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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,
A few days ago I brought my Taurus to the local auto shop to have the transmission fluid flushed and to have a brake check done. When I picked it up, the mechanic said I need new rotors and brake pads, and that I should get it taken care of pretty soon. My car has 75K miles on it with the original brakes.

Since brake jobs are pretty expensive if I recall, I may consider doing it myself. Is this is pretty difficult project? (My dad would be helping me, and he's much more mechanically inclined than I am)

Would I simply buy two rotors and two pads, or are there other parts that I need to purchase for the brake job as well? And finally, what would be the bottomline cost of doing it myself vs having it done at the shop?

Thanks
 

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The brakes are very easy on the Taurus. I recently did the front brakes on the '95 SLO in about 25 minutes. The first time, it will take longer, of course.

First off, what do you need to do? If the rotors aren't warped or scored, you can reuse them. If they are warped, throw them out and get new ones. If they are scored, have them turned down.

A set of pads will service two wheels. You will also need brake cleaner (one can is enough) and brake lubricant/anti-squeal. I usually just get one little 99-cent blister pack per wheel. You may also need shims if the pads don't come with them. HELP! makes some decent shims that are under $5 per set (enough for two wheels.) The shim is a thin piece of aluminum that sticks to the back side of the pad and dampens vibration and quiets the pads down quite a bit.

The front pads are pretty easy. The HAYNES manual covers the procedure very well, with pictures of each step. If you or your dad have done work on disc brakes before, you may not need pics, but I feel it's worth the $15 investment.

Anywho, here's what you do:
Remove the two bolts on the back side of the caliper bracket (not the big ones that hold the caliper bracket to the steering knuckle.) Loop a 1-foot piece of stiff wire (coat hanger works great) around one loop of the spring. Remove the caliper and pads from the rotor (it will slide right off with some force) and use the wire to hang the caliper, so it doesn't dangle from the brake hose. If the old pads haven't fallen out already, pull them out of the caliper (they sometimes stick to the piston or caliper body.) Crack the bleeder screw open about 1/4 turn. Use a C-clamp (6" or bigger) to push the caliper piston back into the caliper so you will have room for the new, thicker pads. Brake fluid will squirt out of the bleeder screw as you push the piston back in. Use a large flat screwdriver to carefully clean any junk off of the piston. Spray the inside of the caliper with brake cleaner to remove any debris or residue.

Check to see if the new pads are the right size, and whether or not they have shims installed. Trim the shims to the right size and stick them on the back of the pad, if necessary. Remove the caliper slides. These are the pins that allow the caliper to "float" so it puts even pressure on both pads. They have a little rubber boot to keep them clean. Just pull them straight out... the boot will let go of the caliper. Wipe the grease off the slider pins and make sure they are clean. A shot of brake cleaner will help clean up the boots. Then lube them with some brake grease/anti-squeal and reinstall them into the caliper. The boots will snap back onto the caliper.

Reinstall the caliper by the TOP bolt only. You will have to rotate the slider pin so the flat spot lines up right on the caliper bracket. Hand tighten the bolt until it is snug. Now swing the bottom end of the caliper up out of the way of the rotor and caliper bracket and use the wire to hold it there. Load the new pads into the caliper BRACKET, not the caliper itself. They'll sit right in the bracket, flat against the rotor. Coat the back of each pad with brake lube/anti-squeal. Also coat the contact points inside the caliper, and the slide points where the pad edges touch the caliper bracket. Now swing the caliper back down into place, making sure the little clip/spring things on the outside edge of the pads are properly aligned inside the caliper. If they flop down to one side, you could crush them when you put the caliper in place. Again, you'll have to rotate and push the slider pin into the right position so the caliper can swing all the way into place. Hand tighten the bottom bolt. Tighten both the top and bottom bolts to NO MORE than 35-40 ft-lbs! That's not a lot of torque. Now tighten the brake bleeder screw, and wash the rotor down with brake cleaner to remove any grease or dirt. Bleed the brakes, and you're done.

Now, for the cost. To do JUST the pads, you are looking at about $10 for the brake cleaner, shims, lube, etc. plus the cost of pads. I recommend Performance Friction Carbon Metallic pads for most spirited driving conditions. They are better than OEM, but not racetrack pads. They will cost around $30 for a set (two wheels' worth) and have a lifetime guarantee. Rotors will cost between $15 and $50 each depending on year/model, so even if you have to replace the rotors (assuming $50 each, which is probably way more than they will cost) you can do the front brakes for well under $200. Most shops will charge $100-200 parts & labor just to replace the pads.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wow, thanks for the excellent write up.

Also, where would you recommend I purchase new rotors and pads? Probably online is the cheapest right?
 

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AutoZone has the best price on the Performance Friction Carbon Metallic pads, IIRC. Make sure to ask for them by name--the parts guy will probably recommend the "lifetime guarantee" pads which aren't necessarily PFs. Also, PF makes a "Z" series pad which is a lot more expensive than the regular Carbon Metallic pads.

For rotors, shop around. I went to TireRack.com for the SHO rotors, but I specifically wanted Brembos, and I was willing to pay extra for them. For most driving conditions, the cheap store brand rotors will be just fine, as long as you torque the lug nuts evenly. RockAuto.com usually has good prices, but they won't necessarily be cheaper than your local auto parts store.
 

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I bought bendix rotors and ceramic pads and brake grease at discount auto for about $135, but that was with a 20% that my buddy hooks me up with. :thumb: But, you'd probably pay over $400 for the same job down by a shop.

Nice job on the the write-up sixfo, but when I skimmed through it I didnt see anything about evenly torquing the lug nuts and seasoning the new pads.

You want to make sure that each lug nut is tightened equally, this will greatly reduce the chance of warped rotors in the future.

Also, it's a good idea to "season" the new pads. After the new brakes are installed find a lot of empty road way so you won't be interrupted. You're just going to make 5-10 back-to-back stops from 60mph down to 5mph that start pretty mild and get progressively more aggressive until on the last stop you're braking as hard as you can. This will really heat the brakes up, you'll probably be able to smell it from inside the car. It burns off the protective coating on new rotors and seasons your new pads. Just make sure that on the way home you don't hold the brakes while the car is stopped until the brakes have cooled down.
 

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Originally posted by mikehawk@Jul 11 2004, 08:10 PM
when I skimmed through it I didnt see anything about evenly torquing the lug nuts
For most driving conditions, the cheap store brand rotors will be just fine, as long as you torque the lug nuts evenly.
:icon_cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the info guys. I'll save this for when I have time to tackle the project (in a week or two).
 

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Originally posted by PC_Marine@Jul 11 2004, 09:53 PM
Thanks for the info guys. I'll save this for when I have time to tackle the project (in a week or two).
I have a 2000 SEL, much like your 2000 SE. For me, I was able to get PFC pads and AIMCO rotors for about $100 total at autozone. They work great and I couldnt be happier.

Also, you may want to consider bleeding all of your brakes. I did it when I changed the pads the first time around, at about 44K. It made somewhat of a difference in the way the pedal felt, not as mushy. Plus it only takes a few minutes with 2 people, unless you have speed bleeders (I do). Then its a few minutes, one man job. :banana:

-Damon
 

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One other thing I would add is not to crack the bleeder screw while pushing the piston on the caliper in. Cracking the bleeder screw is liable to introduce air in the system. Unscrew the cover to the brakes so the liquid can squirt back up. You can leave the cap on top as the brake fluid will squirt up like a geyser.

Of course if you do crack them, bleed the whole system. Whenever the bleeder screw is open, you should have positive pressure on the system (foot on brake) so air doesn't enter.

I would also be careful about getting brake cleaner on rubber parts. Not sure it's recommended. Check the warnings on the can.
 

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Originally posted by SixFoFalcon+Jul 11 2004, 09:25 PM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (SixFoFalcon @ Jul 11 2004, 09:25 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-mikehawk@Jul 11 2004, 08:10 PM
when I skimmed through it I didnt see anything about evenly torquing the lug nuts
For most driving conditions, the cheap store brand rotors will be just fine, as long as you torque the lug nuts evenly.
:icon_cool: [/b][/quote]
:oops:
Yeah, I saw that after I made my post, just didn't feel like editing. Besides, it wasn't in the original write-up. :lol:
 
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