the front brake pads on an SN95
Written by Jonathan
|A few notes:
- Doing this yourself
will save you quite a bit of money. Call around and get prices
to see what I mean.
- My car is a 1994 GT.
This replacement should be identical for 1994-1998 base and GT
Mustangs. Cobra models have dual piston front calipers, which
is a bit more work. (MW
editorial comment: On the newer stangs
(96 - on) a tool can be purchased that turns the piston as it
pushes rather than using a c-clamp, it costs around $20 and pushes
the piston in safely, 99 also have a dual piston up front and
newer V6 models have the similar brakes as the GT's 94 - 98)
- I changed the pads
in the rear before deciding to start snapping pictures. More notes
on changing the rear pads are at the end of this article.
- It's usually a good
idea to have your rotors "resurfaced" (aka "turned"). I took my
car in for a free brake inspection and was told my rotors were
fine, just needed new pads. There are tools available to resurface
your own rotors, but I think I'd let a shop do that step.
- Work on one wheel
at a time, so that if you need to check how something fits
or should look, you can refer to the other wheel.
- jack and jackstands
- lug wrench
- can of brake parts
- hi temperature grease
- large adjustable C-clamp
(6" is fine) (MW:Or piston
- small bottle of anti-squeal
compound ("Disc Brake Quiet" was my brand)
- siphon or syringe
- new brake fluid
- replacement brake
- coat hanger/wire/twine
- ratchet and Torx T-50
- may need a big ass
wrench (pipe fitter's wrench)
Pop the hood, remove about half of the brake fluid from the reservoir
(use siphon or syringe). I'm not sure why this is necessary, but every
brake manual says to do it. Maybe, when you compress the brake pistons
later, the fluid in the brake lines backs up into the reservoir and
it would overflow, I don't know (MW editor
comment: yes this is exactly the reason. Fluid could spill
out from even a closed cap so it's best to remove a little).
2. Remove center cap on front wheels, break the lug nuts
loose (don't remove them yet). Set the parking brake, jack the car
up and place on jackstands. (If you don't have jackstands, you can
work on one wheel at a time, but please be careful as it is never
safe to work under a car supported only by a jack.) Now remove the
3. [See image] Look at those wonderful 11.something inch
discs! Spray the rotor and caliper down with brake parts cleaner to
remove brake dust - do not blow it off with compressed air. Inhaling
this stuff is not advised, and blowing it will set the dust airborne.
4.[See image] You need to compress the piston into the
caliper to make room for the new, thicker pads. (MW
editorial comment: On the newer stangs,
96 and on, a tool can be purchased that turns the piston as it pushes
rather than using a c-clamp, it costs around $20 and pushes the piston
in safely). Position
the C-clamp as shown in the picture and tighten to compress the piston.
Tighten until you can't tighten any more without a low level of force.
You don't want to damage the caliper here... if you do not fully compress
the piston (as I found I hadn't) you can fix this later.
5.Get on your back and under the wheel. Looking at the
back of the caliper you will see the bolt you will soon grow to hate.
The lowermost bolt, round with the torx (star) pattern, is the one
you need to remove for access to the brake pads. (Do not remove the
Now, the correct tool is the ratchet and T-50 torx bit, but I was
not able to break the bolt loose even with a huge ratchet. The most
I could do was begin to strip the bolt. If your car is over a few
years old you are probably going to run into this as well. My solution
was a foot-long pipe fitter's wrench. Clamp that baby down on that
stubborn bolt and just overpower it. Once it's loose, you can use
the torx bit and ratchet to take it the rest of the way out.
6.[See images] With that confounded bolt removed, lift
the caliper up (it hinges on the upper pin) and off of the rotor (take
it off the pin.) Hang the caliper from the coil spring with a coat
hanger or wire - don't let it hang by the brake line!
(In the first image for this step, you see me lifting the caliper.
In the second image, the hand on the left side points the old pads.
The hand on the right points to the hanging caliper.)
7.[See image] You can see the old pads now. Remove them
- just lift them right out. Get the new pads ready by smearing some
anti-squeal compound on the back of the pads. Then place the
new pads where the old ones were. Make sure they are seated correctly.
There is no trick here, just make sure they're in. I noticed on mine
that the inboard pad sticks up just slightly above the rotor, whereas
the outboard pad was level. This appears to be normal - I checked
the other wheel and the old pads were this way. Apply high temperature
grease to the mounting pin.
8.[See image] Un-hang the caliper, mount it back onto the
upper pin, and press it back down, over the pads, in its rightful
place. If you didn't compress the piston enough, it won't fit. Don't
force it! Just fully compress the piston into the caliper at this
time. Take one of the old brake pads, place it in the caliper, and
use the C-clamp again. This time you should be able to see the piston
and determine when it is seated. (The reason you are using the old
brake pad is to equally distribute the pressure on the piston. If
you do not do this, you may damage the piston.) After seating the
piston, follow the instructions above and remount the caliper.
(The image shows me compressing the piston the second time around,
as described above.)
9. Now bolt that confounded torx bolt back in (you can
use the ratchet to tighten it, I found). Make sure it is good and
tight. Make some visual checks against the other wheel to be sure
everything is correct, and wipe off excess anti-squeal compound.
10. Repeat the steps for the other front brake. Re-mount
the wheels, lower your stang. Be sure to replace the brake fluid
you removed with new fluid; top it off. Start the car, leave the parking
brake set!! Be sure to pump the brakes several times until normal
brake pressure returns before driving off!! The first few times
your brake pedal will go to the floor as the system re-pressurizes
(or whatever it's doing.)
Further notes: Replacing the rear pads was much more time consuming
and a PITA than the fronts. The procedure is similar to the front
with a few important exceptions:
- Don't set the parking
brake. This should be obvious. The parking brake handle simply
engages the rear brakes. If they are engaged, how are you going
to compress them? :)
- Compressing the piston
- DO NOT use the C-clamp. The rear pistons must be compressed
by turning them (I think it was clockwise) into the caliper. There
is a special tool that I'm told is about $10. Or you can do it
the way I did, use a good pair of needle nose pliars. You will
see two notches in the piston where you can plant the pliars and
use every ounce of strength to start turning the piston (it gets
easier after the first few full turns).
- You must transfer
the side clips from the old pads to the new pads (unless they
came with new clips, which mine didn't).
- There is no stubborn
torx bolt on the rears (thank goodness). Use a crescent wrench
on the bolt that's there.
- The manual I followed
did not instruct me to put anti-squeal on the rear pads, so don't.
- You will actually
have to hold the rear calipers in place while you bolt them back
down, due to the springs on top of the brake pads. This was the
most difficult part (2nd to compressing the pistons, though).
Make sure the pistons are fully seated to make this a little easier,
and you'll probably need a buddy to hold the caliper down while
you slip the bolt through.
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