How to Change Drum Brakes

It is very common to see the usage of drum brake system on our cars. Although disc brakes are becoming popular with the rear and front axles of a car. But drum brakes are still the most reliable option.

As you have found us, we can assume that you want to know how to change drum brakes. Worry no more. You are in the perfect place. 10 minutes is all we need to enlighten you with the process of changing your drum brakes.

This article will not only make the process easy but also save you some money. Let’s go for it.

How to know when to change drum brakes

Drum brakes reduce the speed by pressurizing the drum brake with a brake shoe. Because of that, the spinning parts of your cars slow down. The drum is very long-lasting because of its iron alloy structure.

But, no matter how long-lasting your drum brakes are, they will lose their capability over time. So it’s important to know how often to change drum brakes. Drum brakes work perfectly before 200,000 miles. We suggest you check your drum brakes every 6-10 months.

Here are some other ways to know if they need changing-

  • You will feel some inconsistency in braking force while pressing the brake. You may notice some vibrations happening in the rear brakes. Sometimes, you may feel that the first bite of your brakes is not enough even if the brakes aren’t hot. You may even notice a stuck brake drum.
  • Another symptom is that your hand brake will feel uneasy. If your brakes need a hard push to work properly, it’s time to throw them away. Suppose you are on a straight incline. If you notice some movement of the vehicle before stopping completely, inspect the brakes.
  • The last symptom is scraping noise. This normally happens because of the damages in your rear brake shoe. That’s why you are hearing that disturbing sound. This situation requires a changing of your drum brakes.

How long does it take to change drum brakes

Changing the drum brakes of your car is a significant thing to do. Probably you are wondering
how hard it is to change drum brakes. Or how long does it take? Let us assure you that it isn’t that hard and time-consuming. This procedure will only require some basic tools.

Changing or replacing your drum brakes can take you more than an hour. Once you have mastered the craft, it will take only half an hour to change the drum brakes.

How much does it cost to change drum brakes

As your drum brakes lose their capability over time, you must change them. As you are reading this, you might not want to take it to the mechanics. We admire your decision to replace the drum brakes by yourself. Changing the drum brakes is expensive because of the hard work it takes.

If you take it to the mechanics, they will charge around $200 to $350. But if you do it yourself, you will only have to pay the price for the parts. You can get the parts for $100. So your brake drum replacement cost will be around $100. With our perfect guide, you won’t need a mechanic for the process. Just buy the tools and follow our steps.

How to change drum brakes

In this beneficial guide, you will enlighten you with the process of changing your drum brakes. Read the steps carefully to change your drum brakes like an expert.

Part 1: Prepare your car

Materials Needed

  • Aerosol brake cleaner and safety glasses.
  • Brake shoes.
  • Dust mask and protective gloves
  • Drum brake tool kit including a digital micrometer
  • Drum brakes
  • Ratchet and socket assortment
  • Jack and jack stands
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Drum brake adjustment tool
  • Tire chocks and an oil drain pan

Step 1: Remove the lug nuts of your car

The first thing to do is remove the lug nuts. Do this before using the jack stands. You need to take off the rear wheels’ lug nuts first. You can do this using the weight of your car. Take off the cover of the wheels and the lug nuts.

Step 2: Carefully place your car on the jack stands

You should raise the rear part of your car first. Starting with the rear part of your car has a problem. That is you can’t utilize the parking brake. So you need to make the car stable by using some wood on the front wheels. This will help your car to maintain stability. Now you can use the jack stands to lower the car.

Part 2: Take off the brake shoes

Step 1: Take off the wheel

Taking the wheel off will disclose the brake drum. Be careful with the brake dust as it can pose a threat to your health.

Step 2: Remove the brake drum

Move the brake drum back and forth and take it away. If the brake drum has any screws, remove them. Always use the appropriate tools.

Step 3: wash the parts of your drum brakes

You will notice the parts of a drum brake after removing it. The parts are- a wheel cylinder, springs, and some shoes.

Put the drum brake over the oil pan and wash the drum brake using a cleaner. Wash the dirty place by spraying them. Remove all the brake dust. Before removing the brake parts, take a picture. This will help you in rearranging them.

Step 4: Check the brakes

Before changing the drum brakes, check the following parts.

  • Brake shoes – Check the thickness of the rear brake shoes using a digital micrometer. Replace them if they are thicker than 1/16th of an inch.
  • Brake drums – Check if there are any cracks or damages in the drum brake pads.
  • Brake fluid leaks – Check for any fluid leakage. If found any, replace them.

Step 5: Remove the brake drum parts

Use needle nose pliers to take off the parts of your rear drum brakes. Tension your brake shoes with the springs.

Step 6: Take off the brake drum shoes

Take off the drum shoes by removing the pins. Wash them and put them away. Use the springs and the needle nose pliers carefully.

Step 7: Search for any leaks

Check for any leakage in the wheel cylinder. If you notice any external fluid, it means there’s a leakage. Change the cylinder immediately.

Step 8: Take off the retainer clip of the parking brake cable

Pry the retainer clip of the brake cable. Use pliers or flathead screwdrivers for the process. 

Part 3: Put the drum and brake shoes back in their places

Step 1: Wash and lubricate the backing plate

Use a brake cleaner to carefully wash the backing plate. Put some grease to the anchor of the pin, pivot surface of the parking brake, and the bosses. Lubricate the backing plate carefully. 

Step 2: Install the retaining clip and the parking brake lever

Press the pin inside the shoe and put the retaining clip back in its place. Then carefully install the spring, parking brake lever, and the adjusting screw.

Step 3: Place the new brake shoes and tension spring

You will find washers and pins in your kit. Use them to attach the brake shoe to the hub. Replace all the parts of a brake shoe with the adjusting screws.

Now it’s time to place the tensioning springs. You need to do that in the reverse order. Reinstall them from bottom to top. Get the hold-down pins and put them back in their places. Attach the return springs in the proper place.

That’s how you should do the drum brake assembly.

Step 4: Adjust the drum brakes

Use a screwdriver, expand the shoes by adjusting them. When you can’t turn the drum by hand, stop adjusting. Now it’s time to back off the shoes a little bit. 12 notches will be enough. Turn it with the wrench according to the recommended torque.

Part 4: Set the drum brakes and change the wheel

Step 1: Make the drum brake ready

You will notice an oily coating over the drum. This coating protects the drum from scratches during carrying. You need to take the coating off by spraying brake cleaner on them.

Step 2: Set the brake shoes

After cleaning the drum, put it over the brake shoes. Set the drum brake shoes onto the hub. If you find any difficulty, adjust the brake shoes and brake lining. You can use a tool or turn the adjuster. Place the brake shoes carefully. Avoid too much resistance.

Carefully adjust the brake hardware. You must not feel any drag while turning it. Adjust the brake slowly.

Step 3: Place the wheel and tire

Place the wheel and tire carefully. Use a screwdriver to tighten the bolt. Jack up to remove the jack stands. Place your car on the surface level. Repeat the process for the remaining wheels.

Step 4: Give your brakes a test

Put pressure on the brake. This will distribute the pressure on the brakes. Test your parking brakes. Now all you need is a test drive. If you find your brakes acting perfectly, you have done the job.

How to bleed drum brakes

Before bleeding the drum brakes, you need to gather these tools:

  • Automotive jack and stands
  • Plastic jar
  • Wrench set including a lug wrench
  • Clear tube
  • Brake fluid

Now you are ready to bleed the drum brakes.

Brake bleeding procedure

Before bleeding the brakes, you need to take off the wheels. Use jack stands, lug wrench for the removal. You should start bleeding from the rear wheel. Take the cover off the bleeder screw. Place the clear plastic tube on that screw. The other part of the tube should be in a plastic jar. The jar will hold the fluids. Let most of the fluids bleed out. The air will come out with the brake fluids. This air will reduce the hydraulic pressure of the brakes.

Put pressure on the brake pad. Open the bleeder screw. Now the brake pedal will touch the floor. This will cause the fluid to stop bleeding out. Then tighten the bleeder screws. Repeat the process so that there is no air inside the wheel cylinder.

Give your brake clean fluids. Check if the brake pedal works perfectly.

How to adjust drum brakes

You will find the usage of drum brakes in various cars. The adjustment of a drum brake is an essential thing to do. Otherwise, your brakes won’t work properly. This part will teach you
how to adjust drum brakes on a trailer, car, caravan, boat, etc.

Drum brakes adjustment tools

  • Protective glasses
  • Jack stands and a jack
  • Thick clothes or towel
  • Torque wrench and a screwdriver
  • Ratchet and socket set

How to adjust drum brakes properly

Lift your car with the jack. Never forget to park your car in a safe spot. Put the jack stand carefully under the car. Take a screwdriver and remove the nuts of the wheel to take it off. Keep the nuts in a safe place. Don’t let them move away.

Now you will see the drum brake adjuster. It’s usually under the drum brake. Take off the protective grommet. The adjuster has the shape of a star. If the brake pads hit the drum, turn the adjuster in the opposite direction. Check the brake pedal again.

Use your hand to rotate the drum. You should not feel any drag. If you feel any drag, adjust it more.

That’s it. 

Drum brakes vs disc brakes

In this part, we will find out which braking technology is better. We have drum brakes and disc brakes. When the manufacturer thought about improving the braking process, they invented the disc brakes. Since then, most cars use disc brakes on front wheels. But people use drum brakes too.

Let’s talk about drum brakes first. The drum brakes contain a set of shoes inside. If you press the brake, the shoes pressurize the wheels to stop. Due to the friction between the shoes and the wheel, the car stops.

But, it has a problem when you are on slop with a heavy load. If you press the brake, again and again, the brake shoes fade. This brake fade causes the brakes to work improperly.

Though disc brakes follow the same idea, the design of disc brakes is far better. Inside the disc brakes, there are a caliper, brake pads. When you press the brakes, the rotors clamp together to stop the vehicle.

The disc brakes can come in contact with air. So it doesn’t overheat easily. Which prevents the disc brakes from any damages.

Now you know which one is better. Do you want to install disc brakes in your car now? If yes, follow us.

How much does it cost to change drum brakes to disc brakes

We hope you are ready for a change. Don’t think too much. There are dozens of reasons for you to change drum brakes to disc brakes. Before doing that, we will tell you how much it will cost.

If you want to take it to a mechanical shop, they will charge at least $250. A lot of money right? Want to do it yourself? It will only cost around $100 if you do it yourself. But thinking about how hard it is to change drum brakes to disc brakes?

Don’t worry. It isn’t very hard. We are here to help you with changing the drum brakes to disc brakes.

How to change drum brakes to disc brakes

Replacing your drum brakes with a disc brake is a praiseworthy step. We are going to teach you the technique of installing a disc brake. Read this part, and you will be able to change your drum brakes to disc brakes by yourself.

Step 1

Gather your disc brake conversion tools. The first task is to remove the wheel from your car. Then you have to bleed half of the fluid from the master cylinder. Take a jack and lift your car. Take off the wheel stud’s clip if it’s a rear-wheel-drive one. You will see the access hole. Inside it, you will find an adjuster. Turn it. Then take the drum off its socket.

Taking off the wheel bearings will detach the drum if it’s a front-wheel-drive car.

Step 2

Remove the brake shoes. Take off the retainer rings, springs, screws. Wash the dirt on the spindle.

Step 3

Now you will have to install the disc brakes. To do that, you will have to attach the spindle and the rotor. Tighten the bearings and nuts. Put the caliper assembly on the brake rotors. This will secure the brake line and the brake pads.

Set the brake cable into the pistons. Carefully check all the nuts. Fill up your master cylinder with new braking fluid.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed a disc brake.


  • How to change drum brakes to disc brakes in bikes?

Take the wheels off first. Remove the tire, ring gear, drum brake, valve stem, and wheel weights. Make some holes for mounting with a drill machine. Set up the disc brake.

  • How to change drum brakes to disc brakes on a vw beetle?

The first thing to do is to take off the wheel. Bleed half of the fluid next. Take off the wheel stud clip. Turn the adjuster. Then take off the socket, brake shoes, drum, retainer ring, spring, screws. Install the disc brake.

  • How to replace brake shoes on drum brakes?

Take off the brake shoe spring. Then make the clip and the retainer spring line up together. Take off the brake cable with a plier.

  • How to change drum brakes on a trailer?

Find the brake adjuster. You will find it behind the backer plate. Turn the wheel with a screwdriver. The brake shoes and drum will come off. Install the next brakes.

Last words

Hopefully, you have learned
how to change drum brakes and install a disc brake. It’s not a hard nut to crack. This article will let you save on your hard-earned money. That’s all for now. Come back to read some amazing articles on various car-related topics.

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