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I have a city bike with a drum brake. Since the brake parts of the system are inside the drum I can’t see if it is worn or not. Is there an indicator or at least some hint that provides this information? (for example: a squeaking sound, a marker on the drum, whatever…)

How Often Do Drum Brakes Need To Be Replaced

How Often Do Drum Brakes Need To Be Replaced

As the drum brake surface wears, you will need to keep tightening the adjustment screw so that the drum lever arm moves forward (toward the front of the bike) more and more. Sheldon has some images and explanations you might want to check out:

Disc Vs Drum Brakes

Adjusting the drum brake When the brakes are new, they may need to be adjusted frequently (until the shoes fit properly). With cable brakes, first the small lock nut (A in diagram) is loosened and then the adjusting screw (B in diagram) is tightened until you feel the brake shoes rubbing against the inner surface of the axle. The adjuster is then loosened to allow the wheel to spin without friction and the lock nut is retightened.

If your bike doesn’t have an adjustment nut/bolt on the drum, you’ll need to undo the retaining nut, tighten one more brake cable, and tighten it again.

Due to the larger surface area and being on the rear, drum brakes tend to last longer than front brakes.

This is an image of a Panasonic drum brake (front and rear) from Wikimedia commons. This brake has an adjustment nut/ferrule where the brake cable housing meets the brake. Note that the brake lever arm points slightly backwards (towards the rear of the bike). You should check for wear if you are at the point where you have backed off the adjustment so that the brake arm lever is pointing forward even when the brakes are not applied.

Symptoms Of Bad Or Worn Brake Shoes & Replacement Cost

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Drum brakes have been around for a long time, but they are still irrelevant. It has the 2022 Toyota Tacoma, the 2022 Hyundai Accent SE, and even Volkswagen’s ID.4 electric crossovers. Drums may be making a small comeback in electric vehicles, and you’ll find them in many used cars today. They are not as easy to deal with as discs, but taking care of them is not bad after reading the instructions here.

Those unfamiliar with drums may be intimidated by the high-tension springs or self-adjusters that are part of the design, but it’s really not that complicated. Like taking care of disc brakes with rotors and pads, doing the job step by step can be done at home.

How Often Do Drum Brakes Need To Be Replaced

I recently completely redid the rear drum brakes on an inherited front end 2006 Saturn Vue. The brakes hadn’t been serviced in a long time, and it was my job to find the source of the brake fluid, flush it all out, and get the car back in safe working order. This meant replacing not only the brake shoes, but also the metal brake lines, wheel cylinders and spring kits. The design and execution of drum brakes on modern cars can vary slightly, but this guide should give you a general idea of ​​what you’re talking about.

Difference Between Drum Brake Vs Disc Brake

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Never take any safety risks while working on your car. Make sure you have these basic items stocked in your garage for service work.

This job can probably be done with the basic tools you already have, but there are also specialty tools that make the job a lot easier. Things like line wrenches, a brake spring tool, brake spring pliers, and a small pipe bender will smooth things out along the way and hopefully save hours of wasted time.

To reiterate, this is how the front-end 2006 Saturn Vue works without ABS, which means it’s a major shoe design. Changing drum brakes on other cars should follow a similar procedure, but every car is different and some use dual-leader or dual-servo type designs.

Worn Out Brake Pads: Signs Of Bad Brake Pads & What To Do Next

After you park in a safe place on a flat surface (and make sure the parking brake is off), you can start to release the vehicle with it on the ground. When you can move them with your fingers, find a jack point and raise the car until the wheel is off the ground. Insert your jack stands, remove the weak ones and remove the wheel.

On the Vue, the wheels were rusted to the drums, so it took a few hits to get them off. I used a foot and a rubber mallet, but be careful not to rock the car too much.

The drum acts as the housing inside the brake, including the shoes and springs, so you need to remove it first. The drum should slide in fairly easily, but it may be stuck, like the Vue drums. Once again, I used a rubber mallet to hit it several times, and patiently shook it. If what you see is covered in grime, it’s a good time to give it an initial spray of brake cleaner (there will be a lot of it). Before spraying, put a pan or some towels under the wheel to catch all the crumbs and dirt that come out.

How Often Do Drum Brakes Need To Be Replaced

Before you do anything else, take a picture of the brakes, especially if it’s your first time. It’s a quick and easy way to keep track of where everything goes.

Everything You Need To Know About Drum Brakes (2023)

Next, locate the springs that hold the shoes in position. They are the ones that look like little circular plates on top and they stick out towards you. They are held in place by a pin that goes through the back of the brake and is inserted through a small slot. Using a $10 tool (needle nose pliers can also work), turn the plate/spring until the edges of the pin line up with the slot and the spring pops out. Remove both.

Removing the support springs can cause the shoes to bend slightly and lean forward. This makes it easier to remove the horizontal springs, also known as return springs, which retract after the shoes have been pressed against the drum. Be careful when removing these.

I used needle nose pliers and maybe some to pry it off, but a pair of specialty spring pliers would make this task much easier.

A shoe and adjusters should basically fall apart when the springs are off. The other shoe, however, is connected to a parking brake module. You will need to remove a small metal horseshoe clip to separate the shoe. This can be done with a flat screwdriver or pliers. The replacement spring kit should also include replacement clips, so don’t worry about making it too clean. This will leave the parking brake lever hanging, which is fine.

Brake Drums — Common Problems And Solutions

At this point, it’s time to get your metal brush and/or sandpaper and start cleaning everything up. Complete brush setup including adjuster, backplate and anything else that looks dirty and/or rusted. Replace the brake cleaner with a brush and a large spray (I used a whole can on my job).

Note: If you don’t replace them as part of your job (you probably should, the parts are cheap), skip to step 9.

This was the main goal in my service on Vue. The wheel cylinders on both sides were literally falling apart from rust, and the metal brake lines were fused to the cylinders as well. First, remove the brake line from the back of the cylinder with a line wrench. The brake fluid should come out, so make sure you have a towel or something in place to catch it.

How Often Do Drum Brakes Need To Be Replaced

Then there will be two screws holding the cylinder, remove them and take the cylinder out. You may find some debris, so clean it up.

When Should Drum Brakes Be Replaced?

The Vue’s metal brake line connecting the cylinder to the brake hose was only a foot long. I loosened the attached part of the hose, making sure it caught any fluid again, and removed it.

I then used a small pipe bender to create a similar shape to the existing line. Just include the major bends to bring the two sides closer, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Screw in one side of the metal pipe, then you can gently bend the rest of the line to fit and screw in the other.

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