Symptoms Of Failing Brake Drums

Symptoms Of Failing Brake Drums

Brake drum issues can show up in several ways. It might be time for a brake service if any of these symptoms pop up:

1. Scraping Noises

When the friction material (also called the brake lining) on your brake shoes wears down, the backing plate of the shoe will start to grind against the brake drum. This produces a grinding or scraping noise when you brake.

If unremedied, the worn brake shoes can damage the surface of the brake drum, just like a worn brake pad can damage a brake rotor.

2. Low Brake Pedal

Does it feel like that brake pedal has to travel lower than usual when you brake?

Worn brake drums create excess clearance between the brake drum and the brake shoes. So each shoe has to travel further to push against the brake drum.

This also applies if you have worn brake shoes in your drum brake system. The thinned friction material on your drum brake shoes will result in a low brake pedal.

3. Pulsating Brakes

Brake drums wear out just like the brake rotor in disc brakes. Sometimes they wear out unevenly.

The uneven surface of the brake drum will reflect as vibrations or pulsations in your brake pedal. This is similar to pedal vibrations caused by a warped or uneven rotor in disc brakes.

There is an exception.

If you’re making an emergency stop with a vehicle fitted with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), the vibration is likely the ABS actuating to help you brake safely.

Otherwise, brake pedal pulsations are a sign to visit the mechanic for a brake repair.

4. Parking Brake Failure

The parking brake relies on brake shoe pressure against the brake drum to keep the vehicle stationary, especially when parking on a slope.

Parking brakes are often installed on the rear wheel, in rear drum brakes (or rear disc brakes if your car uses all-disc brake assembly).

So, if there are issues with the rear drums or rear brake shoe pairs, the parking brake will feel loose when you engage it. Your vehicle might slip even with the parking brake lever locked on.

5. Soft Brake Feel

When the brake lining or drum is worn down, your vehicle will take longer than usual to stop. That’s because there’s less friction going on when you press the brake pedal, making the brakes work harder.

This is often an indicator that the brake shoes and brake drum need replacing if your car has drum brakes. The same applies if your vehicle has disc brakes — it’s usually a sign of worn brake pads and brake rotor (brake disc).

In either case, that would be the time to get hold of some auto repair expertise to help fix your braking system.

How Urgent Is A Brake Drum Replacement?

It’s unsafe to drive with a vehicle experiencing brake system issues, even if the problem may only appear to be a bad brake drum on a set of rear brakes.

The best thing you can do is get your brake system checked by an auto repair professional and have a brake job done if necessary.

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