Old drum doesn't fit over new shoes

I just replaced the rear shoes on my '02 Kia Spectra. Now I can’t put the drums back on. On both sides the drum is hanging on the bottom part of the right shoe. I don’t see a way to adjust the brake in.

Two causes come to mind. First, be certain that the adjuster is turned all the way in. Second, sometimes the brake shoe assembly is not accurately centered on the axle. This seems likely if the drum is hanging up on the right shoe. Check on the left side and you will probably see a lot of room between that shoe and the drum. Just tap the whole thing with the heel of your clean hand to get it centered and the drum should go on.

There should be an adjusting screw with teeth around it and a clip that keeps the screw from turning in one direction. You will need to push or pull that clip away from the teeth and turn the screw to adjust the brakes so the drum will fit. It is important to keep both brakes balanced, so you should try to turn both screws by the same amount.

The shoe adjustment on the bottom adjusts the shoes individually and automatically. Unless you don’t put it back together right, it will adjust itself properly everytime you back up then apply the brakes. Turn them both in all the way to make re-installation of the drum easy. Just don’t tighten them when you do. Leave it loose. Then, let them re-adjust themselves. It should be fine.

That style is not used in this car. There is no adjusting screw. All there is is an adjuster spring that is attached to the operating lever, but I am not sure how it works

The shoe assembly sits ok but, if I try to move it, the whole assembly moves back and forth together. So moving it to make room in one direction will place the shoe in the opposite side out of sync. (I hope you can understand my train of thought)

There should be a detent or latching cam on the Operating Lever Assembly that the adjuster spring connects to. The adjuster needs to be reset in order to put the drums on. The purpose is to keep the face of the brake shoes near the surface of the drum as the brake shoes wear. This adjuster needs to be reset when new shoes are installed.

If you’re willing to do things like brakes on your own it is likely a good time to spring for the $20 for a Haynes or Chilton manual. I’d be surprised if it didn’t clear things up for you.

OK then. I have an idea, but it might not be the the best idea, and it should only be used as a last resort.

Try to do it like you would disk brakes. Before you put the new pads on disk brakes, you remove the top of the brake fluid resivoir and push the calipers in to make more room for the new pads. Try doing the same thing with these drum brakes, except you won’t need to remove the pads. Take the top off the brake fluid resivoir and try GENTLY pushing the pads together where they contact the piece that pushes them apart when you apply the brakes. See if that allows you to get the drums back on.

There should be a better way to adjust these brakes, and buying a repair manual at the auto parts store is probably the best way to find out how to do it properly.

the lever assembly AKA mechanical parking brake lever should have a swivel thingy that separates the pads with a self adjusting mechanism possibly a dog gear. This needs to be adjusted to bring the pads in closer.

Will not work. The detent or locking cam will prevent that. You push too hard, and you’ll break the adjuster. Then, you’ll need to replace the Operating Lever assembly.

You are getting good advice,just to let you know problems getting the drum back on after shoe replacement is very common,espically for the DIY,no dig intended.

After looking at your diagram, it appears that the ratcheting adjusting mechanism is in the operating lever assembly since that is what sets the distance between the shoes. There should be some way to "re-set it but it is unclear from the picture. My guess is that it hinges somewhere to allow it to slide. Good luck.

Did you match the new brake shoes to the old ones to make sure you got the right brake shoes? This is the first thing I do before installing them. You can get the wrong brake shoes in a box with the correct part number. And after it’s happened to you a few times, you learn to match the new with the old.


I did try to reset the Operating Lever Assembly an it made no difference in allowing the drum back on. The lever has teeth on both pieces and pivots in and out. When the old shoes were removed I did take note that the lever was pivoted all the way out. So I even tried to pivot it back in and there was no difference.

I did have the right shoes and matched them with the old. All four are identical. But this morning I was wondering if there is a possibility that maybe the pad thickness is different on the front shoe and the rear shoe? Also on a hunch I measured the drums and they aren’t warped.

Did you have the drums turned? If not, is there a lip where the pads don’t rub? Sometimes that has corrosion on it preventing reassembly.

No, I didn’t have them turned. They are to worn and I new set is $110.00. Would any real harm be caused if they are taped over that lip and reinstalled?

I think they may have shrunk.

I assume you mean ‘tapped’, as with a hammer. Hard to say, don’t know how hard you’ll have to ‘tap’. Get a half-round file and file off the corrosion from the lip, it might help.