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Brake shoe cracking question

n0c7

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April 3, 2006
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City, State
Edmonton, Alberta
Year, Model & Trim Level
1993 Ford Explorer XLT
93 Explorer XLT, brakes were replaced 4 years ago. The fronts were redone last year, the shoes looked fine at that time. Now today I checked the rears, even after 4 years they have tonnes of life left as this vehicle is not used heavily. They're less than an 1/8 of an inch down from brand new pads. Unfortunately they are showing some hair crack lines in them, if you run your finger nail over the crack you can kind of feel them. Should I be concerned? They were also a bit glazed but it sanded off.
 



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Yea, if the cracks are left there you can lost your brakepad. And when that happens you lose the rotor too. It's happened twice on my explorer, and a good reason to spend a little extra on the brake pads. I would replace it with some decent pads, and call it good.
 






I think he's talking about the brake shoes, as in the rear brakes, not the front.

Right?
 






Yup.

I also decided to go ahead and start the swap anyhow(not sure if it was worth the effort now...). It probably took me 5-6 hours to get one side done. Why are drum brakes such a pain? Any tips? I even bought the spring removal tool which didn't seem to help that much when compared to long nose pliers.
 






Oh wow, didn't even realize he you said brake shoes.

Those do get cracks in them some too, not quite as big of a problem. But still good to replace anyways.

Drum brakes are a pain, having a good spring tool and the drum brake levers really helps a lot though. They are always the hardest the first time, and keep getting easier the more you do them. It also helps if you can get someone with experience to show you how to use the tools, it's not quite obvious how they work until you see them in action.
 






That's why I haven't touched mine, don't feel like going through the hassle. Just going to swap out a later model axle that has disc brake, better performance and HOPEFULLY easier maintenance.
 






Any tips for adjusting the drum and shoe clearances? Now that I got both sides back together my book says to crank the adjuster until the drum rubs then back off. What I did so far was crank the knob until I couldn't get the drum on then backed the adjuster a few notches until it slides on again. How do I know when to call it good?
 






Put the drum on. Put the wheels on. Put the trans in neutral and spin the wheels by hand. Adjust the brakes down until they are hard to turn, now back off a bit until they turn easier but not completely freely. The self adjusters should take care of the rest. Remember self adjusters only work when moving backwards and applying the brakes firmly. Im not saying to jam them on though. Kind of nebulous, huh!
 






So after putting the drum and wheel on and doing the tests I should keep taking them back off, adjust, put back on and try again?
 






Oh, one other question, the two upper springs that go onto the same pin, does it matter which one goes on first? My book shows one way, the person who previously installed the springs did it another way, and I'm not sure if it even matters.
 






I"m not sure that it matters, either.

As for adjusting the brakes, I know a lot of people don't express much confidence in this technique, but this is how I've always done them. Assemble everything, including something to hold the drum on. Then pump the brakes over and over until the pedal firms up. Then I'd usually check to see if everything looks right, then reassemble, put it on the ground, and take it for a test drive to make sure the brakes work fine. It seems that, as long as the adjustor mechanism works freely, this gets them adjusted pretty good.
 






the only problem with that method is that the "adjusters" on these brakes are not truley self adjusting. they can only do very little adjustment. the best way is above, put your drum on and use a screwdriver through the little hole in the backing plate to adjust them till the do not spin very easily. it is kind of an experiance thing to know when they are good, but just as long as they dont spin freely then use your parking brake a few times and you should be good.
 






So after putting the drum and wheel on and doing the tests I should keep taking them back off, adjust, put back on and try again?

Actually there is an observation port/window on the axle backing plate as mentioned by jphillips3200. You remove the rubber plug and can loosen/tighten the adjuster without removing the drum.
 






Found the access port. I was lucky enough(I think) to adjust everything the first time as you guys mentioned. Took it for a test drive, stops pretty good and no noises or leaks. The only thing I couldn't quite figure out is why if you pull the adjustment lever forward towards you it doesn't retract back onto the adjustment teeth but if I pushed it onto the teeth it stayed put and locked the adjustment teeth. Was consistent on both sides.
 






Cracks

The cracks are most likley coming from excessive heat.Did you have the drums turned when you put on new shoes? That disapates heat.Does anyone drive with one foot on gas,the other on brake? That will cause excess heat.
Finnally cheap shoes.
 






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