A Vehicle Owner's Guide To Understanding Brake Shoes

10 August 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Brake shoes are commonly confused with brake pads. The two elements do similar jobs but are different components of the overall braking system. Here's your complete guide so you can understand brake shoes, what they do, and when you need to replace them.

Where Will You Find Brake Shoes?

The shoes create a friction element within a brake system that uses a drum. You'll find the shoes within the brake drum, and they will be forced to the inner surface when you press the brake pedal. The friction slows down the wheels, bringing them to a complete stop.

Brake shoes aren't as common in modern-day vehicles, but very popular in older trucks and cars. They will be on many rear axles of vehicles, due to the lack of disc brakes and because the shoes are extremely durable.

What Are Brake Shoes Made Of?

The majority of brake shoes will be made of steel, which is then shaped to fit the drum brakes. Due to the material, it is possible to purchase re-manufactured and recycled shoes and still ensure safety within the car. The durability is much better than many modern-day components of vehicles.

The downside due to the metal is in wet weather. Brake pads will direct the wetness away, which is something that shoes can't do. It is also impossible to tailor the shoes to your driving style. It's a case of one size fits all.

How Do You Know If Brake Shoes Are Failing?

Brake shoes will wear down like any other metal component of the car. This will lead to a lack of friction for the car. When there is a problem with the brake pressure, the shoes may wear unevenly, and one side of the car may even wear quicker than the other. Another problem is contamination of the friction material from oil within the car. Failure also occurs if you try to drive with the parking brake on, even for a short distance.

The uneven wearing is one physical sign of failure, but you will likely feel signs first. One of those is a reduced braking efficiency and timing. You'll also likely smell the burning when there is contamination.

The brake shoes and brake pads shouldn't be confused with each other. Brake shoes are used in vehicles with drum brakes, usually on the rear axles. Modern-day vehicles may not have them at all now, opting for the updated technology of calipers and brake pads. Contact an auto brake repair company for more info.