New drums out-of-round - resurface or replace

I just went through an ordeal in which i took my 2002 Honda Civic to a chain shop (big mistake) and had to go back numerous times due to an issue which was apparently related to the new drums being “out-of-round”. The mechanic has now resurfaced them twice. Now I’m reading a bit more on the internet, it seems that i should have insisted on whole new drums. The braking sounds and feels OK right now, but i’m wondering if I should just go back and insist on new drums. Would this be ridiculous of me - should i just live with the resurfaced drums?

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Next time go to a better shop and have them put in the highest grade of aftermarket replacement parts or OEM (Honda) parts.

Do you mean front discs? Or the rear drums? If it is discs, and it is a recurring problem, take it to a good shop that carefully tightens the lug nuts. Some cars are very sensitive to poorly tightened (too tight, or unevenly tight) lug nuts.

Really double check if they are drums or rotors. Rotors can be warped by improperly torqued lug nuts, or lugnuts improperly torquing lug nuts. Wheel rotation done after brakes if rotors warped? The reason I ask is I have never heard of drums being out of round, Have you tex?

Nope, that surprised me. That’s why I asked. Out of round drums would seem to be a manufacturing defect.

The OP used a chain shop. I wouldn’t put it past them to use super cheap hit-or-miss parts made in China.

There is nothing wrong with resurfacing brake drums if the procedure is done correctly. Resurfaced drums, or even brand new brake drums, can be warped by one of several things.
One is someone overtightening the wheel lug nuts with an air wrench.
Two is the possibility of bent wheels. (at the lug nut flange) When the lugs are tightened the bent wheel will deform the brake drum.

You did not state exactly what the symptoms of this “issue” are, but out of round drums usually cause a brake pedal pulsation that can be felt in the seat, whereas front brake rotor problems often show up in the steering wheel.

The big (unanswered) question for me is; what is the final thickness of the drums now that they have been resurfaced twice?

If the guy only had to take off a very small amount to true them up, that might be one thing. If they required a significant amount of material to be removed and they are now close to the minimums, that would be unacceptable to me considering they are supposed to be new drums. Cheap drums or not, I expect a certain amount of life out of them and if they’ve been machined down enough, they may only last a short time in service.

At this point, I don’t think there’s much recourse for the OP. The work is done and the brakes are performing as intended. If they last through the warranty period, fine. If not, I’d demand a new set before I’d let them attempt to rework the drums a third time. Also, a closer look at the issues OK pointed out would be in order. It may not be the drums at all.

Brake drums go out-of-round from shipping/storing then on edge instead of flat. It even says on the box for a brake drum, “DO NOT STORE ON EDGE”. That’s the reason.


There has been an epidemic of problems, from what I have noticed, of either out of round or poorly finished aftermarket drums the last couple of years or so, especially the cheap ones from aftermarket suppliers like Advance, AutoZone, and O’Reilly. Many repair shops (not just chains, but independents and even dealers) deal with places like these, so it’s likely your drums came from somewhere like this, especially if the emphasis was on cheap when you got it fixed. Depending on how obvious it is out of the box, I will often just turn them before installing them, just to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

Another possibility is that there is a buildup of rust and scale on the hub where the drum seats onto the car. This can cause the appearance of the drum being out of round by not allowing it to seat properly. That could be why it took two visits to clear it up, barring the possibility that the technician doing the work did not use the lathe properly the first time. If it’s not giving you problems now, though, just don’t worry about it.

That’s too bad. When I was a mechanic (when disc brakes were rare) I never had an out-of-round brake drum. But 90% of the time we’d have them turned, rarely had to replace.

Thanks all for this info. I once again hear a light hum from the right back when braking and my fear is that once again there is an issue with the drum. Totally hatin’ myself for going to the chain shop! I am going to give myself a few days to see if the noise goes away before I return to the shop (also have a problem with a clank when reversing, then driving forward, not happy about that).

“also have a problem with a clank when reversing, then driving forward”

That could be the self adjusting mechanism of the rear brakes, if they didn’t set them up properly.

I’ll bet my morning muffins that the chain shop attributed the problem to “out of round drums” without even having the equipment or expertise to know how to check.

But, now that it feels okay again, don’t go back. Like Circuitsmith said, it ain’t broke [anymore] so don’t fix it.

Next time perhaps use a reputable independent owner-operated shop.