How to Clean a Drum Brake

What You'll Need
Wrenches and lug wrench
Jack and jack stands
Sand paper
Latex gloves
Dust mask
Denatured alcohol or break cleaner

Proper care of the drum brakes is vital to keep your car braking and performing well. Here is a quick guide with information on how to clean drum brakes. The information here is general, so please check your manufactures specifications for any additional details.

Step 1 – Drain Brake Fluid

The first step is to drain approximately one half of the brake fluid from the master cylinder.  Make sure you dispose of the old brake fluid correctly (check your local state and city guidelines).  Also make sure to replace the missing fluid with new brake fluid when you are done.

Step 2 – Remove the Wheel

This step is the same as if you are changing a tire.  Using a lug wrench, loosen the lugs a little bit.  Then jack the car up, finish taking the lugs off, and remove the wheel.

Step 3 – Remove the Drum Brake

For front wheel drive cars, you must take off the bearing cap and wheel bearings before you can remove the brake.  Once this is accomplished, slop the brake off.  Rear Wheel drive vehicles are slightly easier, as once the wheel is removed you have direct access to the drum and can slip it off easily.

Step 4 – Cleaning the Drum

Once this is done, wipe the components down with denatured alcohol or brake cleaner.