CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Problem after rear brake job on 2011 Ford Focus

Hi all, new here. I joined 'cause I just changed brake shoes on my 2011 Ford Focus. Did everything according to the Chilton manual…on this model, one unbolts the hub from the backing plate and support arms and pulls the drum and bearings off together in order to access the shoes. Before you do that, you unbolt the wheel speed sensor from the backside of the hub. [BTW, I had to struggle to ‘break’ one of the sensors loose from its hub.]

After brushing the backing plate with a wire brush, lubricating the friction points and reassembling the two rear wheels, the ABS and Traction Control lights come on whenever I start the car and stay on as long as the key is in the on position. I tried to disconnect the battery to reset the systems, but that didn’t help.

I’ve looked at the discussions on the internet regarding the problem and all I read are suggestions to check the brake fluid level [it’s between low and max levels], to make sure that the sensor ring is still on the bearing [the drum was never removed from the spindle, so that ring was never disturbed] and to check the codes to see if a sensor is bad. I’ve also cleaned the contact points for the sensor to the hub with sandpaper.

My question is are the sensors so delicate that tugging on them…to get them off of the hub…would have damaged them? Is there anything else I should check before paying the money to have the codes read by a dealer?

It’s possible that you damaged them, yes, but impossible to tell without having seen you do the work. I would suspect that when you struggled to break the sensor loose, you inadvertently damaged it, however.

“…one unbolts the hub from the backing plate and support arms…”

I thing you mean “…one removes the dust cap and spindle nut.” There are no bolts involved.

Brake work can often involve discovering the parts being stubborn and uncooperative. I had a couple of discs on the front wheels of my VW Rabbit that simply wouldn’t come off. I pounded, pried, nothing. Until I heated them, and while laying under the car taking a brake break from all the pounding, one of them promptly fell off unaided and landed on my bare leg. Whap! Sizzle! Burn! Ouch! &$$%%%$@#!!! … lol …

I think what’s happened, you’ve damaged one or both of the electronic wheel speed sensors somehow. You’ll probably need someone w/a Ford specific scan tool to complete the diagnosis.

If you want to try something before that, you could simply re-do the entire job, and carefully look for something askew. Me, being a glutton for punishment, I’d probably do that.

No worries if it’s just a broken wheel speed sensor. Look at it this way. You got the brake job done, and nothing big and hot fell on your leg.