Changing Drum Brake Shoes

Drum brakes have been around almost as long as cars have been.  It was as early as the 1920s that vehicles were equipped with braking systems like the drum brakes we changed in this video so it is amazing that we are still using such old technology on our cars today.  That is also why changing drum brake shoes is a great skill to learn as it doesn’t seem like these types of brakes are going anywhere!

As we talk about in the garage, drum brakes are desirable due to the huge friction surface you get from the two large shoes braking against the inside of the drum on your vehicle.  This makes them have lots of braking power as well as extremely long life.

Changing drum brake shoes is a very easy job after you do it the first time.  Before you start we would recommend getting out a few of the following tools:

Tools For Changing Drum Brake Shoes:

  • Camera
  • Tire Iron
  • Pliers
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Grease
  • Brake parts cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety Glasses

The camera is the most important part of changing your brake shoes.  Once you remove the wheel and brake drum you’ll be met with a maze of springs.  All of these springs are designed to keep the shoes floating against the backing plate while being able to extend toward the drum when the pedal is applied and snap back once you let off the brake pedal.  All you have to do is take things apart, clean everything, lubricate the new pads where they will contact the backing plate and put the new shoes on exactly like the old ones were. So take lots of pictures and leave one side put together until you finish the first side completely finished so you can use one as a template.

Changing Drum Brake Shoes, drum brake shoesDrum brakes make a lot of dust as they are used and all of that dust stays trapped inside the brake drum.  Once you get the drum off it’s important to clean the inside of the drum and check for damage. The most common damage that happens to a drum is a groove gets worn where the brake pads are.  If this happens you will be able to feel the lip inside the drum and if you reinstall the drum it will cause noise and premature wear on your new shoes. If you have this problem, consider having the drums machined or replacing the drums.

While you’re cleaning the baking plate and spring components it’s important to check the wheel cylinder for brake fluid leaks.  You will find leaks on either side where the rubber seal is. If you find brake fluid leaking here, it’s important to change the wheel cylinder as well.

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If you’ve got more questions about brakes and how they work, check out our article on brakes!


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drum_brake_shoes.jpg – By P2121212121 – Licensed By Getty Images – Original Link