Shortly after the release of the Ford 500 in 2005, a technical service bulletin was released on the rear brakes. Caliper piston problems and premature rear brake pads wear caused by dragging occurred to many of the vehicles. Although the Ford Motor Company covered many warrantied replacement pads, many owners or repair stations may have improperly installed replacement pads and voided the warranties.
Rear Brake Pads
Due to exposure to environmental elements, it is not uncommon for the rear brake pads of the Ford 500 to seize themselves in the caliper bridge. This condition caused the pads to continuously rub on the rotor and create excessive brake dust and drag noise while prematurely wearing down.
Although it's not mandatoryto remove the parking brake cable from the caliper when replacing pads, it is important to be careful not to allow disconnection of the parking brake lever from the caliper when servicing the pads and/or rotors.
Remove the two caliper bolts and then work the caliper off of the rotor and bridge. Remove the pads from the anchor, which may involve severe prying of the pads from the bridge if they are seized. Because of this, the Ford Motor Company recommended the replacement of the spring clip hardware secured to the anchor.
Large amounts of graphite-based anti-seize compound or high-temp silicone based brake lubricant will help the new pads slide properly along the spring clips. Be careful not to get much of the lubricant or compound on the rotors, but if you do, wipe it off with a shop rag.
The Rear Calipers
The rear calipers on the 500 employ a screw-in caliper piston. What sets these calipers apart from other vehicles that employ rear disc brakes are the screw-in pistons. Although not the only vehicle to use this type of caliper, lack of knowledge about the caliper when attempting to retract the piston could damage the component. The left rear caliper piston screws into the piston bore like most conventional screw-in piston calipers using a clockwise motion. Pressure is necessary to apply to the piston while doing so, as well as awareness to the rubber piston boot. If the boot does not retract with the piston or cannot be replaced properly, replacing the caliper is recommended since further contamination to the piston can occur.
The right rear caliper employs a counterclockwise retraction motion, applying the same amount of pressure to the piston while doing so. With three things to do and look for while retracting the piston, the task is difficult and frustrating.
If the rear rotors are being replaced, removal of the caliper anchor bolts is required first. The Ford Motor Company also strongly recommended the replacement of these bolts. Once the anchor is removed, a retaining screw holds the rotor to the hub. To remove the screw, an impact screwdriver with the right sized Phillips head bit and a hammer will help. Once the screw is removed, remove the rotor and replace it. Clean the new rotor with brake cleaner as new rotors are coated with a rust prevention solution that can damage the surface of new pads and/or create severe smoking and burning smell when test driving.
Seating the Pads
Once the rotors, pads and calipers have been replaced, and the wheels are back on the 500, start the engine and apply 30 pounds of pressure to the brake pedal for one full minute. This will ensure the brake pads adhere to the caliper and seat against the rotor before the caliper is contaminated. Shut the engine off and test the brake pedal for firmness by pumping it a couple of times before test driving.
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