Drum brakes are a common type of braking system found on the rear wheels of many vehicles. While they serve the same purpose as disc brakes to slow the vehicle, they do so in a slightly different manner. Instead of using calipers to squeeze pads onto a rotor, brake drums use wheel cylinders to push brake shoes against the inside of a brake drum to slow the wheel. As they function using friction and contact, they eventually wear out over time and need to be replaced. When they do go bad or begin to have a problem, usually brake drums will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver that a problem has occurred.
1. Unusual brake pedal feel
One of the first symptoms of bad or failing drum brakes is unusual brake pedal feel. If the brake drums are worn excessively they can cause vibrations that may be felt in the pedal. Worn drums may also cause shuddering or pulsating that will become noticeable once you step on the pedal.
2. Scraping noises when brakes are pressed
Another symptom commonly associated with bad brake drums is abnormal sounds. If the brake drums become excessively worn, they may give off a scraping or scratching sound when the brakes are depressed. This usually means the brake shoes have also become severely worn, and a close inspection would be required to determine the exact cause of the noise.
3. Loose parking brake
A loose parking brake is another symptom that is commonly associated with bad or failing drum brakes. As the drum brakes wear, the shoes may not be able to squeeze against the inside of the drum as easily, and as a result, the parking brake may not work as efficiently. When the drums are worn, you may notice that the car will slip a few inches after the parking brake is engaged. This may also be caused by a misadjusted brake cable, as well as potentially worn shoes. So it is recommended to have the vehicle properly inspected if you suspect this may be the case.
The brake drums are an important component that is critical to the proper operation of the vehicle’s braking system. For this reason, if you suspect that they may be worn, or may be having an issue, have the brake system inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the drums should be replaced.