Tools for Drum Brakes

by Horacio Garcia

The drum brakes on an automobile are a set of pads that press together against the surface of a rotor or rotating drum. Working on these type of brakes requires basic as well as specialized tools. The pads, rotors, springs and retaining pins remove easier with drum brake tools.

Multi-Purpose Brake Tool

The primary use of the multi-purpose brake tool is to hold the retaining springs of the brake shoes and pull the springs away from the mount. The multi-purpose tool looks like a pair of joint pliers with an unusual-looking end that curves in different directions and comes to a point.

Diagonal Cutters

Diagonal cutters, or dikes, need to be handy to assist in removing the cotter pin, which holds the retaining nut in place. A cotter pin is slid through a small hole in the brake shaft and bent in different directions so that it does not pull out. The dikes have a handle similar to joint pliers, but with an angled nose used to cut wires. The diagonal ends of the cutters allow the repair person to easily bend the ends of the cotter pin so the pin can be pulled out of the retaining hole.

Brake Adjusting Tool

The brake adjusting tool is used to help adjust the brake pads, but it can also be used to push the brake pads open in order to pull the pads off the rotating drum. The tool is a long, slender piece of metal bent on each end with one end having a notch in the side of the brake adjusting tool. The adjusting tool can be used as a prying bar to push the pads open wider when the pads do not pull off easily.


A 4-inch C-clamp is used to hold the brake shoe to the backing plate of the drum brake. The clamp is in the shape of the letter "C," with one side of the mouth flat and the other end holding a bolt that screws in to the mouth of the clamp, closing or tightening the C-clamp so it can hold items in place while working on them. The mouth of the clamp can only open to 4 inches, which is all that is required when working on the drum brake.

About the Author

Horacio Garcia has been writing since 1979, beginning his career as the spokesperson for Trinity Broadcast Network. Within 10 years Garcia was being called upon to write speeches and scripts for several state and federal congressmen, local broadcast networks and publications such as "Readers Digest." He received his bachelor's degree in public relations from Argosy University.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Car Brake image by Joelyn Pullano from