FRONT BRAKE OVERHAUL
Here is what we found once the road wheel was removed – the caliper and disc looking rusty and horrible. Although they still worked, the vibration due to warped discs was incredible and pulled to the left – a seized caliper, perhaps?
The calipers were unbolted from the carrier by holding the inner sleeve still with grips (see Photo 1) and undoing the 12mm locking bolts. The calipers should then come away, but ours were so rusty they needed persuasion with a big screwdriver. This outer pad had seized in place.
Thankfully, Ford started using stainless steel caliper carrier shims a few years back. Even so, the iron carrier rusts behind it and, as rust expands, puts pressure on the shims and seizes the pads in place. This one needed removing with a hammer and screwdriver.
The carriers need to come off to remove the old disc and they are secured with 15mm bolts. These are torqued up to 75Nm on reassembly and a dab of thread lock is a good idea. An even better idea is new bolts from Ford, as they can be really rusty – only ever use genuine bolts.
Now the carriers need to be cleaned. On really rusty ones like these, smack them a few times with a small hammer to shock off the heavy rust flakes, then finish it off with a serious wire brush – you can even paint them. Use a file to get the pad contact areas super-clean.
Here’s another view of the newly cleaned caliper carrier. It’s essential to get this area as clean as possible, because the stainless shims sit in here and the pads need to be able to move smoothly. It’s worth giving the whole bracket a coat of satin black to hold future rust at bay.
The caliper moves on sliding pins in the carrier. These require free movement and must be well lubricated. As expected, one of ours had seized and needed to be freed off with a hammer and penetrating fluid. It was then cleaned and greased.
Both of our front discs were in the same appalling state – like a fitting from on board the Titanic! We suspect that these discs are the 2009 originals, in which case they’ve done well, with just one known change of front pads to keep them going.
In sharp contrast, here’s a new Vetech disc from GSF Car Parts. We’ve used these on various project cars and have been impressed. They work well and seem to last – the days when premium brake names were worth the extra money seem to be fading.
Before the new discs could go on, we needed to give the front hubs a serious clean with a wire brush. If necessary, you can also use coarse wet-and-dry with either penetrating fluid or brake cleaner. Any rust or dirt here means the disc won’t sit perfectly flat and you’ll get vibration.
Before it went on, the new disc also needed to be cleaned. Vetech discs don’t seem to be coated in preserving oil or thin grey primer, but it’s still worth giving them a good going over with brake cleaner. Before they’re fitted, lightly smear brake grease on the front hub to prevent rust.
Here’s the new disc fitted – there is no retaining screw on these – then the caliper bracket can be refitted. The stainless brake pad retaining shims have been refitted as well – before you do this, smear brake grease on them now to avoid getting any on the disc.
This is the brake grease we used: Ceratec grease made by Textar. It’s a better idea than copper grease, although, used sparingly, copper grease is OK. You’ll find that some brake pads will be supplied with a sachet in the box.
Alternatively, leave the stainless shims clean and dry, and brush a little brake grease on the outer ‘ears’, as seen here. A mechanics’ pet hate is having copper grease absolutely everywhere as it can get onto the brake disc.
The new pads were now fitted, making sure they slid up and down easily on the stainless steel shims. If they don’t, take them apart and find out why – some cheaper pads might need attention with a file.
The caliper piston will now need to be fully retracted, assuming it has not seized. Ours were fine, but extended periods of running worn pads means the piston is out by a long way and can rust. A dose of penetrating fluid can get a sticky caliper going, but rarely for long.
Here’s our fully-rebuilt front brake. Even after the brake pedal had been pumped up to bring the pads to bear on the disc, the disc still turned freely. Ours were originally binding slightly, which leads to overheating and the brakes jamming on, causing a constant vibration.
Look at the state of this brake fluid! Once it had been bled from the system and replaced with new DOT 4, a sniff test revealed that it stank and was almost certainly the original fluid – the bleed nipples were all tough to undo due to neglect and lack of operation.
We bled the brakes out the oldfashioned way this time, pumping the pedal up and down. Depress the pedal very slowly to avoid flipping the master cylinder seals. Start with the passenger rear – the furthest away – and once fresh fluid is going through, bleed the other three.