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How to Replace Rear Brakes on a Chevy Malibu

by Eli Laurens

Most Chevrolet Malibu automobiles were manufactured with a rear drum braking system, which can wear out and require replacement. The drums and shoes comprise the friction surface that stops the car, and these are regular maintenance items designed to be changed out every 40,000 to 60,000 miles. The average backyard mechanic can replace the rear brakes in a Malibu in about an hour.

Raise the car by placing the floor jack onto the frame rail, just ahead of the brake to be changed. Tighten the pressure screw on the jack by turning it clockwise, then pump the lever until the wheel is in the air.

Remove the wheel by turning all lug nuts counterclockwise, then pulling the wheel off.

Remove the drum by pulling it from the brake assembly. Some later models may have a keeper screw on the front of the drum, just off center. Turn the keeper screw counterclockwise to release the drum.

Remove the shoes by levering the long springs from the shoes' hooks with the screwdriver, then turning the primary spring screw counterclockwise. The shoe will slide off of the brake assembly directly away from the back plate.

Replace the shoes by sliding them onto the assembly, then tightening the primary spring screw clockwise. Reattach the long springs by levering them onto the shoe hooks with the screwdriver, or using a screwdriver-like brake tool (notch at tip).

Replace the drum with a new or resurfaced unit by pressing it over the shoes until it reaches the backing plate. Tighten the keeper screw onto the front, if applicable.

Replace the wheel by tightening the lug nuts clockwise, with an alternating pattern.

Lower the car by turning the jack's pressure screw counterclockwise slowly.

Tips

  • Check the wheel cylinder for leaks while the drum is removed.
  • Check the adjustment bolt for play, and tighten if necessary.

Warning

  • Use extreme caution when working on a raised vehicle.

Items you will need

About the Author

Eli Laurens is a ninth-grade physics teacher as well as a computer programmer and writer. He studied electrical engineering and architecture at Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta, Ga., and now lives in Colorado.

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