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Brake Star Adjuster

I have a 1999 Chevy Suburban K2500 (4x4) with a 7.4L engine. As viewed from the backing plate, which way do I turn the star adjuster for the drivers-side rear drum brake to loosen the brake shoes from the drum? Do I turn the adjuster so it moves downward or upward? Also, I have searched around for the lever that needs to be pushed in to move the star adjuster so it loosens the shoes but have not been able to find it. Any guidance on how to find this lever would be appreciated as well. Thank you.

The automatic adjustment lever pushes down on the outside of the star, or rotates it up on the inside, so you will want to turn the star down from the inside. You won’t be able to unless you push the adjustment plate out slightly with a flat screwdriver or something while rotating the star (two handed job). I looked on flea bay for ‘brake adjustment tool’ and 470 choices popped up. I’m sure a local parts store would have one in stock.
Depending how long the brakes were last worked on, you may still need a persuader to get the drum off. Shoot the wheel studs with PB Blaster or similar where they come through the drum.

The star wheel is just a bolt so when you turn it clockwise/righty it goes farther down on the bolt and loosens the shoes. Turning it counter-clockwise/lefty makes the bolt longer (like you were unscrewing it) and tightens the shoes. Disc brakes are a lot easier.

Yea…there is no manual adjustment

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Edit - see @meanjoe75fan - You’re wrong, it’s reversed on the other side (you turn one clockwise, one counterclockwise, looking from the front of the car), so you have to know what @OldcarsRbest said about how to loosen it up. An adjuster and a narrow screwdriver or rod is needed.

There’s a ‘left’ and and a ‘right’ part number for these.

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No, drum brakes are mirror images of each other. One is “standard” thread; one is reverse thread. BOTH need to be pushed downward to back the shoes off.


And I had a screwdriver I bent in a vice to do the job as I was too cheap to spend what, 4 bucks on the brake adjustment tool? But I had plenty of forged steel screwdrivers, not all screwdrivers may tolerate this treatment.


I use a bent screwdriver like @Barkydog mentions above for this job on my drums-all-around truck, works like a charm. The repair manual says I have to press that lever to turn the brake adjuster wheel, but I never do. It turns ok for me whether I press that lever or not. The repair manual is a good thing to have b/c it also shows which way to move the screwdriver handle to tighten or loosen the adjuster, either up or down. Can’t remember which it is, but on my own truck it is the same for each side. If you don’t know, it is usually easy to figure out. If it keeps turning for several turns with no signs of getting tight, that’s the loosening direction. If it turns a half turn or so then won’t turn easily any further, that’s the tightening direction. Not saying this is true for every vehicle. If you want to see the lever, which may in fact be necessary to push in your case OP, you’ll probably have to rig up a flashlight/mirror system to be able to see it. It’s very difficult to see the lever on the front wheels of my 4x4 truck I know. No problem on the rear wheels though. So check both front and back, if the back is easy to see, then at least you’ll have something to go on for the front. Best of luck.