Do-It-Yourself Rear Brake Shoe Inspection and Replacement

Part of owning a car is keeping it properly maintained. For many people this means taking it to the service center and having the professionals handle the problems and maintenance. Of course there are those brave do it yourself souls in the world that seek to save some money and take care of the issue themselves. So that is where we come to this junction with it and talk about the rear brake shoe inspection and replacement.

The rear brakes on your car are most likely the drum and shoe system. There are some newer cars that are featuring the four wheel pad system but the rear drum system is by far more common. The rear drum system is a bit more complicated then the pad and caliper system on the front. This is why so many people stray away from the do it yourself deals when it comes to the back. There is no reason to fear the back brakes though as the system is still simple but has a few more moving parts then the front.

The drum system works like an inside out grab motion that works to stop the car. The shoes rest inside the drum and push out against the sides when the pressure is applied to the pedal. The whole system revolves around the wheel cylinder, which is a small chamber with two pistons on either side, and a series of springs that work to move the shoes back into place once the pedal is released.

To change the rear shoes you will need a set of brake shoes (they come in fours) a flat head screw driver, locking pliers, brake fluid and needle nose pliers.

Remove the rear tire then slip off the drum. Many times the drum will be stuck and a few light taps with a rubber mallet will free it up. You will notice that there is a series of springs that attach the shoes to the rear plate. Each one of these needs to be removed.

Using a the locking pliers and screwdriver, carefully remove the springs and set them aside. You should take note of what you are taking off and how it will go back on. One wrong placement can mean brake failure.

Now, on both shoes there will be a spring with a rod running through it. These are the retainers. Use the needle nose pliers to take these loose with a turning and pulling motion. Now the shoes should be free.

Reverse the process and reattach the shoes. At the bottom where the shoes come together will be a rod with a star wheel on it. This is the self adjusting unit. Once you have everything in place put the drum back over the shoes and give it a spin. It should move freely without stopping. If it does grab then the adjuster needs to be moved in to pull the shoes away from the drum. Do this until the drum will move freely.

Be sure that you check the brake fluid. If it is low then add until full. There should be no reason to bleed the brakes for this project. As long as you do not open the system there will be no problems with air in the line.

WARNING: Make sure that you follow all directions on the packaging for any fluids or parts that you purchase.  Also make sure that you wear the proper safety clothing, such as gloves and goggles, when working with fluids and chemicals to prevent injury or illnesses.