Brake Shoe - Wheel Cylinder - Drum Replacement

Step 51 - Once the wheel nuts have been tightened, align the wheel cover with the rim valve stem and gently press into place.

Reinstall Wheel Cover

Step 52 - After the wheel has been installed and lug nuts tightened, clean the top of the brake master cylinder using a shop towel, then loosen and remove the lid.

Remove Brake Master Cylinder Cap

Step 53 - Using a sealed container of brake fluid, top off the brake master cylinder with fluid.

Adding Brake Fluid

Step 54 - Once the fluid level has be added to, reinstall and tighten the reservoir cap.

Reinstall Brake Master Cylinder Cap

Step 55 - After the brake cylinder has been topped off with fluid, have a helper press the brake pedal down and hold. (Note: Do not pump brake pedal.)

Press Brake Pedal

Step 56 - While the brake pedal is being held down, open the bleeder screw on the rear of the wheel cylinder, fluid will begin to flow out of the valve, once the fluid has stopped close the valve and slowly release the brake pedal. Repeat this operation until no air bubbles are observed.

Brake Fluid Bleed

Step 57 - Once the bleeding process is complete, recheck the fluid level inside the master cylinder reservoir and add as needed to obtain the proper level.

Brake Fluid Level

Once both wheels have been completed and while holding the brake pedal down, activate the parking brake lever several times to set and adjust the shoes against the drums. Never move a vehicle without proper brake operation.

Rear Brake Replacement Video

Helpful Information

In general, if a vehicles parking brake doesn't hold, or travels to the end of its throw, the rear brake shoes need to be checked for replacement.

Drum brakes generally cost less to produce than disc brake systems and are less efficient than their counterpart, this is why there are featured on the rear only. Each brake shoe replacement varies, and some applications require a spring removal tool. Drum style brakes are more susceptible to moisture which can decrease braking ability. Brake components are manufactured using an asbestos style of material which can be hazardous when inhaled, using an air filter mask can help avoid accidental ingestion.

When replacing brake shoes check spring hardware (return and mounting), and replace if damaged or broken, on larger applications replacing the spring hardware is necessary. When changing brake shoes, disassemble one side at a time to preserve a reference copy on the opposing side. Some brake systems must be adjusted after assembly, these systems generally provide an adjustment slot which is used to manually turn an adjuster wheel to obtain proper "shoe to drum" clearance.


Common Problems

Related Links


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2015-01-06)