Drum Brakes, 1987 Corolla FWD

It’s time to replace the (rear wheel) shoes on my '87 Corolla, a job I have done before when I also replaced the wheel cyl’s and bled the lines to rid them of bad humours. That repair was a success.

This time I cannot remove the drums, and I believe they are rusted onto the hubs. I am aware that the shoes can wear a groove into the drums and–by catching in that groove–prevent the drum from being removed. I think this is not the case because there is no detectable play (movement) when I pull on the drum, or when I try to turn the drum while attempting to hold the hub stationary. Also, if I pull on the the drum and turn it at the same time, there is no rubbing noise, which would be the case if the shoes were stopping the drum from coming off. I tried squirting Liquid Wrench around the lug bolts many times, but that was futile. (Once I get them off, I intend to replace the drums and cyl’s as well.)

Two questions:

  1. How do I seperate the drums from the hubs, without damaging the hubs?

  2. Can one person bleed the brake lines? (I had an assistant previously.)

Brake drums will typically have threaded holes in them to insert bolts to help get the drums freed. Bolts in these holes tightened with a breaker bar and some aggressive attacks with a 3-lb sledge or a dead-blow hammer should do the trick. Post back with the results.

Before doing this, open the shoe adjustment holes be sure the shoes are backed off.


Get a BFH and smack the drum.

If that don’t work, it’s time to break out the blue wrench.


Scroll down to the video:


It tells you what bolts to use for jacking the drums off.

Release the parking brake. If that has been done, reinstall wheels loosely and do a few stops in your driveway or on the street. If nothing breaks loose, you might try driving around the block. If you drive it don’t have both wheels loose at the same time.

I alway coat that mating surface with a little anti-sieze and I never have that problem.


I have used a propane torch to help loosen drum brakes like yours before. That may be what Tester referred to as “blue wrench”. Be careful not to overheat tempered steel parts like wheel studs; that could weaken them (if they glow, you have ruined them, IMO). I have also heard of, but not tried, bee’s wax (not paraffin). Warm the parts with a torch and apply the wax to joints and seams and let it wick in. I’ve heard it works better than penetrating oil. And use anti-seize compound to prevent this from happening again (but not on wheel studs).

The bolts to remove the drums is the way to go. My wifes Accord had the same setup. And the bolts I used to remove the drums on the Accord also worked to remove the rotor/drum setup on my 05 4runner.

LPIJBN; I’ve put a little anti sieze on the studs for years with never having one loosen up on it’s own.


I would use the Liquid Wrench around the hub, not the wheel studs. This is where it is sticking. Let the Liquid Wrench (or PB Blaster or SeaFoam or wintergreen oil) work overnight and then use the 8x1.0 (or 8x1.25) hardened bolts in the drum to remove it. It should come right off.

I saw the threaded holes in the drums, but did not know their purpose. I’ll try the bolts to get the drums off. Thanks to all for your advice. I’ll let you know the results.

i place a tube, I have some clear tubing, on the open bleeder valve and put the other end in a large bottle of brake fluid. then I pump the brakes, a lot, being careful not to let the master cylinder run dry. repeat with all wheels in the proper order, farthest to nearest. then I go around and do it a second time.

it involves a lot of in and out and up and down, but it works