Brakes suddenly stopped working

I can believe it if it’s an aftermarket part.
The MC in my '88 Accord was wonky (soft pedal in hot weather) when I bought it at 6 y.o.
I put an OEM MC in it and flushed the brake fluid every 3 years then on.
Sold the car at 20 y.o., MC working fine.


well my main concern now is how hot the RR drum is getting. It rubs a good bit. I read somewhere about marking it with chalk or a pencil and then rasping down the offending quadrant.

Ehhh…I’m not sure what to tell you here. I kind of doubt you warped a cast iron drum banging it around. Seems more likely it would crack before it bent much. Not sure on the grating sound, though. May be that the shoes aren’t put on just right. May be the drums are out of round. Not abnormal to hear a LITTLE grating sound when the shoes hit a high spot on the drum surface if the shoes are adjusted right up against the drums. But a crazy grating isn’t good, obviously. Hard to say over the internet. Are you pretty experienced with brake jobs?

If it’s getting real hot, either you need to back off on the adjuster, or it’s holding pressure for some reason. You can turn it by hand (fairly easily) though, right?

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i can turn it but it makes noise and has resistance. If I spin it, it stops dead after 1-2 rotations.
NB this is the same drum that was difficult to remove before swapping the shoes. I suspect e-brake cable maybe ?
Took it off and tried readjusting everything, don’t see an obvious problem.
Oh and the adjuster is dialed all the way back

If adjusting won’t stop it from rubbing, then something is bent or broken. Is it the shoes rubbing, or metal on metal?

Have you had the drums turned?

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I have not had them turned, I’m actually on the road as a touring musician don’t have a solid place to stop. Trying to get to Joshua Tree for a gig this weekend, can hopefully limp across the finish line!
I do notice that as I push inward on the drum and turn the sound gets worse, makes me think it’s metal on metal. There is a distinct clickclickclickclick at one point in the vibration arc, makes me think it’s an aberration in the drum itself. Vainly hoping it rounds itself over time but I’m not clear on the risks. More boiled fluid of course. Maybe flames? I don’t know.

That kind of sounds like a bearing. But, I’m not there hearing it. I’m assuming you don’t get the sound with the drum removed and push in on the hub as you turn it. I hope you don’t set a tire on fire somewhere out there on a desert highway.

Would be good material for a song later on, though :laughing:


one of the joys of driving an old honda is the material hahah. Only because it’s relevant, here’s my most recent music video which features the car in the beginning: Charmaine's Names - Who I Am - YouTube

Heading to Oreillys to get the drum turned, thank you for the advice! will update if I survive. :slight_smile:

Maybe yes, maybe no.
Back in the days when the high school where I taught still had an auto shop, one of the teachers brought her Mercury Cougar there for a brake job. I personally witnessed one of the boys beating on one of her rear drums with a BFH, but I figured that I shouldn’t mention it and get her needlessly worried about her car. Sure enough, within a few days, her car was in a real auto shop to have that warped brake drum replaced.

A couple of months later, one of the other women brought her car into the school’s auto shop for an oil change, and it seemed to have emerged w/o damage. But, a couple of days later, another motorist told her that she had no tail lights or brake lights. She went to her regular mechanic, and he found that one of the teen gremlins had apparently removed all of the bulbs from the front and the rear of her car. If not for the fact that her car had sealed beam headlights, they probably would also have stolen her headlight bulbs.

Unfortunately, the auto shop teacher was very old at that point, and he just wasn’t supervising his students properly.

Yeah, just speaking from scrap yard processing experience - may not translate directly to brake drums. Cast iron tends to crack/shatter/fly apart when stressed (in the absence of heat). Steel tends to bend/warp/shear.

However, I’ve never intentionally whacked on a brake drum to see if it would bend or crack :thinking:. Maybe next week lol.

That’s because you were operating with some sense of responsibility.
Unfortunately, that could not be said about the poorly-supervised kids at my old school.
Thank God that “Old Ed” retired a year or so later.

Well just to update I made it safely to the desert.
When I took off the drum to get it turned I saw what was rubbing:

The repetitive clicking sound was the metal tab rubbing against the inscription on the inside of the drum.

Fortunately the Oriellys I went to was across the street from an Autozone. I furiously marched over there to demand a non defective part. They were happy to oblige.

After replacing the part with new shoes, the problem persisted. I took it apart once more to try and diagnose. I noticed the back shoe floating a mm or so. Leaving through the manual pdf on my phone, I realized the emergency brake cable, coiled in spring, was in front of a metal tab instead of behind. This was enough to lift the shoe against the drum.

Here’s the takeaway:

Original problem: bleed bleed bleed those brakes. However the manual says.

Concurrent problem: Look at the manual! Carefully examine a diagram of how things go together.

Thanks for the support and anecdotes.

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lol … good story. I took a night-school auto-repair class years ago, and the instructor would assemble all the parts on the floor in front of the backing plate, then somehow was able to juggle them up onto the backing plate without the whole thing coming apart. I’ve tried that a least a dozen times, never successful. It’s like a magic trick I guess, do it enough times and you develop the required muscle memory. For me all the parts ended up back on the floor.

The e-brake cable is always the most frustrating part for me when replacing rear brake shoes. I discovered the job is easier if I use a tool that is a sort of needle-nose vice grip to retract the cable’s spring and hold it in place. Then I don’t have to fight the spring tension.

As far as getting all the parts back with the correct orientation, my method is to take a photo before removing anything, and to only do one side at a time. Then I always have the other side as a reference. I can assure you that you aren’t the first person to misconfigure a drum-brakes set-up.

You have a repair manual for the vehicle, right? Like a Haynes or Chilton’s? If not, suggest your next purchase should be a repair manual. The Haynes and Chilton’s aren’t as good as the manufacturer’s shop manual, they have to provide less details given they cover more model years, but the diyer is still much better off with one that without. It’s a fool’s errand to attempt diy’er car repair without access to the basic info in the repair manual.

The last drum brakes I did was about 1995 on my park ave. Front disc rear drums. There was no access hole anymore for adjustment. You had to measure the distance. Far more confusing than .discs and before cell pictures. I broke my tool and have never had to do them again.

Use one side of the tool to measure inside diameter of the brake drum, and adjust the shoes so they contact the other side of the tool.



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My Corolla’s rear (drum) brake adjustment access hole has a very awkward arrangement. The access hole behind the backing plate. Nearly impossible to adjust in the driveway (no lift in other words) without craning your neck to the point of injury. If there’s too much play I discovered it is easier to just remove the drum, make a guess on the adjustment by turning the little wheel, and put the drum back on. If the drum goes on easily, pull it back off and readjust. Eventually the drum will just barely have the clearance to go back on. Done.

Sometimes removing the drum can prove difficult if it hasn’t been done in a long time. But Toyota provided a threaded hole that allows you to thread in a bolt and easily push the drum off.

Yup that’s the brake tool. Nice if you have one.

Working on my sway bar links now that just came. Should be easy easy. I planned on replacing them anyway but they were so rusted I had to cut them off. Supposed to be a flat spot on the back to hold them while you crank on the nut, but the originals were round. New ones take a wrench. My sympathy for anyone having to work with all this rust.

I do the same thing. Rarely look back at the pictures, but they’re nice to have just in case.

Let me guess - you installed ebay chinese garbage parts, didn’t you? You are lucky they lasted 4 years, and now you likely are back to square one.
I am not blaming or making fun of you - stealers charge unreasonable money for OEM parts so many of us - especially with older cars - can’t justify paying obscene extortion amounts. I quit honda 18 years ago after it had screwed me, and since then I am a 100% Toyota man so I found an OEM dealer in Dubai that sells parts 2-3 times cheaper than our very own mafia, and shipping is actually faster than from some alabama. See if you can find something like that for honda…

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