How to Replace the Rear Brake Shoes on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The rear drum brakes on a Vehicles consist of a number of parts that work in unison with one another to expand the brake shoes against the inside of the brake drum. This contact causes friction that slows down the wheel. Brake shoes wear out Vehicles various intervals depending upon load, road conditions, miles driven and driving habits. Water and oil can also contaminate the shoes. There are also variations in brake shoe construction that affect how long shoes will last and how they will wear. Self repair can be easy with the correct tools and replacement parts.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Rear Brake Shoes on a 2001 Toyota Corolla

Loosen the lug nuts and raise the rear wheel off the ground with a jack. Support the vehicle with a jack stand. Remove the lug nuts and wheel. The lift point is on the rail along the bottom edge of the body panel ahead of the rear wheel. If you have two jack stands, lift the vehicle at the point directly between the rear tires to lift both wheels.

Pull the brake drum off the wheel hub. If it is stuck, there is an access hole covered by a rubber plug on the back of the brake assembly. Push a screwdriver in to push the lever inside. Pull and twist on the drum while holding the lever back.

Disconnect the upper spring with a pair of needle-nose or brake spring pliers. Each shoe is held down by a spring. Turn the pin on the front spring 90 degrees to remove the pin, retainer and spring. Disconnect the lower spring and remove the front shoe.

Remove the adjuster bar that pushes against both shoes. Lay it down carefully--installing it backwards or with an upside-down end will prevent the shoes from seating properly.

Disconnect the rear shoe's spring the same way as the front and remove the spring, retainer, pin and shoe. The parking brake lever is attached to the rear shoe--pry the C-clip off the pin that connects them and separate the lever from the shoe.

Transfer the adjusting lever to the replacement rear shoe. It is attached with a spring and has a tab that slides into a slot on the shoe. Attach the parking brake lever to the replacement shoe by sliding the pin through the hold in the shoe and pressing the C-clip into place.

Install the rear shoe, pin, spring and retainer. Make sure that the end of the pin seats itself in the groove of the retainer. Slide the adjuster bar into place and install the front shoe. Secure it with the pin, spring and retainer.

Install the upper and lower springs. Slide the drum into place and attach the wheel. Hand-tighten the lug nuts. Lower the wheel and finish tightening. Repeat on the other side.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack

  • Jack stand

  • Needle-nose or brake spring pliers

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Rear Brake Shoes on a 1997 Chevy Pickup Truck

Place blocks in front of the front wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling. Loosen the lug nuts on the rear wheels using a lug wrench. Raise the rear of the vehicle using a floor jack. Place jack stands beneath the vehicle for support.

Remove the lug nuts and the rear wheels. Remove the brake drum from the wheel studs. A hammer may be needed to loosen the drum by hitting the edges. Clean the assembly and the brake parts using brake parts cleaner and a rag.

Remove the return springs located on each brake shoe using a spring removal tool.

Remove the actuator link from the lever's top end by pulling the actuator lever's bottom end to compress its return spring. Using a flathead screwdriver, pry the lever spring from the assembly.

Slide the flat parking brake strut out of the top of the assembly, between the front shoe and the axle flange.

Remove the hold-down spring from each brake shoe using needle-nose pliers. Pull out the actuator lever and its pivot, making sure the pivot does not fall out of the lever.

Slide the brake shoes around the axle and out of the assembly by spreading the two shoes apart. Remove the spring that connects the two shoes and the adjuster screw assembly located on the bottom.

Remove the parking brake lever from the rear shoe by using a screwdriver to pry off the E-clip that hooks to the shoe. Slide the brake shoe pin out of the lever.

Clean the adjuster screw using brake parts cleaner. Lubricate both ends of the adjuster screw and the shoe's six contact points of the brake backing plate using a high-temperature grease.

Install the lower spring and the adjuster screw onto the bottom of the new brake shoes, securing the two shoes together. Reconnect the parking brake lever to the rear brake shoe using the pin and new E-clip.

Slide the shoe assembly onto the backing plate by spreading the assembly.

Install the hold-down spring and pin through the backing plate and the front shoe. Insert the actuator lever onto the lever pin and place the lever over the rear shoe hold-down pin then connect the hold-down spring.

Place the parking brake strut into the assembly, behind the central axle flange. Connect the end of the parking brake strut with the slot on the parking brake lever. Spread the brake shoes to seat the strut's other end with the front brake shoe.

Install the shoe guide over the anchor pin located at the top of the assembly and hook the lower end of the actuator link to the actuator lever. Loop the top end of the actuator link to the anchor pin.

Reconnect the lever return spring to the tab on the actuator lever. Push the spring onto the rear brake shoe. Using pliers, install the return springs onto both brake shoes.

Place the brake drum onto the wheel hub. Pump the brake pedal several times. Insert a screwdriver into the hole located on the backing plate and turn the adjuster star wheel. Continuing turning the star wheel until the drum drags against the shoes, then back it off until it no longer drags.

Repeat the steps on the opposite wheel. Place the wheels onto the vehicle. Loosely place the lug nuts onto the wheel studs.

Raise the vehicle using the floor jack and remove the jack stands from beneath the vehicle. Lower the vehicle to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts onto the wheel studs using a lug wrench.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Blocks

  • Lug wrench

  • Hammer

  • Needle-nose pliers

  • Spring removal tool

  • Brake shoe removal tool

  • High-temperature grease

  • E-clip

  • Flathead screwdriver

  • Brake parts cleaner

 How to Replace the Rear Brake Shoes on a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado

Instructions for 1500 Trucks

Raise the truck's rear end and support it on jack stands. Remove both rear wheels, but prepare to work on one brake assembly at a time.

Remove the brake caliper mounting bolts with a wrench (grip the slide pins with a second open-end wrench to keep them from sliding) and lift the caliper off. Unbolt and remove the mounting bracket and then slide the disc off the hub.

Remove the screw and clip, located near the bottom of the brake shoe, using a screwdriver.

Lift one of the brake shoe's top ends over the axle flange and wind the shoe around and off the flange.

Turn the adjuster screw at the top of the assembly with a screwdriver until the adjuster screw's slots and tappet are parallel with the backing plate.

Insert one end of the replacement shoes into one slot and tappet of the adjuster screw. Wrap the shoe over the axle flange to install it, then fit the shoe's other end on the adjuster screw.

Turn the adjuster screw until the brake lining begins to drag over the braking surface. Remove the disc and turn the screw in the other direction until the shoes don't drag any more.

Slide the brake disc back onto the hub and reconnect the caliper mounting bracket and caliper with their bolts. Reconnect the wheels and lower the truck after changing the shoes for both brakes.

Instructions for Larger Trucks

Raise the truck and remove the wheels, caliper and brake disc, as described in Section 1.

Push down on the brake shoe's hold-down clip with a flat-head screwdriver, and turn the clip 90 degrees to remove it.

Unhook the return springs from the top and bottom ends of each shoe using needle-nose pliers, then remove the shoes from the backing plate.

Install the replacement brake shoes onto the backing plate and connect the return springs with the pliers, followed by the hold-down clips.

Adjust the shoes with the adjuster screw, as described above.

Reconnect the brake disc, mounting bracket, brake caliper and wheels and then lower the truck.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench

  • Wire

  • Screwdrivers

  • Needle-nose pliers

 How to Replace the Rear Brake Shoes on a Honda Civic

Removing the Rear Drum Brake Shoes

Place the car in neutral or park, with the front wheels blocked on both sides using wood blocks. Temporarily set the emergency brake. Use a lug wrench or tire iron to loosen the wheel nuts. Release the emergency brake. Use a floor jack to lift the rear of the car about 1-foot and place the jack stands.

Remove the wheel. If the drum is secured to the hub with a Phillips head screw, remove it with the Phillips screwdriver. Use an end wrench if a small bolt is present. A few taps of the hammer against the flat face of the drum can free the drum from the hub, if stuck. If wedged tight, place the 2 M8x20mm bolts into the holes provided on the hub. Alternately turn the bolts with a wrench an even amount of turns until the drum pulls away from the hub. Wedging the two flat-head screwdrivers between the backing plate and the drum also works. Inspect the inside of the drum. If grooved, take it to a shop for measurement and turning; replacement might be necessary.

Use a pair of pliers to twist the shoe hold-down spring until the small notch in the middle lines up the the small holding pin flange. It should come loose. Do the other side on the same wheel.

Use wire cutters to remove the adjuster spring on the bottom. Set the "star" self-adjuster and the self-adjusting lever aside. (Turn the adjuster all the way in for ease of reassembly.) Make sure to remove both pieces of the clevis that go between the two shoes--it's the rod under the top spring. Use the wire cutters to unhook one end of the top return spring. Flip the rear shoe over and use the wire cutters to remove the "U" clip that is attached to the emergency brake cable. Place both old shoes aside.

Spray clean the entire backing plate, including the wheel cylinder, and wipe with rags. Four raised notches on the backing plate indicate the shoe resting platforms. Apply a small dab of grease to each.

Installing the Shoes And Brake Hardware

Place the new rear (trailing) shoe on the floor and attach the emergency brake cable to it. Connect a new "U" retaining clip on it. Turn the rear shoe over and align it with the mounting hole on the backing plate. Run a new spring pin through the backing plate and align the new hold-down spring over it with one hand. With pliers in the other hand, compress the spring and turn. You might have to hold the pin steady from the backing plate side.

Place the clevis rod between the shoes. Place the new front shoe over its mounting hole and re-hook the small return spring to both bottom sides of the shoes. Turn the adjusting wheel of the "star" in all the way. Make sure to place the "star" adjuster between the shoes, by rotating its slotted pins to fit into the top of both brake shoe frames.

Place the self-adjusting lever in its guide hole, with its spring attached. Place the other hold-down spring over the front shoe hole and secure it in the same fashion as you did with the rear shoe.

With both shoes attached, and the hold-down hardware in place, turn the "star" adjusting wheel out until it expands the shoes. Fit the drum back on and rotate. Keep adjusting the "star" out until you feel slight friction when rotating the drum.

Secure the drum onto the hub using whatever spotting screw or bolt was used. Adjust the "star" through a slot in the backing plate to further set the shoes against the drum, but allowing the drum to rotate with slight force.

Replace the drum and tire. Tighten the lugs on the wheel. Repeat the same procedure and sequence for the other drum brake.

Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle. Test drive the vehicle, performing numerous slow stops. Adjust the pedal height by by raising the car again and adjusting the "stars" through the backing plate.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Pliers

  • Wire cutters (sharp end type)

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Lube grease

  • Spray cleaner

  • Combination kit (Brake springs and retainers)

  • Two flat-head screwdrivers

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Four wood blocks

  • 2 M8x20mm or longer bolts

  • Rag