How to Remove a Stuck Drum Brake

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Removing a drum brake that hasn’t been removed in a while can be a major challenge.

Brake drums are prone to rusting and seizing onto the brake shoes, the shoe springs, the bolts, or the axel itself.

If the drum brake is rusted and stuck beyond use, your best best is to cut it off and replace the entire thing.

However, if you’d like to try to salvage the park, here are some things you can try.

How to Remove a Drum Brake that’s Stuck

First, you’ll want to make sure the vehicle is blocked, raised, or otherwise secured so it can’t roll.

Make sure the parking brake is disengaged so the drum can spin freely.

If the drum won’t move, the brakes are locked and may need to be released first.

If there is an adjuster screw at the back of the drum, release it to retract the brake shoes (if they’re not seized as well).

However, seized brake pads or shoes may render the adjuster useless.

Next, if your drum brake is rusted, start with a round of penetrating oil on the bolts, the axel, the hub, and all the rusty parts and seams you can see. Allow the penetrating oil to work into the rust as you’re gathering your tools for the job.

Use a rubber mallet to hammer on the face of the drum to try to loosen the rust bond.

Try to wiggle the drum brake loose at this point. If the penetrating oil and mallet worked, the rust bond should be broken and you may be able to remove it.

If you’ve got some movement, but still can’t get it off, try another round with penetrating oil and the hammer.

If the drum brake is still stuck at this point, you can try to release the metal with heat. A heat gun or a blow torch can be used on the drum brake to cause the metal to expand and free itself.

If it still won’t budge, you can try to use a brake drum puller or threading in a bolt to one of the empty bolt holes on the face of the drum (not applicable on all types of drum brakes).

Refer to your service manual to make sure you’ve followed the correct sequence for loosening everything and removing the drum.

Sometimes, the cost of replacing a rusted and stuck unit is worth saving yourself the time and effort to get it off.