We will cover everything you need to know about brake shoe replacements in this article.
How frequently should you get it done?
Is there an alternative?
We’ll give you the low-down on everything a car owner should know about brake shoe replacements. From what the brake shoe is, how much a replacement can cost you, and a convenient way to get your brake shoe fixed!
In This Article
- When Should Brake Shoes Be Checked?
- What You Can Expect During A Brake Shoe Replacement
- How Much A Brake Shoe Replacement Costs
- A Simple Solution To Your Brake Shoe Replacement Needs
We’ll also take a deeper look at Brake Shoes:
- What Is The Brake Shoe?
- How Brake Shoes Work In Drum Brakes
- 5 Things That Can Affect Brake Shoe Effectiveness
- 8 Symptoms Of Worn Brake Shoes
Let’s get started.
When Should Brake Shoes Be Checked?
You can have the brake shoes inspected at least once a year and expect them to last around 50,000 miles.
However, you don’t have to wait for a scheduled brake inspection to have them checked. Ask your mechanic to review the rear drum brake system during an oil change or whenever any rear wheel is off.
Rear brake shoes generally last about twice as long brake pads because of the vehicle’s brake bias. Front brakes (which are typically disc brakes) take up more of the braking force than the rear brakes (which tend to use drum brake shoes).
What You Can Expect During A Brake Shoe Replacement
A brake shoe replacement can be a complicated process.
Here’s a look at what your mechanic will be doing during a rear brake shoe replacement:
- They’ll jack up the rear axle and make sure the parking brake is released.
- Then, it’s time for them to remove the rear brake drum. This involves removing the axle bearing retainer nut (if there is one). Sometimes, the rear brake drum is stuck on the axle because of rust which needs to be loosened first.
- After this, they’ll inspect the rear brake assembly (springs, backing plate, axle, etc.) and clean everything.
- That’s followed by inspecting each rear brake shoe for contamination and thickness.
- Now, they’ll check the wheel brake cylinder to make sure there’s no brake fluid leak. If this is an older vehicle or used for heavy-duty, they’ll likely need to change the wheel brake cylinder.
- They’ll disconnect the parking brake cable and remove the brake shoes from the backing plate.
- They’ll replace the wheel cylinder if needed. Your mechanic may advise replacing them as a set because if one wheel cylinder is leaking, the other one probably isn’t too far behind.
- Next, they’ll install the new brake shoe set onto the backing plate and reconnect the parking brake cable too.
- Then they’ll reinstall the rear brake drum and ensure each lug nut is secured correctly. They may machine the brake drum first to give the new brake shoe set a clean surface.
- Once done, they’ll check the brake fluid level.
- And finally, they’ll set the rear brake shoes with the adjuster and perform essential safety inspections.
So, the next question is, how much does a brake shoe repair cost?
How Much A Brake Shoe Replacement Costs
The cost of your brake shoe replacement will depend on a few factors:
- Material: The brake shoe material has an impact on the pricing. Ceramic or semi-metallic shoes can cost around $20-$50.
- Size: The size of the brake shoe is a major cost driver. For example, a small brake shoe set for a compact car costs between $14-$28, while a larger shoe set can be $35-$65.
- Labor cost: Labor rates will depend on your location. , Typically, the labor cost for a brake shoe replacement averages around $220-$360.
To give you an idea, here are some examples of how much a brake shoe replacement costs for specific makes and models:
|Vehicle model||Average Dealer Cost|
|2011 Porsche Boxster||$662.82|
|2013 Volkswagen Beetle||$200.08|
|2008 Land Rover Range Rover||$203.59|
Now that you know how much a replacement will cost, what’s the best way to get an affordable brake repair done?
A Simple Solution To Your Brake Shoe Replacement Needs
You’ll naturally want a trustworthy technician to deal with your brakes. After all, brakes are vital components of your vehicle, and you need them working in perfect condition.
So, when looking for a brake shoe or brake pad replacement service, make sure that that the mechanics:
- Are ASE-certified
- Use only high-quality replacement brake parts and tools
- Offer a service warranty
To make things easy, simply book an appointment with RepairSmith.
RepairSmith is a convenient mobile vehicle repair and maintenance solution, and here’s why they should be your first call:
- Your brake service can be done right in your driveway
- Online booking is convenient and easy
- Competitive, upfront pricing
- Expert, ASE-certified technicians perform the repair.
- All auto repairs and maintenance are performed with high-quality equipment and replacement parts
- RepairSmith provides a 12-month | 12,000-mile warranty for all repairs
For an accurate estimate of your brake shoe replacement, just fill this online form.
Now that we’ve gone over brake shoe replacements, let’s take a deeper look at brake shoes:
What Is The Brake Shoe?
The brake shoe is a curved piece of metal used in drum brakes. Each brake shoe has friction material (known as brake lining) on one side.
The brake lining comprises of different types of heat resistant materials mixed with compounds like ceramic, brass, and graphite.
Brake shoes come in pairs and are usually bought in sets of four shoes — with two on each side.
You may notice one shoe in the pair has friction material that’s slightly shorter than the other. This is the primary shoe and faces the front of the vehicle. The secondary shoe, with more friction material, faces the rear.
Why is there a difference?
As the secondary shoe handles more braking than the primary shoe, it requires more friction material.
Now, let’s learn how brake shoes work.
How Brake Shoes Work In Drum Brakes
A drum brake system consists of a pan-shaped brake drum, a backing plate, brake studs, a hydraulic wheel cylinder and curved brake shoes. The friction material on the brake shoes faces outwards towards the inside of the brake drum.
Here’s what happens when you step on the brake pedal:
- Force is converted into hydraulic pressure in the brake line from the master cylinder.
- The hydraulic pressure through the brake line is transmitted by brake fluid, activating a piston in the wheel cylinder.
- The piston pushes the brake shoes to contact the inside of the brake drum.
- The brake shoes create friction with the brake drum, slowing the wheel.
- When the brake pedal is released, stiff return springs retract the shoes to the original position.
- A screw adjuster in the drum brake assembly extends gradually to compensate for worn brake shoes over time.
What about disc brakes?
The drum brake is a reliable braking system, though disc brakes (that use a caliper, brake pads, and rotor instead) have superseded it. You’ll still find a drum brake on the rear wheel of many cars because they’re cheaper to manufacture than disc brakes.
What about the parking brake?
The parking brake, or emergency brake, is operated from a lever via an emergency brake cable. When you pull the parking brake lever, it forces the brake shoes apart, the same way that hydraulics do.
In vehicles utilizing a drum brake system, the rear brake shoe pair performs the parking brake job. In cars with rear disc brakes, there’s usually a smaller drum brake in the brake rotor that performs a similar function.
Now that you know how they work, what can impact brake shoe performance?
5 Things That Can Affect Brake Shoe Effectiveness
No braking system is immune to failure.
Here are some common things that can affect brake shoe effectiveness.
1. Regular Wear And Tear
Regular driving will gradually thin the brake shoe friction material.
Eventually, the friction material will start to wear unevenly until the metal shoe backing, or the rivets that hold the friction material, contacts the brake drum.
This results in a horrible scraping noise every time you press the brakes. Your brake pedal will also likely travel farther down to the floor, and the brake system won’t respond as usual.
2. Locking-up From Weak Springs
Locking-up can happen if the return springs are weak, allowing the very top and bottom of the brake shoe to contact the brake drum. Typically, only the center of the brake shoe should touch the brake drum.
3. Brake Fluid Or Oil Contamination
Broken wheel brake cylinder seals can leak brake fluid onto the brake shoes. A leak in the rear axle seal or a wheel bearing failure can coat the drum brake shoes with gear oil or grease.
Contaminated brake shoes are pretty likely to grab and lock up while braking.
4. Damaged Brake Drum Or Failing, Broken Brake Parts
Damage to the brake drum or any loose, broken brake parts (like a spring or stud) in the brake drum can damage the brake shoes and compromise your braking performance. A frozen adjuster wheel can also reduce brake shoe contact with the brake drum.
5. Driving With The Parking Brake On
Driving with the parking brake applied can overheat and glaze the surface of a rear brake shoe, as the brake shoes are in contact with the brake drum. High temperatures generated by braking when hauling a heavy load or towing can glaze the rear brake shoes too — and this excess heat may increase brake fade.
Now that you know which factors can impact the brake shoe, how can you tell when there’s actually a problem?
8 Symptoms Of Worn Brake Shoes
The thing about brake shoes is that they’re inside the drum.
Unlike a disc brake pad, they’re not very visible parts, which can make it difficult to identify issues.
However, if there’s a problem with your brake shoes, there are still some obvious signs:
- You hear squealing or rubbing noises when you brake.
- Your car veers to one side during braking.
- There’s a noticeable reduction in braking power.
- Your parking brake isn’t as effective as usual.
- The brake pedal sinks to the floor.
- Your car shakes upon braking.
- The brake warning light is on.
- The drum brakes lock up.
If any of these signs pop up, it’s time for a visit to the mechanic, or better, get one to come to you so that you don’t have to drive with a faulty brake system.
While brake shoes don’t wear down as fast as disc brake pads, you shouldn’t ignore their maintenance needs. They play a vital role in keeping you and your vehicle safe so ensure that you get them serviced regularly.
To make things easy, contact RepairSmith to set a brake inspection appointment. Once you do, ASE-certified mechanics will be at your doorstep, ready to check on your brake shoes!