brake pads

My 2003 XLT ( v6, 4X4 ) just had its 15000 mile service at Ford ( free service for 25,000 miles). I was told that the front brake pads probably
would need replacement when I brought it in for the 20K service. I have several questions.
1. Is 20k miles normal for front pads?. My previous explorers ( 1998, 2000 ) both leased hit 35k before they needed pads.
2. What are the best quality pads I can use ( low squeal - good stopping power - long life )?
3. In all my previous vehicles, I always replaced the pads before they had a chance to score the rotors because turning rotors on the lathe always leads to warping after around 5k miles on the new pads. The OEM rotors are marginal, in my opinion, as regards to thickness and quality of steel. Any further reduction of thickness puts them over the edge in ability to resist warping. This has always been a fight with service operations because they all seem to be stuck in the old time warp going back to the days when all brakes were drum brakes, and you had to true up the drums when you replaced the "shoes". Drums had a lot of metal on them and could stand a lot of cutting. Has anybody had this experience?
Sy Cohen
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20,000 miles seems a little "sudden" but much hinges on local conditions... I have customers lucky to get 15,000 miles out of rear SuperDuty pads and we can call these normal for conditions. Sandy conditions, climate and other factors can gang up on us...... additionally (and I don't want to point fingers) there are many drivers that ore "two hoofers" without realizing it. Next time you're on the freeway, watch the magic brake light dance.... you can even tell which folks are listening to your favourite rock station.
We sell only Motorcraft pads - the top line ones. I have had decent luck with Raybestos, Wagner and (surprisingly) UBP who have, IIRC, since gone through an ownership change. Avoid the "bargain" pads.
Machining the rotors or not is a matter of economics. If I an replace the rotors for little more than the price of machining, the choice is simple. If the rotors are spendy AND I can machine them without getting too close to the "discard at" measurement, we can consider this a viable alternative. I'll mention that many off-shore rotors are of very high quality lately with the big problem being that they are manufactured off-shore. If we purchase these, we lose our right to bitch about Taiwan sweatshops.....
Drums had no more "wasre-able" metal than rotors do. Drums have a finite limit on diaeter just as rotors have a finite minimum thickness... this has everything to do with heat load as brakes convert motion into heat in order to slow or stop our progress. One thing we did do, ever so many years ago, was to decide if we were going to use standard, single oversize or double oversize brake shoes... the choice depended on the measured or machined diameter of the drum. After the choice was made, we would "arc" the brake shoes to more closely match the drum in curvature.
HTH

a
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Thanks for the response Jim - I didn't think anybody was "listening"
Sy Cohen

probably
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had
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I almost wasn't... three glorious nights perched at the shores of scenic, peaceful Slave lake (well, except for last night with a warning for possible waterspouts... I wish you southern types wouldn't export your danged tornadoes). The peace... the serenity.... the cooler full of cold beers 8^)...

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Interesting comments. I've always marveled at the folks that could accelerate away from me with their brakes on. I bet they complain about their car repair costs too.
I'm at 120,000 on the original Ford pads. Guess they are good enough. (Yup, just wanted to brag and no, I don't coast up to all stop lights and stop signs. I *do* try to look ahead a ways and plan accordingly)
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Sorry if this appears twice - I wanted to rewrite it after I saw Clark's response
120,000 is amazing. What year is yours, what kind of tranny?
I just pulled the wheels on my 92 yesterday and the day before to check the brakes. I've got 69,000 miles, haven't changed them once yet and there is tons of brake left. I used a caliper and measured 2-3 mm of shoe left above the rivets in the rear shoes. Ford says to replace at .768 mm (they are worn only at the edges - where the shoe starts). The front disc brakes are still pretty much like new. So I figure the answer is:
1 - Manual tranny (Why did they get rid of that???) 2 - Staying off the brakes.
When I drive, I'm always looking far ahead. I do coast to light and stop signs or if the cars ahead are bunching up or slowing. I see a red light or if the cars ahead of me are bunching up. If I'm in stop and go rush-hour traffic, I make staying off the brakes sort of a game (though I'm always flashing my brake lights to keep the guys behind me way back). I leave a big space ahead of me (I don't care if people cut in). I think it's safer too because I don't have any sudden stops. If I ever have to hit the brakes, I sort of figure I mistimed something. I DO grease the brake caliper slide rails every 12,000-15,000 miles religiously using the dielectric gel that Ford now recommends. (And I'm always double-checking the lug torque - to save the rotors) Despite all this, though, I'm pretty amazed at the mileage I'm getting off these original brakes. I don't know if I'll ever change em. I'll be dead before I hit 120,000 miles :O) The rotors are scored a little (if I change the pads, I'll just sand em. The drums are smooth as anything. I put anti-seize compound on them, so they pop right off) I think driving habits have a lot to do with brake life. Try driving in a way that you stay off the brakes.
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Yes, 120K is amazing......how much of this is highway travel?
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If you do your own brakes, it is not a big deal how long the pads would last. Since the pads and rotors are so cheap this days. I Just replaced them all if I find the pads are worn and the rotors are pitted on the inside. I grease the sliders every year, the pads and rotors usually last a couple of years. Just my 2cents.
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wrote in

1997 Sport, auto. Alot of the miles are highway, but also mostly in the mountains. I make one or two trips a year out to the flatlands and the rest have been long commutes, twice a week or so, to the "big" city.

Staying off the brakes helps, but don't get carried away. When I do apply the brakes, its generally firmly for minimum time. I figure that letting them cool off is as important as anything. Of course, I could be totally full of crap on that. I also think that the Sport is a few hundred pounds lighter than the 4 door and that has to help when it comes to brake loads.

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I don't know about that brake life. I just pulled the wheels on my 92 yesterday and the day before to check the brakes. I've got 69,000 miles, haven't changed them once yet and there is tons of brake left. I used a caliper and measured 2-3 mm of shoe left above the rivets in the rear shoes. Ford says to replace at .768 mm (they are worn only at the edges - where the shoe starts). The front disc brakes are still pretty much like new. So I figure the answer is:
1 - Manual tranny (Why did they get rid of that???) 2 - Staying off the brakes.
When I drive, I'm always looking far ahead. I slow down way in advance if I see a red light or if the cars ahead of me are bunching up. If I'm in stop and go rush-hour traffic, I make staying off the brakes sort of a game (though I'm always flashing my brake lights to keep the guys behind me way back). I leave a big space ahead of me (I don't care if people cut in). I think it's safer too because I don't have any sudden stops. If I ever have to hit the brakes, I sort of figure I mistimed something. I DO grease the brake caliper slide rails every 12,000-15,000 miles religiously using the dielectric gel that Ford now recommends. (And I'm always double-checking the lug torque - to save the rotors) Despite all this, though, I'm pretty amazed at the mileage I'm getting off these original brakes. I don't know if I'll ever change em :O) Is this some sort of record? The rotors are scored a little (if I change the pads, I'll just sand em. The drums are smooth as anything. I put anti-seize compound on them, so they pop right off) I think driving habits have a lot to do with brake life. Try driving in a way that you stay off the brakes.
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Actually, this sounds a lot like what I am accustomed to, and I get similar results. It's only when I have to do an excessive amount of in-town driving or stop and go, that have to replace them more frequently.
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Sy Cohen wrote:

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