Pick a Store

How to Tell If Your Drum Brakes Need Changing

A drum brake uses friction material caused by a set of shoes or pads that press outward against a rotating cylinder-shaped part called a brake drum. The majority of vehicles on the road have disc brakes. Some vehicles still have drum brakes or a combination of disc brakes and drum brakes. Passenger cars with this combination will have the drum brakes on the rear brakes and not on the front brakes. 

If your car or truck is having drum brakes issues, your vehicle won’t be shy in letting you know. You’ll hear and feel signs that will alert you to the fact that mechanically, your brake system needs your attention. 

You’ve come to the right place to learn “what to do” when your drum brakes need to be serviced or changed.

Brake drum photo
How long do drum brakes usually last?

Mavis inspects and recommends replacement of brake drums with every brake check. While the brake drums are meant to last about 30,000 miles, they can usually last the life of the vehicle if the brakes are used properly. However, various factors like driving conditions could affect the longevity of the brake drums and generally all brake parts.

How do I know if my drum brakes are worn out?

Brake drums and brake shoes eventually wear out. When they do, they can cause the following problems: 

  1. The back of the vehicle shakes or pulls to one side when applying the brakes

  2. The brake pedal vibrates or feels soft on stopping power

  3. The parking brake feels loose or doesn’t hold the car in place

  4. The brakes grind or squeal when applied

If you notice any of these signs, you’ll know your drum brakes have worn out and it’s time to bring your vehicle to your local Mavis for service. 

What must be inspected when checking a brake drum? 

We’ll need to make sure the drums are smooth to assess whether the drum brakes are working properly. The brake shoes should be evenly worn and not too thin. However, if the drums or brake shoes have deep grooves or are pitted, you need to have them serviced. Next, we’ll check the wheel cylinders. If the wheel cylinders or pistons look wet, it’s a sign they are leaking and need to be replaced.

Finally, the rest of the brake hardware needs to be inspected. We’ll check the two springs at the top of the brake assembly connected to the brake shoes. We’ll also check the self-adjusting mechanism for the brakes located at the bottom of the brake assembly to see if these parts are rusted or broken.

How often should drum brake shoes be replaced?

As a general rule, brake shoes need to be replaced every 30,000 miles. Brake pads can be found inside a brake caliper which surround the brake disc. And brake shoes are placed inside the brake drum.  Brake shoes typically last much longer than brake pads. Usually, they are positioned on the rear axle and undertake a much lower proportion of the braking work.

Visit Mavis for regular brake maintenance

Regular brake inspections keep you informed as to when to service your brakes and can save you money by finding needed repairs before they become severe. Brake service at Mavis is a good investment to help keep your vehicle running on the road longer. A free brake inspection will enable you to know what services and parts you may need. 

Mavis handles hundreds of brake repairs daily at affordable prices, so rest assured that our technicians know how to do the job efficiently.