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Changing Brakes: Defeated


Well-Known Member
April 21, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
Baltimore, MD
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 Limited V8
Hi All,
Just figured to get around to changing all 4 brake pads and picked up a few things. First, wanted to just make sure I'm not missing anything:

Front Pads
Rear Pads
Brake Cleaner
Disc Brake Pad Spreader (gimmicky, but for $9...)

I remember changing the pads on my friend's Mustang & my Cougar several years ago, so I figured not a big challenge. And after watching videos, etc and ordering everything (I'm hoping) to be correct, I went and tried. Well, have to say I'm humbled. Took forever to remove the lug nuts until I finally tried the whole "pipe over the wrench" thing. Worked like a charm. Then I got to the caliper bolts. K... so that's also where I stopped. Could NOT remove the top or bottom bolt and left a good chunk of my thumb somewhere on my wheel well. Not sure what to do. I bathed them in WD40, sprayed them with brake cleaner (?), and still no dice. Scared to go crazy on these things for fear of knocking the car off the stand. And that top bolt is uncomfortably close to the brake line and don't want to risk messing that up.

Any suggestions to get these things out? I'm using a good ol' 17mm socket wrench and left the WD40 on there for about 1/2 hour. The weather's a bit chilly around here so not sure if that plays a role.

Any help would be appreciated!


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You could always try to find someplace near you that sells Aero-Kroil, which is the absolute best penetrant you can get. Or, if you have an air compressor, try using an impact or pneumatic ratchet on it. Even a battery powered impact would help. If none of that helps, here's another trick. Spray them with WD and kinda moderately hit the heads with a hammer and punch, then try to tighten them a hair tighter. That helps break the threads loose, and then you should have an easier time removing them. If that still doesn't work, well, you might need a three foot bar. Just be very, very careful with cheater bars. Good way to hurt yourself.

You may be fighting thread locked bolts that penetrant won't help.
Apply steady pressure with the cheater bar and a use 6 point socket.
Heat helps but usually isn't required. Caliper plates are lug nut tight. GL

PB Blaster is a good penetrant. I've used it for removing rotors and such.
If it's coming off that hard make sure you're using a six sided short impact socket or six sided box wrench.
I've removed seized nuts with a breaker bar/wrench and sledge when my corded impact wrench couldn't get something off.
Again, make sure the socket is short, make sure it's on securely and hit the end of the breaker bar handle with the sledge.

I assume you know bolts are righty tighty, lefty loosey. LOL (you'd be surprised how often that's overlooked)

You are trying to remove the wrong nuts/bolts, they are the caliper holding bracket bolts. What you want are the small bolts that attach the caliper sliding pins to the caliper bracket. They are at the extreme ends (look like ears) of the front calipers; on the rear calipers there are no ears, and the bolts/pins go through the caliper. I cannot remember the size but around 10 to 13 mm.

Forget the anti seize and use synthetic brake grease to coat the caliper pins and brake pad backing where they contact the caliper and the anti rattle clips where they touch the pad backing. The stainless steel clips on front and rear that hold the pads (anti rattle clips) should be replaced too, but can be reused if not damaged/worn.

I use a 6" C clamp to push the piston back into the caliper a 1/4" or so to be able to remove the caliper from the pads at the front and rear. At the front the caliper lifts off the pads (with the clearance noted) and the pads stay located in the anti rattle clips. At the rear the pads come off the rotor with the caliper since the piston side pad has a spring that fits into the piston and the fixed pad is located by dowels. You cannot use the pad spreader to do this.

The rear caliper must be rotated off the bracket due to the way the pads locate to the caliper bracket anti rattle clips. You will note that the outboard pad has a spring that rests against the caliper bracket. You must rotate that end of the caliper outward in line with the rotor. When you have them off you will see the pad backing are shaped differently at each end. One end has a U shape the other just a stop.

The pad spreader or the 6" C clamp can be used to push the piston back into the caliper to provide enough space for the new pads.

Good luck.

While you have not stated how many miles on the rig, if you are putting new pads on then I am assuming that the old pads are worn out. It is never a good idea to just put new pads on without at least resurfacing the the old rotors or puttin new rotors on. New pads on rotors with an irregular surface will ruin the new pads in no time at all.

Make sure you use good quality socket or wrenches. Cheap stuff will round the bolts off and then you need to cut them. Town is right, the caliper bolts are small, like 1/2 inch or 13 mm or maybe 11 mm, do not remember, but they never gave me too much problems. 6 point socket and breaker bar will do. What I did with mine, I bought a rebuild kit from Auto Zone for about $ 25, that includes new guides, rubber boots, slide bolts, and maybe more. Took everything apart, cleaned it and apply new caliper grease. Works great, 145 K miles.

Thanks all for the advice! Unfortunately, another nor'easter heading our way but would really, really like to give this a go Saturday. I feel like I was definitely attempting the wrong bolts. I mean I was hitting that thing harder than I hit my wife, (no no...I kid. She's just my gf ;))

I think I need to find some photos instead of going through the hassle, (to me, with little experience it sort of is), to figure out what bolts I need to turn. I'm beyond motivated to do this myself.

Oh, should have mentioned: I did pickup some anti-squeak break grease. I was going to use a touch of anti-seize for my plugs later.

Wish me luck! And I'll post back after another go. Thanks again all!

EDIT: Loving these forums and the advice!

The caliper pin bolt for the front discs can be identified by the rubber boot on the inside that protects the sliding pin from dirt. On the rear the rubber boots are mounted either side of the caliper boss and the bolt goes through them.

As Flag Gibby says a damaged rotor should not be re-used. If the rotors need to be replaced, then the front brake caliper mounting bracket must be removed. For the rear brakes the caliper bracket does not need to be removed, however the rotor includes the drum for the parking brake. Sometimes the shoes wear a groove in the drum making removal difficult. The parking brake adjusters need to be backed off, but the access hole is not easy to see and must be punched in. I removed the rotor with brute force and damaged the clips that hold the shoe side load springs. The kit that Explorer_PL mentioned will probably include these long pins.

The front and rear rotors are mounted on a hub flange that can sometimes be corroded to the rotor. Hammer into the rotor near the hub to break the corrosion bond.

Good luck.

The caliper "housing" comes off first, to remove the pads and retract the piston. Then hang the housing out of the way with a wire hanger on the suspension coil spring. THEN you remove the larger bolts to remove the caliper "Bracket", so you can remove the rotor. All rotors are now made in China and can be had for under $50 each. At that price, you might as well replace the rotors with every pad change, rather than spend $15 on resurfacing a rotor.

But either way, you should not be having so much trouble. The housing bolts should not be extremely tight. Spec is around 35 Nm. Bracket bolt will be must larger/tighter. You'll need much more leverage than just a ratchet handle.

Another thing that may be obvious, but....
Remember the bolt is moving away from you. Be sure you aren't actually tightening the bolt. Been there, done that!

Hi All,

Thanks to all for all the great advice and resources. Just updating, (drumroll): I did it! Turns out I was correctly identifying the right bolts but, location/function aside, they turned out to be a bit different than discussed here. Specifically, the bolts were 17mm. And while I don't know what it was torqued to, they were really seized to the point I cut an old lacrosse shaft to create a make-shift cheater bar. If then, it took all my [pathetic] strength. Also, not sure if this is common, but there are two pistons in the calibers. Not sure if this a weird package for the V8/Limited, but the basics still applied.

So long as my hands can take it, (looks like the back of my hands were dragged across someone's driveway), I'm try a go on the rear brakes today.

Thanks again all!