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How to Adjust Ford Drum Brakes

by Lee Sallings

Many times restoring proper brake pedal height and parking brake function is just a matter of adjusting the rear drum brakes on your Ford vehicle. As the brake shoes wear, the distance between the shoe and the drum increases. This causes the brake pedal or parking brake lever/pedal to move farther before the shoes make contact with the drum. Adjustment of the Ford drum brake system is well within the average home mechanic's ability.

Step 1

Place wheel chocks behind the front wheels to prevent vehicle movement when the rear wheels are off. Raise the rear of the vehicle with the floor jack, and place jack stand under the frame. Lower the vehicle onto the jack stands to support the weight of the vehicle. Never rely on the floor jack alone to support the vehicle. Remove the rear wheels and place them, along with the lug nuts, out of the work area. This prevents tripping hazards, and lug nut loss.

Step 2

Remove the drum, and inspect the rear brake shoes and drum for damage. Locate the star wheel adjuster. This serrated wheel shaped piece is between the lower edges of both shoes. As the wheel is turned, it expands on contracts the shoes. Remove the rubber plug in the back of the backing plate behind the star wheel adjuster.

Step 3

Install the drum onto the shoes. Turn the star wheel with the brake-adjusting tool, until the shoes contact the drum. The shoes should not be so tight that the drum cannot turn, but there should be a slight drag on the drum as it is turned.

Reinstall the wheels and lower the vehicle. Check parking brake function by applying the parking brake, and putting the vehicle in gear. The parking brakes should hold under slight torque load from the engine.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wheel chocks
  • Lug wrench
  • Drum brake adjusting tool

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