Q: OMG...brakes!

asked by on April 23, 2016

Ok,i replaced the rear drum brake shoes and the cylander on the passenger side, can't get drums back on either side, adjusted the adjuster, etc. So I put brake fluid in and decided to bleed brakes...forgot to put the cap back on and I guess a lot off Air got in there causing the one brake shoe tilto freeze..??.. And then the right side boot on the new cylander puffed up and looks like it's going to explode, so in hopes of relieving the pressure I've built up with air ( someone said it could ruin knit whole brake system....ouch).. I figured I'd take the brake line off of it but when I unscrewed it ( just as I did to replace it) out won't come out ( it moves like it will but won't come out) ...spool, I was thinking I should take the whole 8-9" off ??? I. ready to have a breakdown...I've been working on this ( because I can't afford to have it done ) for almost 3days, I'm stuck at my friends house 2hours away from where I live (temp.with friends) which is where my mom is.. Cont.next pg

My car has 160 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

There are a number of items that need to be addressed here. Normally I would advise you to seek out a qualified mechanic to help you, but I understand your are in a difficult situation. I do need to stress that there are more than a few things going on here that will make this difficult to answer thoroughly but I will do my best.

Drums not going back on:

There are three main things that cause this when doing a brake job on a drum brake system. The obvious, which you addressed is to adjust the adjuster.

The next is the need to push the wheel cylinder pistons all the way back into the cylinder. This requires you to push them both in simultaneously. Often it is difficult to do so, as there are two pistons and the resistance from the brake fluid being pushed backwards into the master cylinder is often hard. I usually do this after installing the brake shoes, using two pry bars wedged between the backing plate and shoes. In your case it will likely require a more creative solution and some muscle.

The third possibility is less likely, but I have experienced it before. When the shoes with friction material are too thick to fit into the drum, even after the pistons have been pushed and the self adjuster is fully backed off.

Bleeding the brakes:

I suspect the problem with the wheel cylinder boot occurred from attempting to bleed the brakes without having the shoes properly installed. Brakes should only be bleed once the entire brake system is fully assembled. From your description, this is likely what caused the bulging wheel cylinder boot.

Bulging wheel cylinder boot:

This is your biggest problem. Either this problem was created while attempting to bleed the brake system or there is another problem.

If there is a build up of fluid behind the cylinder dust boot, then the wheel cylinder is bad or the piston has been pushed out beyond the cylinders travel. This is the opposite of pushing the piston back into the wheel cylinder. Based on your description, I am going to assume there is brake fluid which is causing the ballooning effect. The boot should be removed, the piston should be pushed back into the cylinder if it is sticking out beyond the edge of the cylinder, and time should be spent determining why fluid has gotten past the piston. This is a potentially dangerous situation if the wheel cylinder is indeed leaking this badly.

Unfortunately you are in a difficult situation and such things can compromise even the most experienced mechanics ability to effectively repair a vehicle. With the number of difficulties you have run into I would advise you to have a certified mechanic inspect your whole brake system. There is no substitute for experience in automotive repair and the brakes on your car is the single most important system for safety while driving. Because of the complexity of problems here, it is very difficult to adequately help you in your situation.

I wish you the best.

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