How To Tell if Brake Drums are Bad

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Brake drums play a crucial role especially in older vehicles where disc brakes or ABS systems are not being used. Brake drums have to be in good condition so that the car will not experience any problems with braking at all especially when a car is going down a hill, an emergency brake stop or a sudden stop due to a traffic light or other vehicle in front of it.

Defective or bad brake drums may result to reduced braking ability and may even lead to car accidents so is something that shouldn’t be ignore or neglected. By knowing when brake drums are bad will help drivers to deal with the problem in time and avoid further accidents that may take place because of delayed repairs.

So, the question on your mind must be, “how do I know if my brake drums are bad?” Well fret not as here are some simple steps that will help you determine whether the brake drums are bad or not.

What are Drum Brakes and how do they Work?

Drum brakes are an outdated technology for today’s vehicles but there are still a lot of cars out in the roads that use drum brakes. They work by having a brake shoe inside a metal shell or “drum.” When you activate your brakes, this will force the shoes apart from each other and towards the inner drum wall.

When these brake shoes come in contact with the inner drum wall, the friction between the two surfaces will cause your car to slow down. While this type of braking system is favored by older cars, it is being replaced with disk brakes because they are more cost effective and have better stopping power.

The main components of a drum brake include the following:

  • Brake Shoes – The brake shoe will be located on either side of the inner drum wall. There are usually between four and six shoes per wheel depending on how many wheels your car has. The friction caused by these two materials rubbing against each other is what stops your vehicle.
  • Brake Drum – The brake drum holds all of the brake components in place including the shoes, springs and hanger arms. It also serves as a housing for metal disks that help to activate or expand the brake shoes when it comes into contact with them causing friction to take effect upon braking.

These two main parts are necessary for any kind of braking system to work which makes proper maintenance an important factor to consider if you want to avoid any future problems.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Brake Drum

Here are some methods that you can use to determine if your brake drums are bad. These include the following:

Brake Pedal Vibrations

When you press your brakes, there should be a certain degree of firmness when the car is actually slowing down. If the pedal picks up vibrations as you press on it, this might be a sign that there are some issues going on with the brake drum.

Scraping noises when Brakes are Pressed

If you hear any noise coming from under the car especially during braking, this can be a sign that your brake pads or shoes need replacement. The scraping sound may be caused by the metal against metal contact and will only get worse if ignored eventually leading to more serious damage.

Loose Parking Brake

Another sign that your brake drum needs replacement is when the parking brake is not as effective anymore. If you notice that the parking brake has been applied and it will not hold or secure your car in place, it’s time to check the condition of your brake drum as it may be at risk to fail completely. 

Unusual Brake Pedal Feel

If you apply the brakes and notice that the pedal feels too high or too low, this may mean there is a problem with your brake drum. If it has seized up, there could be mechanical damage to the vehicle and its parts so better have it checked immediately.

Also Read: Brake Pedal Goes to Floor When Engine Running

How Much Does a Brake Drum Replacement Cost?

The cost of replacing the brake drums on your car will depend on its make, model and year. You can expect drum brakes to be cheaper than other types of braking systems because there are older parts involved. A simple replacement job usually costs about $200 – $300 for most cars but if it has mechanical damage or is faulty, repairs may cost up to $1000 or more depending on the situation.

Your mechanic will advise you what is best for your particular case so they can also help you determine whether there are other issues that must be addressed simultaneously with your brake drum replacement. This way they can prevent any unnecessary expenses that may arise in the future because of ignoring current problems that need fixing right away.

Importance of Regular Brake Maintenance

To say you should take care of your brakes is a given fact that should be put into practice at all times. Here are some simple reasons to prove why you should regularly maintain your brakes for safer driving.

Improves Braking Performance

Regular maintenance will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your braking system. You can achieve this if you adjust or replace worn shoes, pads and drums that may cause problems with your vehicle’s stopping ability and performance.

If you take care of these parts before they fail completely, you’re not only saving yourself trouble and money but also yourself from a life-threatening situation that may cause you or others to get injured.

Enhances Safety

Preventing the failure of your brakes is not only a way to avoid inconveniences and expenses but also from being in danger or putting your family and loved ones at risk. not to mention other motorists and pedestrians.

If your maintenance is up to par, with good maintenance, parts will last longer and you can enjoy driving with peace of mind knowing that your vehicle can handle any condition on the road even in emergency stops and rapid deceleration.

Also Read: No Brake Pedal When Car Is Running

Reduces Replacement Costs

Maintenance and replacement costs will be lesser than having no replacement at all. Investing in your braking system now through regular maintenance can save you money from more expensive replacements or repairs later on as it prolongs the life of these parts.

If you neglect brake drum replacement, this may lead to serious automobile damage and not just a simple repair. Failure to replace worn out parts may result in you having bigger problems than just inefficient brakes.

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Now you know how to check the condition of your brake drums and how can you deal with it. Remember that regular inspection is still recommended as soon as you notice some problems even if they are not yet major.

If left unattended, small things can lead to bigger problems so better take care of them as soon as possible to avoid more serious damage.

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