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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Diagnosing Rear Drum Brake Drawbacks
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Estimated Time240 minutes
240 minutes
Step 1 - We started with jacking up the vehicle and lowering it onto jack stands. Before attempting to go any further, make sure to get a service or repair manual. Tip: loosen the wheel lug nuts slightly before jacking up the rear or front end.
We Jacked Up the Vehicle and Lowered it Onto Jack Stands
Step 2 - Inspection of the parking brake cables showed no signs of severe rust or binding. Yank on one end of the cable and watch to see if the lever on the drum backing plate moves freely. Now is a good time to squirt some cable lube into the housings.
Inspect the Parking Brake Cables
Step 3 - On to the brakes: Brake drums can be stubborn to remove. A quick once-around with a plastic-faced hammer can help loosen the drum's grip on the shoes. If the drum remains stubborn try backing off the adjuster.
Brake Drums Can Be Stubborn to Remove
Step 4 - With the drum off the axle, we saw that everything looked good. There was still plenty of meat on the shoes and there were no signs of any leaking gear oil or brake fluid. Tip: Always leave one side of the brakes assembled for reference.
All Looked Good with the Drum Off the Axle
Step 5 - Since the truck had been sitting for a long time, we removed and inspected the wheel cylinders. Look for pitting and corrosion inside the bore. These looked fine. We reassembled them with fresh brake fluid and back they went.
Truck Had Been Sitting a Long Time so Wheel Cylinders Were Removed and Inspected
Step 6 - Here is what the adjuster looks like. In this case the adjuster had turned out too far and was causing the shoes to bind against the drum. We took the adjuster apart, added some fresh grease, and returned it in its shortest position.
Adjuster Was Taken Apart
Step 7 - It may be necessary to bring the adjuster back where it's supposed to be, otherwise the shoes will have to travel too far to contact the drum. This will cause low pedal, which can be dangerous. The screw is designed to turn one way. Turn it until a slightest amount of drag is heard.
Work the Adjuster Until It's Where It's Supposed to Be
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