Ford Ranger Drum Brake Repair

Step by step repair instructions and photos for 2005 Ford Ranger rear drum brakes.

These days almost everyone needs to save money and hone their self sufficiency skills – and my house is no different.

When the brakes on my 2005 Ford Ranger started making that tell tale growl I decided I needed to do it myself this time despite the fact that it’s probably been at least 10 years since I did a brake job. Happily it was like riding a bicycle.  This repair is very similar to every other set of drum brakes that I’ve ever done, but your mileage may vary.

A shop might charge $2-300 or even more for this repair but the truth is that if you’re fairly mechanically inclined this isn’t an excessively difficult  job, and you can do it yourself with about $60 worth of brake shoes, and you won’t need any “special” tools.  Chances are that if you do any automotive work at all you already have most or all of the tools that you will need for this job:

  • Jack and jack stands or equivalent
  • Cross Wrench to remove the lug nuts
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Medium / large slot screwdriver
  • Small / medium “Vise Grip” type locking pliers
  • Locking needle nose pliers
  • Digital Camera

Expect to take from 30 minutes to 1 hour for each side unless you are already proficient – in which case you probably don’t need this guide.  If you get in a hurry and don’t read the directions – or if you run into problems like frozen or broken parts it could take quite a bit longer.  Clear your calendar for a few hours just in case. Try to have another vehicle available in case you need to make a parts run.

Brakes aren’t something that you want to foul up, and drum brakes are a lot more aggravating than discs are – so if you don’t have the patience to safely do a good job then you should just shell out the cash and let a professional do it for you.

This information may not be correct, and may cause extensive damage to you or your vehicle, and is only for information / entertainment use only.  You must agree that you are responsible for the consequences of any use or misuse.

Never work on any vehicle that is up on a jack – you will almost certainly injure or kill yourself, and damage the car.  Use jack stands or a safe equivalent like railroad cross ties or 6x6s.  Never work on any vehicle on a soft or unstable surface – concrete is best, asphalt can collapse under jack stands if you put enough weight on it.  You are solely responsible for your own safety and that of your car, passengers, other cars, drivers, and pedestrians.  If you are not 100% sure that you can safely complete this job then don’t do it.

Here is a valuable tip – do one side at a time.  That way if you get confused you can look at the other side to help you get it all together again.

Before you jack up the truck loosen all of the lug nuts while the tire is still on the ground.  Then once you have the car safely up and the tire off remove the retaining clips that the factory used to hold the drum on.  If the drums have ever been removed there won’t be any retainers so don’t worry about it, but if you have to remove them they will be damaged in the process which is OK, because they no longer serve any purpose – just throw them away.

use a screwdriver to pry the retainer clips lose and then just yank them off with a pair of pliers.
use a screwdriver to pry the retainer clips lose and then just yank them off with a pair of pliers.

Then remove the brake drum by gently tapping on it with a hammer to get it started, and then pry it off with a pry bar through the center hole.

Once you have the drums off examine them for deep scratches (like you will have if you wait too long to replace the shoes) or glazing (like you get if you drive like a mad man).  If the surface is not in good shape then you need to get the drums turned (7-10 bucks apiece) or replaced if they are too bad to turn.  Many parts stores that sell brake shoes also will turn your drums and discs.  If you don’t know what you are looking for, or if you aren’t sure, then take them to the parts store or machine shop to be checked.

Here’s what you will see once the drums are off –

Take several pictures of all of the springs and clips to help you get them all back together later.  Dont just rely on your memory!
Take several pictures of all of the springs and clips to help you get them all back together later. Don't just rely on your memory! If you don't have a digital camera then draw a diagram.

Helpful tip #1 – Put a ratchet strap, bungee cord, or giant rubber band around the outside of the brake shoes – this will help to hold it all together while you deconstruct the assembly.

Now remove the top spring from the rearmost brake shoe (the two sides are mirror imaged) by grasping it with a pair of vise grips and prying on them with a screw driver.

Don’t worry about the other top spring yet – it will be easy.

Now remove the spring from the auto adjusting lever by lifting the end of it up and off of the adjuster.

This will free up the adjuster lever which just hooks onto the end of the tensioner spring / cable and rides on the same stud as it’s lever spring

Now grasp both of the shoe hold down spring clips with a pair locking needle nosed pliers and remove it by compressing the spring and rotating it 90 degrees while you hold the retining rod from the back with finger pressure.  This is very easy to do with locking needle nose pliers and very hard to do without them.  If you don’t hold the rod from the back it will rotate along with the retainer, and make you say bad words.

Now use your locking pliers to grasp the spring that runs between the two brake shoes – stretch it just a little bit and pull the end out of the hole – note that this picture shows me holding the wrong end of the spring – I didn’t get a good shot of holding the correct end (this is on the passenger side).  Anyway, one end (the end toward the front of the truck)  will come out easily, and the other won’t come out at all without great difficulty and damaging the spring – so don’t force it.  Once you have the right end it will come right out with no problem.

Once you have the front end of the spring out just pivot the spring out and the other end will unhook.

Now take off the ratchet strap and the shoes will both come off – the front one will still be hooked to the big spring at the top but it won’t be under any tension and it will come right off.

Several parts will just come loose along with the brake shoes – like the star wheele auto adjuster –

The four brake shoes are all exactly alike except that two of them have this stud and the other two don’t.  The shoes with the stud install toward the rear of the vehicle.

The stud goes at the bottom by the way.

The rearmost shoe (with the stud) will still be attached by a soft steel clip to the parking brake lever.  You will have to bend apart the legs of the clip to remove it, and then you will have to crimp them back with a pair of pliers to install the new shoe.  Go ahead and do that.

One end of the adjuster star wheel assembly is threaded while the other end is not.  Turn the treaded end to shorten the adjuster assembly as short as it will go – but leave it loose – don’t screw it in tight and bound up.

Now you are ready to reassemble everything using the new brake shoes.

this thing is a pain in the butt
See that silvery thing under my left thumb?  That piece of sheet metal positions the cable / adjuster tension spring and is only held in place by the hole that it rides in and the slot in the shoe retractor – it’s kind of a pain in the butt. Don’t forget to position it as you install the shoes.

First rehook the big top spring to the forward shoe (it isn’t under any tension yet) and position both shoes while holding them loosely in place with the ratcheting strap or bungee cord.  Check to make sure that the slave cylinder rods, parking brake link, and star wheel adjuster are all in place on both ends – then lightly tighten the ratchet strap.

Replace both shoe hold down springs using the locking needle nosed pliers – push and rotate 90 degrees while holding the retaining rod from the back.

Use your locking pliers and screwdriver to pry the top spring back into place.

Replace the lower spring that goes between the shoes by tilting the rearward end into it’s hole in the rear shoe and stretching the spring with locking pliers to hook the front end into it’s hole in the front shoe.

Now route the adjuster tensioning cable around the shiny sheet metal braket on the rear shoe.

notice the sheet metal bracket (it's kind of blue in the picture) is only held in place by the notch in the parking brake link.

Now install the auto adjuster spring over the stud then hook the adjuster lever to the end of the spring/tensioner cable and install it over the same stud.

Now lift the end of the spring and hook it onto the adjuster lever

Remove the ratchet strap and check everything to make sure that it is all in place – slave cylinder rods on both ends, parking brake link on both ends, star wheel adjuster on both ends.  the top of the shoes should be bearing on the anchor pin that the two big springs hook to.  Also the adjuster lever should be engaging the teeth of the star wheel – if it isn’t the star wheel adjuster is probably installed backwards.  If all that looks good and you don’t have too many left over parts (any would be too many) then you are ready to re install the brake drum and the tire.

The brakes should work just fine, but they will adjust theirselves when you back the car up – so make a point of backing up and pumping the brakes a few times.  Drive around especially slowly and carefully untill you have determined that everything feels and sounds right, and the brakes work like they are supposed to.

drum-brake-diagram
Typical Drum Brakes - not exactly like Ford Ranger Drum Brakes but pretty close, and close enough to help you know what parts I am referring to in the article.

Thawing Frozen Pipes and Winter Home Maintenance

The first full day of winter, and Man it’s cold.  Three days ago it was 75 degrees and this morning it’s 5.  If you’re in Minnesota I know that you’re thinking stop whining already hey, but you must admit that is an extreme change over one weekend. It catches people by surprise – “Surprise! it’s December 22, and it’s Cold!” – It probably shouldn’t but it does.

It’s a big money day for plumbers.  Anyway…

How to Thaw your Frozen Pipes – Click on the link for more information on what to do when the water doesn’t flow, and how to keep your pipes from freezing if they haven’t already.

Winter Time Home Maintenance – Maintenance is the key to avoiding expensive repairs, and keeping your home values high –  And there are some things that are best done in the Winter time.

Easy Washing Machine Agitator Clutch Repair

It’s really easy to repair the slipping agitator clutch on many washing machines – $6 in parts, a couple simple tools, and this how to article could save you an appliance repair bill. Anyone can do it, and you might even get your clothes washer fixed quicker by doing it yourself.

“The agitator in my washing machine isn’t agitating!”

Fixing our broken Kenmore Elite top loading washing machine (apparently similar to Whirlpool, Roper and Inglis) turns out to be a really simple 10 minute job.  Seriously, if your agitator is slipping don’t call a repairman for this, a twelve year old could probably do it.  It’s so easy that I would recommend that if you don’t have a socket wrench and extension (the only tools required) that you buy one rather than call an appliance repair man just to change the agitator clutch.  Also, the parts were only $6.

The agitator on our washing machine stopped agitating.
The top part of the agitator on our washing machine stopped agitating.

So, my lovely wife informs me that the washing machine is broken.  Continue reading “Easy Washing Machine Agitator Clutch Repair”

How to Thaw Frozen Plumbing Pipes

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  • Locate the main water cut off for the house and procure any tools that you may need to quickly turn the water off, in case you have leaks when it thaws out. But unless you suspect that you have burst pipes, don’t turn off the water yet. If possible draft an assistant for the extremely dull job of being handy to quickly turn off the water in case you get it to flow, and leaks are detected.
  • Minimize Distracting Noise – You will usually be able to hear water flowing through the pipes once it starts, and turning the radio or TV off could help you to prevent a big mess in case you have a burst pipe.
  • Open up all of the indoor faucets (sinks, bathtubs, etc) for two reasons: 1) if you can achieve just a little bit of flow through the pipes, then often the flowing water will quickly thaw out the ice remaining in the pipes. 2) To relieve pressure when flow is restored so that any leaks will flow at a slower rate to give you more time to turn off the main water valve, and thereby minimize water damage.
  • Crank up the heat. Try to get heat to the areas that are most likely to be frozen. Obviously the most likely places for the pipes to be frozen are where it is coldest – crawl spaces, unheated basements, water meter boxes, garages, etc. Be careful with space heaters and extension cords, you don’t want to burn down the house. Don’t crank up the heat and then run off to town. Keep an eye on everything just in case the water starts to flow. Continue reading “How to Thaw Frozen Plumbing Pipes”
  • The Best Whirlpool Smooth Stove Top Cleaner

    We finally replaced our old open element range with a new Whirlpool smooth ceramic top stove model. We immediately discovered that if you spill anything on it at all that you get some really stubborn stains. The recommended product that came with the range would barely even do anything at all. So, to make a long story short all you have to do is sprinkle a small amount of automatic dishwasher detergent (great value brand from Wal-Mart gets consumer reports highest rating by the way) and a little water then gently scrub with a green scotchbrite pad and it cleans up just like new. After figuring this out I keep a spray bottle of solution (2-3 tablespoons of detergent in 12 oz water more or less) handy and cleanup is a snap.

    This same solution also works great for other tough cleaning jobs like the stainless steel exterior of the gas grill. This solution of automatic dishwasher detergent does a great job of loosening and removing stains, but it will leave the surface hazy unless you follow up with a damp rag or a glass plus type of multi purpose cleaner.

    By the way, the instructions that came with our stove say to only use the factory recommended cleaner, and a clean soft cotton cloth or some such malarky, but after several months of using my method our smooth top stove looks like new. Who knows what they are thinking at Whirlpool.

    Just in case you had any desire to know – Automatic dishwasher detergent uses enzymes which are biological catalysts to drastically speed up the chemical reaction of breaking down fats and proteins. Since the stubborn cooked on stains on your stove top are from foods containing fats and proteins, then dishwasher detergent is just the ticket. So, this isn’t just the best whirlpool stove top cleaner, also keep it in mind for all kinds of food stains including blood. As with any strong cleaner use with caution and at your own risk.

    How to Fix a Toilet That Runs On

    Repairing a run on Toilet is an EASY do it yourself fix!

    Looking down at the contents of a typical toilet tank

    This is what you see when you look down into your typical toilet tank. The yellow thing at top left is the flush valve also known as a “ballcock”. The gray thing in the middle is the flapper valve. By the way, despite the rust stains in these pictures, the water in the toilet tank is completely clean. This is not a nasty job.

    Toilet supply connections

    Typical supply connections. Continue reading “How to Fix a Toilet That Runs On”

    How to replace a Clothes Dryer Element

    If your electric clothes dryer runs but doesn’t get warm then you probably need a new heating element.

    This is an Amana brand dryer. Apparently all Amana and Speed Queen dryers use the exact same parts and repair procedure. I would consider this a very simple clothes dryer repair that is well within the reach of just about anyone who would be willing to tackle it. Estimated time required is 30-60 minutes. The Part was about $40.

    Replacing a dryer element

    These are the only tools that you need for this job: A 5/16″ nut driver, wire stripper, electrical tape, and flashlight.

    Replacing a dryer element

    First, unplug the dryer.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Those screws that are just visible at the bottom front corners are the ones you need to remove to open the cabinet.

    Replacing a dryer element

    This is the new heating element.

    Replacing a dryer element

    This is the other side of the new heating element.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Here I’m using my handy dandy Enders brand 6 in 1 screw driver as a 5/16 nut driver to remove the access panel.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Putting a two by four under the front edge of the dryer makes it a lot easier to get at these screws.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Off comes the access panel…

    Replacing a dryer element

    First glimps inside of the clothes dryer…

    Replacing a dryer element

    That black plastic blower housing doesn’t have to come off, but removing it only involves 3 screws and greatly improves access.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Replacing a dryer element

    Replacing a dryer element

    Here’s the view inside. Way back on the left is the old element. Plenty of dryer lint in there… Vacuming it out would probably be a really good idea.

    Replacing a dryer element

    The dryer element is only held in place by two 5/16 screws that are easily accessable. Although access does involve laying face down on the floor and reaching about as far back as I can reach.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Here is the new element on the right and the old one on the left. If you look close you will notice that the wires aren’t plugged into the correct places on the new element. It is quite easy to switch them around when they are side by side like this.

    Replacing a dryer element

    This burnt insulation means that I have to replace the female spade connector. Luckily my replacement part came with two pre-made “pigtails” for just such occasions.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Cut the burnt part of the wire off.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Strip about 3/4″ of both wires…

    Replacing a dryer element

    Twist them together and then trim to about 1/2″. Be Sure and twist clockwise so that the splice will tighten when you screw on the wire nut.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Screw on the wire nut as far as it will go. BTW the wire nuts came with the new element.

    Replacing a dryer element

    Since a clothes dryer is subject to vibration it is a good idea to secure the wire nut with a few turns of electrical tape.

    Replacing a dryer element

    All connections are made and the heating element is ready to install. I recommend that you do plug in the wires and make the connections before installing the element, because it’s pretty hard to reach back in there after it’s in place, and the wires don’t get in your way at all.

    Replacing a dryer element

    The new element is in place. Now just replace the black plastic blower housing, the front access cover, remove the 2 by 4, and plug ‘er in. Total clothes dryer repair elapsed time, about 30 minutes, If you don’t run into any snags.

    Your Dryer isn’t like this? Try looking here for Dryer Disasembly how to’s on other brands.