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Brake Shoe Replacement: All You Need To Know (2021)

April 9, 2021

We will cover everything you need to know about brake shoe replacements in this article.

What does a brake shoe replacement involve?

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

We’ll also take a deeper look at 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:

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:

To give you an idea, here are some examples of how much a brake shoe replacement costs for specific makes and models:

Vehicle modelAverage 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:

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:

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:

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:

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. 

Final Thoughts

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!