What are drum brakes all about?
In older vehicles (usually ones manufactured before 1999), the rear brakes are drum brakes. The drum is a large medal cylindrical housing with brake shoes attached to it. When you press on the brake pedal, brake fluid helps the brake shoe apply pressure to the brake drum, which slows down your vehicle. Over time, the brake drum will wear thin, as constant friction with the brake shoe wears the drum away. When this happens the drum brakes will need to be adjusted to keep them close to the shoe, so that braking is still efficient.
Keep in mind:
- Some drum brakes systems adjust automatically.
- When adjusting the drum brakes it’s important to check the wear and tear on both the drums and the brake shoes, to see when both will need to be replaced.
How it's done:
- Adjust the rear drum brakes
Your entire braking system should be routinely serviced. Each component of your system, including the drum brakes, should be examined during tuneups and servicing, and you should schedule regular inspections for the braking system. The braking system is the most critical safety feature on your vehicle, so you should not postpone brake-related services.
What is a common symptom indicating you need to adjust the drum brakes?
- Softer brake pedal
How important is this service?
Older cars rely on drum brakes for the rear wheels. Drum brakes are a large, metal cylindrical housing on each wheel that are necessary to help your vehicle slow down or stop. Attached to the drum brakes are the brake shoes. When you deploy the brake pedal, brake fluid runs to the brake shoes, and helps them apply pressure to the brake drums. The friction between the drums and the shoes slows down your vehicle. This constant friction makes the drum brakes thinner over time, as the surface layer of the drum keeps wearing off. As the drums become thinner, the space between them and the shoes grows. This distance means that the shoes do not come into as strong of contact with the drums as they normally do, and the braking system will be less efficient than normal.