Brake Shoes: Major Causes For Them To Fail And How It Can Be Prevented

Brake shoes are inside the drum brake system and are the friction material is pulled outward against the brake drums to slow a car down when the brake pedal is pressed. Brake shoes use organic and metallic materials bound together under extreme heat and pressure to prevent them from shedding or breaking and are made durable enough to withstand the friction required for braking.

Drum brakes are less popular in modern automobiles but are still used on some rear wheels as they are more cost-friendly to manufacture.

6 Signs You Should Replace Your Brakes

Signs your brake shoes should be replaced

  • Squealing noises. Brake shoes when worn will create a scraping noise on the inside of the drum or create a squeaking noise when the brake shoe becomes dusty.
  • More effort to brake. As brake shoes wear out, you'll need to press harder on the brake pedal to come to a complete stop which becomes more dangerous over time.
  • Loose parking brake. A loose parking brake can indicate that the brakes are deteriorating since it is also housed in the drum brake. You might notice it rolling even after you press the emergency brake, in which case, you should have your drum brakes checked by a mechanic.
  • Vibrations in the brake pedal when the brakes are used. Unusually strong vibrations in your brake pedal should be an indication that your drum brakes are wearing down.
  • Loose or “spongy” feeling with the brake pedal. A loose feeling when your press down on your brake pedal indicates that there may be something wrong with your brakes and you should get this examined by a mechanic immediately.
  • Brake light warning on the dashboard. If you see a brake light warning that your brakes needs to be replaced, you should contact a mechanic immediately.

Brake shoes fail because:

  • Regular wear from friction
  • Grease or oil on the brakes reduces friction.
  • Brakes overheat and the brake drums develop hot spots that resist friction from the brake shoes

How To Maintain Brake Shoes

Here are three tips for maintaining brake shoes:

  • Slow down gently

    When you brake quickly, your brake shoes have to work harder to stop your car thus creating premature wear and tear. Slowing down gradually extends the life of your brakes.

  • Maintain a healthy car weight

    When your vehicle is heavier than usual, your brakes must compensate for the increased kinetic load, forcing them to work harder, resulting in premature wear and tear.

  • When possible, use engine braking

    When driving a manual car, consider pulling your foot off the accelerator to deactivate your engine at low speeds. You can extend the life of the friction material in your brake shoes by not relying on your brakes to slow down your car.

Brake Shoe Replacement

On average, brake shoes should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, but this may depend on the type of vehicle you own.

You should inspect them at each oil change, but especially if you see any of the six signs above, you should contact a mechanic immediately.

If you want to change your brake shoes, you'll need gloves, a mask, high-temperature grease, brake fluid, brake spring pliers, hold-down remover, drip tray, brake cleaner, and brake hardware.


Brake shoes are inside the drum brake system and are the friction material is pulled outward against the brake drums to slow a car down when the brake pedal is pressed. If you see any of the six signs above that indicate your brake drum may be wearing down, you should contact a mechanic immediately to have them inspected.

Here are NuBrakes, we offer mobile auto technicians that will come to your home or office for brakes, oil, maintenance, and more so that you have have the most convenient repair service while saving you time and money. Contact us for a free car repair quote.


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