Drum brakes are the type that was predominantly used in vehicles until disc brakes started taking over recently. They will still be present in many cars, and if yours has them, you should know what it could entail to have them replaced if it becomes necessary to do so.
On average, you can expect to pay about $400 to replace a brake drum. Most mechanics charge between $200 to $600 or higher. Drum shoes and cylinders cost $300 and $250 on average, respectively.
You can also get your rear drum brakes resurfaced for around $250 on average per drum.
The price will vary depending on the type of vehicle, the preferred store for the job, and the number of pieces involved. A full replacement set will cost more, but other smaller factors can influence the cost.
These prices are average and will depend on the age of your car and your mechanic’s location.
|BMW 3 Series||$400|
- The Cost of Replacing Drum Brakes
- Factors that Cause Prices to Vary
- Is One Replacement Enough?
- How Do Drum Brakes Work?
- Drum Brake Resurfacing
- Signs of a Bad Drum Brake
- How Long Does It Take to Replace Drum Brakes?
- How Does the Repair Process Work?
- Tips for Routine Maintenance of Your Drum Brakes
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Bottom Line
- Related Guides
The Cost of Replacing Drum Brakes
Drum brakes are commonly found in older car models, and they can suffer from plenty of wear. This can cause them to require a replacement, and this process can entail various costs that you should consider when creating a budget.
You can usually research this information by browsing online quotes or by stopping at car repair shops.
|Online Comparison||In-Shop Purchase|
No matter what option you choose to find out about the costs for replacing drum brakes, you will find something that suits your needs.
Checking out a few different ones before settling on one will allow you to see what the best pricing will be for your replacement.
Factors that Cause Prices to Vary
You may notice that prices for drum brake replacements vary. This is due to several main factors. Here are the most influential ones:
- Vehicle type: Prices will be lower if you have a standard car, and will increase if you have a truck. The bigger the vehicle, the more time and effort-intensive the job will be, and this will be reflected in the cost.
- Preferred store: When you investigate your options, you’ll get to pick the store that’s the best choice for you. This will affect the price you’ll have to pay, especially if stores closer to you are more expensive, but practicality should influence your decision too. Stores may charge different rates for labor costs and parts.
- Number of parts: Getting a full brake job will increase the cost, but it may be the best way to deal with a replacement. If the brake job will require any other parts or adjustments, this will also affect the price.
You can choose to purchase the parts and attempt to replace the drum brakes on your own, but this is not advisable. It is a complex and difficult job that is not at all recommended to be performed without professional supervision.
Is One Replacement Enough?
While researching costs for drum brakes, you will quickly notice that just replacing one of them has an average price between $35 and $125, but most mechanics will recommend getting a full set.
You will usually find individual drum brakes for standard vehicles at $35 apiece, while those for trucks average at around $70.
When you start having issues with one brake drum, you can choose to replace just the faulty one, but mechanics will always advise you to get a full replacement set.
Once one drum brake fails, the others are usually not far behind, so to ensure the best performance of your brake system, try to get all of them replaced. This will also save you money in the long run.
How Do Drum Brakes Work?
Drum brakes were the most common option for brake systems used in vehicles before 1998. Since then, they have been steadily replaced by disc or rotor brakes.
Nevertheless, you’ll still find plenty of vehicles with drum brakes in use, so let’s take a look at how they operate so you can better understand what to expect from their performance.
Learning about drum brakes will also help you recognize when they need to be replaced. The first thing to know about a drum brake system is that it includes several components:
- Brake shoes
- Brake cylinder
These three main components are what make the drum brakes work. The drum braking process usually works as follows: when the driver presses down on the brake pedal, it sends brake fluid through the brake lines toward the brake cylinder.
In the cylinder, two springs will be set into motion until they settle against pistons at each end.
The pistons then make individual contact with two brake shoes, which then settle against the drum, which connects directly to the wheel through lug nuts. Through the contact of the shoe with the drum, the wheel is stopped.
All these components have to be maintained properly to ensure their functionality because the moment one fails, the whole system is at risk.
Brake Shoes Replacement Cost
Drum brakes have the main drum component and use brake shoes to generate friction to stop the wheel from turning. Over time brake shoes can wear down and won’t be able to generate enough friction to stop the wheels.
Overall, you can expect to pay about $300 on average to replace brake shoes. The typical price range is between $200 on the low end to over $400 on the high end.
Brake shoes are made from iron, copper, and steel alloys. The most expensive brake shoes are made from ceramic which has a very high heat dispersion.
|MW 3 Series||$350|
Brake shoes have some moving parts so they usually do not last as long as the drums. Drum brakes need to be replaced once every 35,000 to 50,000 miles. Warped brake drums can also cause your brake shoes to wear down faster.
Drum Brake Resurfacing
Drum brakes have a smooth layer on the inside which creates the friction surface that lets your car stop. When drum brakes wear down, this surface becomes rough.
Depending on the condition of your drum, you may be able to resurface the interior rather than replace the drum entirely.
When your mechanic resurfaces your drums, they will use a tool called a brake lathe to recut the surface to make it smooth and straighten out the drum walls.
On average, drum resurfacing will cost about $250 on average per drum. Resurfacing can extend the lifespan of your drum and may be a reasonable alternative to replacement.
If the warping is too much or your drum walls are not thick enough, then resurfacing may not be an option. In that case, you will have to replace the drum entirely.
Signs of a Bad Drum Brake
Here are some of the most common signs of a bad rear drum brake.
As you use drum brakes, they will heat and expand due to friction. As they get larger, the brake shoes have to move further to make friction with the drum. As a result, you have to push down on the brake longer to get the same braking response.
A similar problem involves the brake pedal “pulsing” while you have the pedal pressed down.
Another common sign of a bad rear drum brake is a loud scraping or grinding noise coming from the back wheels when braking. If the brake drums are too deformed or the shoes are too worn, then they will grind against each other instead of catching due to friction.
Loose Parking Brake
Bad drum brakes can also make your emergency parking brake less efficient. As your brake drum expands, it may slip against the shoe when the parking brake is engaged. The car might slip a few inches while the parking brake is on.
Another common sign of bad brakes is if your brakes continually vibrate while the pedal is depressed. The brake pedal will not function properly if the shoes or drum is too worn, and it can cause the wheels to shake when the brake is engaged.
This vibration may make it difficult to control the brakes on your car while driving.
Leaking fluid can also be a sign of a broken brake drum. Leaking fluids can result from a broken wheel cylinder. If you see leaking fluid, you may also notice that your brakes get harder to engage.
This is because the cylinder can’t produce the right pressure anymore.
How Long Does It Take to Replace Drum Brakes?
The time for a replacement drum brake job will vary depending on the extent of the work that needs to be done. Taking your vehicle to the mechanic will ensure that you get the quickest replacement job.
Professionals can do a replacement drum brake job between half an hour and an hour unless there are rare complications during the process.
Some experts can even do the replacement in fifteen minutes, but this depends on the shop, the number of people working on the vehicle, and the amount of work it entails.
Full replacements will usually take longer, but on average, you’ll have your vehicle back before an hour has passed.
How Does the Repair Process Work?
When you notice that your drum brakes need replacing, you should take your vehicle to the mechanic as soon as possible. Once you leave it in the hands of the experts, this is the basic process that will follow:
- The mechanic will do some preliminary checks to establish that a replacement is a solution to the problem. This will involve measuring the drum and inspecting it for signs of wear or damage.
- The mechanic will also inspect the brake cylinder and brake shoes to check if they need to be replaced too.
- Once everything has been checked, the mechanic will proceed to replace the necessary parts.
- If the mechanic notices damage to the drum brake system on one wheel, they will recommend a full replacement. That will require a repeat of the previous steps for each wheel.
Tips for Routine Maintenance of Your Drum Brakes
To avoid having to replace drum brakes frequently, you should try to perform routine maintenance on them. This will help keep them in optimal performance and it will get more life out of your braking system.
You should always try your best to avoid a full braking failure, which can be catastrophic. Regular maintenance is the best safety precaution.
One of the advantages of the drum brakes is that they don’t require intensive routine maintenance. You should check the state of the brakes and the cylinders at regular intervals, and clean the drums as often as possible with a wire brush.
If you notice that the brake shoes have a lot of wear, those are easier to replace on your own. This is only as long as you don’t have to replace the drum or the entire system, but brake shoes will be the first to get damaged, so checking them should be done often.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to replace a rear drum brake?
It costs about $400 on average to replace a rear drum brake. The typical price range is between $200 on the low end and $600 on the high end.
Brake drum shoes will cost about $300 on average to replace. The cost will depend on the age of your car and your mechanic’s location.
What other parts do I need to replace when replacing my drum brakes?
When you replace your drum brakes, you will also most likely have to replace your brake shoes and the brake backing plate. Both of these additional components are critical for your brake drums to function properly.
How often should I replace my rear drum brakes?
Drum brakes are extremely durable components and are usually meant to last the entire lifespan of your car. In terms of distance, a new pair of drum brakes can last over 200,000 miles if you remember proper maintenance.
You should get your drum brakes checked at least once a year when you service your car’s brake system.
How often should I replace my brake shoes?
You should replace your brake shoes once every 35,000 to 50,000 miles. Brake shoes can wear down faster if you have a warped brake drum.
Failing to get regular brake maintenance can decrease your shoes’ lifespan. Most experts recommend that you change all your brake shoes at the same time so they have a similar consistency and wear/tear.
What size should my drum brakes be?
It depends on the make and model of your car. Different drum brakes have different measurements. Normally, the correct measurements are imprinted on the inside of the drum itself.
Drum brakes are precise and measured to within thousandths of an inch. Mechanics measure drum brake diameters using a special caliper tool.
Can I drive with a bad rear drum brake?
You can but it is not recommended. Drum brakes play an important role in keeping your car under control while on the road.
When your drum brakes are broken, you may have trouble stopping your car and can easily lose control. It’s in your best interest to get drum brakes fixed as quickly as possible.
Replacing drum brakes will usually cost between $170 and $502. You will notice variations in price based on w
Brake drums are an important component of your rear wheel system and work with your front brakes to control your car while slowing down.
When your brake drums wear out, it’s in your best interest to get them replaced as quickly as possible.
Driving on broken brake drums can increase the risk of your losing control and endangering yourself and others.
You may also need to replace other parts of your brake system, such as brake shoes or wheel cylinders as well. As always, make sure to get quotes from several mechanics so you can get the best price on repairs.