How To Repair Drum Brakes

Cars are generally one of the most expensive luxury items one can own, depending on the brand and material. Finicky car owners tend to make it a point to ensure that everything is in tip-top shape. Although not all car owners are as well versed as the next, there is still an intrinsic need to get to know the cars that they own; in a way that they treat these cars as if they were their own children.

When it comes to the point where one encounters having a part of their cars damaged, one may automatically look for professionals to help them get things fixed. However, this may cost a large sum of money. Since a car costs a lot already, it is actually more practical to repair things on your own (more popularly known as do-it-yourself or DIY) as long as you have the proper knowledge, understanding and execution.

To lessen the burden, here are some tips and steps to repair your car's drum brakes without spending too much for a fee-based service.

First, there are a few things you need to remember before starting: the materials that will be used and the amount of time you can allot in repairing the drum brakes. Let's face it, when it gets dark and you get tired and hungry, you tend to drop what you're doing and procrastinate until the next time you are reminded of fixing these things. Make sure you have ample time to do these things.

If you are not much of a handyman, ask for a relative's help. It's always best to do things like this with someone who knows what to do already. If you really can't find anyone to help you out, it is best that you get your car repair manual. Each vehicle is different, one way or another. Steps that will be provided are based on a general sense. If you encounter a part that isn't discussed, most likely it's in your car repair manual.

Some precautionary measures:

  • Some car parts may be sharp, hot or even hazardous. It is best that you are well aware of certain parts that cannot be touched.
  • Brake linings have asbestos (asbestos fibers), which is very dangerous to one's health if it is inhaled. It is best to clean linings with a wet cloth or at least minimize possible dust by vacuuming.

Materials needed:

  • wrenches
  • car jack
  • jack stands
  • brake spring pliers
  • brake retainer tool,
  • screwdriver or pry bar
  • a pair of pliers or vise grips
  • hammer
  • large chisel
  • white lithium grease (highly flammable - handle with care)
  • rubber gloves
  • dust mask
  • replacement brake shoes


  1. For proper support, use jack stands. Using only a jack will make it a bit unstable. Work on one wheel at a time so you have a reference in case you get baffled with what you are doing.
  2. Loosen wheel lugs using a lug wrench and take the tire off afterwards.
  3. Cut off clips at the studs, which mount the tire, using cutting pliers.
  4. Once the retainers are cut off, try to remove the whole brake drum. If screws are in place, use a screwdriver to take them out.
  5. To lessen confusion later on when you have to reinstall the drum brakes, take a picture of the original placing so that you have a reference.
  6. Brake shoes should be of the same width and should have the same hole placements so that they fit.
  7. Take out the return springs and remove the brake lever. Also take out the retaining springs.
  8. Spread brake shoe parts on your workstation and unfasten them from the cylinder pins. Shorter strips usually are for front wheels.
  9. Take out the self-adjuster from the new brake shoes and attach them right after you remove the spring.
  10. Replace the self-adjuster and align the holes to properly secure the retainer pins.
  11. Reattach the brake shoes to the cylinder pins and replace the parking brake lever.
  12. Reinstall the brake springs and refer to the photograph if there are any inconsistencies with your work.
  13. Put back the drum on the studs and put the tire back
  14. Remove the jack stands once you've finished working on one side. Continue on with the other side following the same steps.

The other half of the steps basically indicates a reverse step for setting it up. Refer to the picture you've taken to serve as a guide for proper installation.


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