Rear brake shoes are often used in today’s cars and light trucks more than disc brakes are used for rear brakes. But, like disc brakes, they can become worn and lose their effectiveness in slowing or stopping the car they are installed on. When this happens, these shoes—or linings—need to be replaced. If you are accustomed to doing some of the more simple maintenance on your car or truck you may want to know how to install new brake shoes to replace those that are worn and ineffective. With the right tools and instructions you should be able to install new shoes on a brake in less than half an hour.

Step 1 – Safety Preparations

Raise your car’s rear end by using a car jack. When you have it raised high enough, slip a jack stand under the frame on both sides of the car. Then lower the car again until its weight is resting on these jack stands.

Step 2 – Remove the Rear Wheels

Before raising your car’s rear end, crack loose each of the lug nuts holding the car’s wheels in place. Then, when your car is raised and is resting on the jack stands, remove the wheels lug nuts and wheels, and move the wheels away from the car. When you have your wheels off, set your car’s parking brake as an extra safety precaution.

Step 3 – Remove the Brake Drums

Turn keeper bolts on your drums in a counter clockwise direction. These bolts are intended to hold the drums in place. When they are removed, pull the drums toward you. They should slip off easily, leaving the brake shoes fully exposed to view. With these drums removed, examine them for scoring or cracks. Examine the wheel cylinder for leaks that might indicate other worn brake parts.

Step 4 – Remove Brake Shoes

Using a flathead screwdriver or brake tool, pry springs from the hooks that hold them to the shoes. Then, turn the center spring bolt, and remove the shoe from the axle.

Step 5 – Attach New Shoes

Press the new shoes onto the brake where they will naturally fit in only one direction. While holding the shoe in place, tighten the spring bolt, then fasten the long springs onto their hooks on each shoe. This will hold the shoes in place.

Step 6 – Replace the Drum and Bleed the Brakes

Slip the drum over the shoes and tighten its keeper bolt. Turn the bleeder nipple, which will open and allow fluid and air to bleed out. When only fluid begins to drain out, close the nipple and top off the fluid in the master cylinder.

Step 7 – Complete the Process

Repeat the shoe changing process with the other rear brake. When finished, test the brakes, make necessary adjustments, then replace the wheels with the lug nuts turned onto the wheel. Finally, lower the car, snug up the lug nuts and remove the floor jacks.