When To Replace Drum Brake Shoes?

Do you have an older vehicle that has drum brakes in the rear? Are you wondering when to replace drum brake shoes? This article will give you all the ammunition you need to navigate drum brake shoe replacement.

Most modern-day vehicles have disc brakes. Drum brakes appear rather alien when compared to disc brakes. However, on most older vehicles, the rear brakes are drum brakes, while the front ones happen to be disc brakes. 

Drums are only used when the brakes of a car are applied. It is unsafe to drive with a brake drum problem, particularly an undiagnosed one. 

One should immediately get their brakes diagnosed by a professional if they experience unusual symptoms. This article will discuss drum brakes and when one should replace the vehicle’s drum brake shoes. 


When To Replace Drum Brake Shoes


How Do I Know if My Drum Brakes Are Worn Out?

As brake drums wear down, they tend to become smaller in size. Car mechanics measure these drums to determine whether they need to be replaced or not. 

When the brake drums are heavily damaged, they tend to cause problems with the brake shoes. How do I know when to replace rear drum brakes? Here are some signs to look for that signal that your vehicle’s drum brakes have worn out.

  • Whenever you use the brake, a metallic scraping noise is produced. This scraping noise signals that the brake shoes have worn away so that only the metal platform remains, causing the noise. 
  • The hand brake feels loose on use. This can also lead to the car pulling to one side when trying to brake. However, this may be as simple as a loose hand brake cable, which is a much easier fix when diagnosed. 
  • One may experience an unusual pedal feel. Excessively worn-out drum brakes can cause vibrations in the pedal that the driver may feel. Once you stop on the brake pedal, you may notice the pulsating or shuddering caused by worn drums.  
  • The back of the car is shaking when trying to brake is another potential signal when brake drums need to be replaced. 


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When Should I Replace Drum Brakes Drums?

How do I know when to replace rear drum brakes? Drum brakes do not need to be replaced that often. Getting your drum brakes serviced every 6 months during your service or when your vehicle has finished 5000 miles or more is advisable. 

Replacement might be required when the vehicle has traversed about 200,000 miles. 

How Much Does It Cost To Get Drum Brakes Replaced?

The average job cost per axle is $275-$399, but this may vary depending on how much work is needed to be done. The technician will come to your house or office at your convenience and do the job. 

Do Brake Drums Need To Be Replaced With Shoes?

Replacing drum brakes generally means replacing the brake shoes, drums, and related hardware. If you fail the inspection, there may be other parts that will need to be replaced too. If the wheel cylinder is leaking or not working properly, it is also replaced with brake shoes. 

It is possible to reuse drums if they pass the inspection. This is determined by reading the maximum discard diameter stamped on the drum. However, replacing is a better option since wear and tear reduce the thickness of the drums and make them more susceptible to overheating. 

When to replace drum brake shoes? Haynes recommends checking the condition of the drum brake shoes at least once a year, and you may consider changing them once your vehicle has traversed 50,000 miles.


When To Replace Drum Brake Shoes


How Often Do Brake Drums Need To Be Replaced?

Generally, drum brakes are known for their longevity, and they can last as many as 150,000 miles. However, other factors may cause them to wear out sooner. Car manufacturers do not specify intervals for replacement. 

However, getting your brake drums checked at 6-month intervals is advisable. One can check the vehicle’s safety manual for the specifications and guidelines provided by the car manufacturers.


You might also like to read: How Long Do Drum Brakes Last?


Where To Get Drum Brakes Turned?

It is advisable to see a car mechanic when you need to get your drum brakes turned professionally. Firstly, block the car wheels and jack the vehicle. Then, remove the brake drum cover plug. If needed, remove the holding screws. Do this for all the brake drums. However, one can do it independently if they have a lathe.

When To Replace Brake Shoe Thickness? 

Brake shoes typically have two types of lining. They may be riveted or bonded to brake shoes. If your brake shoes have a riveted lining, replace the shoes well before the lining wears down to the level of the rivet heads. 

Exposed heads are likely to scratch the brake drums. On the other hand, brake shoes with bonded lining can ideally be replaced when the lining is worn to about 3mm thickness. 

One may refer to their car handbook for the exact thickness recommended by their car manufacturer. 

Always renew brake shoes on both wheels on an axle, even if the lining is on the wheel and seems less worn out than the other. 

Renewing only on the wheel tends to unbalance the braking. Good-quality brake shoes are important since poor quality compromises your driving experience and safety. 

Can I Replace the Brake Drum Myself?

The process of replacing drum brakes is not so easy. Ensuring that it is done well is imperative to ensure the vehicle’s safety. 

It is advisable to seek the services of a professional mechanic when it comes to replacing the drum brakes of your vehicle. However, you can certainly try doing the same if you believe you have the relevant knowledge. 


When To Replace Drum Brake Shoes


When do brake calipers need to be replaced? 

Brake calipers have these rubber seals which harden over time. This increases the risk of sticking and leaking. 

Usually, one need not replace brake calipers for the first time the car brakes are relined. However, after traversing about 75000 miles or seven to eight years, they may require replacement. 


You might also like to read: What Size Is A Brake Bleeder Screw?


A Few Final Words

Thank you for reading. If you managed to learn something new or found interesting insights in this article, do take the time to leave a comment in the comments box. Also, let us know what more you would like to read. Lastly, if you have friends and family who would reap this benefit, share it with them. 

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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