Drum Brakes: a Thing of the Past, or Still Useful?

Drum Brakes
Image by Nathanael Burton via flickr

Even though drum brake systems have largely been replaced with disc brakes, drum brakes still find use on trucks, trailers, and some cars.

They are simple in design, with a rotating chamber filled with brake shoe pads that engage when the brakes are applied.

When these shoes meet the surface they are applying friction against, they create drag that slows the vehicle down.

The main advantage of drum brakes is their cost-effective nature. Since there is less hardware involved compared to disc brakes, they are cheaper to manufacture and install.

Another benefit to drums is their ability to work even when parts of the system are damaged.

If a shoe is bad, or if the lining of the drum is worn down, it doesn’t mean that the entire brake system needs to be replaced.

Over time, however, drum brakes do experience wear and tear. This can lead to inconsistent stopping power, which can be dangerous when driving.

It’s important to regularly inspect your vehicle’s drum brakes so that they can be repaired or replaced as necessary.

Here are some of the signs you should look for: 

  • Stepping back when braking – when you step on the brakes, there should be a firm feel that doesn’t give way under pressure. If there is any stepping back or “spongy” feeling, it indicates that something is wrong with your drum brake system. 
  • Dragging sounds – If you hear loud scraping sounds every time you apply the brakes, it could mean that there’s friction between the shoes and the lining of the drum. This can lead to poor stopping power and is something that should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Rusting around the drums – over time, rust can build up on metal surfaces such as the surface on the brake drum. When this happens, it indicates there is moisture inside the drum which can lead to corrosion and increased wear and tear over time. Corrosion will eventually cause cracks in the lining of the drum, which means that it won’t be able to provide consistent stopping power anymore.
  • Worn-out brake shoes – if you notice that there are very thin shoe pads at the back of your drum, this means they have been worn out. When driving, the brakes need to be fully engaged at all times in order for them to work properly. If there’s even a small gap between the shoes and lining when braking, it can lead to inconsistent stopping power. 

Drum Brake Maintenance

Regular drum brake maintenance is one of the most important parts of regular brake drum upkeep.

Without this maintenance, you run the risk of having your brakes fail completely. Regularly oiling your brakes can help prevent them from rusting and keep them in good working order.

When should you perform regular brake maintenance? Ideally, you’ll want to do it once every three months or so.

However, if you live in an area with wet weather or have been driving on gravel roads, you may need to do it more often.

What does regular brake maintenance entail? First, you’ll want to clean off the dust and dirt from your brakes by taking them apart and cleaning each individual part with a cotton swab or brush.

Next, you should oil the moving parts of your drum brakes with mineral oil or petroleum jelly. This will help lubricate them so they can move freely.

It’s also important not to over-oil your brakes; if you do, it could lead to rusting. You should then re-assemble your brakes and test them out before putting them back on the car.

When should you check/replace your brake shoes? If your brake shoes are badly worn, it’s time for new ones. How do you replace your brake shoes?

The first step is to remove all of the wheels from your car. Next, loosen the bolts on the callipers so that they can move freely.

Remove the brake shoes and put new ones in their place. You’ll then need to re-tighten the bolts on your callipers and test out your brakes. 

Drum brakes cannot be repaired like disc brakes, so it’s important to have them replaced when necessary.

If you notice any of the above problems with your drum brake system, visit an auto repair shop near you. They will be able to inspect your vehicle and advise on whether or not replacing the drums is necessary. 

Best Drum Brake Manufacturers in Australia

The best drum brake manufacturers in Australia are Disc Brake Australia They manufacture high-quality brake drum parts for trucks, buses, caravans, and heavy equipment that are able to stop vehicles in less than 12 metres when travelling at 40km/h.

DBA’s range includes economy and premium brake systems, as well as automatic reversers which can be activated by the vehicle’s transmission to ensure maximum braking power is always available.

The company also manufactures load control systems designed to reduce strain on the vehicle’s suspension when carrying heavier loads or when towing.

DBA products can be found in over 40 countries around the world and are manufactured at their factory in Dandenong, Victoria.

They have a dedicated service department and extensive spare inventory to ensure all customers receive prompt, professional support whenever they need it.

Other notable manufacturers include Tru Stop, which is based in Western Australia, and Stoptech, which has its headquarters in New South Wales.

Both manufacturers offer drum brakes for a wide range of vehicles including trucks, buses, and cars.

They also manufacture emergency stop systems that are designed to activate when the car’s foot brake is pressed.

The main difference between these two types of brake systems is that emergency stops do not require power from the vehicle’s transmission and can be used on all vehicles with manual transmissions.

Tru Stop also manufactures hydraulic drum brakes that can be fitted to trucks, buses, and other heavy vehicles.

These systems are able to stop a vehicle travelling at up to 80km/h in just 6 metres. The range includes economy and premium brake systems as well as automatic reversers which can be activated by the transmission when required.

Stoptech’s drum brakes are designed for use on passenger vehicles such as cars, SUVs, and light commercial vehicles.

They offer both economy and premium brake systems that can be used on vehicles with manual or automatic transmissions.

The company also manufactures automatic reversers which can be activated by the transmission to ensure maximum braking power is always available.

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