Done it multiple times on my 98 Suburban and several other cars I have owned. Jack the rear wheel of the car and remove the tire and rim. Remember to release the parking brake so the wheel will come off.
Make sure you chalk one of the other wheels that is still on the ground so the car will not roll and put the transmission in park. You should be able to pull the wheel drum off now. Many of these take some coaxing.
If you use a pry bar or hammer, makes sure you do not hammer on anything vital. The drums themselves are very durable. Once you have the drum off, use some brake cleaner or compressed air to blow out all of the dust and any brake fluid leakage that might have occurred.
One reason this is easier now days than in the past is because of the invention of digital cameras. Take a picture of the brake linings and springs and all internals at this point to prevent guessing later. Next, remove the retaining clip that hold the brake shoes to the inside of the wheel area.
I usually use some large channel lock pliers and put my hand on the other side of the wheel to keep the pin from going in while I have the channel locks on the outside washer that holds the spring on. While holding the backside of the pin and grabbing the washer with the channel locks, press the washer in, compressing the spring and rotate 90 degrees. The washer should pop off.Do this for the other brake shoe as well.
Now you can start removing all of the springs taking note of where each spring goes and its orientation. Some people just pull on the springs to remove URL2 makes it much easier to remove the adjuster on the bottom of the brake shoes and then rotate the shoes toward you to relieve the tension on the springs before removing. Make sure to take note of the position and the slot that the parking brake actuator is on the wheel on both brake shoes.
Before removing the Brake shoes, take note of their orientation as well. The front and back shoe are not interchangeable the new shoes should match the old shoes position exactly. Remove the shoes and clean out any dust behind the shoes.
At this point you might want to check for any major wear on the brake drum on the inside and clean it out as well. Small ribs are fine. These can be turned just like front rotors if a major gouge is present What is more difficult is putting the shoes back on.
It's not that hard though. Remember to refer to your digital picture if you get confused as to which spring or how the tensioner goes etc. Remember that you have to put it back exactly the same way it came off. Believe me from experience if you put a spring the wrong way the brake will not work properly or the drum will not go on.
When putting the shoes back in remember to put the spring on first and angle the shoes so all the springs can be put on without having to stretch a spring. Put the retaining pin back on one shoe at a time and for the second shoe put it in place by angling the brake shoe in stretching the spring. Do not try to man handle it to put it in place.
This has to be done while the parking brake actuator and the adjuster are attached to the shoes. (nt: run the adjuster all the way in to make it easier) Again, you can do this. When all is in place, adjust the adjuster on the bottom out a ways.
Should be obvious which way it goes because it is very difficult to go the wrong direction. Put the drum back on and check for rubbing. If there is no rubbing take it off and adjust the adjuster out again till there is slight rubbing.
Put the wheel back on, torque the lug nuts, and lower the car. Check for funny smells or excessive heat from the rear brakes on a test drive. That means the adjuster is too far out.
Usually the first wheel may take up to an hour to do but the second one takes about 20 minutes :)...Hope this helps.
Replacing drum brake shoes is a lot more complicated than replacing disc brake pads. There are a bunch of springs and levers and they all need to move in just the right way. I've seen experienced mechanics get tripped-up by drum brakes they weren't familiar with... so it's understandable if a do-it-yourself mechanic gets a bit confused or frustrated by the complexities of drum brakes.
I recently replaced the rear brakes on my 1996 GMC Yukon. It's been at least 15 years since I've done rear brakes on a GM product, although I got plenty of practice on GM cars and trucks when I received my mechanic's training back in the mid-90's. Once the parking brake lever had been separated from the rear shoe, I was ready to remove the pair of brake shoes.
Checking for leaks here is important! Even a small leak now would mean that brake fluid will eventually leak onto the brake linings or drum, which will severly reduce the braking ability. I made these photos extra large to make it easier to see the details.
Before the truck is ready to drive, the brake adjuster needs to be turned so there is the proper amount of clearance between the brake linings and the drum. If the clearance is too much, the brakes will never be able to self-adjust when stopping while backing up. If the clearance is too little, the back brakes will grab too hard and the drum will overheat and warp, which you will feel as a pulsating brake pedal when the brakes are applied.
I made this mistake once with another truck, and I had to buy new brake drums. To get the proper initial setting of the adjuster screw, I expanded the screw a couple of turns and tried slipping the drum over the brake shoes. I repeated this process until the drum would just barely turn by hand.
Then I removed the drum and turned back the adjuster one-half turn.
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