How to Change the Drum Brakes on a 2001 Cavalier

by Lee Sallings
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The 2001 Chevy Cavalier came equipped with a front disc brake system and rear drum brake system. The rear drum brakes are responsible for about 20 percent of the braking force supplied by the entire brake system. As a result, the rear brakes wear at a significantly slower rate than the front brakes. When the rear brake shoes wear, the clearance between the drum and the brake shoes increases and results in a low brake pedal and impaired parking brake function.

Step 1

Secure the front wheels using the wheel chocks and release the parking brake. Position the floor jack under the rear axle and lift the rear of the Cavalier until the wheels are almost off the ground. Loosen the rear lug nuts, and raise the wheels off the ground. Remove the rear wheels.

Step 2

Slide the brake drums off of the rear brake shoes. If the drums are stuck, a few sharp blows with a hammer will break them free of any corrosion around the rear hub. Clean the brake shoes with brake parts cleaner to remove the dust from the brake system. The dust in the brake system should never be removed with compressed air. It is harmful to breath the dust created by car brake systems.

Step 3

Remove the return springs that attached to the pivot pin at the top of the brake system using a return spring tool, from the set, to pry them over the pivot pin. Use a screwdriver to pry the spring from the lower edge of the self-adjuster arm and remove the rod that attaches the adjuster arm to the pivot pin. Remove the parking brake strut that is located below the wheel cylinder and connects the parking brake lever on one side to the brake shoe on the other side of the set.

Step 4

Pull the lower edges of the brake shoes apart and allow the self adjuster to drop out of the shoes. Remove the self adjuster spring from the lower ends of the shoes. Remove the hold-down springs using the hold-down spring tool from the set. Pull the brake shoes from the backing plate. Clean and lubricate the backing plate using brake parts cleaner and silicon brake grease.

Step 5

Install the parking brake lever from the old shoes onto the new shoes. Position the new shoes onto the backing plate and attach them to the backing plate with the hold down springs. Slip the parking brake strut into place between the lever and the shoes. Place the adjuster rod onto the adjuster lever and pivot pin, and attach the shoes to the pivot pin using the return springs.

Step 6

Install the spring on the lower edge of the adjuster lever. Install the lower spring on the lower ends of the brake shoes. Pull the brake shoes apart and slip the self adjuster into place between the lower ends of the shoes. Slide the drum onto the shoes to check the fit. Adjust the shoes by rotating the self adjuster until the drum just fits onto the shoes.

Step 7

Repeat the process for the opposite side of the brake system. Reinstall the wheels. Torque the lug nuts to 80 ft-lbs. using a torque wrench. Lower the car from the jack stands and test drive to check the function of the brake system.

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