Story and Photo’s by Nick Nelson- ATV World Magazine
The pre-2007 Polaris Ranger has a foot pedal operated E-Brake with a pull handle release. The pre 2007 models do not have a electronic cut out switch for when the brake is left applied, and the torquey ranger can easily over power the cable operated disc brake set up. Operators driving off with the E-Brake applied is all to common and quickly wears the pads down to where they won’t hold the vehicle on a hill.
The Ranger parking brake consists of a separate brake rotor mounted to the driveshaft and a cable operated mechanical caliper. Polaris sells replacement E-brake pads for about $44 or a kit with shims for about $75. Once the Ranger has been driven with the brake left applied it will wear the pad thinner, because the caliper is mechanical instead of hydraulic, it lacks the ability to make up for missing pad material and can’t push the worn pads far enough to hold the rotor. Polaris has made up for this, by offering the new pad kit with shim spacers that stack behind the pads as the wear out, making up for lost material.
These shims work fine, but a lot of times you won’t need new pads and $75 bucks is pretty steep for just the shims. Lucky for you, if you inspect your Ranger e-brake system and it still has material left on both pads, you can get a quick fix from the hardware store. A 1 inch diameter washer with a 1/4 inch hole can be purchased for about 20 cents and works just fine. Grab a couple of the thinnest ones available, so that you have the proper range to work with.
1. With Ranger on flat ground, the wheels chocked, release the parking brake. Pull the lever and open the tilt bead to inspect your E-Brake pads. If they look to have material left you can attempt this without new pads, if the material is nearly go or completely gone you can follow these steps to replace the pads as well. Remove the clips, and pins from the bed struts so that you can tilt it all the way up and out of your way.
2. If the area around the caliper is dirty, clean it now before proceeding. With the bed tilted straight up and out of your way, remove the cotter key from the pin that attaches the cable to the caliper lever. With the cotter key removed pull the pin out and set both pieces on your clean work bench.
3. Use a short 14mm socket on one side and a 14mm wrench on the other, to unbolt the caliper from the frame bracket. Slide the bolts out just far enough to remove the caliper from the rotor, and set the compete assembly on your clean work surface.
4. With the caliper on a clean, flat work surface, remove the mounting bolts. Remove the collared pins and set nuts, washers, pins and bolts on the bench in their respective order. Keeping everything in order will make reassembly a snap.
5. Using the same 14mm wrench and ratchet set up, remove the two bolts that hold the caliper assembly together. After both bolts are loose, keep the assembly squeezed together with your hand to keeps the springs from causing parts to fly. With the pads facing up carefully remove the nuts and then the first pad.
6. Inspect the pads to make sure you have enough material left for reassembly. As you can see in the picture, ours was barely thinner than the brand new pads, yet it wouldn’t hold the Ranger, even on a slight incline.
7. With the caliper assembly as pictured, remove the springs and then the other pad. Make sure when disassembling the caliper, that you set everything neatly in order the way it comes apart. Be sure to leave caliper facing up in this direction, underneath the shims lie ball bearings that you don’t want to be chasing around garage.
8. Test fit your washer or washers onto the shaft as shown. The center stud needs to protrude through the shim/washer just slightly to keep it in place. Ours already had two of the polaris shims present, leaving enough space for only one more washer.
9. Once you have determined how many washers you are ready to grease them. Using automotive disc brake grease, lightly grease both the preexisting shims and the new washer you are adding. This is the grease sold at automotive stores designed to stop brake squeal when installing new brake pads. It comes in small packets for only a buck or two.
10. With the greased washer installed, set the first pad against it, then install the springs onto both shafts. Install the second pad against the springs, keep pressure onto the pad set while you install the washers and start the nuts by hand. Once tightened by hand, use the ratchet to retighten the nuts securely.
11. Use the disc brake grease again to lightly coat the outer shaft on the caliper mounting pins. With the pins greased and installed slide the bolts most of the way through, so that they are ready to install onto the rotor and frame mount.
12. Install caliper onto rotor, push bolts through the frame bracket, install washer and nuts then tighten to spec. With the caliper mounted reattach the cable clevis and install the pin and cotter key. Check e-brake operation and then reinstall the bed struts with pins and cotter keys. Enjoy having a parking brake again for less than $3.00.