Rear Brake Repair: A How to Guide

January 27, 2012

Rear brake repair may seem a daunting task to the average car or truck owner, but it is actually fairly simple with some explaining.  How you determine if rear brake repair is needed is to first safely jack up the rear of the vehicle and secure it with jack stands. Next, you must remove both rear wheels. After the wheels are removed you now have the chance to visually inspect the condition and remaining lining of the brake pads, or shoes as well as the thickness of the rotor, or drum. The one difference here is that with drum brakes you will need to remove the drum itself to inspect the brakes. This is done with a few hits on the face of the drum with a hammer and the drum should pull off. The need for rear brake repair can be determined by measuring the lining or pad thickness with a micrometer and comparing it to the manufacturers specifications, the specifications can be found at your local parts store or by contacting you local dealership. Any time rear brake repair is needed it is recommended to resurface or replace the rotors. To measure the thickness of the rotor or drum you must use a micrometer just as you did to measure the lining of the pads or shoes. If it is below the recommended specifications you should replace it to prevent caliper damage. 

It has now been determined that your vehicle is in need of rear brake repair, we will now go through the step by step process to repair your vehicles rear brakes. The rear brake repair process is slightly different between disk and drum brakes, but for the sake of your eyes, we will keep it general between the two. You first must remove the bolts from the caliper on disc brakes, these are located on the rear of the caliper and there are typically two of them. On drum brakes you begin by removing the retaining springs, a special tool is recommended to make it easier, these are removed by depressing the spring and turning. Next, the caliper is removed and the pads are now exposed completely on disc and on drum you simply remove the series of springs and the shoes are removed (NOTE: Remember how the springs are routed, it is easier than guessing). Now you remove the caliper bracket held on by two bolts and the rotor can be removed. This process varies from car to car some are held on by just one screw and some are pressed on and require a slide hammer to remove. At this point you either send the rotors or drums to a machine shop for resurfacing or simply replace them. Now you must depress the caliper piston, depending how the parking brake is set up this can be difficult and a special tool is sometimes required. After that just do everything in reverse order and be certain to use an anti-seize coating on all of your bolts to prevent headaches during future rear brake repairs. Now it is time to put you new knowledge to good use.