Anyone familiar with a drum brake part called the "parking brake strut"?

Hello all,

I was putting my snow tires/wheels on today and pulled the drums off the rears to check for some screeching sounds that have been surfacing intermitently here and there from the rear.

Well, I pulled the driver side rear drum off and a flat metal piece fell out. Ha ha ha. I couldn’t figure out where it came from, so I pulled the other side off again and found it…it sits horizontal near the top of the assembly, kinda behind the hub. Another thing completely missing is a spring that goes around the one end.

Checked the Haynes manual and found that the metal piece is called the “parking brake strut” and the spring for it is called (you guessed it) “parking strut spring”.

Anyway…the parking brake has not been working for a while now, cable’s all stretched out, and I couldn’t get this strut back in, at least not in a way that I felt confident it would stay in place. So I’m keeping it out for now.

Question is, how important is this little part, if I’m not using the parking brake anyway?

Thanks in advance…


The strut is what equalizes the expansion of the 2 brake shoes. You might consider it to be what the actuating lever prys against to pry the two shoes apart.

It is certainly the reason your parking brake doesn’t work. With this part not installed all the brake cable can do is pull limply on the brakes on the other side of the car, but with nothing to pull against, there’s no actuation of either side.

Consider that the parking brake is also your EMERGENCY brake. If your service brakes fail your only recourse is now to hit something (or someone). Once it becomes known that your EMERGENCY brake is inoperative because it has parts missing and that you knew that fact, you’re gonna be on the hook for quite a lawsuit.

Just get it fixed. It’s not complicated, and it’s not expensive. Have your rear brakes serviced.

Oh ya. The parking brake lever and the shoe fit into one end of that thing and the spring can come from a junkyard. It’s a device to add leverage to the parking brake lever and it is a necessary part.

Jad2007: You need this part to be there. If it was, say, part of the rear passenger door latch linkage you could forgo it. This is brakes. You said you couldn’t get this part back in, so you’ve gotta pay somebody to do it, so get the spring kit that this spring is part of and have them install all the springs in this kit when they do the job.

Emergency brake cross-bar. Very important. If it “fell out” you can be sure the rest of the brake is NOT correctly assembled or other parts are broken or missing. Have a PRO assemble it correctly. Not only are the parking brakes disabled, the self-adjuster (if it’s there) will not work either…

I understand it’s important to have a functioning parking brake, I will get that fixed soon.

What I’m wondering is how important this brake strut is for the normal operation of the drum brakes…I mean, I’m guessing this part has been hanging out in the brake drum for a while now, and my braking has been fine, straight, etc.

Thanks Caddyman. Like I said, the spring for the bar is also missing. I don’t know how or where, but it’s not there otherwise I think I could’ve got it all in there properly.

Why do drum brakes have to be so ^&$#ing complicated, compared to disc brakes?

The link itself does not effect normal braking. BUT it fell out for a reason. Properly assembled brakes make it impossible for that bar to drop out. So something else is wrong…

You need to fix the brakes properly. It’s always possible that something could come loose and get wedged between a shoe and drum at a bad time.
Remove both drums and use one as a reference to keep track of how it all goes together.

This is the way to do it with brake hardware.

Spend a few bucks on this inexpensive brake tool kit. It will save you much grief if you’ve used Vise-Grips to stretch springs into place and watched one fly over the neighbor’s house; never to be seen again.
Once you get the hang of that spring tool you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Thanks OK. I think I’ll skip doing this myself this time thanks to the cold temperatures right now and the fact that there are missing parts…

But those tools do look handy, I bet they make a big difference.

I had my mechanic put in new shoes today and the complete brake hardware/spring kit too so I’m all set. No more working on the Cutlass for a while! (the wife is starting to drop hints…)