Brake Drums

For your safety and that of other road users, you must replace your handbrake drum as soon as it starts to show signs of wear. The drum is fundamental to your handbrake system. In fact, all parts in the handbrake system work together to help you control the drum and to keep it in place when required. The handbrake drum is a metal cylinder which connects to the handbrake lever via a series of cables. When you pull up the handbrake lever, the cables push brake shoes inside the drum to create resistance, thus stopping the rear wheels from moving. If disc brakes are installed on the rear wheels, then your parking brake uses its own drum. In this case, the drum will be built into your disc brake system. If your brake drum needs replacing, it may display a couple of symptoms. If your car still rolls when you engage your handbrake, or there is too much play in the brake lever, these are key signs that you need a new drum. While it is true that a defective handbrake drum won’t keep you from driving your car, it is in the interests of safety that you replace it immediately.

Drum Brakes. A drum brake system consists of hydraulic wheel cylinders, brake shoes and a brake drum. When the brake pedal is applied the two curved brake shoes, which have a friction material lining, are forced by hydraulic wheel cylinders against the inner surface of a rotating brake drum.

The nibs rest against the support pads of the backing plate to which the shoes are installed. Each brake assembly has two shoes, a primary and secondary. The primary shoe is located toward the front of the vehicle and has the lining positioned differently from the secondary shoe.

If your car has front disc brakes (most do), you will see the brake rotor, a shiny smooth surface an inch or two behind the wheel. If it does not have front disc brakes you will see a round rusted-looking brake drum. Look through one of the holes in the top of one of the rear wheels.

As your brake drums begin to wear down, they will actually become smaller. A mechanic will measure the drums to gauge whether or not they need to be replaced or if they can be turned instead. If the damage to the brake drum is bad enough, it will begin to cause problems with the brake shoes.

    Components. Drum brake components include the backing plate, brake drum, shoe, wheel cylinder, and various springs and pins

    Quite literally a drum brake is a small round drum that has a set of shoes inside of it. The drum brake will rotate alongside the wheel and when the brake pedal is applied, the shoes are forced against the sides of the drum and the wheel is slowed. A disc brake has a disc shaped metal rotor spinning within a wheel.

    Drum Brakes. A drum brake system consists of hydraulic wheel cylinders, brake shoes and a brake drum. When the brake pedal is applied the two curved brake shoes, which have a friction material lining, are forced by hydraulic wheel cylinders against the inner surface of a rotating brake drum.

    There are two basic ways to tell when drum brakes are not working effectively and need either to be repaired or replaced. The first is by listening. As brake shoes wear down, they start to squeal each time you apply the brakes. This may either indicate the need to resurface the interior of the drums or replace the shoes. Another noise that you do not want to hear is grinding. Grinding means that metal is rubbing against metal. The shoes have worn down sufficiently to be digging into the interior of the drum. At worst, both shoes and drums will have to be replaced when this happens. At best, the shoes will need replacing and the drums will need resurfacing. The other way you can tell your brake drums need work is by the way the pedal feels when you apply it. Due to the way that the shoes are compressed into the drums, they do not necessarily wear evenly. This eventually causes the interior of the drums to get “out of round.” In other words, the interior of the drum is no longer a perfect circle. Each time you press the brakes, you feel this unevenness as the shoes rub against the inside of the drum. This tells you that the drums need resurfacing although not necessarily replacement. It is important to take care of the brakes as soon as you know something is wrong. Not to do so can lead to increased repair or replacement costs in the near future as well as increased stopping time and the potential for a serious accident.

    On most cars, brake drums are found in the rear wheels. This is primarily because of their relatively low cost and the ability for a parking brake to adhere to them. Like all brake system components in a car, they wear down from time to time and need to be replaced. Since the brakes are arguably the car’s most vital safety feature, brake parts should never be allowed to fail. Rather, timely repair or replacement is always the best course of action. There are two tell-tale signs that your brake drums need to be replaced, indicated by noise and feeling. How Brake Drums Work Brake drums consist of the outer layer of the drum, two brake shoes, a wheel cylinder containing two pistons, and an adjuster arm. When you press down on the brake pedal, it compresses brake fluid which in turn puts pressure on the individual wheel cylinder. The pressure forces the pistons out which pushes the brake shoes up against the interior lining of the drum. The adjuster arm allows the shoes to be pushed into the drum with more force while also spreading out the surface contact. Numerous springs are found inside of the drum which pull the shoes off the interior once braking is complete. It also controls the adjuster arm and position of the shoes.

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