Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Brake Drum

Brake Drum

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.

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

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

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.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

How Long Does a Vacuum Brake Booster Check Valve Last?
The braking system on your car requires a lot of pressure. The vacuum booster is one of the main sources of this pressure. This booster will take the pressure that...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...

Related questions

Q: Car independently accelerated and brake did not work - 2013 Lexus RX450H

Hi there, thank you for asking about your 2013 Lexus RX450H. This behavior is known as unintended acceleration, and your model is included in an expanding multi-district litigation on this issue against Toyota. Check the news frequently about this action...

Q: abs and brakes lights cane on

Hello. This may be related to faulty wheel speed sensors which are located at each of the four wheels. These sensors monitor wheel speed which is relayed to the ABS system. When the ABS system detects an abnormal speed for...

Q: Noise when braking at low speed

Hello. I am not sure of your description of the sound, but I think you are describing a brake rotor runout causing the brake pads to gyrate and make a noise at low speeds and light braking it is most...