How to Remove Stuck Brake Drums

by Chris Moore

Brake drums on the rear wheels of a car can be difficult to remove at times. There can be a number of reasons for the drums to get stuck, mainly due to the expansion of the shoes within the drum. Sometimes it can be fixed just by retracting the shoes, and sometimes some force is needed. Use caution when trying any of these methods, and let an expert handle it if none of these work.

Step 1

Make sure the parking brake is fully released; the brake drum cannot be removed without this. Push the parking brake lever down as far as it will go. Block the vehicle's front wheels before releasing the brake and especially before raising the vehicle's rear end to keep it from rolling.

Step 2

Remove the inspection cover hole plug from the backing plate, located at the back of the drum. Removing this plug gives you access to the adjuster star wheel and its lever.

Step 3

Insert a screwdriver into the hole to release the lever on the adjuster star wheel. While holding back the lever, use another screwdriver to turn the star wheel counter-clockwise until it completely stops. This retracts the brake shoes so the drum should be free to remove.

Step 4

Be sure to remove the retaining screws if the drum will turn but won't come off the wheel studs; these screws usually require a flathead screwdriver. If the drum still won't come off, use a flat end punch to catch the flange on the drum's edge, pointing the punch away from the car's center, and strike the drum with a 2-lb. hammer.

Step 5

Use a brake drum puller, which basically grabs the drum flange with three claws with a screw that presses on the center. Use the puller's manual screw to tighten it around the drum (don't over-tighten it), and strike the drum with the hammer while rotating the drum with the puller.

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