Friday, May 2, 2014

Ranger Brakes

When Ford designed the brakes on my 2003 Ford Ranger they made the rears so that as they near the end point they get really grabby. When I say grabby I mean you're easing the brake pedal down, the truck starts to slow and then the rear brakes lock right up. When the drum is removed the old friction material falls out. Clearly the friction material isn't bonded all that well to the shoe and its got to be a design issue because all 3 sets of shoes we've replaced have been the same.

I hate working on drum brakes so I usually farm that one out. Disc brakes are no big whoop so I usually do them myself. Shops usually charge you a flat fee for front brakes and they make out because generally there are no hold ups.

So I headed to my local Car Quest and bought new rotors and pads. I was surprised to find that the Ranger spec's ceramic pads from the factory. I thought I was doing an upgrade when I used Akebono pads back in 2009. I'm not super impressed with how long those pads lasted but considering the kind of places I've taken the Ranger to since then I guess I shouldn't be too upset.

Usually the hardest part of this job is getting the calipers to push back so you can fit the new pads in place of the old worn ones. I didn't expect that to be a big problem here as I'd replaced the calipers in 2011 and I was right. Surprisingly the big problem on this trip was the passenger side brake rotor which just wouldn't come off the truck.

This is a strange problem since the rotor isn't held on by anything but the wheel, usually with the wheel removed they fall right off or at most need a tap with a hammer. This one seems to have rusted to the hub and no amount of pounding or heating with the torch was getting me anywhere so out came the grinder.

This is a sticky job since I need to cut enough to loosen the bond to the hub but not cut up the hub or the studs that hold the wheel on. I ended up making slits between each of the wheel studs as deep as I dared and then going around the outside of the hub to release it from the rotor. I figured at that point if I really had to I could jam a wedge between what was left of the rotor and the hub. Luck was with me and as I tapped the outer part of the rotor with a hammer the inner finally gave up and let go.

I'm not sure what finally made it let go, a combination of heat and pounding I guess.

The stuck rotor cost me about 2 hours, I could have done the whole job in that time as the other side only took me around an hour. Normally for me the biggest part of the job is collecting tools and getting the vehicle jacked up so I can get underneath it...

As always I felt extremely satisfied when I went for a test ride and the brakes felt perfect. The WearEver pads I put in came with instructions to take the vehicle to 30mph and then stop in a controlled manner, drive for 30 seconds and repeat 30 times. I did my best but thats a lot of start and stop. With luck I did enough break in that these brakes will last a good long time.

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