Servicing the rear drum brakes of your Ford Ranger
Doing your own brake service is a great way to save money and with only simple tools even a novice mechanic can change the shoes and spring kit found under drum brakes.
Other than the parts, to service your drum brakes you will need the following items:
-A floor jack
-Multi-purpose brake tool (it looks like long, spindly pliers)
-Large pliers or c-clamp
-A wire brush
-2 Small flat head screwdrivers
Before beginning any brake service you should always check your brake fluid. If it is very low, you might have a leak somewhere in the system and this should be investigated during the brake job. With your Ranger on the ground, use the wheel lug wrench to break the lugnuts loose. DO NOT REMOVE THEM; just make sure that they are loosened. This saves you a little elbow grease and frustration when the truck is off the ground.
Jack up the driver’s side of your Ranger, placing a jack stand under one side of the differential housing and lower the truck onto the jack stand. Repeat this on the passenger side. Use the wheel lug wrench to remove the lug nuts and rear wheels. If you have an issue with the brake fluid level, inspect around the brake calipers, brake hoses, and wheel cylinders for any wetness. If you have extremely low brake fluid the calipers and wheel cylinders are the most likely sources of a major leak.
Remove the brake drums. In some cases, just placing your hands at “9 and 3″, twisting and pulling will get the drum to slide off but in many cases it will take some effort. What frequently happens with drum brakes is that the brake shoes carve a groove into the inside of the drum and between that and the normal rust ridge on a drum, the drum will not pull off of the hub. This can be remedied by removing the rubber plug on the rear dust shield. Inside there is a notched wheel and a cog that prevents it from spinning loose. This part is the self adjuster and this is what you need to loosen to remove the drum. Once you locate the cog that prevents the wheel from turning, use one screwdriver to push it away and the other screwdriver to turn the wheel against the cog. This will loosen the tension on the drum, making it easier to get off. Sometimes you can just pry the drum off but this can damage the drum and the backing plate.
With the drum off, the shoes and springs are exposed. When doing drum brake work, ALWAYS work on one side at a time so if you get hung up with where a clip or spring is supposed to go, you can look at the other side for reference. You can get by on this job without the special brake drum tool but it is MUCH easier with the proper tool and it’s not an expensive item. Also, when replacing your brake shoes, don’t be cheap – replace the spring kit as well.
Work from the top down, first removing the thick springs that run side to side on the brake shoes. Next, there are two posts that run through a metal plate and a spring, about halfway down the side of the shoes. These push in and turn, and that will release the spring pressure; allowing you to pull the posts out the back of the backing plate. There will be another spring at the bottom of the shoes and when you pull the shoes apart, the adjuster (found towards the top of the shoes) will fall out. The notched wheel assembly of the adjuster should spin freely; if it doesn’t, pull it apart and clean it very well. Once the shoes are off, you should also peel back the rubber boots of the wheel cylinder and make sure that it is not leaking. Now, to remove the shoes from the vehicle, simply remove the clip holding them to the parking brake cable.
Use your wire brush to clean the entire area and begin reassembling things by putting the reinforcing post that runs along the top of the shoes. It will have a spring on it and can only go back in one way. Remember, if you get stuck, you can look at the other side when putting it back together. Next, take the longer of the two shoes and attach it to the parking brake cable with the clips provided. Then take one of the posts that runs through the backing plate and put it through the shoe connected to the parking brake cable. Slide the spring and metal plate over the post to fasten everything in place. Insert the post for the other shoe and add the spring and metal plate and the shoes will remain in place while you are installing the other springs.
Re-install the adjuster wheel, making sure that it makes contact with the safety cog and that the ends of the adjuster are properly inserted into each shoe. Then insert the spring that runs across the front of the adjuster. Finally, insert the long springs that run along the top of the brake shoes.
Put the drum back over the shoes and spin it. It should make light contact with the shoes and if it does not, you will need to use a screwdriver to go in through the hole in the backing plate ““ twisting the adjusting wheel outward until the shoes are properly adjusted. The drums should still spin but there should be obvious friction.
Repeat steps 4 through 7, then put the wheels back on, tightening the lugnuts and rechecking them once the truck is on the ground.