4 Symptoms of a Bad Brake Drums and Shoes (and Replacement Cost)

(Updated on October 17, 2019)

The brake drums and shoes are vital components of a vehicle’s braking system. Brake drums and shoes are more commonly found on older vehicles which don’t use a disc brake system to slow the car down.

Basically, the brake drums serve as the brake disc and the brake shoes serve as the brake pads. The brake drum looks like a bowl-shaped component and it is attached to each wheel.

When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the brake shoe pushes against the brake drum to cause the friction that slows the spinning wheel down.  It is a similar concept to the disc braking system, just an older version of the concept.

Bad Brake Drums and Shoes Symptoms

Below are 4 symptoms of bad brake drums and shoes.

1. Weak Brakes

If you step on the brake pedal and it takes longer for the car to slow down or stop, then you may have a problem with your brake drums and shoes. Although it is possible that other problems in the braking system may exist, the cause usually revolves around these two components.

On the other hand, if you have a modern car with a disc braking system, then the equivalent of this would be faulty discs and pads.

2. Brake Noises

In addition to weak brakes, you will also experience noisy brakes as you step on the brake pedal. This will happen over time because brake drums are not good at absorbing the heat from braking.

This causes heat to build up and put stress on the braking system. Then, when the brake shoes push against the drums, there will be annoying scrape noises to follow.

3. Brake Pedal Vibrations

As mentioned, the brake drums will get worn out throughout time as you continue using your brakes. When they get too worn out, you will start to feel vibrations coming from the brake pedal when you put your foot on it.

You may not think it’s a big deal if there are no other symptoms but once you start having brake performance issues, then you will have no choice but to get your drums and shoes replaced.

Of course, it is better to take brake pedal vibrations as an early warning sign that you need to have your braking system inspected for problems with your drums and shoes.

4. Parking Brake is Loose

The parking brake depends on the shoes to squeeze firmly against the drum in order to keep the car parked securely. But if there is an issue with the shoes or the drums, the parking brake is not going to function properly.

This will result in the parking brake feeling too loose when you try to activate it. Not only that, the vehicle may slip a little bit after you apply the parking brake.

Brake Drums and Shoes Replacement Cost

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There are four brake shoes on each vehicle; two shoes per axle. Each shoe would cost about $25 if you were replacing them yourself. This means the total cost of the brake shoe parts is $100.

However, if you need a professional mechanic to do the replacement job for you, the labor costs will be anywhere from $115 to $200. As a result, replacing all four brake shoes will cost you between $225 and $300.

When you need to replace all four brake drums, this will cost you anywhere from $330 to $500. The labor costs and parts costs are about the same each. The parts costs will be from $160 to $280, while the labor costs will be from $170 to $220.

For both the drums and shoes replacement costs, there will be fees and taxes added to those total amounts. Do not forget that.

1 thought on “4 Symptoms of a Bad Brake Drums and Shoes (and Replacement Cost)”

  1. My star wheel adjuster on my rear brake drums is cracked. Do I need to do a complete brake job now, or wait until my shoes need replacement?


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