Yes, you need to remove the dust cap. The Haynes manual says "the nut is
very tight - use only high-quality close fitting tools. Take adequate
precautions against personal injury when loosening it". Also, the nut can
only be used 4 times. They Haynes manual suggests marking it each time it is
Once you've got that nut off, the drum should free itself. If not, you'll
need to use a suitable puller.
AFAIK though, there is an inspection hole, where you can check the brake
shoes. But this is only what I have read on my service checklists. I have
rear discs, so cannot back that up.
If you look at the brake back-plate from under the car you will see 4 bolts.
Remove these and the whole hub and brake drum can be removed complete.
This way, you get a completely flat back-plate to work on, and it is
unnecessary to disturb the wheel bearings.
The only problems removing the brake drums using the 4 bolt method are:
If you have ABS brakes you need to disconnect the ABS sensor at the control
arm and work it through the backing plate. If you damage the cord - you will
have to replace the whole hub assembly.
The 4 bolts are generally rusted or frozen on the hub and an impact wrench
is required to remove them without snapping the heads off. Snap the bolt
heads, new hub required.
To gain unrestricted clear access to these bolts you will have to remove the
You should really have the car on a hoist if you use the 4 bolt method.
And in most cases the drums will either have to be replaced or trued up when
the rear brake shoes are replaced any how.
In 2000 when I bought my North American Focus I was told by my dealer
service tech that the only way to remove the brake drums was using the 4
bolt method, when the time came to replace the rear brake shoes the Tech
removed the drums using the hub nut method. I believe its a 29 mm socket. I
asked him why and the response was the above noted problems.
The rear brakes of the Focus are virtually identical in design to Escorts of
the last 8 or so years of production. I have used the method I described on
many occasions on a number of vehicles and have *never* encountered any of
the difficulties you describe. I have never had to remove any other
components, I have only ever had the vehicle on an axle stand, and have only
ever used a standard socket set to remove the bolts. I have also never
broken a bolt!
In over 30 years of non-professional vehicle repairs I would describe the
number of times brake drums have required replacement as *rarely* rather
than *in most cases*.
Of course, YMMV but the method I described is also as shown in the (UK)
Haynes manual. It's the only way I would recommend doing it!
I took mine off using the four bolt method and didn't run into any problem
with frozen bolds or access to them. They were torqued very tightly and I
had to tap the wrench with a hammer, but they yielded readily. Nor did I
have a lift, just a hydraulic jack from Wal-Mart (about $15.00) that fits
under the rocker panel just as the Ford jack does, but is more stable and
has a safety pin keep it up if the hydraulics fail. If you have ABS you do
have to thread the electric cord through the hole in the plate, but that is
easy. Of course, you also have to undo the plug first. But don't forget to
plug it back in when you get done! The hardest part of the job is none of
the above, but putting the springs and shoes back on the plate.
In this part of the world we get lots of snow and ice, they put on the one
heck of a lot of salt on the roads in the winter time and this causes those
4 hub bolts to seize making it very difficult to remove them as well under
car components get really corroded (rusty).
If you check around the forums there have been postings about broken rear
hub support bolts when folks tried to remove them.
All I know is the FORD dealer Techs at the dealership I visit remove the
rear drums on a Focus using the hub nut method. Maybe you live in a warm
place in the U.S. where salt is not used on the roads. Enough said.
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