Drum Brake Replacement Cost

Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 15, 2018

In 1998, rotors replaced drum brakes, but of course, you can still find these older cars on the road today.

Responsible for creating friction between the pads and the drums to slow the wheel as it rotates, it will allow the vehicle to come to a complete stop.

Like any part, the drum brakes will wear out over time from the heat generated when creating this said friction, ultimately causing the part to lose its effectiveness.

Drum Brake Replacement Cost
Rear brake drum removal” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by mathrock

Drum brake replacement costs

The costs to replace your drum brakes, like any car repair, will depend on the mechanic/dealer you’re using, the vehicle you’re driving, which drum brake (front and/or rear), your geographical location and if any other repairs are required.  From our research from costs online, the average repair seems to be in the $250 to $475 if hiring a professional.  The parts are anywhere from $70 to $125, with labor in the $165 to $250+ range.  Even if one brake drum is bad, a mechanic will always want to replace all of them at the same time.

According to the prices visitors received on YourMechanic.com, the estimates, including both parts and labor, ranged anywhere from $172 to $234.

RepairPal mentions vehicle owners should be prepared to spend anywhere from $337 to $502, which, as we stated, can vary from car to car.

One member on this CarTalk.com forum thread said he was quoted $279 for both parts and labor at his local dealership for his 1999 Honda Accord.

The repair process

Before the mechanic replaces the brake drums, they will first want to remove and measure the thickness of the brake drum as this will indicate exactly if the part needs to be replaced.  At this time, he or she will also look out for any deep grooves, black spots, which are known as hot spots, and a bluish color, which is an indicator the brake drum exceeds its heat range.  If lower than recommended, then it will be confirmed the part needs to be replaced.

To replace, the brake shoes will first need to be discharged from the brake drum itself, often using a brake drum removal tool.

Next, the wheel is removed, which then allows the drum to slip off the lug posts and the shoes.

The newer drum is then installed by gliding it on in reverse order and the brake shoes, as they are applied, will be adjusted before the entire replacement is completed.

When repairing any brake shoes, the other drums will often be repaired as well as it is important the braking strength is as predictable as possible.

The entire repair will take about two hours to perform, depending on the mechanic’s skillset.

What do the brake drums work?

The drum brakes, which are attached to the wheel hub, are designed to help you either slow down or come to a complete stop.  As we mentioned, while most cars, often built after 1998, have rotors on all four wheels or just the rear wheels, you will find most of the cars prior to this year will have a drum attached to the wheels instead of the rotors.  The friction between the brake shoe and the drums, depending on the pressure applied, will allow your vehicle to either slow down or come to a complete stop.  Over time, the brake drum will wear, which leads to the necessary repair.

To picture this part, it’s shaped like a bowl, and the brake shoes, instead of the brake pads found in cars today, will push out against the side of the drums to create this force.  The drum, being indirectly attached to the wheel so that when the brake shoes are forced against the wheel, the wheel has no choice but to stop as well.

Tips to know

As pressure is applied to the brake drums, the part will decrease in size over time, and this size will determine if the drum needs to be replaced.

In some cases, a brake drum can cause damage to the brake shoe.  In any case, if the brake shoe is being replaced, then a mechanic will want to replace the drums as well, ultimately increasing the costs.

Brake drums cannot be rebuilt, only replaced.

Signs of a bad brake drum

As you brake, the car shakes or shifts unnaturally.

The car feels as its pulling to one side, either left or right, when applying pressure on the brake.

The handbrake doesn’t work as it should.

Noise is coming from the brakes due to the stress fractures caused by the brake drums being unable to dissipate the heat.  This, in turn, can cause the noises being heard.

When to replace drum brakes

As you can imagine, both the front and rear brakes of the car can take quite the beating each time you apply the brakes.  As we already mentioned, the front brakes in an older vehicle will be the discs, while the rear will be the drums, the part essential for the braking power.  While most are built to last to at least 200,000 miles, some will wear out faster than this due to the other internal components that may be stress on the drum, causing them to eventually become smaller.  With all of this being said, most drums can last 150,000 to 200,000+ miles, however, if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned prior, then it could be time for new brake drums.

How to check drum brakes

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