Brake Shoe Replacement Cost in 2023​

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POPULAR VEHICLES

National average cost of a a Brake Shoe Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost

$50

What are brake shoes and how do they work?

Brake shoes are components of a drum brake system on a vehicle. Many older makes and models featured drum brakes, especially on the rear wheels. Although they have largely taken a backseat to disc brake systems, drum brakes can still be found on a number of late model cars and trucks. Drum brakes work differently than a disc brake system, where a thick, heavy metal disc (the rotor) attached to each wheel is grabbed by a pair of brake pads from the outside, causing the wheel to slow and stop. With drum brakes, there is a steel drum, much like a deep bowl, with a pair of brake shoes suspended inside. When you press on the brake pedal, the brake shoes expand outward, rubbing against the inside of the drum. This action produces friction to slow and stop your vehicle.

COMMON SYMPTOMS

Signs that my brake shoes need to be replaced

Brake shoes, like brake pads in a disc brake system, contain friction materials that are designed to wear away over time. This arrangement allows for contact between the shoes (or pads) and the drum (or rotor) without causing excessive heat and damaging metal-to-metal contact. However, when the friction material wears too thin, the metal backing plates of the brake shoes can contact the inside of the drum and cause significant damage. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs of brake shoes that are nearing time for replacement. Symptoms include:

Loss of braking power or increased stopping distances

You hear scraping, squeaking, or grinding noises

The brake shoe warning indicator comes on

Your brake warning light comes on

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HOW IS THIS SERVICE PERFORMED?

How is a a Brake Shoe Replacement done?

Unlike a disc brake system, where the brake pads are readily accessible once the brake caliper is removed, drum brakes include a system of springs, retainers, adjusters, and other components to actuate the brake shoes. So, with your vehicle safely lifted and supported off of the ground and the wheels removed, a mechanic will need to do the following to access and replace your brake shoes:

  • Remove the brake drum and replace or resurface the drum (Note, some brake drums require that the axle nut be removed first)
  • Remove the primary retaining spring(s)
  • Remove each of the spring-tensioned brake shoe retainers
  • Remove the brake shoes from their mounting location
  • Disconnect the parking brake cable end
  • Inspect the wheel cylinder for signs of leaks
  • Reset the brake tensioner
  • Install in reverse order, paying attention to match the brake shoes and hardware
  • Reinstall the brake drum and adjust the tensioner
  • Top off brake fluid as necessary
  • Actuate parking brake for further tensioner adjustment
  • Test drive to verify repair

Other questions customers ask

Can I replace just the brake shoes?
Brake shoes are designed to wear out over time, brake drums are not. They should last much longer. However, it is not uncommon for a brake drum to need replacement. When that is the case, if you replace only the brake shoes, the damaged or worn drum will reduce both the lifespan and the stopping power of your new brake shoes. At the very least, the brake drums should be resurfaced every time you have the brake shoes replaced. The hardware should also be inspected, cleaned, and, if necessary, replaced at the same time.
What happens if you don’t replace brake shoes?
Because of the sacrificial nature of brake shoes (and pads), they will wear out over time and with use. If you do not pay attention to the signs of worn brake shoes, the result will be reduced stopping power, longer stopping distances, and eventually damaging metal-to-metal contact between the brake shoe backing plates and the inside of the brake drum.
What is the difference between brake pads and brake shoes?
Brake pads and brake shoes are similar components of a vehicle’s braking system. They both feature sacrificial friction materials that wear away with use. But whereas brake pads that are part of a disc brake system are sandwiched around the outside of a brake rotor and squeeze inward, brake shoes, part of a drum brake system, are suspended inside a brake drum and expand outward.

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