, but if you have to…
Have a friend pump the brakes then hold. Loosen the bleeder. Insure the assistant DOES NOT totally bottom out the pedal OR release it. Repeat until fresh fluid comes out.
This may wreck a weak/dirty master cylinder.
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