Ford Explorer Brake Components Explained

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Ford Explorer

Throughout its history, the Ford Explorer has been a popular vehicle. People love the combination of its practical size, comfort and styling. If you like your Ford Explorer, you probably want to keep it on the road. With a little learning and a few tools, you could do a lot of the maintenance work on your vehicle at home. If you have ever wondered how brakes work, below is a guide to the relevant Ford Explorer parts.

How Your Brakes Work

Since the mid-1990s, the Ford Explorer has used disc brakes on all four wheels (earlier models had drum brakes on the rear wheels). Like most other brakes, these function by creating friction between a component connected to the frame of the truck and a component connected to the wheel. There are three major components: the rotor, the caliper and the brake pads.

Brake Rotor

Brake rotors are the parts of disc brakes that connect directly with the wheel. The rotor is essentially just a disc-shaped piece of metal (although most have special gaps to improve heat distribution). Since it is attached to the wheel, it spins at the same rate. By slowing the rotation of the brake rotor, the brake slows down the wheel.

Brake Caliper

The caliper is the main moving part of the disc brake. It has pistons inside that squeeze down on the rotor. It is mounted to the frame of the vehicle. So, by squeezing the rotor, the caliper causes the wheel to stop spinning. Calipers rarely need to be replaced unless they have been damaged. However, the pistons may eventually wear out on older vehicles.

Brake Pads

Both the caliper and rotor are (typically) made of metal. You don’t need to be a mechanic to know that metal grinding on metal isn’t a good thing. That is where brake pads come into play. They help create smooth friction between the two other components while also protecting them from wear. Brake pads are designed to be replaced periodically.

How To Know When You Need New Brakes

The most common brake part replacement is putting in new brake pads. There are a few signs that it is time for this repair. The most noticeable is a screeching, metal-on-metal sound. In most cases, this is caused by a special metal indicator in the pad that scrapes against the rotor. It doesn’t cause much damage, but you should fix the pads as soon as possible.

Another sign is your braking response. If your vehicle takes a long time to slow, you may need new brake pads. Explorers are heavy, so this can become noticeable (and dangerous) quickly.

Finally, the most reliable way to know when to get new brake pads is to measure them. Different pads and brakes have their own thresholds, but a general rule of thumb is that you need at least three millimeters of brake pad material.

Get Started

With some new Ford Explorer brake pads and a few basic tools, you could replace your own brake pads. It is a surprisingly easy job that anyone can learn how to do.