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I haven't had to yet, but some of my other cars of drums in the rear and I will probably have to do it soon. How can you really diagnose drum brakes (how do you know they are worn) and what should I replace (just the shoes?)

Thoughts/links? Help is appreciated
 

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the main thing to look at is the shoes. a good point to change shoes is when they are worn down to within 1/32 inch of the rivets. If theres no rivets, 1/16 inch.

your drum may need to be refinished if you ran with old shoes for a while. those are the basics.
 

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Take a few pictures after you pull the drums off!!!

Most have lots of springs & hardware that are very confusing to put back together if you don't have a reference.

Good luck!
 

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If you don't have special tools I find vise grips work well to hold edge of the spring while you lean into it to stretch it over an anchor. Also long nose pliers work to compress hold down springs while you reach behind to twist the pin - or hold the pin steady and twist the spring.
 

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my nova has four wheel drums.

a drum brake tool is $7 at autozone, makes it easy to remove springs and stuff. buy it.

if the pads on a drum brake look thin, replace them. they should also be worn evenly from the middle of the shoe. also make sure there are no cracks. on the drum itself, inspect for gouges of any kind. if there are and you catch them early, $40 replaces your brake shoes and $20 to get two drums turned.

if you tell me what cars you need diagrams for, i can get them.
 

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also dont forget to inspect the wheel cylinder for any leakage (fairly common). the wheel cylinder is the part that pushes the shoes outward toward the drum. pull the little rubber dust covers back a bit and make sure everything is dry. also if the car/truck is RWD be sure to check the axle seal for leakage. just a couple things to check for -=]
 
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