Taking a brake
PART THREE: Our Fiesta has been horribly neglected in its nine years and 100,000 miles, with the brakes in a terrible state. Andrew Everett oversees the restoration of braking power.
Our 2009 Fiesta is a prime example of a car that’s seen virtually no maintenance apart from the odd oil change. Judging by the brakes, it’s amazing that the oil we drained from the sump last month didn’t resemble a chocolate cake. The lack of a service book with the car tells us all we need to know!
The brakes were pretty poor when we picked up the Fiesta from the auction house, but over the next 100 miles or so they deteriorated to point where the steering shake under braking was threatening to damage the steering rack or a balljoint. It was with trepidation that we gingerly drove the car to Parkside Autos in Worksop to get the brakes sorted.
What we found was typical of so many cars nowadays, which are driven until something breaks. The annual MOT is seen as a kind of service by many owners, who just couldn’t care less as long as a car starts and drives. There is also no brake pad warning sensor.
The front pads on our car were about halfway through their life and were QH branded but, judging by the diabolical condition of the discs, we would almost put money on them being the 2009 originals. We have never seen brake discs as rotten as these. The rear brakes – drums, as on many Fords, including very recent Focus models – were in fair condition, which shows how little work they do. These were also in original condition and we replaced the lot, although the original alloy-bodied wheel cylinders were still bone dry.
Finally, there was the brake fluid. This resembled Marmite (with or without boiling water – you choose) and was clearly very old – again, probably original.
The drive home showed what a transformation the new braking components had made. It now really does drive well. With maintenance, cars last as long as you want them to.