How to Expertly Adjust Emergency Brake on Drum Brakes: Ultimate Guide

0 3

To adjust the emergency brake on drum brakes, follow these steps precisely. Start by locating the adjustment hole on the backing plate and rotate the star wheel adjuster with a brake spoon until the brakes are tight and the wheel cannot be turned by hand.

Then, back off the star wheel a certain number of clicks, usually five to seven, to allow for proper clearance.

How to Expertly Adjust Emergency Brake on Drum Brakes: Ultimate Guide


Understanding Drum Brakes

Drum brakes are an essential component of your vehicle’s braking system. While most modern cars use disc brakes, drum brakes are still found in certain vehicles, particularly in the rear wheels. Understanding how drum brakes work and their various components can help you in maintaining and adjusting the emergency brake effectively.

Components of Drum Brakes

Drum brakes consist of several key components that work together to provide the necessary braking force. Each component performs a specific function to ensure optimal braking performance:

  • Brake drum: This metal drum-shaped component is bolted to the wheel hub and provides the surface against which the brake shoes press, creating friction and slowing down the vehicle.
  • Brake shoes: These curved components are lined with friction material and are placed inside the brake drum. When the brakes are applied, they are forced against the inner surface of the drum to create the necessary friction for braking.
  • Wheel cylinder: Located inside the drum, the wheel cylinder houses pistons that extend and push the brake shoes against the drum when hydraulic pressure is applied.
  • Brake return springs: These springs are responsible for retracting the brake shoes when pressure is released, allowing for smooth and efficient operation.
  • Adjusting mechanism: Drum brakes include an adjusting mechanism that automatically compensates for wear over time. This mechanism ensures that the brake shoes maintain the proper distance from the drum.

Working Mechanism of Drum Brakes

The working mechanism of drum brakes involves a hydraulic system that relies on brake fluid and the force of hydraulic pressure. When the brake pedal is pressed, brake fluid is forced into the wheel cylinder, causing the pistons to extend and push the brake shoes against the drum. This creates the friction necessary to slow down the vehicle.

As the brake shoes wear over time, the gap between the shoes and the drum increases. This increased gap can lead to a decrease in the emergency brake’s effectiveness, compromising your vehicle’s safety. Therefore, it becomes crucial to regularly adjust the emergency brake to ensure optimal performance.

Importance of Adjusting the Emergency Brake

Adjusting the emergency brake on drum brakes is vital for two main reasons:

  1. Safety: The emergency brake serves as a crucial backup in case your vehicle’s regular braking system fails. It keeps your vehicle securely parked and prevents it from rolling when parked on inclines or uneven surfaces. By regularly adjusting the emergency brake, you ensure that it engages and disengages smoothly, providing the necessary control and safety.
  2. Extended Brake Life: Properly adjusted emergency brakes help distribute the braking force evenly between the front and rear wheels. This balance prevents excessive wear on the front brakes and extends the overall lifespan of your braking system, helping you save money on brake maintenance and replacement costs.

In conclusion, understanding drum brakes and their components is crucial for maintaining and adjusting the emergency brake effectively. By observing the working mechanism, staying familiar with the various components, and regularly adjusting the emergency brake, you ensure the safety of your vehicle and optimize the longevity of your brakes.

Tools Needed For Emergency Brake Adjustment

The adjustment of the emergency brake on drum brakes is a crucial task to ensure the safety and proper functioning of your vehicle’s braking system. To make this adjustment, you will need a few specific tools that will help you complete the job efficiently. By having these tools on hand, you can ensure a smooth and successful emergency brake adjustment.

Essential tools for the job

It’s important to have the necessary tools available before you start adjusting your emergency brake. Gathering these tools beforehand will save you time and help you complete the adjustment process without any hassle. Here are the essential tools you will need:

Tool Description
Wrench A wrench of the appropriate size is required to loosen and tighten the adjusting nut on the emergency brake assembly.
Flathead screwdriver A flathead screwdriver is needed to adjust the emergency brake cable tension by turning the adjustment screw.
Jack and jack stands You will need a jack to lift your vehicle off the ground and jack stands to secure it in place while you work on the brakes.
Measuring tape A measuring tape helps you check the distance between the brake shoe and the drum, ensuring the proper adjustment of the emergency brake.

Safety precautions to keep in mind

Before attempting to adjust your emergency brake, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Taking the necessary precautions will protect you from potential accidents or injuries. Here are some safety measures to keep in mind:

  • Ensure the vehicle is securely parked – Before you start adjusting the emergency brake, park your vehicle on a level surface and engage the regular braking system to prevent any unexpected movement.
  • Wear protective gloves and eyewear – When working with your vehicle’s braking system, it’s important to protect your hands and eyes from any potential harm. Wearing gloves and eyewear will keep you safe from sharp edges and debris.
  • Use proper lifting techniques – If you need to lift your vehicle off the ground, remember to use a jack that can handle the weight and follow proper lifting techniques. Secure the vehicle with jack stands to ensure stability while working on the brakes.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area – Repairing and adjusting brakes can produce harmful fumes. It’s essential to work in a well-ventilated space or outdoors to prevent inhalation of toxic substances.
  • Refer to your vehicle’s manual – Different vehicles may have specific instructions or variations in the emergency brake adjustment process. Always refer to your vehicle’s manual for accurate information.

By following these safety precautions, you can ensure a secure and risk-free emergency brake adjustment process.

Preparing The Vehicle For Adjustment

Before you can adjust the emergency brake on drum brakes, it’s important to properly prepare your vehicle. Taking the necessary measures ensures a safe and effective adjustment process. Follow the steps below to get started.

Park the car on a level surface

The first step is to find a level surface to park your car on. This allows you to work on the emergency brake system without any unwanted movement or rolling of the vehicle. Look for a flat and stable area, such as a driveway or parking lot, and make sure there are no obstacles around.

Engage the parking brake

Next, engage the parking brake by pulling the lever or pressing the foot pedal, depending on the type of vehicle you have. This ensures that the brake system is active and prevents the car from moving during the adjustment process. Make sure the parking brake holds the car in place securely.

Safety measures to take before starting the adjustment process

Before you start adjusting the emergency brake, it’s crucial to take a few safety measures to protect yourself and your vehicle:

  • Chock the wheels: Place wheel chocks or blocks behind the opposite wheels to prevent any accidental movement of the vehicle.
  • Park in first gear or ‘Park’ mode: If your car has a manual transmission, leave it in first gear. If it’s an automatic, put it in ‘Park’ mode to prevent any unexpected rolling.
  • Turn off the engine: To avoid any accidental engagement of gears, turn off the engine before starting the adjustment process.
  • Allow the brakes to cool: Give the brakes enough time to cool down if you’ve been driving the car recently. Hot brakes can cause burns and make the adjustment process more challenging.
  • Gather the necessary tools: Before you begin, make sure you have all the required tools at hand, such as a pair of pliers, wrenches, and a brake spoon or adjusting tool.

By following these steps and taking the necessary safety measures, you’ll be well-prepared to adjust the emergency brake on your drum brakes effectively and safely.

Identifying The Adjustment Points

Locating the emergency brake adjuster

When it comes to adjusting the emergency brake on drum brakes, one of the first steps is identifying the adjustment points. The emergency brake adjuster is a vital component in ensuring the brake operates effectively. To locate the emergency brake adjuster, you will need to know the specific make and model of your vehicle, as the location can vary.

Generally, the emergency brake adjuster is found at the rear of the vehicle, near the rear wheels. It can typically be located by following the emergency brake cable from the center console or lever to the rear wheels. The adjuster is usually located on or near the brake drum assembly.

Understanding the different adjustment points

Understanding the different adjustment points is essential for properly adjusting the emergency brake on drum brakes. There are typically two adjustment points that need to be considered: the shoe-to-drum clearance and the emergency brake lever or cable tension.

The shoe-to-drum clearance adjustment determines the distance between the brake shoes and the brake drum. This adjustment ensures proper contact and effective braking. The emergency brake lever or cable tension adjustment, on the other hand, controls the amount of force applied by the emergency brake when engaged.

To adjust the shoe-to-drum clearance, you may need to access the brake drum assembly by removing the wheel and possibly the drum itself. The adjustment can usually be made using a brake spoon or screwdriver. If you are unsure about the specific adjustment procedure, it’s best to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or seek professional advice.

The emergency brake lever or cable tension adjustment can usually be made at the center console or near the emergency brake lever. This adjustment ensures that the emergency brake engages and disengages smoothly and with the appropriate amount of force. Again, referring to the owner’s manual or seeking professional guidance can help ensure the adjustment is done correctly.

Importance of identifying the correct adjustment points

Identifying the correct adjustment points is crucial for achieving optimal brake performance. Making incorrect adjustments or neglecting to adjust the emergency brake can lead to various issues, including decreased braking effectiveness and potential safety hazards.

By identifying the correct adjustment points and following the proper adjustment procedures, you can ensure that your emergency brake operates effectively and provides the necessary stopping power when needed. Regularly checking and adjusting the emergency brake also helps maintain the overall health and longevity of your drum brake system.

Remember, if you are unsure about any step or lack the necessary tools or expertise, it is recommended to consult a qualified mechanic or technician for assistance. Your safety and the safety of others on the road should always be the top priority.

Adjusting The Emergency Brake

In order to ensure your vehicle is safe and secure, it’s essential to regularly maintain and adjust the emergency brake. The emergency brake, also known as the parking brake, is responsible for preventing your vehicle from moving when parked. Over time, the emergency brake may become loose or wear out, compromising its effectiveness. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of adjusting the emergency brake on drum brakes, allowing you to maintain optimal safety.

Step-by-step guide to adjusting the emergency brake

Adjusting the emergency brake may seem like a daunting task, but by following these simple steps, you can easily tackle the process:

  1. Step 1: Prepare your vehicle
  2. Start by ensuring your vehicle is parked on a level surface. Engage the parking brake and place wheel chocks behind the rear tires for additional safety.

  3. Step 2: Locate the adjustment mechanism
  4. Look for the emergency brake adjustment mechanism, which is typically located inside the vehicle’s cabin, near the center console or under the dash. It may be hidden behind a cover or panel.

  5. Step 3: Access the adjuster
  6. Once you’ve located the adjustment mechanism, remove any covers or panels to access the adjuster. Some vehicles may require the removal of screws or clips to gain access.

  7. Step 4: Adjust the tension
  8. Using a suitable tool, such as an adjustable wrench or pliers, rotate the adjuster clockwise to tighten the emergency brake or counterclockwise to loosen it. Make small adjustments at a time, testing the lever or pedal tension periodically.

  9. Step 5: Test the effectiveness
  10. Once you’ve achieved the desired tension, test the emergency brake by engaging and disengaging it multiple times. Ensure the wheels do not rotate freely when the emergency brake is engaged.

How to determine if the emergency brake needs adjustment

While it’s important to regularly adjust the emergency brake, it’s equally crucial to know when it needs adjustment. Here are a few signs that indicate your emergency brake requires attention:

  • Spongy or loose emergency brake lever or pedal: If the emergency brake lever or pedal feels loose, does not hold the vehicle from rolling, or requires excessive force to engage, it’s a clear indicator that an adjustment is needed.
  • Rolling or moving vehicle: If your parked vehicle has a tendency to roll or move, even when the emergency brake is engaged, it’s an alarming signal that the emergency brake needs adjustment.
  • Unusual noises or smells: Strange noises, such as grinding or squealing, when engaging the emergency brake, or the presence of burning smells, may suggest that the emergency brake is not functioning correctly and requires attention.

Common mistakes to avoid during the adjustment process

While adjusting the emergency brake, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes that may compromise the effectiveness of the brake system. Here are a few mistakes to steer clear of:

  1. Over-tightening the brake: Excessively tightening the emergency brake can cause premature wear on the brake components, leading to reduced effectiveness and potential damage.
  2. Not adjusting both sides equally: It’s vital to ensure that both sides of the emergency brake are adjusted equally. Failing to do so can result in uneven braking force, leading to decreased stability and potential hazards.
  3. Skipping the test phase: Neglecting to test the emergency brake after adjusting it can be a critical mistake. Always thoroughly test the brake’s effectiveness by engaging and disengaging it before considering the adjustment complete.
  4. Not seeking professional guidance: If you are unsure or uncomfortable with adjusting the emergency brake yourself, it’s best to seek professional assistance. A certified mechanic can ensure the brake system is adjusted correctly and your vehicle is safe to drive.

By carefully following the step-by-step guide and avoiding the common mistakes mentioned, you can easily adjust the emergency brake on your drum brakes, promoting optimal safety and peace of mind.

Testing The Emergency Brake

Testing the Emergency Brake Ensuring your emergency brake is in proper working condition is crucial for the safety of your vehicle. Regularly testing the effectiveness of the emergency brake is a simple yet vital step that every car owner should take. By doing so, you can identify any issues with the brake and make the necessary adjustments to keep it functioning optimally. Methods to test the effectiveness of the emergency brake To test the effectiveness of your emergency brake, follow one of these methods: 1. On a level surface: Park your car on a flat and level surface. Engage the emergency brake firmly by pulling the lever or stepping on the pedal. Start the car and put it in gear. If the emergency brake holds the car in place without any slippage or movement, it indicates that the brake is in good condition. 2. On an incline: Find a safe and gentle slope to test the emergency brake. Ensure that there are no objects or people in the vehicle’s path. Engage the brake and release the foot brake. If the car remains stationary without rolling downhill, the emergency brake is functioning properly. Signs of a properly adjusted emergency brake When testing the emergency brake, look for these signs to ensure it is properly adjusted: 1. Resistance: When you engage the brake, there should be noticeable resistance. If the lever or pedal feels loose, it could be a sign of inadequate adjustment. 2. Holding power: A properly adjusted emergency brake should hold the vehicle firmly in place. There should be no visible movement or slippage when the brake is engaged. 3. Smooth release: When you release the emergency brake, it should disengage smoothly without any sticking or dragging sensation. If you encounter any resistance during the release, it may indicate an adjustment issue. Troubleshooting common issues during testing While testing the emergency brake, you may come across some common issues. Here are a few troubleshooting steps to identify and address them: 1. Insufficient holding power: If the emergency brake fails to hold the vehicle in place or if it slips under minimal resistance, it may require adjustment. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to identify the adjustment mechanism and make the necessary changes. 2. Excessive resistance or dragging: If the emergency brake lever or pedal feels too tight or if the car drags when the brake is released, it could indicate excessive tension. Adjust the brake mechanism carefully, ensuring it provides enough slack for smooth operation without compromising its effectiveness. 3. Uneven braking: If one side of the vehicle feels more resistant or exhibits uneven braking when engaging the emergency brake, it may signal an issue with the brake cable or the brake shoe mechanism. Inspect the cables and components for any damage or signs of wear and replace them as necessary. Remember, testing the emergency brake should be done regularly to ensure optimal functionality. If you encounter persistent issues or difficulties in adjusting the brake, it is advisable to consult a professional mechanic for further inspection and assistance. By following these methods to test the effectiveness of the emergency brake, recognizing signs of a properly adjusted brake, and troubleshooting common issues, you can maintain a safe and reliable emergency braking system in your vehicle. Regular testing and adjustment will give you the peace of mind that your emergency brake is ready to assist you in any unforeseen circumstances.

Maintenance And Additional Considerations

Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping your drum brakes in optimal working condition. This not only includes routine inspections and adjustments but also paying attention to additional considerations that can prolong the lifespan of your emergency brake. In this section, we will discuss the importance of regular maintenance, provide tips for extending the life of your emergency brake, and guide you on when to seek professional help for adjustment and maintenance.

Importance of regular maintenance for drum brakes

Maintaining your drum brakes is essential for ensuring their efficiency and safety. Regular inspections and adjustments help identify any issues before they escalate into major problems. By keeping your emergency brake properly adjusted, you can rest assured that it will function effectively in critical situations.

To ensure the longevity of your drum brakes, it is recommended to follow a maintenance routine. This should include regular inspections of the brake hardware, drum surface, and brake shoes. Additionally, you should check for any signs of wear, such as uneven brake shoe wear patterns or leaking wheel cylinders. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent further damage and costly repairs.

Tips for prolonging the lifespan of the emergency brake

Aside from regular maintenance, there are a few additional considerations you can keep in mind to extend the lifespan of your emergency brake:

  1. Proper storage: When your vehicle is not in use for an extended period, avoid engaging the emergency brake. This prevents the brake shoes from sticking to the drum, which could cause difficulty in disengaging the emergency brake when needed.
  2. Frequent usage: Regularly using your emergency brake can help prevent it from becoming stiff or seized. It is recommended to engage the emergency brake at least once a month, even if you rarely use it during regular driving.
  3. Track brake adjustments: Keeping track of when your emergency brake was last adjusted can help you maintain a regular maintenance schedule. If you notice any signs of diminished brake performance or unusual sounds, it may be time for adjustment.

When to seek professional help for adjustment and maintenance

While regular maintenance can be performed by individuals with the necessary mechanical knowledge and skills, there are instances when professional help is needed. It is advisable to consult a qualified technician for adjustment and maintenance in the following situations:

  • Lack of experience: If you are not confident in your ability to correctly adjust the emergency brake on drum brakes, it is best to seek professional assistance to avoid any potential safety risks.
  • Unusual sounds: If you notice any grinding, squealing, or scraping noises when applying the emergency brake, it may indicate a more significant issue that requires the expertise of a professional.
  • Emergency brake failure: If your emergency brake fails to engage or disengage properly, it is crucial to have it inspected by a professional immediately to prevent accidents or further damage.

By following these guidelines and conducting regular maintenance, you can ensure that your emergency brake on drum brakes remains in excellent working condition, providing you with a reliable safety mechanism when needed.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Adjust Emergency Brake On Drum Brakes

How Is The Drum Parking Brakes Adjusted?

To adjust drum parking brakes, follow these steps: 1. Locate the adjustment hole on the back of the brake drum. 2. Insert a brake adjusting tool and turn it either clockwise or counterclockwise. 3. Keep turning until the brake shoe lightly contacts the drum.

4. Test the brake by gently pulling the parking brake lever. 5. Repeat the process if necessary for optimal adjustment.

Can The Emergency Brake Be Adjusted?

Yes, the emergency brake can be adjusted.

What Is The Emergency Brake On Drum Brakes?

The emergency brake on drum brakes is a secondary braking system that provides additional stopping power. It is operated by a lever or pedal and uses a cable to engage the brake shoes directly against the drum surface. This helps to prevent the vehicle from rolling or sliding when parked on an incline or in an emergency situation.

Can You Adjust Drum Brakes By Backing Up?

No, you cannot adjust drum brakes by backing up. Drum brakes require manual adjustment using proper tools and techniques to ensure optimal performance. Avoid relying on backing up as a method of brake adjustment and consult a professional for accurate adjustment procedures.


Maintaining a properly adjusted emergency brake is crucial for your safety and the wellbeing of your vehicle. By following the simple steps outlined you can ensure optimal performance of your drum brakes and prevent potential accidents. Remember, regular inspection and adjustment are key in keeping your emergency brake in top condition.

Stay safe on the road by making this essential maintenance a priority.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.