The sheer size may give the impression that the Ford E150 is hard to repair. The van can be far easier, or far harder to work on than the average Ford, based on how the owner uses the vehicle. Before lifting an E150 for repairs, remove as much weight as possible from the cargo area. In the event this cannot be done, use a heavy duty jack and heavy duty jack stands when raising the vehicle.
Due to the nature of its usage, E150s can be harder on brakes than many other vehicles. Since many are employed as delivery vehicles, or mobile work and/or repair centers for various services ranging through every imaginable industry, knowing what the van is used for will give you a sense of what to expect when you tackle the brake job.
Most E150s are equipped with disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear.
Before you remove the drums, however, put a drip pan underneath and spray inside the drum with brake cleaner to remove as much brake dust as possible. Breathing this dust can cause serious lung problems, so minimizing how much of it gets in the air is highly recommended.
If it has been a long time since the rear brakes were serviced, you can expect to hammer the drums loose with a few well placed hits on the drum face from a dead blow hammer or a sizeable mallet. Never hit the drum with a steel hammer, as you will most likely crack the drum. Once the drum is loose enough to remove, spray out the inside again with brake clean to keep the remaining dust from creating a cloud around your work area.
After replacing the shoes, before you put the rear drums back on, make sure to carefully examine the rear brake hardware and wheel cylinders. Replacing hardware is cheap and easy, so do it if you are even slightly unsure. When checking out the wheel cylinders, look for any spots that might have brake dust built up in clumps. If you see that, you may have a fluid leak. If so, replace the wheel cylinders and bleed the brakes.
The front brake set up on the E150 is nearly the same as that on same model year Ford trucks and large SUVs. If you have performed a brake job on a Ford truck, you should not find any real surprises here. Make sure to clean the front brakes with the specific cleaner before removing anything, and also be sure to clean and lube the caliper slide pins. Over time, the brake dust will build up on the slide pins, and if not cleaned and re-lubricated periodically, the dusty slide will cause the brake caliper to stick. A sticking brake caliper will make your van pull to that side when braking. If you have a heavy load and need to make a panic stop, a sticking caliper can send you right off the road.
If your E150 has sealed bearings in the front, you will not need to worry about them during the front brake job. However, if you have the older style exposed bearings, it is best to clean them and repack them with grease every time you remove the front brake rotors.
- Photo Credit Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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