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#4458593 - 07/13/17 06:35 PM Steel vs Phenolic Piston
Ifixyawata Offline


Registered: 09/13/15
Posts: 504
Loc: NE Ohio
I think I already know the answer to this but here goes.

My neighbor asked for my help on replacing the rear (disc) brakes on his 2001 Lincoln Town Car. I took a quick glance at it to confirm that they were discs. I noticed that the rotors were pretty worn. Money is tight for them but I probably would've urged them to do new rotors either way. I found that Rockauto has a Power Stop kit (rotors, pads and slide pins) for about $75, this looks like a good fit but it makes a distinction between Steel and Phenolic caliper pistons.

Is there any chance in the world that there's any way to determine steel or phenolic pistons besides disassembling the whole thing?
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#4458607 - 07/13/17 06:49 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
turtlevette Offline


Registered: 12/24/13
Posts: 3561
Loc: Massachusetts
Just go with phenolic. Doesn't transfer heat to the brake fluid.
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#4458623 - 07/13/17 07:10 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
Ifixyawata Offline


Registered: 09/13/15
Posts: 504
Loc: NE Ohio
I'm not replacing the calipers.

They list two different pad/rotor kits based on whether you have Steel or Phenolic caliper pistons.
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#4458629 - 07/13/17 07:14 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
Merkava_4 Offline


Registered: 01/30/07
Posts: 17501
Loc: Clovis, CA
There's something different about the back of the pads depending on whether the caliper piston is phenolic or steel. You might have to pull one caliper to take a peak. But before doing that, PM Trav.

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#4458633 - 07/13/17 07:20 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
NHGUY Offline


Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 5043
Loc: USA
Its how the inner pad clips to the caliper piston.Get the wrong one and the pad wont fit.

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#4458638 - 07/13/17 07:26 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: NHGUY]
Merkava_4 Offline


Registered: 01/30/07
Posts: 17501
Loc: Clovis, CA
Originally Posted By: NHGUY
It's how the inner pad clips to the caliper piston. Get the wrong one and the pad won't fit.


Interesting. I learned something on BITOG today. smile2

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#4458655 - 07/13/17 07:38 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
The Critic Offline


Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 19806
Loc: CA
Yes, you need to confirm the piston type - or else the pads may not fit.

For a good "budget" brake kit, get Centric 105 posiquiet ceramic pads with their 120 series premium rotors. Both are quite inexpensive on rockauto and are a much better product than powerstop.
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#4458692 - 07/13/17 08:14 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
DuckRyder Offline


Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 4213
Loc: Atlanta
Cruising a couple of OEM Lincoln parts websites it appears Ford/Lincoln only list one set of rear pads for a 2001 Town Car. My guess would be that there is an actual year/VIN changeover and the aftermarket suppliers just specify the difference in calipers VS the year VIN changeover.

Lot can happen since 2001 though, so what it left the factory with isnít a guarantee that is what is present now.

Incidentally - OEM parts are not what I would call expensive.
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#4458705 - 07/13/17 08:25 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
javacontour Offline


Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 10306
Loc: Illinois
How much is shipping on rotors?

Seems like this might be best at a local parts store. I.E. buy both sets of pads and one set of rotors.

Return the unused pads.

You take it apart ONCE

You don't pay to ship two pretty large iron rotors.

You know you have the right pads because you bought both and only used the ones you need.
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#4458723 - 07/13/17 08:40 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
Ifixyawata Offline


Registered: 09/13/15
Posts: 504
Loc: NE Ohio
I need to do a full price comparison. Admittedly I got excited at a $70 price tag.
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#4458770 - 07/13/17 09:45 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
Johnny2Bad Offline


Registered: 05/20/13
Posts: 1810
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I would just ask the Lincoln parts guy at the dealer. They're not poisonous; you will get your answer.
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#4458942 - 07/14/17 05:00 AM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: turtlevette]
Claud Offline


Registered: 02/11/14
Posts: 593
Loc: Margate England
Originally Posted By: turtlevette
Just go with phenolic. Doesn't transfer heat to the brake fluid.



How does that happen?. Might take longer for the piston to get hot, but also longer to cool down again.

Claud.

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#4459035 - 07/14/17 07:41 AM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Claud]
IndyIan Offline


Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 9092
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Claud
Originally Posted By: turtlevette
Just go with phenolic. Doesn't transfer heat to the brake fluid.



How does that happen?. Might take longer for the piston to get hot, but also longer to cool down again.

Claud.

The plastic just doesn't transfer heat fast and probably has a pretty low thermal energy storage capacity compared to most metal. Just like wood.
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#4459259 - 07/14/17 12:59 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: IndyIan]
mightymousetech Offline


Registered: 04/03/17
Posts: 1444
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: IndyIan
Originally Posted By: Claud
Originally Posted By: turtlevette
Just go with phenolic. Doesn't transfer heat to the brake fluid.



How does that happen?. Might take longer for the piston to get hot, but also longer to cool down again.

Claud.

The plastic just doesn't transfer heat fast and probably has a pretty low thermal energy storage capacity compared to most metal. Just like wood.


Until the phenolic one disintegrates from heat.
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#4459463 - 07/14/17 04:11 PM Re: Steel vs Phenolic Piston [Re: Ifixyawata]
L_Sludger Offline


Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 3947
Loc: Ohio
For the OPs sake I did a lot of searching and reading on phenolic vs steel brake caliper pistons, and wasn't able to come to a good conclusion other than knowing that phenolic pistons are cheaper to produce.
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