Brake Shoe Adjustment

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Let’s talk about how brakes work and how to adjust them. Now before we get started, if it’s not something that you’re familiar with, you’re not confident that you can do a brake adjustment on your own, definitely get your local mechanic to do it. Don’t attempt this if you don’t have the skills and the tools to do it properly and safely. These are the main components of a set of drum brakes. First, we have a magnet.
How this works is, when you apply the brakes in your motor vehicle, your brake controller will send a signal to the brakes. It will activate this electrode magnet, which will try and attach itself to the rotating brake drum. As the brake drum’s turning, it will pull the magnet and the lever across, and expand the brake shoes. The magnet, is a wearable item, so when you’re doing a brake adjustment, check the magnet. Make sure there’s no uneven, weird wear, and no exposed wires in the coil.

Now our adjuster on the brake drum is toothed barrel. It has a wheel with increments on it, that you can use a screwdriver, or a brake adjusting tool, to rotate it.

What it does, is expand or contract the distance between the brake shoes at the bottom. To get to the adjuster wheel through the backing plate, remove the little rubber cap that goes in the adjuster slot. You remove the cap, and then you can apply pressure on the wheel with your brake adjusting tool or your screwdriver, and by levering, you can turn the barrel and either adjust up to bring the pads closer to the drum or down to back the brakes off.

When you adjust these, you’ve got your trailer jacked up and you should be using jacking stands. Don’t work under any trailer or motor vehicle that’s held up only by a jack. Put a jack stand underneath it so you can work on it safely. Spin the wheel, turn it, and adjust the brakes until the brake shoes just start to drag on the drum slightly, and you know that it’s adjusted properly. Poor adjustment will end up getting uneven brake wear.
You’ll get more wear on the leading edge of the shoe, and it’ll also make the brakes less effective, so you don’t want that. This is why it’s important to adjust your brakes, or check the adjustment every 2,500 kilometres, service them every 5,000. Pull them out and have a look but check the adjustment every 2,500 Ks. Also, check your brake lining thickness. Make sure there’s enough brakes there, something you should do before every major trip, so take good care of them.

If you have any doubts about your brakes, check the Brake Troubleshooting Guide in the owner manual, and it will give you the kind of answers you’re looking for to any brake problems. For more great tips, tricks, maintenance ideas, head across to our website and follow the Master Class Series. Follow us on Facebook and get the updates as they happen.


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