Common Signs Your Brake Shoes Need Replacing

Brake shoes need replacing periodically just like brake pads. These devices both do the same job but work in different positions.

Unlike pads, which sit around the disc in your braking system, shoes sit in its drum. Both devices use a friction material to control the speed of your car. As you use them, this material wears down until it reaches the point where it needs to be replaced.

What are the signs that your brake shoes have reached the end of their life? 

Your brakes are less responsive

A brake shoe initially has enough friction material on one side to do its job without any problem. When you brake, the shoe pushes on the inside of its drum; it creates enough friction force to slow or stop the car.

As the friction material on a shoe wears down, it loses some of its ability to create this force. The shoe may get hotter than it should.

When this happens, your brakes might stop responding as quickly as usual. The car still slows down; however, it does this more slowly. You may have to push your pedal down harder to engage the brakes.

Your brakes are noisy

The friction material on brake shoes cushions them when they work. As they lose some of their friction material, they lose this cushioning. If the wear is bad enough, it may take the shoe back to the underlying metal.

Sometimes, brake shoes don't lose cushioning, but they get contaminated with dirt. Both of these problems can give you an audible clue that something is wrong. You'll hear unusual sounds, either when you brake or release the pedal.

For example, you may hear a scraping or grinding sound when you brake. If the shoe has no cushioning material, you could be forcing metal against metal whenever you use your brake pedal.

Rust, damage and lubrication problems can also sometimes make grinding or screeching noises. If your shoes rub on the drum or catch on rust or uneven spots, then they can make an alarming noise.

Contamination or dirt may give out a less furious noise, such as a quieter squeak. Here, contamination on the friction material can rub against the drum as the shoe works. This can create squeaks as you use your brake pedal.

If you think you have a brake shoe problem, then it's important to take your car to a mechanic as soon as you can. These problems can also be signs of more serious or extensive damage so it's wise to get them checked out.