First brake job, big problem. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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First brake job, big problem.


Well-Known Member
December 7, 2003
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City, State
Burlington, Ontario
Year, Model & Trim Level
I had to replace my front hub so I thought I would do the brakes also. My problem is that after putting on new pads I cant get the caliper on the rotor. The pistons are down. It seems the outside pad is interfering. I put the old pad back which was only about half worn. When I tighten the caliper, it locks up. My old rotor is rusted to hell. I did buy the cheapest pads and rotors , could that be a problem?

Also, can I adjust the outside pad via the caliper pin bolts?

Its a 4WD 95 XLT.

Previous to this work the ABS light would come on sometimes. Just prior to this I could hear slight grinding when coming to a stop. The old pads were only half worn.

Please help :(

Last edited:

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I'm thinking You need to:

Stick the rotor on
Remove you caliper mounting bracket from the caliper
Install the caliper mounting bracket (USE LOCTITE!)
mount the pads
grease the pins (use caliper/brake grease, it's high temp stuff)
mount the caliper

Should be good to go.

I tried that. The outside pad is interfering. Should the caliper be able to move by tightening the caliper pin bolts? I can screw in up to a certain point. It feels all crunchy underneath the rubber covering where the caliper pin bolts go. Should I replace the bolt pins then? Thanks.

Sounds like it, if they don't move smoothly, your pads will wear unevenly, which is what you were experiencing in the first place.

I've never had to change them, so hopefully someone else can chime in with that part.

Good luck.

From the pic you posted it does not look like the pad is seated up against the caliper.

From the pic you posted it does not look like the pad is seated up against the caliper.

But it is. Are you looking at the bracket?


How does the pin bolt work? If I can get the caliper to move about 3/32 it would fit. Obviously there is no lube left under the boot. I would say these are shot?


The caliper unbolts from the bracket. The two bolts with the boot is what holds the caliper to the bracket. Once they are removed it should come right apart. you

The caliper should slide back & forth on the two bolts you are asking about.

If memory serves me correct there is a left & right side pad. I know the rears are that way.

Thanks, there is no movement at all, so I guess thats my problem.

Did you get your rotor on yet? If not then your SOL, you got the wrong parts

Which are wrong, the pads or rotors?

Those caliper pins and the calipers are needing replacement. Call the local parts store and see if they stock the calipers, change them in pairs.

Those pins, the caliper bolts, should never need to come off, or loose. The grease inside of them can last a lifetime. Contamination and people removing them is what ruins them. I only mess with those when moisture gets into them, they should have plenty of grease and the pins/holes perfectly smooth and clean.

When those pins or boots show damage the best answer is to replace the pair of calipers. Rebuilt calipers are really cheap, also buy new brake hoses. Good luck

Thanks CD! I thought I responded before but I guess I didnt hit submit or whatever. Anyways this is what I did. I got some used brackets and new caliper pins. I put the copper anti-seize on them (read that somewhere here). I was then able to finish the job. I must not have done a good job tho cause the truck makes a rubbing kinda sound when coming to a stop. On the positive side the pedal feels firm and the truck stops great. Also I havent experienced that low speed ABS thing (the reason why I replaced the hub and sensor).

Maybe I am gonna take your advice and next weekend and replace the calipers and hose. I hope its okay to drive for four days.

Maybe I am gonna take your advice and next weekend and replace the calipers and hose. I hope its okay to drive for four days.

Before doing that, try matching the new pads with the old pads that you removed. Since you mentioned that you also got the cheaper pads, the tolerances may not be so good with the newer pads (some extra material may need to be ground off from the pads). This is fairly normal with some non-oem pads

If they still rub and won't fit flush then maybe a caliper change may be in order (do it in pairs - start with the front if you are only buying two)

Good luck

It's good that you are working on it, it should last a little while. The calipers are very sensitive to any corrosion, they will likely be sticking slightly. That wears out the pads much faster, and a truly sticking caliper can strand you, they can make serious heat. That usually happens from not driving a vehicle for a year or more at a time.

Well its been a few days and the rub is still there but greatly diminished. If I ta the pedal it sometimes goes quiet for a bit. Anyways I got new calipers and hoping to get the hoses too.

Now as long as I leave the cap on the master cylinder, the brake fluid shouldnt run all out when I replace the hose , correct?

Should I put the new hose on the new caliper first and then attach it?

Any special tools I need. I am gonna get a one man bleed kit.

Thanks again guys for all your help.

The fluid that is in the lines will run out. Not sure about what's in the master cylinder.

Yes do bolt the new line to the new/rebuilt caliper first. Brush the line connector area on the frame to clean it well. Loosen the flare nut(line wrench) of the line at the frame, and then snug it back a hair. Remove the locking clip that is right there on the brake line frame bracket, a screw driver or visegrip will work. Remove as much fluid from the master cylinder as possible(turkey baster), and top it off with new fluid, close the cap onto it.

When you have it all ready, with a drain pan below to catch the dripping fluid, remove the line from the frame connector with the wrench. Quickly swap the new line in place and snug the flare nut closed. Install the locking clip and carefully tighten the line completely.

That should not cause too much fluid to be lost from the master cylinder. Top it off again just before doing the other side. Mount the calipers completely and bleed the air out of them. Good luck,

so the saga

I came home and did the rear brakes. The pads were worn right down to the rivets, rusted and fell apart. Luckily the rotors came off easy and the emergency brake shoes seemed okay. So I didnt install the ones I had on hand, just installed new rotors and pads. The calipers moved freely. Anyways all was going well until I fired the truck up. The ABS light is now on. I went for a test drive and everything seems smooth , even the front and I didnt even put the new calipers in. The awful sounds I heard before are all gone. The truck stops fine.

Now should I bleed it and see if I get rid of the light or first install the new front calipers. If I didnt get that warning I would stop now but obviously I missed something. The light wasnt on before I did the rears.

BTW the emergency brake only worked in drive for some reason and had no effect when in reverse. I never tested the reverse before tho .

The brake light sometimes comes on after doing brakes. It is usually something to do with brake fluid, air bubbles, the pressure difference detected by the sensor of the proportioning valve/master cylinder. It usually means little, check for leaks and that the fluid is full.

If the lines and calipers need changing, go ahead and do them also. The parking brake pads used to be over $85 from Ford, now parts stores have them for about $20. Change those the next time you get into the rear brakes, they wear easily and don't work well anyway. Adjust them good and tight each time you remove the rear wheels.

When you get under the truck again, bleed the brakes well, use two people, bleed the RR, LR, RF, then the LF. Don't spare the fluid, pump it through freely until the fluid comes out clear. Regards,

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Luckily the rotors came off easy

Both the times I replaced the rear rotors on mine I had to rent a puller because of all the rust built up between the axle hub & rotor.

The second time I slathered the **** out of the axle hubs with silver anti-seize.