Brake upgrades, for all generations, using stock Ford parts!

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Gen 1/2 rear disc conversion

-If you want to run the vented setup you will need:

Backing plates, caliper brackets, calipers, pads, rear disc hoses and ebrake cables from ANY Taurus with rear vented disc brakes ('89-'92). The only hitch is, if you have ABS, you have to use backing plates that came from a car with ABS. The ones that did not have ABS don't have provisions for mounting the sensor. If you don't have ABS, you can use any backing plate.

-If you want to run solid rear discs you will need:

Backing plates, caliper brackets, calipers, pads, rear disc hoses and ebrake cables from ANY Taurus with solid rear disc brakes ('93-'99). Again, pay attention to the ABS issues, but I'm pretty sure all Taurus' that had rear disc had ABS after '89.


Vented and non vented rear disc parts (backing plates, calipers, brackets, pads) are not interchangeable!

Gen 3/4 rear disc conversion

-If you want to run vented rear disc, you'll need everything mentioned for the Gen 1/2 above, however you'll need brake hoses and ebrake cables from a Gen 3 ('96-'99) with rear disc.

-If you want to run solid rear disc, see above info for Gen 1/2 cars. Again, use brake hoses and ebrake cables from a '96-'99 with rear disc.

Acquiring key parts for disc conversion.

A visit to a self-service wrecking yard will have a good chance of yielding what you need. Removing the parts as described also gives you practice on removing the rear wheel hubs so that you know what to do and do it properly on your own car.

I do not recommend reusing key wear and safety items like rotors, hubs and hoses from the junkyard. These should be purchased new. Use your good judgement.

The essential tools:

  • Ball peen hammer
  • Small and large pry bar and/or chisel to remove grease cap
  • 36mm socket – ¾” drive ratchet or breaker bar to remove hub retention nut. The hub must be removed to get the caliper mounting plate.
  • Metric sockets – take your 3/8” drive set. There is nothing larger than 15mm required unless you are taking the whole knuckle in which case an 18mm socket is required to remove the torsion bar nuts.
  • To remove the ABS sensor mounting bolt which is a Torx head, you either need a T-8 socket (also referred to as an Torx external or E-8) or you can use a 1/4” socket to remove the bolt.
  • If you are going after the brake cables, you’ll need an adjustable wrench and pliers to loosen the parking brake adjuster.
  • PB blaster or liquid wrench

When I got my parts, I took the whole knuckle which turned out to be a waste of money since I was charged for everything including things I did not intend to reuse. I thought this would save time at the yard but it would have been about the same amount of time and effort to remove just what I needed. In addition, removing that hub retention nut which is torqued at 220 ft-lbs is difficult when the knuckle is no longer on the strut. It took me some time at home to figure out a way to anchor the knuckle while leaning on the hub nut with my ¾ “ drive wrench. Do yourself a favor and remove the hub at the wrecking yard. I did not use the hubs from the wrecking yard as one looked like it had overheated and the other was very rusty. I wound up buying new hubs. I netted the caliper mounting plates, calipers and dust shields. Everything else was trashed.

Find a suitable donor car – newer the better. If you are going to take the parking brake cables, go under the car and remove the three cable supports that hold the right brake cable. Completely undo the parking brake adjuster which is under the left pillar. Take the right and left cables and the stamped metal piece that joins them. You may need to remove the cable from the calipers – there is an E-ring involved at the caliper end.

Loosen the brake hose from the caliper. Use the 15mm socket to remove the two caliper bracket mounting bolts. Remove the caliper and mounting bracket as one piece. Use a small screwdriver to pry the E-ring from the parking brake cable housing end and remove the cable. Remove the rotor from the hub.

Using the small prying tool and the ball peen hammer, force the beveled edge of the prying tool between the grease cap and the hub and gradually separate the cap from the hub. You should rotate the hub and use the prying tool and hammer to gradually pry out the cap. If you have a slide hammer you could use that as well.

Once the grease cap is off, take the 36mm socket and loosen the hub nut. It will take a bit of effort but a nice long ratchet drive or breaker bar makes it not too bad. Once the nut is off, remove the hub and inspect it closely if you intend to use it. New hubs are about $60 each at Autozone.

The disk and drum hubs are different - ABS sensor rings are different diameter:


When the hub is off the spindle, use the T-8 or ¼” socket to remove the ABS sensor mounting bolt and move the sensor aside. You may want to take the sensors as well – follow the cable under the suspension, unclip the cable and disconnect it from the ABS electronics.

Using the 15 mm socket, remove the four caliper mounting plate bolts and take the mounting plate and dust shield parts.

You should now have:

  • Calipers, mounting bracket and associated bolts
  • Caliper mounting plates, dust shields and associated bolts
  • ABS sensors and mounting bolts
  • Parking brake cables
  • Hubs (if in good condition)

Preparing for installation

Additional parts may be required: new rotors, brake pads, hoses and hub retention bolts.

New hubs are recommended since by definition any junkyard hubs will be older and likely to have more miles than your original Gen 4 car. As you collect your parts, make sure you have all required washers, retaining clips and bolts which will save you a trip to the parts shop. The big hub retention nut should not be reused so buy two new ones.

I recommend buying remanufactured calipers as there is just too much uncertainty with rebuilding wrecking yard calipers. They need to be thoroughly cleaned before rebuilding and the extra effort did not make sense to me. Use the wrecking yard calipers as core returns. Inspect the caliper mounting brackets carefully as the sliding posts sometimes rust or corrode. If that’s the case, order calipers that include mounting brackets pre-installed which eliminates that step.

Degrease and dry all dirty parts.

Inventory new parts to make sure you have everything; mark parts that have a right and left hand orientation.

If your new calipers do not have the mounting brackets installed, do so now to save time later. Use suitable grease and make sure the boots are secure. This would also be a good time to load the brake pads. Make sure the caliper is fully retracted with the notches on the caliper face perpendicular to the rotor opening.

Day of installation.

Find a suitable and level spot to jack up the car. Jack up the rear on the right side and place a suitable support; chock the front wheels. Just my preference but I believe starting on the right makes it easier to remove the old parking cables and replace it with the new cables.

Release the parking brake and undo the parking brake adjuster; you may want to hit it with the PB blaster to loosen it up. As you did at the wrecking yard, remove the right brake cable sleeve from the chassis bracket and the equalizer that joins the two cables and separate the left hand parking brake cable from the equalizer. Go under the axle area and remove the three brackets that support the right brake cable. You should now have nothing securing the right parking brake cable to the car except at the right drum brake.

  • Remove the wheel.
  • Remove the brake drum. You may need to tap it around the perimeter with a ball peen hammer to break loose any corrosion that is holding it on. There is a lot of nasty dust so don’t do this on a windy day.
  • Using your hub removal skills that you honed at the wrecking yard, carefully remove the grease cap so you can reuse it. Using the 36mm socket and a suitable breaker bar, remove the retaining nut and discard. Pull the hub off.

Rear drum brake assembly, ABS sensor has been removed

  • Using a 13mm flarenut wrench, loosen the metal brake line end from the brake hose. Have a pan handy to catch brake fluid. Loosen the bolts holding the brake hose to the chassis and strut.
  • Loosen the ABS mounting bolt and remove the ABS sensor.
  • Remove the four 15mm head bolts holding the drum brake assembly to the knuckle. Pull the entire brake assembly including the hose and parking brake cable off the knuckle and discard.
  • Cap off the brake line to prevent it from siphoning out the brake fluid and/or introducing air into the brake line.
  • Route the new right side parking cable under the car and secure with the mounting clamps. The cable has a metal band which should be positioned within the center mounting clamp.
  • Bolt the caliper mounting plate to the knuckle, use medium strength thread locker on these bolts. The caliper mounting points should face the rear of the car.
  • If you took the ABS sensors from the donor car, replace the existing ABS sensors with these since they will not mount properly on the caliper mounting plate. You can use the ABS sensors from the drum brakes if you drill a 3/16” hole directly above the existing mounting bolt hole. Use the ABS sensor as a template to mark the new hole. Note that the way the new hole is drilled makes it possible to mount disk ABS sensors in the future with the remnants of the old tapped hole. Image:Right_mounting_plate_on_drill_press.jpg

You can use 10-32 stainless bolts (1-1/2” long), washers and self locking nuts to hold the sensor in place.


Route the ABS sensor cable above and away from the parking brake cable. Mount the ABS sensor, then mount the dust shield using the three bolts with washers. You may have to use a rat tail file or dremel grinder to remove a little bit of metal from the opening in the dust shield for the ABS mounting bolt since the new bolt will be otherwise partially obscured.

  • Spray the spindle with brake cleaning fluid and wipe dry. Wipe the interior of the hub clean and apply a thin layer of grease with your finger. Place the hub on the spindle, use a new hub retaining nut and tighten to 200 or so ft-lbs. If you really lean into the wrench, you will get it tight enough.
  • Clean the new rotors with brake cleaner and wipe dry. Place the brake rotor on the hub and hold in place with two or three of the wheel nuts. You can also use a retaining washer on one of the wheel studs.
  • Take the caliper and its mounting bracket and bolt to the mount points on the mounting plate. Use blue loctite on these bolts. Spin the rotor and hub to make sure it’s not rubbing or otherwise impeded.


  • Attach the parking brake cable end to the lever on the caliper. Use a ½” E-ring to retain the cable housing in the caliper.
  • Align the new brake hose and make sure it’s properly oriented to bolt onto the fender well and to the caliper. Tighten the caliper fitting sufficiently to seal the copper crush washers. You may need to retighten later. Remove the cap on the brake line and fasten the hose connector using a flarenut wrench. Don’t overtorque this as you can strip the brake line fitting.
  • Bleed the caliper to eliminate any air. This might be a good time to do a brake fluid replacement.
  • Using a spray tube, hit the rotor and pad surfaces with brake cleaner to flush out any stray dust or grease.
  • The left side is similar. The left side parking brake cable needs to be routed through a mounting clip attached to the fender well – on the drum set-up, it does not attach to the fender well. There is a hole at about the 10 o’clock position inside the fender well that can be drilled and used with a self tapping bolt.
  • Check to make sure the new parking brake cables are run so that there is no interference or likelihood of pinching during normal operation. Run the free end of the right cable through the mounting bracket on the chassis until the rubber boot makes contact and through the equalizer hole until the metal locking fingers secure the end to the equalizer. Make sure the slotted end of the equalizer faces toward the rear of the car and attach the left parking brake cable to the equalizer after affixing the housing end of that cable to the bracket on the chassis. Thread the parking brake adjuster on to the end of the right cable. There will likely be some slack at the equalizer from the left cable end. Step on the parking brake pedal to remove the initial slack in both cables then release and adjust the brake adjuster to take up the slack. It will take some readjustment over a few days as the cables stretch. You should check for free movement of the wheel with the brake off and solid resistance with the brake set.

Front Brake Conversions ('96+ SHO 11.6" rotor size upgrade)

'86-'93 Cars

You will need 94-95 Taurus knuckles. Pay attention to ABS stuff. If you have ABS, you must use knuckles from a 94-95 with ABS. If you don't have ABS you can use any '94-'95 knuckles.

Once you get these knuckles, you can buy caliper brackets for a '96-'99 SHO, or 2001-up Taurus. These are available new from Ford Parts Network, or used from junkyard, or one of the many used SHO parts vendors.

With these brackets, you will need calipers from any Taurus, 94-present. These are available at most parts stores, although it may be a good idea to pick up used ones. If they're not good, you can use them as cores so you don't have to pay extra for your new calipers.

This brings us to pads and rotors. Most people who don't do much track work will find that parts store rotors will work just fine. I've used Duralast rotors from Autozone, with Performance Friction pads, and have had good luck. If you desire to get performance rotors and pads, shop for models that fit a '96-'99 SHO. For reference, the industry standard part number for SHO pads is 598.

'94-'00 Cars

Follow the parts recommended above, however you will not need new knuckles. Just the pads, rotors, and caliper brackets from a '96-'99 SHO, or '01-up will work, and bolt right on.

Happy Braking!

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