When dealing with your automobile’s lifespan and the longevity of your automobile, certain parts are more important than others. You might automatically think of the engine, the transmission, and the braking system. Included in that braking system, which allows your car to stop when you need it to and prevent many unwanted crashes, the drum brake is a huge component to safely stopping the vehicle.
The average price for a drum brake cost for a repair or replacement is between $250 to $350, with the average total price with labor and parts being $418.
Despite these average costs, the price can vary between front and rear drum brake replacement costs depending on different parts, labor times, and specific mechanics. Even though you might not want to spend that much time or money on your drum brake cost and replacement, this service is crucial for the safety of your vehicle, the safety of the driver, and the safety of your passengers.
We want to go over what a drum brake is in your car, its responsibility, how to replace a drum brake, the signs of a faulty drum brake, and – most importantly – the drum brake cost for a total repair or replacement.
Drum Brake Mechanism
A drum brake is a brake within your vehicle that causes friction between a set of pads that press against a rotating cylinder, called a brake drum. This friction is what causes the car to slow down and stop. Various components make up the drum brake, all of which could break over time, relating to the overall drum brake cost to repair.
Basically, the harder you press on the brake pedal, the more friction is generated and applied to the outside of the drum. The more pressure applied to the outside of the drum, the more rapidly the wheels will move, and the vehicle will slow down. Drum brakes have the inside mechanism, allowing for more friction to be created and a more effective method of slowing down your vehicle safely.
The first part of the drum brake is the backing plate, which provides a base and platform for the other components to stay on. The backing plate supports the housing and protects it from other foreign materials entering or other processes, like any unwanted torque from the braking action, hence why the backplate is also called a torque plate.
This backing plate is a huge foundational system of the drum brake and must be strong and be able to withstand tough abrasion and lead to a higher drum brake cost if it gets damaged.
Second, the next component of the drum brake is the brake drum. This part is generally made of cast iron that is both heat-conductive and water-resistant, considering it undergoes constant friction, heat buildup, and parts rubbing together multiple times per day. This brake drum rotates with the wheel and axle and causes friction between the lining and the drum’s inner surface, slowing the vehicle and generating substantial heat.
If the brake drum loses its weather-resistant properties and becomes susceptible to heat, it can break down and lead to a higher drum brake cost.
Third, there is the wheel cylinder, with one wheel cylinder operating the brake on each wheel. Two pistons operate the shoes at opposite ends of the wheel cylinder. These shoes are being forced against the drum brake by the hydraulic pressure, causing the shoe springs to slow down and return to their normal position after the braking occurs.
Lastly, we have the brake shoe as a part of the drum brake. Brake shoes are two pieces of crescent-shaped steel that are welded together, which are resistant to heat, resistant to wear, and contain a high friction coefficient.
Drum Brake Function
When you normally press the brake pedal in your vehicle to slow down or come to an abrupt stop, the brake fluid is forced from the master cylinder into the wheel cylinder. The wheel cylinder then pushes the shoes into friction with the inside of the drum, causing a rotation of the brake drum and reducing the wheel speed.
As your brake linings wear out, the shoes must have to go farther to reach the drum. Once the distance reaches a certain point, there are self-adjusting mechanisms present in some cars that move the shoes closer to the drum so that the parts do not have to work as hard to reach the level of friction necessary to stop the car. On vehicles without this type of automatic adjusters, you have to manually adjust the brakes to make sure the gap between the shoes and the drum doesn’t get too far apart.
Drum Brake Mechanism
Drum brakes are usually either leading, trailing, or twin leading. The type of drum brake you have can determine the total type of drum brake cost when purchasing new ones for your vehicle.
Rear Drum Brakes
Rear drum brakes are usually leading and trailing design, or primary and secondary. In this design, one of the shoes always is self-applying, regardless of what direction the vehicle is moving in. This is beneficial on rear brakes when you want to keep your car from moving on a slope.
Twin-Leading Drum Brake
However, the twin leading design is the most effective method of drum brake design. The design uses two cylinders. Both shoes use the self-applying characteristic during forward motion, so they play at opposite pivot points from one another, giving maximum braking power possible when moving forwards with your vehicle.
Aluminum Drum Brake
The brake drum itself is made of cast iron, although some cars today have aluminum drums in their front-wheel applications. The benefits of aluminum are that it conducts heat better than cast iron, dissipating heat buildup quicker and reducing any potential fade over time.
Aluminum disc brakes are also lighter, which reduces the unsprung weight, which is the mass of the suspension and other components. However, aluminum wears quicker than iron, so the choice of what kind of drum brake design is up to personal preference.
Drum Brake Advantages
Although there are disputes as to whether cars with drum brakes are better or worse for your car and your driving style, there are certain drum brake advantages. The advantages of a drum brake could put your mind at ease when paying for any necessary repairs or replacements associated with the drum brake cost.
Extra Braking Force
First, drum brakes can provide extra braking force than just an equal diameter disc brake, letting you stop quicker, sooner, and faster. This enhances the safety of you driving in your car and the safety of the passengers.
Second, drum brakes last longer since they have an increased friction contact area than a disc. This is also prevalent if your car has undergone significant wear, since there is more friction area, even if a little spot is worn down, you will still be able to brake efficiently. On a disc brake, if there is wear or friction breaks down, you won't be able to stop your car at all.
Third, drum brakes are cheaper to manufacture than disc brakes, leading to an overall lower drum brake cost than if you were purchasing, repairing, or replacing disc brakes for your car.
Produce Lower Heat
Next, rear drum brakes generate lower heat. This means lower heat buildup and more excellent heat dissipation, meaning that it won’t break down the drum brakes as fast, and they will last longer compared to other brakes that are more susceptible to high heat and temperatures.
Requires Less Force
In addition, drum brakes have a built-in self-energizing effect, which requires you to apply less force and the system to apply less force in order to completely and fully brake, such as that of hydraulic pressure. With this, you can rest assured that a tap on the brake will be able to send the signal quick enough to slow down or stop your vehicle adequately.
Easy to Fix
Sixth, wheel cylinders are simpler to recondition and fix than disc brake calipers. Since the parts are easier to manufacture and easier to fix, the drum brake overall cost will be much lower since the labor costs will be lower to fix or repair anything that needs to be reconditioned with your wheel cylinder.
Further, brake shoes can be remanufactured for future use. We love recycling – don't you? Reusing parts and showing how these parts are so durable and well-made that they can be remanufactured lets you use your drum brakes with confidence. Even though they are not expensive, these brake shoes’ ability to be reused would give you peace of mind in spending more for your overall drum brake cost.
Lower Maintenance Frequency
Lastly, drum brakes have a slightly lower frequency of maintenance due to the better corrosion resistance and resistance to high heat. This means that they last longer, ensuring that if you pay money to have your drum brakes in good condition and working well for your car, the overall drum brake cost will be well worth the amount of time that your car will be able to run smoothly, safely, and in working order.
Drum Brake Disadvantages
Of course, with every advantage, there is always a disadvantage. Despite being long-lasting, easy to use, confidence-inspiring, well-made, and generating lower heat, there are a few disadvantages that you should keep in mind when deciding if it is worth it for you to pay the drum brake cost.
First, excessive heating can happen with drum brakes due to the heavy braking, causing the drum to distort under pressure and cause vibration while braking your car.
Reduced Feel of the Pedal
Second, when you put your car under hard braking, the drum diameter can increase due to the thermal expansion, which means the driver must further press on the brake pedal, lessening the pedal’s touchiness and braking mechanism.
Third, the brake shoes can overheat during use, causing them to become glazed. Next, excessive brake drum heating due to the friction and high temperatures can cause the brake fluid to vaporize, meaning the fluid becomes useless and evaporates under the thermal conditions.
Remain Depressed During Use
The brake could also stay engaged due to self-application when the user does not want it to, despite external application force being released. This means that the brake could remain depressed even when you lift your foot off of the pedal, meaning that the drum brake will stay pressed. This can cause a higher repair for the drum brake cost.
More Difficult to Use
Furthermore, another disadvantage of using a drum brake is the complexity of use. The higher degree of difficulty is more so than a disc brake, meaning it might be less user friendly than other options. Lastly, the maintenance is more time consuming than it is of disc brakes. The difficulty of use can increase the maintenance cost and the labor cost when repairing drum brakes, increasing the total drum brake cost.
Average Drum Brake Cost
If you aren’t a mechanic or you aren’t very confident replacing drum brakes yourself, then you should head to your dealership or mechanic to pay to have it done, despite costing more than if you did it yourself.
The average national cost of replacing your drum brake cost is around $223-$338 for the entire process, including around $171-$217 in labor cost and $62 to $121 for parts for the drum brake cost.
Hopefully, this rough idea will give you an idea of what you can expect to pay when taking your vehicle to a local dealership or mechanic to get an estimate of your drum brake cost. Despite the price discrepancy being pretty wide between parts and labor, having an owner’s manual to consult what it may be might help you determine the total drum brake cost before you get to a dealership.