The different braking systems for a car

Providing fast and convenient personal transport, automobiles have become an integral part of daily life for many people. Without the ability to stop quickly and efficiently, however, driving would be extremely dangerous, which is why regular maintenance of your brakes is so important.

Modern braking systems fall into one of two categories: disc brakes and drum brakes. Depending on the age and type of vehicle, your car may contain one or both sets of these braking systems. Drum brakes are a fairly archaic design by automotive standards – two brake shoes are housed inside a metal brake drum, and are forced apart by a hydraulic piston when the brake pedal is depressed by the driver, creating friction and stopping the wheels. Disc brakes, on the other hand, feature a disc-shaped rotor and a type of clamping system that squeezes two brake pads against the disc to create the same effect.


Disc brakes are a newer design that spawned from the need of high-speed racing vehicles to rapidly dissipate the heat created by brake friction. In general, disc brakes are marginally more effective braking systems and are easier to maintain and replace, but are also more expensive than drum brakes. Since the vast majority of a vehicle’s braking power is derived from its front wheels, many modern vehicles feature forward disc brakes, with the less expensive drum brakes in the rear. This article will focus on instructing you on how to install drum brakes.

When to replace your drum brakes, and the tools you’ll need

Unlike disc brakes, which typically allow a visual inspection through the wheel hub, drum brakes require the removal of your tyres and some disassembly before their condition can be ascertained. Some indications that it might be time to install new drum brakes on your car include grinding or screeching sounds or unusually light brake pedal resistance when braking. Replacing your brakes can seem a daunting task to inexperienced do-it-yourself mechanics, but the process is not terribly complicated. Before you begin, ensure that you have a few basic tools including pliers, a screwdriver, and a car jack and jack stands. We also strongly recommend you purchase an asbestos respirator or other high-quality oxygen mask to protect you from harmful brake dust.

How to replace your drum brakes

After jacking up your car and securing it on the jack stands, remove the wheel, exposing the brake drum. Wiggle and pull the drum free, removing any screws attaching the drum to the vehicle. You should now be able to inspect the drum and brake assembly. If the drum appears scored or warped in any way on its interior surface, you may want to consider replacing it; otherwise, set the drum aside.

brake car

Take a picture of the brake assembly so you can be sure to reattach the internal springs exactly as they were originally installed. Remove the springs and brake shoes and set them aside, being sure to keep any parts you plan to reuse. Now is a good time to clean the remaining assembly with an industrial cleaner. Once done, place the new shoes inside the assembly, and reattach the springs as you found them, using your previous picture as a guide. Replace the wheel and follow the same steps for the opposite side.

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