Help! My rear brakes are grabbing me!

A year ago the driver side rear brakes burned up because a spring broke. I put on new brakes and one new drum, which I had turned as it would not fit otherwise. The shoes dragged all the time and “caught” on braking but during our Minnesota winter everything was fine. Since summer the side with the new drum will “catch” again upon moving forward and unlock when in reverse. I tried switching the drums but that was worse. I am thinking the shoes are glazed and am considering taking a power wire brush to them. The drum is as poloshed as new chrome. Experienced voices please comment.

The details of your post point to errors in peforming this brake work. When people have trouble getting the drums back on after replacing the shoes they have ususlly made a error in shoe replacement. Perhaps your entire situation is due to your various errors in doing your own brake work.

I don’t like the inital statement about"brakes burning up" due to a broken spring. I have seen incorrectly installed self adjuster hardware come loose and end up being chewed up,but burning up the brakes, I am skeptical.

You don’t mention the age and mileage of this vehicle so I assume it is more than 10 years old. If you have not replaced the wheel cylinders within the last few years you could have a gummed up and jammed wheel cylinder.

If the brake shoes were glazed, you would have the opposite problem of lack of braking action.

Hopefully you are driving around on rural roads with little traffic. Brakes are too critical to mess with and your rear brakes need to see a good brake doctor. They are sick and have been for a while.

If you insist on DIY, then buy new drums, new shoes, hone and rebuild the cylinders, replace any cables, adjusters, springs, and clips that appear worn and get a good manual to guide you in your work. With all new stuff reassembled properly and the brakes bled to get rid of air you should have good brakes. Reusing the old parts is useless because they are bent, or worn out of specs. You are well past the cleaning and adjusting stage to restore proper function.

The truck is a 1999 Ranger two-wheel drive.

I installed new brakes and a new drum as noted above.

It sounds to me that you may have an axle seal seeping gear oil onto the brake components causing the shoes to swell. This would make the brakes grab because the shoes are hitting the drum before the other side is. The best bet is to see if you can smell any gear oil when you stick your head down by that wheel. If not, then take the brakes apart and see if you can pinpoint a wrongly installed spring or something. You can compare that side to the other side that is working fine. Should be fairly simple to pinpoint.

Thanks, good suggestions. I had it apart recently because I tried switching the drums from side to side but that made it worse so I switched them back. The only thing that I found interesting was the inside of the brake drum was highly polished, probably from scraping on the brake shoe. I replaced all the springs when I changed brake shoes because they came with the kit that I needed to buy to get the two that broke. The springs are pretty easy to install and I don’t think I installed them incorrectly because they just don’t work otherwise. None of this explains why they release so quickly when you back up and grab so hard when you go forward especially when they are warmed up and why the problem totally cleared up during the winter.

Look at the brake linings; if they are the same length, you have a set of secondary shoes installed. You need a primary and a secondary. The primary goes toward the front and has a shorter lining. Two primaries may be on the other (passender) side.

Since brake shoe/drum systems are designed to be “self-wrapping”, which is intended to increase the shoe pressure against the drum, I think that pleasedodgevan2 is on to something.