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How to Change the Rear Brakes on a 1994 Jeep Cherokee

by David Reber; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Wheel blocks (bricks or wood 2 inch by 4 inch will work)

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Brake cleaner fluid

  • Pliers

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Retractor spring removal tool (optional)

  • Brake shoe spring removal tool (optional)

The rear brakes on the 1994 Jeep Cherokee are drum brakes. Replacing the brakes involves removing old brake shoes and installing new ones. Depending on wear, the brake drum may need to be resurfaced or replaced. When servicing brakes, it is important to complete the job on both wheels. Never replace the brakes on only one side of an axle. Brake service may be done successfully without any specialized tools, though there are some specialized tools that can make the job easier.

Drum Brake Disassembly

Block the front wheels and release the parking brake. Loosen the rear wheel lug nuts. Raise the rear axle with a jack, then support the vehicle on jack stands. Remove the rear wheels.

Remove the brake drum from the brake assembly. If the drum does not pull off easily, apply penetrating oil when the hub meets the drum. Wait a few minutes and try to remove the drum again. If necessary, the drum may be tapped outward with a hammer around the interior outer edge to break it loose.

Wash brake dust off the brake assembly with brake cleaner fluid and allow it to dry.

Remove the self-adjuster cable and spring from the adjusting lever. Remove the retracting springs from the anchor pin and brake shoes. A spring removal tool can make this job easier, but pliers will work.

Remove the self-adjuster cable and pin plate from the anchor pin, then remove the adjuster cable guide from the secondary shoe.

Remove the shoe hold-down springs from each brake shoe, then remove the brake shoes. A brake shoe spring removal tool can make this job easier, but large pliers can work. Remove the parking brake lever clip from the pivot and separate the secondary shoe from the parking brake lever. Be careful not to lose the clip and spring washer.

Drum Brake Assembly

Secure the new secondary shoe to the parking brake lever with the spring washer and clip. Install the secondary shoe and secure it with the hold-down spring.

Install the primary shoe and secure it with the hold-down spring. Replace the anchor pin plate and adjuster cable on the anchor pin. Position the cable guide on the secondary shoe, then install the retracting springs

Install the adjusting lever spring and cable on the adjusting lever.

Brake Drum Installation

Examine the inner surface of the brake drums. If deep gouges or visibly uneven wear are present, or if the drums are worn too thin, they need to be replaced. Drums that are in excellent condition may be re-installed, but should be de-glazed with fine sandpaper by rubbing in a circular motion along the brake drum surface. When in doubt, have the drums professionally resurfaced.

Install the drums over the brake and hub assembly on each side. If the drum will not go on, adjust the brake shoes by turning the star wheel on the adjuster to retract the brake shoes.

Adjust the brakes by inserting a flat-head screwdriver through the hole in the backing plate. Rotate the star wheel until the brakes just begin to drag as the wheel is turned by hand, then back the adjustment off slightly.

Install the wheels. Lower the vehicle to the ground, then tighten lug nuts securely. Road test the vehicle by making several stops in both forward and reverse.

Tips

If this is your first time replacing drum brakes, it is a good idea to complete one side before disassembling the other side. This will give you a complete assembly to use for reference. Just remember the two sides are mirror images of one another.

Warnings

Brake dust may contain asbestos. Do not use compressed air to clean brake parts. Always use brake cleaner fluid. Avoid breathing brake dust.

Brake retracting springs are under high tension. Use caution when removing and installing them, especially if a special brake spring tool is not available.

About the Author

David Reber has been a published writer since 1991. His work has appeared in the Kansas Herpetological Society newsletter and in "Amphibian and Reptile Conservation." He teaches high-school science and maintains a menagerie of classroom animals. Reber holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Kansas and a Master of Science in education from Emporia State University.

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