How to Replace Brake Pads on a Ford Contour

by Jule PamplinUpdated November 07, 2017
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Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • 13 mm wrench

  • Flat screwdriver

  • C-clamp

  • Brake grease

  • Brake pads

  • Brake fluid (if necessary)

Ford recommends that you replace the brake pads on the Ford Contour every 50,000 miles. The front brake pads are especially susceptible to wear as they endure the most punishment from everyday stopping. The brake pads may require replacement sooner than their scheduled replacement interval. When brake squeal is heard emanating from the brake pads you should change the pads as soon as possible. The sound is caused by the brake pad wear indicators; if the brakes are not serviced quickly, this can lead to severe and expensive rotor damage.

Loosen the lug nuts on each of the Contour's wheels corresponding with the brake pads you intend to replace. Use the lug wrench from the Ford's wheel maintenance kit located in the trunk of the vehicle, or a tire iron with built-in 17 mm socket .

Lift the hood of the Contour and remove the master cylinder cap. The master cylinder contains the brake fluid and is located near the firewall of the vehicle's engine compartment. Place the cap over the container opening loosely. The goal is to allow for the air to pass into and out from the container, to make opening the caliper pistons in the future steps easier, while still protecting the fluid reservoir from debris.

Place the lifting jack beneath the axle and lift the Contour until the tires are at least two inches clear of the ground. Place jack stands beneath the frame of the Ford for support and lower the vehicle onto the stands.

Remove the lug nuts and pull the wheels from the wheel bolts.

Remove the caliper side bolts from the back side of the brake caliper with the 13 mm wrench.

Lift the caliper from the rotor and pry the brake pads from the inside with the flat screwdriver.

Place a worn brake pad over the two caliper pistons for the front brakes of the Contour and bind the pad against the pistons with the C-clamp. (Place the C-clamp directly onto the caliper piston and the back of the caliper wall for the rear brakes, which have just one piston.)

Screw the C-clamp arm to force the piston(s) into the side of the caliper. Remove the C-clamp once the piston(s) are completely within the side of the caliper.

Apply a thin layer of brake grease (copper-based is best for handling higher temperatures generated by the brakes) to the inside of the Ford's caliper walls. The grease will protect the caliper and the pistons from rust.

Slide the new brake pads onto the caliper sides.

Return the caliper over the rotor. Screw in the caliper slide bolts and tighten them with the 13 mm wrench.

Repeat steps 4-11 for each subsequent set of brake pads you wish to replace.

Replace the Ford's wheels onto the wheel bolts and screw on the lug nuts.

Lift the Contour with the jack, remove the jack stands, and lower the vehicle to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron or lug wrench. Return to the engine compartment.

Lift the master cylinder cap and assess the level of brake fluid in the reservoir. Add fluid as necessary. Replace the cap and close the Contour's hood.

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