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looking for new brake pads


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October 16, 2011
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2004 Ford Explorer Sport
I have used Raybestos and Wagner brake pads and rotors but none of them did't last as long as the ones that came from factory. What are are pads and rotors I could get 50,000 to 60,000 miles out of? This vehicle(2004 Ford Sport Trac) is living a easy life too.

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How many miles you get out of brake pads depends on how/where/what you drive. When I used to drive 125+ miles a day highway getting to/from work I got 60k out of my tires and front brake pads on a heavy 4WD and I never replaced rear brake pads.

Later on driving a similar vehicle in stop/go driving 40 miles a day I ruined a set of front rotors in 17K because my pads were totally worn out.

If you believe you got exceptional wear out of your OE pads, why not just purchase your pads from Ford?

I've been using AutoZone C-Max ceramic front pads on all of our Expl's for years. Some say ceramic pads put too much heat into the rotors/calipers, but I've never experienced any issues with this. I hate brake dust on my front wheels and the C-Max pads have pretty much completely eliminated brake dust. They also stop our 4,000 lb trucks very well. Where we live and drive I find we get about 35K out of a set of front pads and then I just install another free replacement set from AutoZone.

For the rears I just use cheap AutoZone semi-metallic pads and maybe have to replace them every 90K.

The type of driving the vehicle gets hasn't changed. Part stop and go, part straight roads, typical rural, suburban driving. Front brakes from factory lasted to around around 51,000 miles, rear to 63,000 miles. The front ones them lasted to around 76,000 miles. I thought maybe they didn't last, because the rotors were machined and less material to take heat. Around 98,000 miles, when inspected they were 6/32. The rear brakes were marginal at same inspection. 5/32 and 4/32. I am at 102,400 miles and like will need to take care of rear brakes, basically hardly getting 40,000 miles out of.

If your pad life is significantly down from what it used to be, perhaps at 102k it's time to replace your calipers as they may be dragging. If they're wearing the pads unevenly from side to side the slide pins may also be sticking and need replacement and lubrication. I clean and lube my pins every time i do a brake job. IMO you're getting exceptionally long front pad life with anything over 25k in mixed driving, however your rear brake pad wear seems high by comparison. The front pads are doing the bulk of the stopping (around 75% front and 25% rear) so the rears should last longer than the fronts even though they're smaller in area.

As I said, if you think the OE pads gave your more miles than aftermarket pads go back to using them. If the rotors were machined they must have still been within their wear tolerance and I don't think that would be significantly contributing to pad wear.

My front pad wear is a bit high, but I contribute that to the fact that I live at the bottom of a long, steep hill with a sharp left at the bottom. Anytime I go to town I have to come down that hill on my return and I'm pretty hard on the brakes the whole way down.

BTW - If we're talking about an '01 Sport Trac, we're talking about brake shoes (not pads) on the rear. Right? I don't have much experience with ST rear brake shoe longevity.

2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

The dealer done the front brake pads first, so they could of been oem pads and they still lasted not as long. This hardly carried a heavy load. Do you think that the pins weren't lubricated? I really don't know what would go wrong with the calibers this early. I had an 03 chevy blazer and same thing there with the rear brakes.

What are the OEM part number for pads, rotors, and calibers? If I do replace the calibers, what pads would you recommend?

I don’t think I’d go through the hassle of buying all OEM stuff and replacing the calipers to get some more life out of the pads.

Things typically last a little longer when a vehicle is new.


Ok, my right rear pads went from 7/32 to 4/32 in the last inspection after putting 5600 miles in-between. I am now at about 5000 miles since last inspection and due for another inspection. Do you think this warrants a caliper replacement?

Depends on if it’s the calipers or the brake pad guides or slide pins that are sticking.

Is there away I could figure this out without taking the wheel off?

Nope, unfortunately.

Calipers usually will only stick(drag the pads) after the vehicle has been undriven for a long period of time, months or a year. Also typically the fast pad wear symptom will only be on one side, only one caliper will be dragging notably. Then you simply replace both pairs of calipers on that end, with parts store rebuilt units.

Pad choice has a bunch to do with lifespan. There are also usually more than one OEM pad choice for each caliper, normal or heavy duty etc. I discovered the severe duty pad for 95-01 Explorer fronts about two years ago. Before those the best pads were from EBC, now the Ford pad is my favorite. I did buy a spare set of Stoptech pads last Fall, and put them on since I found them before the other OEM set I had elsewhere. Those are doing okay, but with squealing and slightly faster wear.

Check the Rock Auto site, they usually list the most parts choices including pads. You often will have to copy and past part numbers from there and Amazon etc, to compare descriptions as well as prices.

If your pad wear is basically even left to right, I'd go with just new pads and not the calipers too. Be sure the rotors are evenly worn, if not most decent brand rotors are fine, and not that expensive. Same for drums, except with those any uneven wear is usually the wheel cylinders(which get moisture in the pistons and make them stick). Wheel cylinders are also not expensive, and not hard to replace.

Have new brake fluid bled through the system also, that's a big thing neglected by most shops and people. Old fluid does reduce performance, and causes more wear in the ABS and master cylinder etc.

Thanks CDW6212R, That was a help. I have managed to be able to see both sides of the rotors. They all look pretty even wear both sides of the rotor. Doesn't appear there is overheating on the rotor. There looks like two circles on one side of rotor of the right side rotor. Don't know if its a groove or not. Does that say anything?

Most rotors(not the cheap brand stuff) won't warp or turn purple under normal conditions. So if you haven't abused the brakes severely, the rotors should be usable given your mild mileage. Rotors of the last 30 years are made thinner than older cars, so they don't have much extra thickness to be able to turn them much. Thus if any rotor is suspect for being straight or new enough, it's feasible to buy a new one.

Turning rotors used to be $4-$5 at a store, and new ones were still say $35-$50. Back then a rotor could be turned three times or more, if the idiot doing it didn't cut off .050" on each pass. Now the same low skilled people will often eat a rotor down to the minimum spec(stamped into each rotor), and then you have to buy a new one. Today it's what, $10-$15 to turn each rotor, and it can't be turned again the next time? It's simpler to just buy a new rotor when one bothers you, keep the old best one as a spare.

Brake pads are the most important thing, rotors, brake hoses, and fluid are easy to maintain by normal parts available anywhere. I don't buy any parts store pads, but I get the rest there. I do severe duty, lifetime pads don't last as long as the best brands. I don't want to do brakes more often, even if the parts are free. I want the brakes to last as long as possible, regardless of the cost.

Would you say I need to turn the rotors if I wouldn't replace them? It seems everyone wants to replace rotors anymore theses days.

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If they are fairly smooth as you feel them, and not bluing, I'd use them as is. I used to have all rotors turned, that's ideal. But unless you have issues of pulsating pedal, pulling etc, then it's not really a big deal.

I'm delivering mail full time with my 98 Explorer, with OEM pads and a decent rotor from Rock Auto. I have no warping or excessive coloring of rotors, pulsating pedal etc. I do buy a new rotor when I perceive the age is enough to put them close to worn so much turning would make them too thin. But I'm an extreme case, and I am harder on brakes personally than most people. If the parts can survive me, they are pretty good. This is my "good" SUV not intended for mail use, eventually I'll stop using it for work. My old custom brakes are going on my 99 Explorer, my intended work truck. Then I'll remake the custom brackets for bigger calipers, for my 98 truck, and likely the 99 too.

Long story short, I know brakes for the 2nd gen Explorers well. You seem to be easy on brakes, I'd just take care of the fluid and buy new best OEM pads you can find. Have the rotors turned if you can have it done promptly at a store etc, and buy a pint or more of DOT 4 brake fluid to bleed through the system, all four corners.