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Common Drum Brake Failures: Symptoms And Solutions!

Drum brakes are essential components of a braking system. Many vehicles depend on them for their rear wheels and emergency brakes. So if you want to know if this part of your car is defective, it is good that you know the common failures of the drum brake.

Like any other brake component, the drum brakes on your vehicle wear out over time, causing decreased braking performance. Fortunately, there are ways to find out if your drum brakes are starting to fail.

What is the drum brake and how does it work?

A drum brake is a circular metal component that usually houses the brake shoes. It rotates with the wheel and is connected to the support plate.

Brake fluid flows from the master cylinders through the brake lines when the brakes are applied. Once it reaches the wheel cylinders, the pressure of the fluid presses the shoes against the drum brake. Meanwhile, the lining of the shoes creates the necessary friction to brake the drums and wheels.

Since drum brakes are crucial to the operation of your braking system, it’s important to make sure they’re in good condition at all times. Get your vehicle checked out right away if it starts to display any of the symptoms listed above.

Symptoms and Common Failures of Worn or Stuck Drum Brakes

Here are some of the common drum brake symptoms and failures associated with a faulty part in the system:

1- Scraping or grinding noise

Drum brake linings are attached to curved metal assemblies called brake shoes. The outer edge of the shoe is covered with a friction material that rubs against the drum brake to produce stopping power. As the material wears away, the metal plate of the part rubs against the drum brake.

This causes a scraping or screeching sound. If you start to hear any unusual noise from your wheel while driving, have your vehicle serviced immediately.

2- Low brake pedal

A low brake pedal can be a sign that there is excessive clearance between the shoe and the drum. This problem can usually be fixed by adjusting and/or cleaning the brakes . However, in some cases, a low brake pedal can indicate a brake fluid leak or a faulty master cylinder. Have your vehicle checked out by a mechanic for an accurate diagnosis.

3- Soft brake pedal

A worn or cracked drum brake can make the brake pedal feel spongy when depressed. Air in the brake lines due to uneven distribution of hydraulic air pressure can also be the reason for this problem.

4- Pulsations on the brake pedal

Drum brakes that are no longer perfectly circular and/or balanced do not make consistent contact with the brake shoes . Instead of squeezing the drum, the shoes bounce up and down, causing a pulsation in the brake pedal. This is considered a very common drum brake failure.

What is brake wear?

Brake fade is the loss of stopping power due to reduced friction between the brake shoe linings and the drum brake. Most drum brakes are vulnerable to wear because they cannot dissipate heat efficiently . The heat produced during braking passes through the inside of the drum and escapes before reaching the outside air.

Some drum brakes come with fins or ribs on their outer edge to disperse heat.

There are several types of brake wear that can affect drum brakes. Among them are the following:

1- Mechanical wear

This happens when the drum brake expands away from the brake lining due to intense heat. Once this happens, the brake shoes will move out to stay in contact with the drum. The brake pedal can also drop closer to the ground due to the extra brake fluid directed to the hydraulic system.

2- Lining wear

This occurs when intense heat causes the coefficient of friction of the brake lining to become ” slippery ” enough to drop. Lining wear also stiffens the pedal and decreases stopping power.

3- Gas wear

This occurs due to prolonged hard braking when driving at high speeds , which produces dust particles and hot gases that can accumulate between the drum brake and the shoe linings.

Gas fade also increases the force you’ll have to apply to the pedal to maintain a consistent level of stopping power.

4- Water wear

It usually happens when there is excess moisture between the shoes and the drum, causing a decrease in braking efficiency.

Although brake wear is not actually caused by faulty drum brake components, its implications are the same. It will significantly decrease your vehicle’s braking performance, which can lead to major accidents on the road.

Importance of Regular Brake Maintenance

To prevent any dangerous situation that may arise from reduced braking ability, it is important to ensure that your brake system undergoes regular maintenance. Here are some of the benefits of proper brake maintenance:

1- Improves the performance of the brakes

Proper maintenance will ensure that your brakes are in top condition, which also promotes better braking.

2- Improve security

Brake problems contribute to thousands of traffic accidents each year . Perform regular maintenance to ensure the functionality of your braking system and ensure your safety on the road.

3- Reduce replacement costs

Defective drum brakes often result in metal grinding, which can cause premature wear or damage to other brake components. If the problem is not resolved immediately, the affected components may also require replacement.

If you follow a regular maintenance schedule for your vehicle’s brakes, you will be able to detect and replace faulty parts immediately. This will help you save big in the long run, as it reduces the risk of damage to multiple brake components.

How much does it cost to change the drum brake?

An aftermarket drum brake replacement usually costs around $50 to $500, depending on the brand. Please note this is for the replacement drum brake only and includes other costs.

The average cost of a complete drum brake change (including labor and installation) is around $500.

Drum brakes are often sold individually, in a set of 2 wheels, or as part of a kit. When shopping for drum brakes, be sure to check product specifications to ensure compatibility with your vehicle .

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