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Auto Repair: Reassembling Drum Brakes

Working on a creeper

After you finish inspecting your brakes, you're ready to reassemble everything. Make sure that you get everything back in the proper order and direction. The following steps tell you how:

  1. As you did with the drums, saturate the dirt on the brake backing plate with brake parts cleaner; then wipe it off with a clean, grease-free rag.

    Remember: Don't blow the dust around — it can cause serious lung damage.

  2. Wipe the dirt off the spindle and replace the wheel hub and brake drum on the spindle. If you have a floating drum, skip Steps 4 through 8 and slide the drum back over the lug nut studs until it contacts the hub.

    Be gentle so that you don't unseat the grease seal.

  3. If you haven't already cleaned the inside of the drum, spray it with brake cleaner and wipe it out with a grease-free rag.
  4. Replace the outer wheel bearing (smaller end first) and the washer.

    Don't let any dirt get on these parts!

  5. Replace the adjusting nut by screwing it on firmly and then backing it off half a turn and retightening it "finger tight."

    Tip: Another way to complete this step is to back the adjusting nut off one full notch (60 degrees) and, if the notch doesn't line up with the hole in the spindle, back it off just enough until it does. Then spin the wheel by hand to be sure that it turns freely. If it doesn't, loosen the nut a bit more.

  6. Insert the cotter pin into the hole in the castellated nut.

    The cotter pin should clear the outer grooves and go all the way through. Make sure that it's pointing in the same direction as it was when you took it off.

  7. Bend the legs of the cotter pin back across the surface of the nut to hold it in place.
  8. Replace the grease cap.
  9. Replace your wheel, lug nuts, and hubcap, and lower the vehicle to the ground.
  10. Eco-Logic: Don't try to detoxify the contaminated rags you used on this job by laundering them! Place them in a sealable plastic bag, zip it closed,and dispose of it immediately.

From Auto Repair for Dummies, copyright © 2009 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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