How to Change Brakes on a Ford Focus

Written by kevinm
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How to Change Brakes on a Ford Focus
The Ford Focus has European engineered brakes. (disque de frein image by Christophe Fouquin from Fotolia.com)

Ford introduced the Focus to automobile markets around the world during the 2000 model year. In order to give the Focus global appeal, Ford designed the car with highly responsive handling and brakes to suit expectations of buyers outside the U.S. The spirited compact car soon developed a devoted following among American drivers who appreciated the sporty handling. The Focus comes standard with front disc brakes, and depending on the model year and trim level, either rear drum or disc brakes. Servicing brakes on a Focus requires a knowledge of both drum and disc brake service procedures.

Skill level:
Challenging

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Things you need

  • Wheel blocks
  • Lug nut wrench
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wrenches
  • Mallet
  • Screwdrivers
  • C-clamp
  • Pliers
  • Finely graduated ruler
  • Brake disc micrometer
  • Brake drum micrometer
  • Brake grease
  • Brake cleaning fluid
  • Catch pan
  • Rags
  • Wire brush

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Instructions

    Disc Brake Procedure

  1. 1

    Park your Focus on a firm and level surface. Put automatic transmissions in park and put manual transmissions in first or reverse gear. Set the emergency brake if servicing a front brake. If servicing a rear brake, do not set the emergency brake but securely block the front wheels to prevent movement of the car. Loosen the lug nuts one full turn and then jack the car up. Place the car securely on an axle stand. Completely remove the lug nuts and pull the wheel off.

  2. 2

    Pull the rubber covers from the heads of the caliper bolts, and remove the bolts. Grasp the caliper and rock it back and forth a several times to force the brake pads apart a little. Lift the caliper from the disc and hang it from the nearby spring on a bungee cord. Take care to not stretch or kink the rubber brake hose.

  3. 3

    Release the outer brake pad wire retaining clip. The clip can be pried with a screwdriver until it releases from the outside of the caliper bracket. Take care not to damage the clip. Slide the brake pads and shims out of the caliper.

  4. 4

    For front brakes, use a larce C-clamp to force the piston back into the cylinder. Hook the frame end of the clamp around the back of the caliper frame and place the spindle swivel against the piston face. Tighten the spindle to push the piston back into the cylinder bore.

    For rear brakes the piston must be screwed back into the cylinder. Hook the frame end of a C-clamp around the back of the caliper frame and place the spindle swivel against the piston face. Tighten the clamp to put a little backwards pressure on the piston. Grab the piston with large channel-lock pliers and rotate the piston clockwise to screw it back into the cylinder. Tighten the C-clamp a little after every few turns of the piston to keep the backwards pressure.

    Be careful not to pinch, twist, or otherwise damage the rubber piston seal.

  5. 5

    Pull the brake disc straight off the hub. If the disc is seized to the hub it can be loosened with a few firm taps from a plastic or rubber mallet to the centre part of the disc. Do not hit the disc outer rim or the braking surface area.

  6. 6

    Measure the brake pad lining thickness with a finely graduated ruler. If the lining thickness is less than 0.060 of an inch, or if the linings show damage or uneven wear, replace the pads.

  7. 7

    Measure the disc thickness with a brake disc micrometer at several places around the disc and compare against the recommended minimum thickness. The recommended minimum thickness for original equipment front discs is 0.91 of an inch, and 0.35 of an inch for original equipment rear discs. For aftermarket replacement discs the minimum allowable thickness is usually stamped into the metal of the outer disc rim. Replace the disc if the measured thickness is below the specified minimum, or if the disc is deeply scored or cracked. Minor disc damage can be repaired by having the disc resurfaced at a brake shop or auto parts store.

  8. 8

    Reassemble the brake by following the steps in reverse order. Clean the caliper slide bolts with brake cleaning fluid and lubricate them with brake grease before reinstalling them. Lower the car and test the brake operation before driving.

    Drum Brake Procedure

  1. 1

    Park the car on a firm and level surface. Do not engage the emergency brake. Put automatic transmissions in park and put manual transmissions in first or reverse gear. Loosen the lug nuts a full turn and then jack the car up at the front wheel to be worked on. Support the car on an axle stand. Completely remove the lug nuts and pull the wheel off.

  2. 2

    Remove the four retaining bolts that secure the drum and hub assembly. The bolts are accessed from the rear of the brake, and can be best reached with a socket wrench and extension. Pull the drum and hub off of the axle spindle. If the drum is difficult to remove, first be sure the parking brake is fully disengaged. Firmly tap the outside shoulder of the drum with rubber or plastic mallet to loosen the drum.

  3. 3

    Remove the upper and lower return springs and the adjuster spring. Each spring has hooked ends, and removal is achieved by grasping the end of the spring with vice-grip pliers and pulling the hook out of its anchor hole.

  4. 4

    Remove the hold-down clips from the brake shoe anchor pins. Grip the clip with pliers and depress it while pulling it sideways off the pin.

  5. 5

    Squeeze the bottoms of the brake shoes together and slide the self adjuster lever mechanism out from in between the brake shoes.

  6. 6

    Measure the brake shoe lining thickness at the centre point of the lining with a finely graduated ruler. If it is less than 0.04 of an inch, or if the linings are unevenly worn or damaged, replace the shoes.

  7. 7

    Measure the inside diameter of the brake drum in several directions using a brake drum micrometer. The drum is round if the diameter is the same in all directions. Replace the drum if the interior surface has any deep grooves, pits or cracks, or if the measured diameter exceeds the recommended maximum diameter. The maximum diameter is 8.04 inches for most model years and trim levels, however there are some exceptions so you should check in the appropriate shop manual. The maximum diameter can often be found stamped into the metal on the outside of the drum.

  8. 8

    Clean all parts by spraying liberally with brake cleaning fluid and wiping with rags. Thoroughly clean the inside of the drum and the face of the backing plate in the same way. Use a wire brush to remove stubborn dirt and deposits. Use high temperature brake grease to lubricate the backing plate at the brake shoe contact points, the brake shoes where they contact the hold-down pins, and the pivot points of the adjuster lever mechanism. Be very careful not to get grease on the friction surfaces of the drum or brake shoes.

  9. 9

    Reassemble the brake by following the steps in reverse order. Use the assembled brake as a visual guide. Reinstall the wheel. Slowly pump the brakes several times to set the self-adjusting mechanism. Repeat the procedure on the opposite wheel. Lower the car and test the brake operation before driving.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to repair brakes on any vehicle unless you are confident you are able to do the job correctly. If you do not have experience in brake repair, do not attempt this procedure on your own. Find someone with experience who can coach you during the process. Brakes in good repair are essential to safe driving.

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