Ford Explorer Rear Brakes

Contributed by Mike Keller

Keep an eye on them. Check them anytime the rear tires are off and make sure you check both sides. Its not uncommon to get anywhere from 70,000-100,000+ miles out of a set of rear shoes on a highway driven vehicle. City driving and towing will obviously shorten up shoe life.

The key is a regular inspection, cleaning, adjustment and lubing of the adjusters and a cleaning and lube on the 'pads' where the shoes ride on the backing plate. Make sure the adjusters are working correctly and that the E-brake cables are not binding and preventing the shoes from retracting completely from the drum. You should have a very light drag on the wheel. The drag should also be somewhat equal on both sides. For many of us here in the salt belt, once the OEM exhaust and E-brake cables are shot its usually an annual to bi-annual trip to the muffler shop for a new exhaust and an E-brake cable replacement. I try to clean the front caliper slide runs (or pins depending on design) and service the rear brakes annually, usually in the spring after all the salt and slop is off the roads for the year.

From drbob

The drum will rust to the end flange on the axle. Use a good-sized mallet to bang on the drum to get it to "brake" loose. Another response suggests a rubber mallet; that's a good start. You don't want to deform the drum, so use only enough bang to get the drum loose. I have a shot-filled rubber mallet, a rawhide mallet, and a five-pound brass hammer (in that order) for tasks like this.

Avoid the temptation to pry the drum against the backing plate. A well-directed tap on the rim may be all you need, but don't hit the backing plate.

The self-adjusters can normally only be turned one way (tighter) unless you can push the steel arm off of the star on the adjuster. It's a ratchet arrangement, where movement of the arm will cause the adjuster to get longer, pressing the shoes a bit further apart in the relaxed position. From the backing plate side of the adjuster, you will be pushing the face of the star up to tighten, or down to loosen the self adjuster.

As far as how to make the self adjuster work-- The adjustment that is made is based on the --number-- of times you apply the brakes while backing up, not the -distance- as you imply in your note. Find a place where it's safe to back up a little faster than walking speed, then bounce on the brake pedal while maintaining that speed. The number of times you'll need to do this is dependent on how far out of adjustment the brakes are when you start.

Many brake jobs are left with rusty brake hardware still inside. Often the same water and rust that hold the drum on have also affected the springs and adjusters in the drum brakes. Wheel and brake hardware kits are relatively inexpensive in the big picture. At best, a stuck or malfunctioning adjuster will cause premature shoe failure. An adjuster that doesn't work means the rear brakes are doing less than their share of the stopping, and there needs to be more pedal travel to get the whole system to work right. Your emergency parking brake will be low, too. The difference in stopping may be the half a car length difference between hitting someone and missing them. Many folks will question the brake hardware cost when Midas or Goodyear adds it to the bill. Before you complain, look at the old stuff and decide whether you want to risk your well being for those parts. Just a thought...

And from Ed Albee

Rather then beating the drum loose. Remove the wheel that you want to remove the drum for. Set the brakes and shift from forward to reverse several times until the drum turns on the axle, then adjust the "star" to remove drum. To prevent this problem I apply a light coating of grease to the end of the axle to prevent the rusting.

And from Ken Lawas

Ed Albee says "adjust the star to remove drum". This is how I normally do it, but the Explorer is not a normal truck. My drums did not have access holes in them to get at the adjuster.

Jeff's Note: On my '92 the access hole is filled by a rubber plug that is removable allowing access to the adjuster.


And from Tim Farrell

So you have a brake drum on your Explorer that's being stubborn and won't come off. You beat on it and pry on it and it won't budge. Well, I've been there and here's how to get it off. This is a tried and true method that takes a lot less work to do and is probably easier on the drum.

Just get a propane torch and start heating the drum up evenly by applying the torch at various intervals all around the inner area of the drum ( between the studs ). Keep doing this until you hear a couple of really distinct and fairly loud pings. The pings are the hot drums expanding and breaking that rust crust that's holding the drum to the hub. As soon as the pings happen, grab the drum and pull it off. It may take a couple of tries but this has always worked for me. Once you've got the hang of it its a lot easier than banging on your drum all day.




Updated January 7, 1999

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