2009 Ford Flex Limited: Pad and Rotor Change Interrupted
May 19, 2010
With 55,660 miles on the clock, our 2009 Ford Flex still wears its original front brakes pads and rotors. And there's enough meat left for another 10,000 miles, at least.
But a brake pulsation has been dogging us for the last 5,000 miles or so. The rotors haven't been warped by excessive heat, it's more of a cold judder issue.
Either way, the brake pads need replacement and new or turned rotors must be installed. New Motorcraft rotors cost only $48 apiece at my local dealer, and a full pad set is $111. I can do the whole job myself with genuine parts for around $200 and less than an hour of my time.
Sounds good, right? Three bolts and 5 minutes are all it takes to remove the pads and have the caliper hanging from the spring with a zip-tie. One more bolt to go and the suspect rotor will be history. This is easy.
But then I get well and truly stuck.
The bolt looks like a Torx-head bolt. 'No problem,' says I, 'I have a complete set of Torx sockets.' The T-30 is too small. Let's try the T-40. Nope, too big.
Maybe there's such a thing as a T-35? It's possible my set skips over one or two of the lesser-used sizes. I'll pop down to the auto parts store (In my wife's car - the Flex is on jack stands) and buy the one I'm missing. The racks have umpteen sets that include all manner of Torx drivers, but none of them have an intermediate bit between T-30 and T-40.
Right there in the store, I consult my iPhone and check the Snap-On online tool catalog and find the same thing. Then it's off to the Torx entry on Wikipedia (I know, I know), which reveals an utter lack of anything Torx between T-30 and T-40.
Along the way I discover there's such a thing as a Torx Plus bit, but the pictures are fuzzy and I can't tell if this is what the Flex has. The sizing is similar, too, with IP-30, IP-40 and nothing in between. They don't seem to sell these here in the hallowed halls of Pep Boys, either. It looks like a special order from Snap-On or some other online tool outfit. But is Torx Plus the right one? And if so, which of these do I buy? I can't exactly attempt a test fit.
This is ridiculous. The use of a non-standard bolt in a place where it's arguably unnecessary to have a bolt at all smacks of an attempt to prevent DIY service. They're not going to wear me down. I'll figure out which bit I need, buy it and finish this job.
But not today. Chalking it up to experience, I put the old pads back in the calipers and reinstall the wheels and tires. I'll try again once I identify and obtain the correct Torx-like bit.
Anyone have a Ford Flex shop manual? Anyone know what type and size of fastener this is?
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 55,719 miles