Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ford Focus Rear Brake Maintenance/Repair

Do it yourself home repairs can save a family quite a bit of money but this isn't the only type of maintenance savings that can save money.  Automotive maintenance can also save money.  I try to do as much as possible when it comes to our family vehicles.  This time the job at hand was the rear brakes of our 2005 Ford Focus.  A few things to consider before doing the job a time line on the repair and whether you may need to have the drums turned. If this is so you need to find a shop do do it unless you are blessed with a turning machine. If you don't there are many auto shops and part shops that have the ability to turn both rotors or drums.  In addition to knowing where to have machining done another thing to find out is how is your braking system configured. Do you have four wheel disc brakes or two disc and two drums?  Does the manufacture suggest a type of brake pad or shoe.  I would recommend purchasing a manual for your car so you have the correct directions and settings numbers. For example, having the correct torque settings for putting your car together again is critical; no one wants a wheel or hub working itself loose.  I was fortunate I did not have to have the drums turned this time so the job was pretty straight forward.  Having the proper tools is also important to do the job easily or at least with less difficulty.  The first tool I would want to have is a floor jack. It comes in handy for many jobs where you are working on the wheels or when you need to work beneath the car. The second tools to have are jack stands. For those who do not know the difference, jack stands are used to support the weight of the car while it is being worked on.  They are stable as long as the car is not allowed to move.  Choc blocks can be used or if you can't afford those a large heavy object that will dig in to the surface the car is on. Another concern is that the car should be on a level surface when the work is being done. Hand tools needed would include but not be limited to: a Torque wrench,  a socket wrench set, vice grips, needle nose pliers, both flat head and Phillips screw drivers, and the correct size socket for the hub nut (this can be quite large and a bit expensive 8-12 dollars), crowbar wrench (your car will probably have one of these that can be used for loosening the wheel nuts and removing the hub caps.

As I said before, having a manual is really a good idea for torque setting a general directions.  The pictures are also very handy because the rear brake parts can and their associated placement is important. I had to refer to them a few times when I did our break job; it really does help. In the absence of a manual I will attempt to give a step by step guide.

1.  Gather together your tools.
2. Pop off the hubcaps (if you have them) I  would advise you to find what appears to be the strongest area of the cap before prying loose the cap.
3. Set up your jack but do not use it yet. If you are unsure of where to place the jack refer to your repair manual or owners manual.
4.  Unless you have a impact wrench I would recommend loosening the wheel nuts first.  If you have a hard time breaking loose the nuts, you could use a breaker bar ( metal pipe would do) or use your legs. The only catch to this method is being very careful so you don't inadvertently strip the head of the nut.

5.  Once all of the nuts have been broken loose, the car should be jacked up and placed on jack stands. Make sure that your stands are securely placed and that you block your front wheels. 
6.  Continue loosening the wheel nuts, then remove the wheel and set it aside. This would be a good time to check your tire wear.

7.  The next step is to remove the dust caps from the hubs.  Normally they will pop off using s large flat head screw driver. Unfortunately, ours did not come off easily so I used an alternate method which put a small hole in the cap.  If this happens I would advise replacement of the part.  Replacements can be found at most parts houses, dealer ships or better yet junk yards.  If need be various adhesives could be used temporarily to fill the hole.
8.  Removal of the drum itself demands unscrewing the retainer nut. This can be done using a large socket wrench and a torque wrench.   One of the recommendations by the manufacture is to replace these nuts every five times they are removed.
  9.   After removing the nut you can pull off the drum.  Make sure your parking brake is of at this time, otherwise the drum will not come off.  You may use a rubber mallet to start the the hub removal. I would advised not using any prying device (like a screw driver) because it can damage the backing plate.  The drum should come off with a little jimmying

10. After removing the drum, you can see the parts placement. At this point if you don't have a shop manual, I would advise taking a picture so you can remind yourself where all the pieces go. I would advise taking pictures after each piece is removed so you can remember the order in which they will be replaced. You should be able to use vise grips to remove the tension springs. The Brake shoe retaining clips can be removed.using a screw driver and a small hammer to tap with.
  11. After removing the shoe retainer clips, each shoe can be pulled off. the trailing shoe has an arm that attaches to the parking brake cable.
12. The reinstall job goes in the reverse order and should not present much difficulty as long as you remember where the parts go and in what order. Just make sure everything is secure. This includes the retaining clips, and all tension springs. During these operations check the slave cylinder for any leaks. If it is leaking it is important to either replace it or rebuild it.
13. After putting the drum back on, Make sure to torque down the hub nut to correct specifications as stated in your manual. The same thing can be said for the wheel nuts.  After doing this make sure of all torque settings. and lowering the car off the jack stands, you should check the brakes by following your manuals directions.

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