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Old 07-08-2008, 01:04 PM   #1
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Changing brake pads & rotors

I've been spending quite a bit of money on car maintenance recently, and now I found out that my front brake pads & rotors should be replaced in the near future. I was wondering how difficult it is to do that myself, since it could save me a good two or three hundred dollars. I'm sure it's easy for those who know what they're doing, but I'm fairly new at car maintenance. The most "complicated" thing I ever did was replace the ignition coil. It looks like a reasonably simple job from the Haynes repair manual though, would you recommend that I go ahead and do it or am I probably biting off more than I can chew?

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Old 07-08-2008, 01:30 PM   #2
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im in the same position you are, brakes arent all THAT difficult if your just starting off. however they are a hell of a lot easier with a lift and air tools. i'm lucky i work at a dealership as a doll up tech and have a good friend that is a mechanic (i get to use his lift and tools for free! i get the cuts and burns that go along with that for free too)

brakes are MUCH easier on a lift as there are a few weird angles that you need to get to. that and itll take probably half the time not having to work on one side at a time.

also, with regard to using a Hayne's manual. I'd recommend getting a repair manual straight from ford for your focus. its in my experience that haynes tends to be geared more for the mechanically savvy and the manual i have from ford is very straight forward and put in the most stupid manner possible which makes it easy to understand.

basically my point is if your willing to dedicate a good number of hours on your knees and back the brakes shouldn't be too difficult. the biggest issue you'll run into probably is compressing the caliper pistons to get the new pads back on. if you have a tool for this (or an oversized vice grip) you should be alright.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:49 PM   #3
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I think front pads and rotors is one of the easiest things you can do on the focus. The 'tricky' part is that you really should use a run-in/run-out gauge to make sure the rotors are installed with the least amount of wobble.

If I were you I would get aftermarket rotors and pads. The ford ones are crappy and dusty and tend to wear out really fast. I went with EBC green stuff and I love them. I put on almost 100,000km and they are just now getting to the point of replacment. With the ford ones I was lucky to get 40,000km.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:58 PM   #4
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Get Hawk HPS Pads...and some decent brembo rotors....or get some euro stuff off of BAT (British American Transfer)

It is simple to do yourself I personally don't even take the brake fluid out....just give the caliper a good squeeze to release the old rotor and then you don't need to bleed the air outa the lines later.... hope that helps!
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:54 PM   #5
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Doing it yourself isn't bad at all. It's about the easiest replacement/modification you can do to your car, even without a lift or airtools.

Since you would save yourself a lot of money doing it yourself, I would try to get better products for it. Right now I've got cross drilled Brembo's and Hawk HPS pads. They do the job right and quite a bit better than stock.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:33 AM   #6
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Ok, thank you for the advice. I'd definitely like to get the best quality parts I can, so that they'll last as long as possible.
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:08 AM   #7
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the easiest change i've ever done because you don't have to remove the caliper mount. You can google for instructions. Couple of things. Penetrating on the bleeder first. To compress the pistons, I leverage a large screwdriver between the rotor and caliper mount, open the bleeder and leverage the piston back after opening the bleeder. a second issue. Clean the hub surface with a scraper. there are rust particles on there and will cause a poor flush fit, resulting in runout. Do thils completely. good luck, ilt's easy. Use some antisieze on the hub when you reassemble
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:03 AM   #8
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Hmmm...opening the bleeder is not the way I'd tell someone to do brakes, although if you have ABS, that is how you're supposed to do it. Without ABS, you can do it the other way so that you don't have to get a one-person bleeder tool.

I wish I'd done the brakes on mine, but I haven't yet- 70k and no need for brakes yet still have over half a pad. I think the rotors will wear through before the pads do. I've done a ton of brakes on other vehicles. I think we have a How-TO on brakes, but I don't have time to search right now.

The way I would compress the calipers is to use a 6-10" C- clamp which costs about $10, and leave the pad that is on the piston side of the caliper in place to push against. You must remove the brake master cylinder cap before compressing the caliper piston. If you don't, you'll be purchasing a new master cylinder before you can get braking power again. Don't forget your anti-squeal, either spray or wipe on- it goes on the back of the pads. I've known a lot of people who put it on the front the first time-LOL.

To replace the rotors, you'll need to remove the caliper. Have an old coat hanger handy to use to hang the caliper up out of the way on the coil spring so that you don't put undue stress on the flexible brake lines. Inspect your flexible brake lines for damage, if you see any cracks or rips in the outside- then come back and we'll tell you how to replace those. After removing the caliper, the rotors simply fall off. They might not literally fall, but tap on the back of one with a hammer and it will fall off.

Also, buy stock size rotors unless you want to be replacing other things, and go and check our Brakes and Suspension forum!! Sorry, in a hurry, gotta go work on a house Best of luck!!
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