How to Adjust Drum Brakes

Schedule Adjust Drum Brakes
Service Area

$79.99 - $89.99

Price range for all vehicles
Average rating from 135 customers who received a Adjust Drum Brakes.

Many vehicles come equipped with drum brakes. For many years, disc brakes have been used at the front of the vehicles while drum brakes are used at the rear.

Drum brakes can last a very long time, if maintained properly. Periodic adjustment of the drum brakes makes sure that the brakes do not drag when driving as this can rob power from the vehicle and cause the brakes to wear out much more quickly.

Drum brakes usually need to be adjusted when the brake pedal has to be pressed down a lot before the brakes engage. Adjustments can be done only on brakes that are in good shape. Keep in mind that not all drum brakes are adjustable. To confirm your brakes are in good working order before you adjust them, check your vehicle for symptoms of a bad or failing drum brake.

This article covers the adjustment process for drum brakes of the star wheel type.

Part 1 of 3: Prepare to adjust the drum brakes

Materials needed

Step 1: Lift the rear end of the vehicle. Make sure the vehicle is in park and that the parking brake is set.

lifting the vehicle with a jackstand

At the rear end of the vehicle, place the jack at a safe location under the vehicle and lift one side of the vehicle off the ground. Place a jack stand under the lifted side.

Repeat this process on the other side as well. Leave the jack in place as a safety measure to provide extra support for your vehicle.

  • Warning: Improper lifting of a vehicle can result in serious harm or even death. Always follow the manufacturer’s lifting instructions and only work on flat, level ground. Only lift the vehicle at the recommended lift points given in your owner's manual.

Step 2: Remove the tire. With the vehicle lifted safely and secured, it is time to remove the tires.

unbolting a tire from the vehicle using a ratchet an socket

Remove the tires on both sides by unbolting the lug nuts. Keep the nuts in a safe location so that you can find them easily. Remove the tires and set them aside for some time.

Part 2 of 3: Adjust the drum brake

Step 1: Access the drum brake adjustment star wheel. The drum brake adjuster is located under an access cover in the back of the drum brake.

back of break drum shown

Using the screwdriver, gently pry out the rubber grommet that protects this access cover.

star wheel shown through access hole

Step 2: Adjust the star wheel. Turn the star-shaped adjuster a few times. If it does not stop turning due to the pads hitting the drum, then turn the star in the other direction.

After the pads hit the drum, back the star wheel off by one click.

Spin the drum with your hand and feel for any drag. The drum should spin freely with very minimal drag.

If too much drag is present, then back off the star adjuster slightly. Do this in small increments until the brake is adjusted to where you would like it to be.

Repeat this procedure on the other side of the vehicle.

Part 3 of 3: Check your work

Step 1: Check your work. Once the brakes are adjusted to your satisfaction, put the adjuster wheel cover back into its place on the back of the drums.

Look over your work and confirm that everything is in position.

Step 2: Install the tires. Put the wheels back onto the car. Using the ratchet or the tire iron, tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern until they are snug.

Make sure to torque the wheels according to the manufacturer's specifications. Do the torque procedure in a star pattern as well.

Step 3: Lower the vehicle. Using the jack on a lift point, lift the vehicle enough to be able to slip the jack stand out from under the vehicle. Once the jack stand is out of the way, lower the vehicle to the ground on that side.

Repeat this procedure on the other side of the vehicle as well.

Step 4: Test drive your vehicle. Take the vehicle on a test drive to confirm the brake adjustment.

Before driving, pump the brake pedal a few times to seat the brakes and confirm that the pedal operates properly.

Drive the vehicle in a safe location and make sure that the brakes function properly.

Adjusting your drum brakes will allow them to last much longer and will prevent a dragging brake. If the brake drags, it can cause a loss of power and lower the fuel milage of the vehicle.

If you feel uncomfortable performing this process on your own, you can get an experienced technician from YourMechanic to adjust the drum brakes for you. If needed, the certified professionals at YourMechanic can even replace the drum brake for you.


Next Step

Schedule Adjust Drum Brakes

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Adjust Drum Brakes. Yourmechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7 days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 10k cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Adjust Drum Brakes reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Adjust Drum Brakes Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

135

Rating Summary
129
3
1
0
2
129
3
1
0
2

Dan

38 years of experience
753 reviews
Dan
38 years of experience
Toyota Matrix - Adjust Drum Brakes - Cumming, Georgia
This the third time using Dan. Always on time. Very professional and knowledgeable. Always quick and accurate diagnostic and will have your car running in no time.
Nissan Sentra - Adjust Drum Brakes - Gainesville, Georgia
Dan was on time and did his job well. Fast, friendly, and efficient. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend him to others or use him again.

Frank

7 years of experience
129 reviews
Frank
7 years of experience
Lincoln Town Car - Adjust Drum Brakes - Evergreen Park, Illinois
my car wouldn't start after sitting in garage for a year and I found this company online and just tried it and am so happy I did, Frank came over, and explained what was wrong and checked everything out and was very professional and smart. He came back with the parts and fixed it just great, then I asked about another thing and he checked it and said what it was and came back and fixed that as well. I think Frank is a great mechanic!
Toyota Camry - Adjust Drum Brakes - Oak Lawn, Illinois
My first time experience was great. Frank called when was running behind schedule. He called when he arrived at my home. Very professional, very polite, very knowledgeable of the job and what he was doing in his job expertise. Check car out, told me what the issue really was, gave recommendation to keep a eye put on various things that could c as use a issue in the future. A all around wonderful person. I would recommend Frank to my friends and I will be using him again in the future. Thank you Ms Bracey

John

26 years of experience
457 reviews
John
26 years of experience
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Adjust Drum Brakes - Alvin, Texas
Great service. Always willing to take the time to explain and show you the problem. You cannot get this kind of service at a shop and he does the work at your house! No more shuttling cars to shops and having to wait or have a friend pick you up and take you back to get your car.
Mercury Mariner - Adjust Drum Brakes - Manvel, Texas
I’m simply blown away by the exceptional level of customer service and professionalism put forth by John today. He was running early and was able to reroute to my office to repair my car while I was working. So surprising and truly amazing.

Brandon

19 years of experience
773 reviews
Brandon
19 years of experience
Ford Taurus - Adjust Drum Brakes - Orlando, Florida
Brandon is a great asset! That I would schedule a service and he would be honest enough to tell me that I didn't need that done, was a HUGE deal to me. Brandon has come out before and he's always treated us well. At this appointment he went above and beyond and saved me $180.00! We'll keep asking for Brandon for Sure! :-)
Ford Escape - Adjust Drum Brakes - Apopka, Florida
Brandon was Awesome! He was very professional and honest ( informed us we didn't really need back brakes as we thought). When he was done he did a short test drive and then took a drive with us to be sure we were satisfied. thank you for your excellent work Brandon!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE