Explorer Front Brake Upgrade

By -

2003 Explorer
Limited Front Brakes Performance Upgrade

Thanks to user: pminne

Note: this same procedure will likely be similar to
other model years (especially 1998-2004).  I can’t promise that you will be
stopping faster than your girlfriend did on prom night, but you should see a
noticeable difference in stopping distance.

Time: about 2-3 hours for the advanced shade tree
mechanic.  5-6 hours for those not familiar with the term caliper.

Level of difficulty: aside from the lug nuts, this
job is 4 bolts on each side, a little muscle, a little patience, but with a lot
of reward.  Pick a morning or afternoon when you have a few hours.

Parts used: Powerslot cyro brake rotors and Hawk LTS
brake pads, CRC Disc Brake Quiet, Permalex Ultra Disc Brake Caliper Lube (or

Tools needed: Jack, jack stands, sockets (12mm, 18mm,
19mm), and socket wrench, impact air wrench (optional), woodworking bar clamp
or other type of padded clamp, six pack of your favorite barley pop.

Unless you have several football player sized buddies
willing to hold the vehicle off the ground for your while you work under it, I
suggest raising the vehicle and securing it on jack stands.  Remove the lug
nuts with the 19mm socket or vehicle supplied lug wrench, then remove the
wheels.  Optional procedure: loosen all lug nuts only one turn prior to raising
vehicle and drive around the block turning abruptly and using the brakes. 
Doing this may help loosen the rotors by breaking them free from the rust on
the hubs.  Drive slowly but make quick stops and turns while braking.  Stay
close to the garage and don’t drive fast.  Also, since you are likely to draw
the attention of your neighbors to yourself, please don’t do this while wearing
your old high school wrestling uniform.  No one wants to see that.

Explorer Brake Job-1.jpg

Using the 12mm socket, remove the two upper and lower
caliper bolts.

Explorer Brake Job-2.jpg

Pull the caliper off the pads by moving it towards the rear. 
That’s what she said.

Explorer Brake Job-4.jpg

Hang the caliper on the lower wishbone suspension.  Be
careful not of kink any of the connections and don’t let the caliper hang from
the brake line.

Explorer Brake Job-5.jpg

Making sure that no one is watching you, pull the old pads
out of the bracket.

Explorer Brake Job-6.jpg

Using the 18mm socket remove the two bracket bolts.

Explorer Brake Job-8.jpg

Carefully remove the two retention washers on the lug
threads with a screwdriver.  Take your time and don’t bend the washers too
much, they will come off and you can reuse them.  Now, remove the old rotor. 
Lower your cost of this brake job by $20 and sell the old rotors on Ebay or
Craiglslist, or use them as a paper weight during the next hurricane.  If the
rotor is difficult to remove try penetrating oil or a big hammer and a piece of
wood to protect the rotor.  Hit away.  If you don’t care about the rotor,
then by all means forgo the wood and whack the heck out of it.

Explorer Brake Job-10.jpg

You are half way done.  Better have the beer on ice. 
Carefully pull out the two caliper pins on the bracket, clean them, and smear
them with the Permalex caliper lube.  The pins are just slightly different, so
to avoid mixing them up, do one at a time and reinstall.

Explorer Brake Job-12.jpg

I put a little of the left over lube on the hub that
contacts the rotor.  Hopefully, this will help prevent rust and should make
removal of the rotor easier in the future.  If not, you, like me, just wasted 2
minutes doing something that makes no difference at all. If you do this, be
careful not to get any lube on the lug threads.

Explorer Brake Job-13.jpg

Use a Quick Grip brand wood clamp with pads and slowly
squeeze and finesse each caliper piston closed.  That hammer you used to remove
the rusted on rotors will work too.  However, if you do it this way make sure
you have another vehicle handy as you will need to run to the auto parts store
for a new caliper.  Watch the level in the master cylinder and make sure that
you do not back fill too much brake fluid and overfill the reservoir.  You may
also want to consider replacing and flushing the fluid (not covered in this

Explorer Brake Job-15.jpg

Slide on the new shiny fangled rotor and the two retainer
washers.  Can you feel the excitement?  Fantastic, now get back to work and reinstall
the caliper bracket.

Explorer Brake Job-14.jpg

Put the CRC Disc Brake Quiet on the back of the pads.  I
hope it is obvious why you want to be careful not to get any on the business
side of the pads.  Let the CRC set for 10 minutes or so.  Good time to check
the score of the game.  What?  No old TV in the garage!  Good grief, do I have
to spell out everything?  Go inside and check the score.  I’ll wait here.

Place the new pads in the bracket.  Yes, the sides with the
CRC goop on it go on the outside.  The pads will work much better installed
this way.  In all seriousness, make sure you install the pads correctly and
double check everything.

Explorer Brake Job-16.jpg

Reinstall the caliper on the bracket.  Always replace rotors
and pads in pairs, so now would be a good time to do the other side.  Just
about brings tears to your eyes just looking at it doesn’t it?  If not, then
something is seriously wrong.  Seek psychological help immediately.

Explorer Brake Job-17.jpg

I probably shouldn’t need to mention this but just in case
you snuck a few sips of the adult beverages while you were waiting for the CRC
to get tacky, be sure and replace the wheels and lower the vehicle prior to
attempting to brake in the new rotors and pads.  It is a whole lot easier if
you do.  For maximum safety and performance, it is very important to brake in
the new rotors and pads according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Congrats, you just saved yourself several hundred dollars in
labor charges.  Of course, I charged everything to my neighbor’s American
Express.  Want the number?

Comments ()