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Ford Explorer Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the front disc brake pads on a 5th generation 2011-2015 Ford Explorer with photo illustrated steps.

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2014 Explorer Front Wheel
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Slightly Loosen Lug Nuts
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Raise Front of Vehicle

This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the fifth generation (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015) Ford Explorer SUV in changing the front disc brake pads and lubricating the caliper slider pins.

Owners of other Ford or Lincoln vehicles such as the Fusion, Mustang, Taurus, Escape, Edge, Flex, Expedition, F-150, Focus, C-MAX, MKC, MKZ, MKX, MKS, MKT and Navigator may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The tools needed to complete this procedure include a floor jack, two jack stands, a tire iron, a 17mm socket, a 3/8" drive ratcheting wrench, a "C" clamp, a packet of brake parts lubricant grease and a set of new front brake pads.

A few compatible sets of replacement brake pads with their part numbers include the following: Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1611 (Heavy Duty Brakes) or Wagner QC1508 (Standard Duty Brakes), Akebono ACT1508, Wearever Ceramic GNAD1611, Motorcraft BRF-1385, ACDelco 17D1508CH, TRW TPC1508, Bosch BC1508 and Akebono ACT1508.


Please note that the compatible part numbers for your Explorer may vary depending on if your SUV has the H/D (Heavy Duty) or S/D (Standard Duty) braking system. Please double check with your Ford dealer, the Amazon Part Finder website or an auto parts store before buying new brake pads.
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Spin Off Lug Nuts
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Set Aside 5 Lug Nuts
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Remove Front Wheel
The first few steps are to park the vehicle on a level surface, engage the emergency / parking brake and chock the rear wheels to prevent it from moving.

Slightly loosen the 5 lug nuts on the front wheel by turning them in the counterclockwise direction with the lug nut wrench.

Raise the front of the vehicle with the floor jack and securely support it with at least two jack stands.

I prefer to work on one side of the vehicle at a time to keep three wheels on the ground for extra safety.

Spin off the 5 lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place.

Pull off the front wheel to reveal the caliper, bracket, rotor and suspension.

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Front Brake Caliper
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Loosen 17mm Clockwise
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Loosen Lower Caliper Bolt
The front brake caliper is held in place to the caliper bracket by two bolts on the back side facing towards the engine.

Loosen the upper caliper bolt by turning it clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 17mm socket and ratcheting wrench.

Then loosen the lower 17mm caliper bolt by turning it clockwise (as seen from the outside of the vehicle).

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Remove Caliper Bolt/Pin
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Lower Caliper Bolt / Slider Pin
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Pull Off Brake Caliper
Spin out the two combination caliper bolts and slider pins in the clockwise direction until they can be removed.

Pull the brake caliper out of the bracket and off the old pads.

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Rest Caliper On Suspension
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Remove Old Outer Brake Pad
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Pull Out Old Inner Pad
Carefully rest the caliper on the suspension or suspend it from the spring with a bungee cord.

Pull the old inner and outer brake pads out of the caliper bracket.

I recommend buying either the Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1611 (HD Brakes) or the Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1508 (SD brakes) since they have great reviews on Amazon.

I also like how the pads don't require any backing plates, shims or disc brake quiet gel due to the built in insulators.

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Replace Pad Abutment Clips
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Attach "C" Clamp To Pistons
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DOT4 Brake Fluid Only
If your set of new front brake pads included replacement brake hardware, pull the old metal pad abutment or "anti-rattle" clips out of the top and bottom of the caliper bracket before installing the new ones in their place.

In order for the caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, you'll need to compress back the two caliper pistons.

Attach the "C" clamp to the caliper using the back of an old brake pad to evenly distribute pressure across the two caliper pistons.



 

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Twist Off Brake Fluid Cap
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Compress Back Pistons
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Re-Position "C" Clamp
Move to the right rear area of the engine bay just behind the 12V automotive battery and twist off the brake fluid reservoir cap in the counterclockwise direction.

Removing the reservoir cap will allow the brake fluid to more easily travel back through the lines when you compress the caliper pistons.

Slowly turn the "C" clamp handle in the clockwise direction to compress back the caliper pistons. Repeatedly check the level in the brake fluid reservoir to prevent it from overflowing.

Clean up any spilled brake fluid immediately and rinse the area with water since brake fluid can easily damage painted surfaces.

You may need to re-position the "C" clamp in order to fully compress back both caliper pistons.

Try to avoid pinching or otherwise damaging the rubber dust boots surrounding the two caliper pistons.

Replace the reservoir cap as soon as possible since brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture).

Thoroughly clean off the brake rotor, caliper bracket, brake caliper assembly and the lug nut studs with brake parts cleaner spray. Do not use compressed air or blow with your mouth to clean off the brake parts since breathing in brake dust can be harmful to your health. Brake dust may be carcinogenic (cancer causing) if inhaled.

If your Explorer previously exhibited shuddering, pulsating, or vibrations in the front end during braking, you may need to have your rotors "turned" (A.K.A. resurfaced) or it may be easier and cheaper to just replace them with new rotors. If this is the car's first front brake job and the rotors appear to be in good condition, you should be able to just change the pads with great results.

To remove the existing rotors and install new ones, remove the two bolts on the rear of the caliper bracket that attach it to the steering knuckle. Then loosen the old rotor with a rubber mallet, pull it off, and slide the new one in its place.

Apply a thin layer of brake caliper grease to any area where there is metal to metal contact such as the outer lip of the caliper piston and the back of the new pads. Do not apply brake parts lubricant to the friction surface of the new pads or to the face of the rotor.

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Install New Outer Pad
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Insert New Inner Brake Pad
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Push Pads Against Rotor

Install the new inner and outer brake pads in to the bracket.

Push the two pads together until they are flush against the rotor.

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Lower Caliper Over Pads
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Lubricate Caliper Slider Pins
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Re-Insert Caliper Slider Pin
Carefully lower the caliper down over the new pads and in to the bracket.

If the caliper won't fit over the new pads, you might need to compress the two pistons back a bit further.

In order for the caliper to operate smoothly, the smooth parts of each combination caliper slider pin and caliper bolt need to be well lubricated.

Apply a thin layer of brake caliper grease to each slider pin.

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Spin In Lower Caliper Bolt/Pin
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Tighten 17mm Counterclockwise
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Tighten Upper Caliper Bolt
Push in the upper and lower caliper slider pins.

Spin in the caliper bolts a few turns by hand in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Tighten the upper and lower caliper bolts in the counterclockwise direction with the 17mm socket and ratcheting wrench to just past hand tight or about 24 ft-lbs of torque.

Double check that both caliper bolts are tight before moving on to the next steps.

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Replace Brake Fluid Cap
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Rubber Valve Cap
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Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
If you haven't already, replace the brake fluid reservoir cap by twisting it on in the clockwise direction.

If your brake pedal previously felt soft or spongy, the brake fluid may be contaminated with water or the brake lines may contain some air bubbles.

It would be best to bleed the brake lines at this time in order to flush out the old fluid and replace it with fresh DOT 4 brake fluid.

For more on this topic, check out my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With An Assistant DIY Guide or alternatively the Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With A Power Bleeder Guide.

The brake fluid bleeder valve is located underneath a rubber cap on the back side of the caliper just below the upper caliper bolt.

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Replace Front Wheel
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Spin On 5 Lug Nuts
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Slightly Tighten Clockwise
Replace the front wheel and spin on the five lug nuts in the clockwise direction by hand to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts in the clockwise direction in a "crisscross" or "star" pattern with the tire iron.

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Lower Vehicle From Stands
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Torque To 100 ft-lbs
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Front Brake Pads Replaced
Lower the vehicle from the jack stands using the floor jack.

Continue progressively tightening the lug nuts in a crisscross or star pattern to about 1/8 to 1/4 turn past hand tight or about 100 ft-lbs of torque. It would be best to use a torque wrench or an impact wrench with a torque stick to properly tighten the lug nuts.

Sit in the driver's seat of the vehicle and firmly press down the brake pedal a few times to restore the brake line pressure. Check the brake fluid in the reservoir and verify that it is at the proper level. If it is low, pour in some fresh DOT 4 fluid.

To break in your new brake pads, just drive normally for the first few hundred miles while trying to avoid any hard or "panic" stops which may glaze over the new pads and cause them to be noisy and/or not perform as well.

It's also a good idea to regularly check your driveway for drops of brake fluid which may indicate a leak, check the brake fluid level in the reservoir, and verify that the lug nuts are still tight after a short test drive.

For more, check out my other Ford Explorer DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.
 

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