Drum brakes are an integral piece of your car’s braking system. Drum brakes are cylinders placed on the rear wheels of some cars. Unlike brake discs, drums spin with the rear wheels. They engage with the wheel when you push the brake pedal and create friction. The friction slows down the wheels until they come to a halt.
Drum brakes are durable and should last the average driver between 150 000 miles (241 401 km) and 200 000 miles (321 868 km) before needing replacement.
However, several factors can impact the durability of your brake drums. We go over everything you need to know about brake drum maintenance; what increases and decreases their durability, and when to replace them. Additionally, we answer some related questions about brake drum maintenance and replacements.
How Long Do Drums Usually Last?
As stated above, your brake drums should usually last around 200 000 miles. However, the brake shoes in the drums only last about 40 000 miles before they need to be replaced. The brake shoes sit inside the brake drum and expand outward when you push the brakes. The shoes then create friction with the drum wall, slowing down the car and wearing out a lot faster than the drum itself. Therefore, regularly checking the drum’s shoes will significantly improve the life span of the drum itself.
How to Make Your Drums Last Longer
If you want your brake drums to last as long as possible, there are several measures you can take to increase their lifespan. Firstly, avoid braking abruptly. Instead, gradually slowing down will reduce the impact and friction of the shoes on the drum. Don’t wait till the last second to brake as doing so not only damages your brakes but can be dangerous should your brakes fail.
Avoiding poor roads is also a great way to ensure the durability of the brake drums. Rough roads and driving conditions mean you will need to use the brakes more often and even directly damage the drum itself. Avoid these roads as much as possible to significantly improve the drum’s life span.
Finally, driving slower instead of flooring means you get more lifespan from your drums. You require more energy to slow down the car’s momentum the faster you drive. Driving fast forces you to push the brake pedal harder, which wears out the drums shoes faster. So reducing your average speed not only saves you money with fuel but can also save you money on replacement parts.
Also Know: Why Does My Brake Pedal Squeak?
How Do I Know if My Drum Brakes Are Worn Out?
There are several signs to look out for if you are concerned about the longetivity of your drum brakes. The first is listening for a screeching noise every time you brake. Screeches from the brakes typically mean your brakes require new fluid. However, it also can mean the shoes in your brake drums are worn. This is because manufacturers design the drums to create noise when their lifespan is almost over. If you hear a screeching noise from the brakes, it is best to take the car to a mechanic and have it checked out.
Additionally, you might notice your brakes don’t respond like they used to be. So if your car is taking longer than usual to slow down, there is most likely an issue with your drum brakes. Taking your car in for a service should be your top priority.
Finally, a clear sign to look out for is if you find yourself pushing further than usual on the brake pedal to get the car to stop. This is because the shoes in the drum will wear down after prolonged use, which will require more engagement from the pedal for the shoes to reach the wall of the drum. If you find yourself stretching your toes to push the pedal down and brake, then it might be time to replace the brake drum.
Why Do Drum Brakes Last So Long?
The great thing about drum brakes is that they are durable and last far longer than your average disc brake. Generally, only the back wheels use drum brakes and therein lies the secret to their durability. On a car, most of the friction occurs on the front wheels when braking because most vehicles center their weight there. As a result, the drum brakes on the back serve only to support the front brakes.
Additionally, drum brakes are made from cast iron. Newer brake pads use aluminum instead because it is better for heat displacement. Cast iron is rugged, which makes it resistant to wear. It is also a cheap material and produced in mass. Unfortunately, cast iron is not as efficient as aluminum when it comes to heat displacement. As a result, fewer brake drums are in circulation, increasing the cost of replacing them.
Is Replacing Brake Drums Expensive?
Although drum brakes are cheap to manufacture, replacing them can be pretty expensive. You can save money by replacing them yourself, but it will require skill and tools that not everybody will have. Have a mechanic look at your car in case you need to replace your brake drums. They diagnose your problem and let you know whether to replace them. They also have the skills and necessary tools to do the job as quickly and effectively as possible. However, you should expect to part with some money since these services come at a price. Alternatively, you could replace the drum brakes with brake discs. These are more effective and safer but come at a considerably higher price.
Most of everything you need to know about having long-lasting brake drums has been covered in this article. Additionally, we looked at what you can do to ensure you get the most out of your brake drums. Furthermore, we exposed the signs that signal it’s time to change your drums. Finally, we looked at why brake drums last so long and how expensive it is to replace them. Therefore, you have the information to take better care of your brake drums.