How to change rear brake shoes on a Ford Ranger 1998-2003
Lately you’ve noticed a chatter when you step on the brakes in your Ford Ranger—not enough to warrant real worry that they may just stop working while you’re on a steep slope, but enough to make you wonder if it’s time to get them changed. That and you noticed that the emergency brake is sticking a lot more than it should. These are two symptoms of brake wear and should warn you that it’s time to change your brake shoes. You can take your truck to a mechanic or a dealership and pay anywhere from $100 to $300 to replace your brakes, or you can do it just as easily for $60 or less by buying the parts yourself and spending an afternoon with your truck.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve got all the equipment you need. This includes new brake shoes—they start around $20 (Make sure your auto-parts dealer knows the exact make and model of your truck, some Rangers have bigger wheels than others.), a piece of material you can put parts on, needle-nose pliers, a steel brush (or steel wool), a lug wrench, a truck jack, blocks (can be medium-sized rocks or scrap lumber at least as thick as a 2X4), screwdriver (flat-head) and brake-spring pliers—around $20. The last item, the brake-spring pliers, is a worthwhile, time-saving investment, but your auto parts store may be able to loan you a pair.
1. Block the opposite rear wheel off using the blocks or rocks, place one in front and one behind, and make sure they’re tight against the wheel to keep the truck in place.
2. While the wheel you’re working on is still on the ground, loosen the lug nuts. It’s much more difficult to do while the wheel is in the air, placing the lug nuts on the cardboard or material you’ve laid out. Placing things in the order, and in the shape that you took them off will simplify things for you later, when you go to put it back together.
3. Jack the wheel up, remove the wheel and then work the drum off. This will likely be the hardest part. Use the screwdriver to help pry the drum off. Work your way around the back of the drum, prying the between the back plate and the drum itself (You may need a hammer, but use it carefully, you could damage the drum.). If the drum is stuck remove the rubber plug on the rear dust shield. Then loosen the notched wheel (aka adjusting screw), which will loosen tension on the drum, making it easier to remove.
4. Remove the old brake shoes. Start by removing the spring at the top of the drum, with the brake spring removal tool. Then remove the other springs, working your way down and around. Two posts covered with a cap-like retainer clip hold the shoes in place. Push the first in and turn it to remove the clip and the spring it held in place. Repeat for the other clip and then work both posts out. Remove the spring at the bottom of the shoe. At this point, the adjuster mechanism will fall out and the shoes should be loose (There is an additional clip for the driver’s side that holds the emergency brake in place. Work this loose as well so you can remove the shoe.). Make a note of which shoe was the front and which was the back, place the new shoes next to the appropriate old shoe.
5. Check and clean everything. On all metal parts you’re reusing, clean them off with the wire brush or steel wool. Check the rubber on the brake cylinder, remove, and dust for debris. Use the brush or wool on the inside of the drum and the wheel post as well.
6. Begin reassembly by reinstalling the metal post at the top of the shoes. For the driver’s side, take the rear shoe—it should be longer than the front shoe—and replace the parking brake clip. Now take a shoe post and reinstall it though the backing plate, insert the shoe over the post, then put the retaining spring on and the retaining clip. Repeat for the front shoe, keeping the shoes in place while you continue to work on the brakes.
7. Check to make sure the adjuster screw spins on both ends, if not, clean and lubricates it. Then put it back in place. Make sure the adjuster screw is mounted properly, with both ends connect properly with the brake shoes and that the adjuster cog is in the right place. Next insert the spring that runs across the front of the adjuster screw, using the brake tool to hook it in place (See! Totally worth a Jackson). Now replace the long springs that are on the top of the brake shoes.
8. Replace the drum and spin it. If the brake doesn’t make light contact with the new pads, go through the hole in the back plate where the adjuster knob goes through and move it until there’s light friction on the shoes. Replace the plug that covered the adjuster knob. Replace the wheel, hand tighten the lug nuts, then lower the wheel and tighten the lug nuts with the wrench.
9. Repeat all steps for the other side of your truck, and you’re done. Before driving on any major roads, test your new brakes on a side street. They should self-adjust after a few pumps, but it’s always wise to test before you’re back on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere.
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