CC Tech: 2004 Ford Focus Maintenance – New Brakes and a Serpentine Belt After 186k Miles

This Focus was acquired on Feb. 12, 2004 and has accumulated 186,000 miles. I figured it was maybe time to do its first-ever brake job and serpentine belt change.

The car, as pictured, still looks the same going into it’s 19th year. The only repairs the car has had in that time was replacing one PSM around 145,000 miles and the PCV hose hidden behind the intake manifold. PCM easy, PCV hose not so easy. Other than that just basic oil changes, coolant changes, transmission gear lube change and one spark plug change and now into the fourth round of tires recently. Not many 18 year old cars can beat that.

So first thing on the menu is the original serpentine belt. I go to my local parts store and get a belt. Next draw a diagram as this belt goes around numerous pulleys. Ease the first one out by releasing tension on the tensioner. Put the new belt in and start to have a hard time getting it around the last pulley. I lay there thinking what am I doing wrong? Why does the belt seem short? It seems short because it is short! I was given the wrong belt for my application. Nuts! That is not actually what I said but moving on I put the old one back on. A day later I returned the new one for my money back as I ordered the correct Motorcraft belt and now a new Motorcraft tensioner from Rockauto. Just a little more than the original belt. Good deal!

Old tensioner

New tensioner

New belt

Simple. like it should be now time to move to the brakes. I have had a new set of Ford rotors for years along with Ford pads but not needed them. Supposedly, the first Gen Focus had a black mark because of brakes. Well I never saw a problem. Maybe my climate? Probably a little help due to a stick.

There is what I get to look at after removing my front tire. Pretty clean, huh. I am lucky rust isn’t an issue. Rotors do need to go.

The calipers are held in place by two hex head bolts. Remove the little cap, unclip the brake hose, unscrew the two bolts, lift off the caliper and place it on top. Piece of cake. Now you just flip the metal clip up and then slide the pad out of the caliper and then grab the back one.

Bare look.

Here is the comparison of the old pads vs. the new pads. The new measure 1/2″ thick while the old measure at 1/4″ thick.  Try beating that for 186,000 miles and they could have gone 200,000 easily. However, the rotor wasn’t so smooth when running your fingertips over it so might as well do everything.

The new parts and the FSM.

Now place in the back pad, I used the handle of my screwdriver to push the piston back, slip the front pad onto the caliper, then onto the new rotor and I snapped the wire retainer then as it was easier being firmly held in place by the rotor now.

That was it. Went smoothly and quickly as it should. Next week I will take on the rear drums. I already had Ford shoes in stock along with a new spring kit so it should be straight forward. Did I actually say straight forward. Who am I kidding nothing goes smoothly an entire job. There has to be something that goes wrong for one. The second known issue is job creep. Remember I had new tires put on some months ago where I supplied the tires and then watched the installation like a hawk. Well even with hawk eyes some things are faster than the eye it seems and I will never allow that again. So I’ll leave you with two pictures which should give you a good idea of those two points I mentioned and continue in part 2.

To be continued…