CC Tech: 2004 Ford Focus Maintenance, Part 2

See what I saw? Now how many want to place a bet that the very first word out of my mouth was nuts?

I first loosened the nuts while the tire was on the ground before lifting. Once lifted I started to hand remove the nuts one by one except the third one was getting harder. Put the 19mm socket and 1/2″ ratchet on, but felt the nut come to a halt, not going forward or backwards. I knew it was placed on and cross threaded. Now I had to snap it off. Insert your choice four letter word here ____. This ended my day as I now needed a new drum and might as well replace both drums. I went online at Ford Parts. com and got a good deal on Motorcraft drums sans wheel bearings. That means I am getting new bearings, new seals, and new dust covers. You might have also noticed that off axis mount for the rear upper control arm. The bushing looks to be history. So I checked things out and decided to get both upper and lower arms for both sides. So rather than waste the day I moved my 2004 LeSabre into the shade to wash. I noticed the engine service soon light on thinking oil as I change it more often but it wouldn’t reset. Using my scanner I get P0449. Lovely, something else to deal with. Suspiciously this goes back to June 1st when Tesla rudely met Buick but that is a whole other story I will write about. Good thing I have my trusty 91 Mazda 626 as a second daily driver.

The new drums arrived first from Ford. Don’t they look gorgeous? Too bad they can’t remain so shiny.

Now on the following Wednesday my parts arrive. In the box are parts for the Focus, the 626 and the LeSabre each having their own story. I have both upper and lower control arms, wheel bearings, seals and new dust caps. I will say now that the dust caps were a tad larger so the originals were saved. Also the seals were incorrect. In fact not even close.

Out come the original upper and lower control arms. Getting them out was easy but little did I know that I would spend three hours trying to put the new ones in. Notice how it is slightly cocked and they are that way somewhat when sitting on the wheels. I had a bad feeling lining up the holes and getting the long bolt through was going to be tough given the twist. I was unfortunately right.

Early on it became obvious that the inside portion of the two arms needed to be connected to the body and not the other way. Once loosely connected inside the fun began. Should I do upper first on the drum spindle or the lower first. I am 1 1/2 hours in when it is top in first and lower in last. I need a 3/8″ ratchet with 15 mm socket, a 15 mm closed end wrench, a breaker bar, and a long thick screw driver plus a second jack. Another hour goes by with no progress lining the upper arm sleeve to the two bolt holes. I need a third arm and call out my 13 year old. Now I am under the car using the breaker bar to push and rotate the body of the upper arm. A large screw driver is used inside the spindle to control vertical movement. When I have it close I tell my son to start tapping firmly with the dead blow hammer. He gets the lead end in and I tell him to get the ratchet on it and start to screw it in. Success! The lower arm was now next and took several tries to get the right height on the spindle for lining up. Then some lateral movement with the screw driver and tap the bolt in. Success again. Torque them to 62.5 lbs. with weight on them. Now 1600 hours and the hot sun is on the side left so call it a day.

Here is the comparison of the new, on the left, vs. the old, on the right. Down first week and into the second week for the rears.

So now a week later and I can use the machine shop on board the Hornet to press in the bearings. Tom has to unlock the tool chest door where all the large sockets are kept so we can find one that fits the new bearing. I didn’t have the luxury of using the old shell. With that being said it only took about 7 minutes to line them up and press in. Sure beats all those Youtube videos where people are beating them out and in with a hammer and socket.

After getting them home I put the OEM c-clip in place. The new drum and new bearing didn’t come with one so I used the original one that I removed.

Given as how that was on Saturday and now have Sunday to work on cars. Actually my first task was to change the oil/filter in my wife’s Mazda 3. While I had four filters in stock I had no oil for that particular car out of the 14 5 qt. containers I had.  That was a bummer as it means next Sunday after I order some. So out goes the 3 and in comes the Focus. I’m already wondering what I am going to find once the wheel and dust cap were off. Would I find a 30 mm nut I had heard about, and have a socket, or would I find a 29 mm nut for which I don’t have the socket. Of course, it was the 29 mm size and that ended my day right there. Now have to get that. I could have popped the cap off and looked but I was still stewing from the broken stud.

Not a complete loss as I had new MacGuard lug nuts to replace those combination lug nuts with chrome caps that Ford used and separate with age. So all eight were placed on the front wheels and then it got Damn Hot.

Like over 92 between noon and 1:00 pm. I’m done after 85 degrees as I don’t like sitting in such sun. Interesting the oil showed up 3 1/2 hours after I ordered it from Walmart. Not UPS, not FedEx, but a private car driven by a mid-40’s woman who dropped it off. What was that?! Oh well, Mazda 3 not home.

Down two weeks and now into the third week.

Now that I have a 29 mm 1/2″ socket I can take off the drum and hub. Ford torques it down to the tune of 235 nm. I don’t know about others but nm doesn’t work with my mind. The only part of the metric system that is fluent in my head, as I need it for my profession, is mm and cm up to one meter. Beyond that I convert in my head easy enough but my head just doesn’t convert nm from the FSM. Frankly, I’d rather work in ft lbs even though the torque wrench has both. If that is stubborn or stupid I don’t know but it is what I am comfortable with in cars since 1970. So the nut is at 173 ft lbs and I get my 5 foot extension. The nut comes off like it wasn’t even torqued down which is how easy a very long extension makes it.

Here we have the assembly apart, backing plate cleaned, and the drum back together. I torqued to 173 ft lbs for the hub nut. For those wondering about the car sitting on the jack. There is also a 2 1/2 ton jack stand the car is sitting on outside of the picture. Then the two front tires are both chocked. One needs to stay smart and I have a pair of 2 1/2 ton and a pair of taller 6 ton stands for the F-100. Once the tires go back on, I lower the car, torque the wheels to my 95 ft lbs, which is what the FSM says. I recall once at Discount Tires, when they were installing new tires, I was right there and asked what they were torquing my wheels to and was told 120 ft lbs. I said no way and torque to 95 but he disagreed and said based on liability and manual. I said manual? Let me get it out of the car and showed him which shut him down. I don’t know about others on this either but I don’t sit in the waiting room waiting. I am right outside the entrance to the shop door where my car is and watch every step. The now new step will be the requirement that the lug nuts are installed and screwed down by hand either by me or the mechanic and no other way.

Back to the car I take it out and drive around the block several times to settle in. I didn’t expect anything different since the brakes were pretty much fine to begin with. Also backed the car up several times for the drums and then parked the finished car or was it. Pulling on the emergency brake did nothing as I felt no resistance and they didn’t engage. Why, as the first step in assemble to to engage the end of the emergency cable with the lever on the back shoe. One actually assembles it off the backing plate and then flips up to the plate and installs the two retainers as per the manual. I could see why as the top spring is a tough one to move around. Well, too late to deal with and the car is a manual, on flat ground, and I always put it into reverse when done. I’ll look next Sunday.

Only next Sunday means I won’t get to this car as I first adjusted the rear drums on the 73 Polara and stupidly allowed my ring finger to get caught between the a tire and asphalt drive way as I spun it three times to check resistance. The third time was not a charm and I almost sheared off a large chunk of skin on the side of my ring finger. The pain was incredible and it was ugly. Took me two hours to get it washed, back in place, glued with dermabond, and then prophylactic antibiotic before wrapping in gauze. Now out of any right hand use for two weeks and major use for one month.

What had happened is that I took the tire off when up high on the jack and then lowered the car down to the jack stand. Clearance went from 3 inches down to 1/2 inch which was enough to get the tire on without lifting but not enough for a finger if I allowed the hand to stay on longer when turning. Duh!!! On top of that I had to go back out to finish putting the tire on and cleaning up with just the left hand. That didn’t stop me from going down to the Hornet for my continued restoration of Vulture’s Row though since nothing can stop that.

That episode was back in July, and today was Sunday August 20, time to bring the Focus in. Removed the four 13 mm bolts on the backing plate to remove the spindle and drum. I then tried the emergency brake from inside and nothing. Looking inside I finally saw what it was. If you look back at the cleaned backing plate there is this little round 10 mm bumper for part of the the emergency lever to rest against. Well when flipping the whole assembly back into place the edge of the lever landed against the edge of the bumper preventing any motion. Ok, just redo it at which point I found that it could be quite tricky getting the lever to rest atop the bumper as you fasten the assembly back in. It only rests partially rather than fully over said bumper. If not in place you couldn’t lift it over so the assembly has to come out all over again. It is a dance between you and re-assembly. Once that was managed the emergency brakes worked fine. Now I need to locate some place where I can drop off all the old metal I am collecting with these repairs.

With that the last brake job for my Focus is now done for the rest of the long life of the car. I drive less miles overall and I spread it out over three different cars so that means an easy 20 years, and then some, for this brake job. The car should hit 200,000 miles sometime in 2024. It will be the last 1st Gen 2004 Focus left as a daily driver in this country.

Next Sunday, heat permitting, I will change out the rear struts on the 626 which has had everything else in the rear suspension replaced back to brand new to go along with the front. That is another story to finish as this Labor Day weekend saw four days over 105 degrees in the shade. Ugh!