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How To Change, Replace Rear Drum Brake Shoes

Updated on October 10, 2013

Replacing Rear Brake Shoes

Replacing rear drum brakes shoeson a car is not that hard as most people would think. Do it once and the second time is so easy.Ford is a little different than a Chevy, but if you watch the way you take it apart and put it back that way, you will have no problem doing it. You don't have to have expensive special tools to get the job done. All you need is a can of brake cleaner, can of penetrating oil (Pb blaster, WD 40 works good) jack, jack stands,lug wrench,big to med straight screw drivers,needle-nose pliers, small pair of vise-grips or needle-nose vise grips.

Chuck the front wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling,Jack up the vehicle from the rear in the middle of the axle try to jack the car up as level as possible,some vehicles are easier to jack one side then put a jack stand under the axle then jack the other side up and place the stand under the axle.This way both wheels are off the ground. You want to take one side apart at one time.That way if you forget how to put it back together you can look at the other side and see how it goes together.With the vehicle secured take both wheels off. Start on any side you wish.

With the wheels off pull the drums off. Getting the drums off can be a pain at times. They can be rusted on or the shoes are adjusted out to far.Take the penetrating oil and spay around the studs and around the center of the hub. Take a big hammer and hit the hub on one side and the other side do this till it brakes free then pull the hub off. If the drum don't brake free look behind the drum under the car there is a slot were you can adjust the brake shoes to loosen up from the drum, (not all auto's have this) use an adjusting tool or a straight screwdriver and turn the adjuster. Use a light to look in the slot to see the adjuster it will be round with little notches on it, turn it up or down. Once the drum is off take brake cleaner and spay the brakes this will clean the oil and dust if any.(tip: If there is any oil on the brake shoes that means you wheel cylinder may be leaking and should be replaced).

Remove the old brakes by removing the hold down spring its the little round washer looking thing in the middle of the brake shoe holding the shoe on.Take the needle-nose pliers and feeling behind the backing plate feel for the pin that the hold down spring is on.Pressing on the pin with one hand and using the needle nose pliers push the hold down spring in and turn this will pop the spring loose.Locate the brake cable and undo it. Way to do this is to push the heavy spring that is around the cable back with the needle-nose pliers as far as you can and take the vise-grips and clamp them on the cable to hole the spring back. Now you can undo the cable from the emergency brake lever. Leave the vise-grips there so you can replace it back.( Its importance that you lay the parts somewhere, the way you took them off. Makes it a lot easier to put back together).

With the brake shoe loose it will be easier to take the springs off.Pull the loose brake shoe out to loosen the tension on the springs.Remove the top springs first,Set them some were just the way they came off.Now remove the other hold down spring on the other shoe.This way you can take the shoes off in almost one peace.Find a good place to take all the parts loose and set them the way you took them apart.

Locate the brake adjuster it has a star wheel on it.There's a cap at one end remove to see if there's a little drop of grease in the cap if not place a drop of wheel bearing grease in the cap. Replace the cap. Un-thread the adjuster by holding the end and turning the star wheel this got to be free. Clean the threads and lubricate with penetrating oil. Check the drum (hub) for any rust or deep gouges, If there is deep gouges in the drum replace it or you will just eat up your new shoes.

What to know while Replacing Rear Brake Shoes

The thing to remember is if you put the new brake shoes together side by side with the pads facing up towards you. You can see there is a pad longer than the other the longer one always goes to the front and the shorter one goes to the rear. Locate the old shoe that has the parking brake lever on it and match it up with the new shoe. Remove the retaining clip, washer and pin on the brake lever. Replace the lever on the new shoe.

Place the new shoes on the backing plate make sure the hold down spring is fasten on both shoes. Attach the brake cable, remove the vise-grips. Locate the bottom spring and attach it to the brakes. Locate the adjuster (has the star wheel on it and has to be thread all the way in). Insert that between the bottom of the brake shoes. There's a lever the adjuster has to go behind it. With that in place attach the top springs the way to do this is put the end of the spring in the hole on the brake shoe. Take your screwdriver put it in the loop end of the spring and taking the end of the screw driver and placing it on the stud were the spring goes and push the screw drive upward. The spring will slide down the screwdriver and fall in place. Bend the end of the spring with pliers a little and push back the spring to make room for the other spring. Do the same with the other top spring.(If you have any trouble were something goes look on the other side you have a diagram of were things go).

When the brakes are all attached and every thing is in there right place The brakes will have to be adjusted.Remember the adjuster that has the star on it? That has to be threaded out so the brakes will spread and grab the drum.Take and pull the lever that is over the adjuster and pull it away from the adjuster. Using pliers and turn the adjuster out a little. Then slide the drum on. you will have to do this till the drum slides on hard but not to hard to push on by hand. (never use anything to pound the drum on this will damage the brake shoes).If it gets to tight just back off the adjuster a little.Do the same on the other side and put the wheels on and let the car down. Then you are done.

(Caution: Before driving push the brake pedal to check the brakes and make sure they work).

CAUTION: Older brake pads or shoes may contain asbestos, which may cause cancer. Never clean the brake surfaces with compressed air! Avoid inhaling any dust from any brake surface! When cleaning brake surfaces, use a commercially available brake cleaning fluid.


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