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How to Reassemble a Drum Brake

4 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Checking and Maintaining Your Vehicle's Brakes

After you finish inspecting your drum brakes, you’re ready to reassemble them. Refer to this diagram of a drum brake to make sure that you get everything back in the proper order and direction. The following steps show you how:

Reassemble your drum brakes.
Reassemble your drum brakes.
  1. Saturate the dirt on the brake backing plate with brake parts cleaner; then wipe it off with a clean, grease-free rag.

    Don’t blow the dust around — it can cause serious lung damage.

  2. Wipe the dirt off the spindle and replace the wheel hub and brake drum on the spindle.

    If you have a floating drum, skip Steps 4 through 8 and slide the drum back over the lug nut studs until it contacts the hub.

    Be gentle so that you don’t unseat the grease seal.

  3. Clean the inside of the drum.

    Spray it with brake cleaner and wipe it out with a grease-free rag.

  4. Replace the outer wheel bearing (smaller end first) and the washer.

    Don’t let any dirt get on these parts!

  5. Replace the adjusting nut.

    Screw it on so that it's “finger tight.”

    Another way to complete this step is to back the adjusting nut off one full notch (60 degrees) and, if the notch doesn’t line up with the hole in the spindle, back it off just enough until it does. Then spin the wheel by hand to be sure that it turns freely. If it doesn’t, loosen the nut a bit more.

  6. Insert the cotter pin into the hole in the castellated nut.

    The cotter pin should clear the outer grooves and go all the way through. Make sure that it’s pointing in the same direction as it was when you took it off.

  7. Bend the legs of the cotter pin back across the surface of the nut.

    This holds it in place.

  8. Replace the grease cap.

  9. Replace your wheel, lug nuts, and hubcap, and lower the vehicle to the ground.

    Don’t try to detoxify the contaminated rags you used on this job by laundering them! Place them in a sealable plastic bag, zip it closed, and dispose of it immediately.

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