Drum Brake Tools

Article by Mark Trotta

Many of you have probably worked on disc brakes, but may have not worked on drum brakes before. Several specialty tools are required, not only to do the job, but to do the job safely. This article covers the tools needed to service drum brakes.

drum brake shoes overhaul

Safety First

Years ago, I worked with a mechanic who lost his right eye doing a brake job. He wasn't wearing eye protection and a brake spring popped out. Twenty years have passed since that happened, and I never forget to wear safety glasses every time I go near drum brakes.

Brake Spring Pliers

Trying to use needle nose pliers or vice-grips to remove and install brake springs is dangerous. Brake spring pliers are necessary when replacing shoes or wheel cylinders.

drum brake pliers

Shop: Brake Spring Pliers Tool

Brake Drum Adjuster Tool

These are also called brake spoons. You could probably get away with using a flat-blade screwdriver, but brake spoons are curved to make it easier to get into the adjuster window.

drum brake spoon tool

Shop: Drum Brake Adjusting Tool

Brake Shoe Hold-Down Tool

This is the tool to remove and install drum brake retainer springs. They are also known as a brake spring compressor tool. Another way to compress and remove the springs is with needle nose pliers, but this inexpensive tool makes the job quick and easy.

brake shoe tool

Shop: Brake Hold-Down Tool

Sometimes the brake shoe hold-down springs can be stubborn to remove. Having the correct tool will give you the leverage to remove and install them easily.

Brake Drum Puller

I'll admit it, I've pounded on brake drums with a hammer trying to get them to come off. This should only be a last resort technique, unless you're planning on replacing the drum anyway, since you may ruin the drum for re-use. A correctly-sized brake drum puller is the path of least resistance. Aside from removing drums, pullers can also be used to remove hubs and brake rotors.

drum brake shoes overhaul

Shop: Brake Drum Puller Kit

TIP: When trying to remove a brake drum, remember to back off the self-adjusters, or they will continue to hold the shoes to the drum.

Brake Tool Set

I bought all my brake tools one at a time as needed, but it would have been cheaper if I'd bought them together. A nice bonus is you usually get a storage case to keep them organized and secure.

brake tool kit for brake shoes overhaul

Shop: 8-Piece Brake Tool Set

This OTC brake tool kit includes three different brake spoons and several different brake spring tools. Also included is a drum brake adjuster. The plastic storage case is also included.

Brake Line Flaring Tool

Making your own brake lines requires a few specialty tools, most importantly a flaring tool, of which there are three common types. All should come with several dies to accommodate different size lines.

The simple wing-nut style double flaring tool is the most common. It mounts in a vice and sells for about $30 to $50.

brake line flaring tool kit

Read: How To Make Brake Lines

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