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Replacing pads and calipers – Mustang Cobra

This article walks you through replacing front brake pads on an SN95 Mustang Cobra with dual piston calipers.

Project Time:

About an hour

Project Cost:

This can vary from $40 to over one hundred depending on the pads you choose. I went with Hawk pads but if you want to stay stock it is recommended to get direct Ford replacements.

Parts Needed:

  • Bar clamp (the ones with the pistol grip)
  • Breaker bar
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Large flat blade screwdriver
  • Five gallon bucket


  1. Work on one side at a time. Loosen the lug nuts and jack up the car. Make sure to use a jack stand to provide safety.
  2. Remove the wheel.
  3. Remove the E clip and washer off the caliper slide pin on the bottom front of the caliper. This can be a pain.
  4. Remove the two inner caliper bracket mounting bolts. You will need a breaker bar and a good deal of force.
  5. Slide the caliper assembly off of the rotor and set it on something to support the weight. I always use a five gallon bucket as a good work surface.
  6. The pads are held in by circular retainers. The outboard pads press into the caliper and the inboard pad presses into the pistons.
  7. Remove the outboard pad first. I had to use a scredriver to bend the fins in on the retainer and then it pushed right out of the caliper.
  8. Compress the dual pistons completely by using a c-clamp or bar clamp. Place the camp right on the inboard pad and use it to compress the pistons into the caliper. Make sure you have the master cylinder reservoir open and suck a little bit of fluid out to make room.
  9. Remove the inboard pad by popping the spring retainers out of the pistons.
  10. Make sure your new pads are outfitted with the anti-rattle clips at the bottom. I just transferred my old ones to the new pads because they had some rubber in them that the new ones didn’t. Not sure if that made a difference, but oh well.
  11. Use your bar clamp to seat the new pads into their respective place on the piston. Make absolutely sure you have the right pads in the right place. The pad with the wear feeler goes on the outboard position.
  12. Reinstall the bracket and slide pin. Ensure the washer and E clip are properly installed.
  13. Slide the assembly back in place over the rotor and reinstall the two caliper mounting bolts.
  14. Ensure there isn’t too much brake drag. If there is, you haven’t compressed the pistons fully.
  15. Mount the wheel and hand tighten the lug nuts.
  16. Lower the car and retorque the lugs in a star pattern.
  17. Test drive the car and make sure things are correct and not pulling to either side. Do a few controlled stops from 50mph to about 5mph to break things in a bit.



You don’t have to actually take the caliper mounting bracket off. This was my first time doing a Ford, so I thought you had to remove the bracket also. No big deal.

Bleeding brakes if you want to as part of regular maintenance (not necessary but used as reference):

  1. Remove the master cylinder cap.
  2. Start at the passenger side rear wheel.  Attach your clear hose to the brake caliper bleeder screw.
  3. Put end of bleeder tubing into 1 liter bottle on the passenger side rear bleeder screw.
  4. Pump the brakes five times and hold pressure on the pedal.
  5. Your helper should slowly and carefully open the bleeder screw until brake fluid begins to seep out into the tube.
  6. When the pedal reaches the floor, keep it pressed to the floor and tell your assistant to close the bleeder screw.
  7. When the screw is closed, go back to step 4.
  8. Continue this process until the Brake Fluid Reservoir is nearly empty, BUT DO NOT LET IT RUN OUT OF FLUID! If you do you’ll have to start all over again! If you have ABS this can let air into the ABS module and then you’ll have to go to the dealer to have it removed.
  9. Refill the brake master cylinder, and continue steps 4 – 8 until CLEAN, CLEAR, “honey” colored fluid starts coming out of the rear caliper.
  10. When this happens, close the bleeder screw and remove the tubing.
  11. Repeat steps 4 – 10 on the driver’s side rear wheel, then the passenger side front wheel, finally on the driver’s side front wheel.

I found the above process to be a lot easier using Dorman Speed Bleeder screws since it eliminates having to open and close the bleeder.  They have a check valve built in.   Just open the bleeder and pump away until you see clean fluid.  I tried using a Mityvac but it did NOT work well for me at all.