When I first purchased my 98' crown victoria, one of the first tasks to do was inspect the thickness of the brake linings. Both the front and the rear pads were wearing evenly and still had plenty of friction material left on them. The front passenger side rotor was warped to some degree. But the problem was not noticeable around town. But after the rotor heated up from highway driving, the passenger's side of the dashboard would vibrate during hard braking. Problem did not cause loss of vehicle control, so I decided to postpone addressing the rotor issue until the front pads were worn down enough that they needed replacement too.


Around 25k miles later, the front pads had worn down significantly and the front drivers caliper was sticking a little bit causing the inner pad to wear more than the outer. So it was finally time to service the brakes.

There are numerous brake pad choices for these cars. I opted for aftermarket performance friction (http://www.performancefriction.com) carbon metallic ones for my police cruiser. The local distributor (http://www.autozone.com) sells these pads for around $50 with a lifetime free replacement warranty.

Since I was going to be installing new brake linings on the front and the rotors were warped and grooved to some extent, it was also time to service the rotors. I could have machined the rotors, but this would have greatly increased the probabilty of them becoming warped in the future. Coincidentally around this time, I found someone selling front brake rotors taken off by kenny brown performance during a performance upgrade on new crownvics with under a hundred miles on the odometer. I had been leaning towards rotor replacement rather than resurfacing anyways and the price on the kenny brown stuff was too good to pass up, so my police interceptor now has "new" rotors on it. If you are considering mail ordering front rotors for your crown victoria, be warned that they weight around 25lbs each and will cost a little bit to ship.


Below is an exploded view of the front brake system in a 98' crown vic:

Part Number
Suggested Retail
95-97 Front Caliper Pin Kit
98-01 Front Caliper Pin Kit
01-02 Front Caliper Pin Kit
98-02  Front Slipper
98-02 Motorcraft Front Brake Rotor (BRR-64)
98-02 Ford Front Brake Rotor

In 1998, both the civilian and police variants of the crown victoria used the same braking system. In some of the earlier model years, police models had unique brake parts with a larger surface area and other different characteristics. So make sure to mention to your parts vendor that you've got a police cruiser when ordering parts.

Here's some pictures of the F8VZ-2B296-AA caliper pin service kit. If either of the boots is cracked, you'll likely have to replace these parts because they'll be corroded. It's also possible that you'll have to replace them because the silverish bolts will be seized to the greyish/black ones. The whitish tube contains dielectric grease to lubricate the parts. Some mechanics have also used copper anti-seize compound with mixed success.

And here's the same kit from a different angle.

And here's the front shoe slippers that the pads slide back and forth over. Wear in these will cause the caliper to bind in certain sections of it's travel range resulting in uneven pad and rotor wear. And if these parts get holes worn in them, the caliper will contact the caliper bracket in which case you may have to replace the caliper bracket to get even pad and rotor wear again.

Note that many mechanics often overlook caliper sliding surface imperfections when replacing pads. This can be frustrating to the vehicle owner who has their warped brake rotors replaced to correct pedal pulsation & shaking issues, only to have the new rotors warp a couple months later due to the brake caliper binding in a way that it overheats the rotor.

If you own a pre-1998 crown victoria and want better stopping power or have to replace some of the big front brake components like the calipers, rotors, caliper brackets, and front wheel bearings, you might consider upgrading to the larger 98+ components. This would give you a larger surface area on the rotors, larger brake pad area, and dual piston calipers to increase stopping power and decrease the chance of the rotors warping. The catch is that you have must have 16-inch wheels installed to do the "big brake upgrade". Many of the pre-98 vehicles will have 15" rims on them which will not physically fit over the front brakes components. Another catch if you have a 94' or earlier vehicle is that you'll also need new steering knuckles which means that you'll also need some specialty front end service tools and a front end alignment after installation. For more information on this topic, visit http://www.crownvic.net/tech/brake_upgrade.shtml

Front Caliper Removal Notes:

To remove the calipers, the caliper piston first has to be compressed. But if you've got anti-lock brakes (abs) in your vehicle, you should open the 3/16" bleeder valve before hand so you don't force debris laden brake fluid back through the hydraulic control unit (hcu). Some "mechanics" insist that opening the bleeder valve is an unnecessary step. But if you take a look at the vehicles that they service, you'll typically find an abnormally high incidence of expensive hcu failure. But the cause and effect relationship is often difficult for the owners to notice because abs brake system malfunctions will not occur immediately after service and may take a year or two until the dreaded abs warning light on the dashboard is illuminated. And although not opening the bleeder valves significantly increases the risk of hcu failure, it does not mean that 100% of the improperly serviced brake systems are going to expierence hcu failure which further complicates observing the cause and affect relationship. Anyways, after the piston has been compressed into it's bore, make sure to close the bleeder. And also make sure that no one steps on the brake pedal while the bleeder valve is open to prevent vacuuming air into the hydaulic system.

After the caliper is removed, the caliper bracket must be unbolted from the steering knuckle to remove rotor. Ford installs thread locking compound on the 18mm bolts which hold the bracket in place, so you'll need a long 1/2" drive breaker bar with a 6-point socket on it to get the bolts out. Attempting to use a regular ratchet to get the bolts out is going to be fruitless, you definetly need a breaker bar over 18 inches long to get anywhere. Ford states that the bolts are one use fasteners, but many mechanics reuse them when doing brake service. New ford service parts will come with threadlocking compound already applied. But if you're re-using the old bolts, make sure to put some locktite or similar compound on the bolts when you reinstall them. Having the brake caliper detach from the steering knuckle while you're driving can have disastorous consequences.

On crown vics prior to the 00' model year, rotors were held on to the wheel bearing hub by ford during the car assembly line process with two rivets. If you've never had the rotors off your crown vic before, you will have to drill out these rivets to remove the rotor. The rivets are for assembly line use only and you do not have to reinstall them if you remove them. On the later crown vics, rotors are held on during the assembly process using a thin locknut on one of the studs on each wheel. If you have neither rivets nor lock nuts on the rotors, the brake rotors have been off the car previously.


The rear pads on my crownvic p71 were in poor condition. The lining thickness was marginal, the shims were rusted through in places, part of the pad clip had snapped off and one of the pads was worn significantly more at one edge than the other. Though the rear brakes make a relatively small contribution to the total stopping power of the vehicle, they do have a noticeable effect on brake pedal feel. And on vehicles equipped with electronic traction assist, the pads get pulsed on and off repeatedly everytime the vehicle senses that the rear wheels are starting to loose traction. If you've got "a heavy right foot", chances are that you'll be replacing your rear pads rather frequently.

Below is a diagram of the rear disc brake system in a 98 crown vic:

Interestingly, 92+ crown vics have both brake pads and brake shoes in the rear. The pads are engaged during normal braking. And the minature set of shoes which contacts the inside drum of the rotor is used when the emergency brake is applied.

Part Number
Suggested Retail
94-99 Rear Caliper Pin Kit
92-02  Rear Slipper
96-02 Motorcraft Rear Brake Rotor (BRR-61)
96-02 Ford Rear Brake Rotor

Below are the slippers that the rear pads slide on. The slippers on the passenger side of my crown vics had significant craters worn in them in places which explains the odd pad wear. The calipers are interchangeable side to side. But on the passenger side. the caliper is mounted on the front of the axle. On the drivers, the caliper is mounted towards the the rear of the axle. More abrasive debris tends to accumulate on the passenger side since it's in front of the wheel instead of behind it which probably explains why the passenger slipper was worn much worse than the driver's.

Caliper Removal and Installation Notes:

Like the front calipers, you should open the 3/16" bleeder valve if you've got an abs equipped vehicle.

The calipers are held onto the rear axle assembly using two 10mm bolts on each side. The lower bolt on the passenger side rear can be diffcult to access because the control arm is in front of it. But if you've got the vehicle supported by the frame rails, this clearance issue is easy to correct by using a floor jack to raise the rear axle assembly slightly until you get the needed clearance for the bolt.

There are two different designs of brake pads used on these vehicles in the rear. One type is for vehicles with phenolic caliper pistons, the other for vehicles with steel caliper pistons. The most reliable way to determine what you've got is to remove one of the calipers and put a magnet on the piston. If it sticks, you've got steel. If it doesn't you've got composite non-metal phenolic pistons. My vehicle had steel pistons in the rear, but yours is likely to be different. So make sure to look what you've got before you make a trip to the parts store.

Like an old brake drum, the shoes tend to wear a ridge onto the rotor which can make removal difficult. So you may have to use a specialty puller and back the shoe adjuster off a little bit before you can get the rotor off.

Emergency Brake Service:

Rear parking brake service on these vehicles is troublesome with the way the brake shoes are situated behind the axle shafts. Some people with small fingers may have luck servicing the shoes with axle shafts in place. Others will find it easier to remove the c-clips and slide the axles out before servicing the emergency brake components.

Questions or comments?

Email me: [email protected]