Ford F150 Brakes

I have a 1998 ford f150 that has a 2003 engine in it. this truck was given to me by my father and because i had a second vehicle i hardly ever drove it. Probably 30 miles a week. Now that i am married and have a daughter my husband and i use it a lot more to run errands and go to appts. After we started driving it more, the brakes will lock up on us. However it is only at slow speed, normally just first gear and then it is fine when you are in higher gears. Could someone tell me what they think is wrong with it, do you think it is just the brakes or would it be more to fix it like line, rotors and anything else brakes. Because i can change the brakes by myself but the other things i am lost at… Thanks in advance for your help!

What’s locking up? Front brakes? Rear Brakes? One Front? One rear? I believe a 98 still has rear drums?

More info please?


it is the rear driver side the truck is a 4X2 rear wheel drive. i should add also that we just put new tires on it and it didn’t happen until then

Usually the rears on these trucks don’t have enough power to lock themselves up.

If it were mine, I’d pull the rear wheel and drum off to see what’s going on. To me, it sounds like a rearend going out as opposed to brakes doing it. The only time I ever noticed a rear drum locking a little was on the ABS trucks in the rain. Sometimes that ABS system would allow one to lock up before the other but nothing letting up on the brake wouldn’t cure. You may have a broke spring or something else loose on a pad in that hub (hopefully, that’s cheap to fix) or there could be some sort of problem with the axle/differential.


They certainly do have enough power to lock up the rear end. I have two older trucks with drums and they will both lock the rear end up (no abs).

The wheel cylinder may be sticking on that side. I would have someone check out the brakes on it.

If the axle seal is leaking a little, or the wheel cylinder is leaking a small amount the oil can contaminate the shoe lining and cause the locking you describe.

If the brake on any wheel is locking up while driving, a great deal of heat and subsequently a burning odor will be produced. Has the odor been noticed? If there is no odor, I suggest driving on a less travelled road and while at a speed low enough to cause the problem, shift into neutral. If the truck stops itself in a short distance it is likely a brake problem. If it continues to coast with no apparent self braking you might consider non-braking issues. I seem to be reading a possibility of the transmission being stuck in 3d (direct drive).

She said 5th gear indicating a stick shift, the automatics were 3 and 4 speeds.

Generally on F150’s 99% of the braking is done with the front disc brakes. If it weren’t you couldn’t drive it empty without wrecking it in the rain. By the age her’s is, likely she’s not backed up near enough to keep up with the self adjuster, and I’d imagine the rear drums if everything is where it’s supposed to be have very little pressure they can apply relative to the fronts. Like I mentioned, the only time I’ve ever noticed a rear brake grab on these wagons is in the rain with the truck empty where it takes a lot less pressure to lock the wheel and slide it. I don’t see how a leaking axle seal into the rear drums would possibly cause the brake to lock up.


It’s not an F150, but my 2001 Grand Caravan had leaking wheel cylinders a little while back which were leaking onto the brake shoes and causing them to stick, with or without braking.

Setting the parking brake made them almost impossible to break free, but even just sitting parked with just the gearshift in “P”, would allow them to lock up the rear tires and they needed to be “broken” free (put into reverse or drive and apply a bit of throttle) to get the van to move after sitting overnight.

i believe it is a broken spring from what i saw looking at the brake and the drum and things. thank you to everyone who helped me out. i am not sure how to fix the spring seeing as my skills are limited. so i am taking it to a shop next week…thanks again

A wheel cylinder leaks brake fluid, an axle seal leaks grease. No way a leaking grease seal onto brakes is going to cause a brake to lock up.


I was speaking more to Loafer’s post, who had mentioned wheel cylinders leaking.