How to Install Rear Brake Shoes

Written by eli laurens
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Drum-braking systems use a surfaced drum and hydraulic shoes to stop an automobile, and these systems can fail after the shoes wear down their material. The shoes are held in place with retainer springs, and actuated by the brake's wheel cylinder. The average backyard mechanic can replace both shoes on one drum brake in about 20 minutes.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Socket set
  • Screwdrivers
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Brake fluid
  • Vice grip

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  1. 1

    Jack up the vehicle and place its frame on the jack stands, suspending the rear end off the ground.

  2. 2

    Remove the rear wheels by turning their lug nuts in a counterclockwise direction. Stow the wheels away from the vehicle.

  3. 3

    Remove the rear drum by turning the keeper bolt in a counterclockwise direction. The keeper bolt is typically a hex-head that is off-centre from the axle, holding the drum in place on the outside. Pull the drum firmly and it will disengage from the shoes, and off the vehicle. Check for leaks around the wheel cylinder, now viewable between the shoes.

  4. 4

    Remove the shoes by using a screwdriver to pry the long springs from their hooks on the shoes, then turning the centre spring bolt counterclockwise. The shoe will pull free directly away from the axle. The long springs can be left hanging, or can be replaced at this time.

  5. 5

    Replace the shoes with fresh units, then press them into position on the brake. The natural curve will only allow them to fit in one direction, and on most vehicles they are identical to each other. Tighten the spring bolt, keeping the shoe in place. With the screwdriver, fasten the springs back onto their respective hooks on each shoe.

  6. 6

    Replace the drum by pressing it around the shoes, then tightening its keeper bolt in a clockwise direction.

  7. 7

    Release the bleeder nipple by turning it counterclockwise, then press the brake pedal to force fluid out while refilling it at the master cylinder. This will reduce the amount of air in the lines, which may have entered through leaks or depressurisation of the wheel cylinder during this process. When solid fluid comes out of the nipple, turn it clockwise to seal it.

  8. 8

    Repeat the steps 3 through 7 on the opposite brake, then replace both wheels by turning their lug nut clockwise. Lower the vehicle from the jack stands.

Tips and warnings

  • Bleeding the brakes may not always be required, but it is advised.
  • Use precautions when working underneath a vehicle on jack stands.

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