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How To Change Drum Brakes On Your Own?

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The most common braking option used in cars nowadays is drum brakes. While disc brakes are used on the front axles of many vehicles, drum brakes are used on the rear axle and parking brake of vehicles.

Drum brakes are usually easier to service or replace and can be done using simple tools. In this article, we will walk you through how to change drum brakes in your vehicle so read on!

How To Change Drum Brakes In My Car?

Changing Drum brakes on your own is not a hard task if you have the right tools. By learning how to change them on your own, you can save a lot of cost since you don’t need the help of a mechanic for this purpose.

1. Materials Required

Before settling yourself to replace the drum brakes immediately after learning how to change drum brakes, make sure that you have all the needed tools to do so. The materials that you require to successfully change your car’s drum brakes are

  • Aerosol brake cleaner
  • Brake shoes
  • Digital micrometre
  • Drum brakes
  • Drum brake adjustment tool
  • Dust mask
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Oil drain pan
  • Ratchet and socket assortment
  • Safety glasses
  • Tire chocks (or blocks of wood)
  • Drum brake tool kit
  • Free repair manuals
  • Protective gloves
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2. Steps to Follow

If you wish to be a master in changing Drum brakes on your own, thoroughly follow each of these steps that is discussed below.

Step 1:Put On The Dust Mask

Put on a dust mask or asbestos respirator and aprotective glasses before going deep into the steps of how to change drum brakes. You will come across finely ground brake or asbestos dust when you are replacing your drum brakes which are hazardous to health. Buy a proper mask especially for this purpose because normal dust masks will be insufficient. Make sure there are no kids or pets near you too while doing the job.

Step 2: Prepare The Vehicle

You have to loosen the lug notes of both the rear wheels before raising the vehicle. Loosening them will be easier while the car’s weight is entirely on the wheels themselves.

Once this is done, raise the rear side of the vehicle and secure it on jack stands. It is very important to secure the front wheels using wooden blocks or something similar to prevent them from rolling as the parking brake cannot be used to secure the vehicle.

Step 3: Use Penetrating Oil

Penetrating oil such as PB Blaster has to be sprayed on the hub of the wheel. You have to note that WD-40 is not a penetrating oil and thus cannot be used

Step 4: Pull Off The Drum Brake By Grabbing Its Edges

Grabbing the edges while pulling off the drum brake will help you wiggle it off easily. You may also have to back off the brake adjuster while removing the brakes. You can do this by using a brake adjuster tool to turn and loosen the adjuster enough to pull off the brakes.

Step 5: Take A Look At Your Old Drum Brake

Doing this will help you conclude if you must replace your drum brakes or not. If the brakes are scored, you must replace them. Otherwise, it is not necessary.

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Drum brakes are accompanied by springs and levers for parking brakes and the self-adjuster. They mostly come in different colours making it easier to classify which is which. Taking a picture or noting down the positions of each may come in handy while putting together the new drum brake. It is advised to only take everything apart after this.

Step 6: Place The Old Drum Brake In A Container

Once you remove the braking mechanism, place it in a container and spray it with a brake cleaner. This will help in avoiding the dust in the brakes from being airborne. The dust from brakes are mostly asbestos in nature and breathing them in is the last thing you want.

Step 7: Compare the Old Mechanism With The New One

Vehicles can have two different types of shoes. These are called leading and trailing shoes. The old drum brake you just removed from your vehicle is the one your vehicle uses. So comparing the old one with the new one will help you conclude that you didn’t buy the wrong one. Check if both have holes in the same places and also make sure the brake shoes share the same width.

Step 8: Dismantle The Brake

Now you have to dismantle the old drum brake. Start by removing the shoe return springs. Then slowly detach the parking brake lever. Now, remove the retainer springs after holding the shoe retaining pin from the back. Once that is done, spread the shoes apart from the top and remove the shoes from the wheel cylinder pins.

Then, remove the shoes and the self-adjuster together as a single unit and lay the shoes near the new ones. The front and back shoes are at times different, the one with the strip of lining usually goes towards the front. Carefully push the tip of the shoes inwards to loosen the tension on the self-adjuster spring and remove the self-adjuster.

Inspect all the brake parts carefully and see if any can be reused. You have to carefully look for wear and damage while inspecting if you are planning on reusing any parts. It is however recommended to replace the spring set with a new one.

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Step 9: Putting The New Brake Together

Clean the brake braking plate using a small amount of anti-seize on the slide and anchor points. Screw in the self-adjuster and place it on the new shoes. Spread the tops of the shoes apart to tighten the spring and slip in the retaining pins through the right holes.

After this, install the shoe retainer springs and attach the shoes to the wheel cylinder pins. Reattach the parking brakes and also the return springs. Finally, use a brake adjustment sizing tool to adjust the brakes to fit properly.

Once done, make sure to check the new reattached drum brake with the picture you took of the old one. This will help you rectify if you made any mistakes.

Step 10: Put It All Back Together

After correctly attaching the new drum brake mechanism, slide it into the wheel studs. Till a drag is felt in the drum brakes, adjust the brakes through the drum or the backing plate.

When it is done, reinstall the tires and then check the brake adjustment to see if there is the required drag on the drum. However, make sure to not overtighten the brakes which will lead it to lock up.

Now remove the jack stand and lower the jack. Then torque the lug nuts and reinstall the hubcap on both sides.


Once you are done replacing the drum brakes, make sure to take your vehicle for a test drive to see if they are functioning properly.

Replacing old drum brakes on your own with new ones is possible if you have the right tools. However, you should take proper safety measures and have little caution before deciding to do the process on your own. Hope this article helped you learn how to change drum brakes on your own.