How To: Replace Drum Brakes - Chevy Cobalt Forum / Cobalt Reviews / Cobalt SS / Cobalt Parts
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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How To: Replace Drum Brakes

What you will need:
  • A new set of brake shoes and it is always a good idea to get a spring kit as well. I spent about $30 for pads and springs at the local parts store.
  • Hammer
  • Vise Grip
  • Wire cutter
  • Needle nose pliars
  • Flat head screw driver
  • Brake cleaner
Changing your brakes:
  1. Jack the car up safely and remove wheel. If you have centering rings you will need to remove these as well.
  2. Pry the drum cover off. Most of the time it is pretty well pressed and rusted in so hammering between the studs a couple times is a good idea to loosen it up.
  3. Spray everything with brakleen
  4. Remove the adjuster spring with your pliars.
  5. Remove the large lower spring by prying one side out at a time with your flat head screwdriver.
  6. Remove the e-brake cable from the shoe. This takes a little handy work twisting it this way and that but it will finally come off.
  7. Grab the metal nut with your vise grips.

  8. With your wire cutters wedge the blades between the nut and the spring and push as far back as possible. Once you get as much compression on that spring as possible crimp down to hold in place but not cut the wire.Put the shoe bracket back on the e-brake cable as it was before. This may take a couple tries, but you will finally get it.
  9. Position the shoe on the wheel cylinder and put the lower spring in the shoe. Make sure the lower spring gets over the hook at the bottom of the drum (see picture).
  10. Install other shoe and the adjuster. Using the vise grip lock in place by installing the other side of the lower spring into the shoe.
  11. Replace adjuster spring.
  12. Pop the plugs in the back of the drum. There is one behind the adjuster and another behind the shoe without the bracket.
  13. Replace the drum cover. You may need to mess with both the position of the shoes by pushing in on the wheel cylinder as well as making adjustments to the adjuster.
  14. Pump the brakes a couple times to ensure the shoes are centered.
  15. Make necessary adjustments via the plug hole behind the adjuster to make sure the brakes aren't constantly pushing against the drum cover.
  16. Replace plug holes with new plugs from spring kit.
I know there are specific tools for this job, but this is what I have in my garage and it worked out just fine. Took about 1-2 hours because I struggled with the e-brake cables and took a beer break inbetween sides



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Last edited by Blackbalts; 04-23-2013 at 10:19 AM.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-29-2013, 09:42 AM
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Thanks for the write up. I am going to take a look at mine in a couple weeks. I bought shoes in case I need them but I can take them back if I don't.



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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-29-2013, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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Mine wore more on the bottom of the shoe than on the top. I almost returned it, but boy was that my brake problem!


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99 Nissan Altima GXE (Daily)
99 Subaru Legacy (Daily)
07 Jeep Liberty Limited (No longer the tow truck for the balt )

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2013, 12:23 PM
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what is the best brand of shoes
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2013, 12:26 PM
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use the E-brake often? lol


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2013, 02:07 PM
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I had to beat the hell out of both my drums to get them off. I really thought I was going to damage something, but after about 3 beers, I finally got them both off. (Beers are a unit of time at my house when working on the car)

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2013, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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^Same!


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99 Nissan Altima GXE (Daily)
99 Subaru Legacy (Daily)
07 Jeep Liberty Limited (No longer the tow truck for the balt )

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-14-2013, 05:21 PM
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You can use that plug in the back to loosen up the brakes so the drum comes off easily. In the second picture where he is removing the spring there is a bar going between the brake shoes. That gear on it is threaded and adjusted the shoes as they wear. From the back side pop off the plug with a flathead screwdriver, then put the screwdriver into that hole and turn that gear and it will shorten the bar letting the shoes come together and the drum will come off easily. Which direction depends on the side, but I think drivers side is down, passenger side is up. If you are going the wrong direction, the drum will get tighter and harder to turn, the right way it will pull right off. You may still have to smack it once or twice to break it free, but you wont need to pry it off.

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Last edited by jonny_b; 09-14-2013 at 05:52 PM.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 12:12 PM
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And it is up on both sides to loosen the adjusters. Just did mine, and they were froze so it was a pain, and I had to give up since my collarbone isnt fully healed yet and started bothering me.

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