CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Should I paint brake drums?

Hello! I drive an '03 Toyota Tacoma. My question is about the rear brake drums. I bought the truck with 70k miles and I’m now at 170k. I have always had dealer maintenance and service, but I am to the point where I am going to be doing a lot of maintenance myself (as soon as I pay it off and have title in hand)! I have noticed the technicians having a hard time removing the drums to inspect the shoes due to corrosion. The drums are obviously rusty, but in good condition. I am wondering if it is advisable to paint the drums. How would one go about doing this? ie; prep work on the drums, type of paint. I’d appreciate any comments!
Oh what a feeling…Toyota!! (picture the 80’s commercials) : )
Jason

I wouldn’t,. just give them a good wire brushing before removal.

if the drums are corroded, then they should be replaced, not reinstalled.

If they are just stuck on, that’s a bit different. Heat cycles, rust, and even the play within the hole where the drums mount on can all cause them to get stuck on- as can the shoes wearing into the drum and causing a lip.

You should be able to pain them, but I have never heard of that being done for anything other than cosmetics (not that it doesn;t happen, mind you- I’ve just never heard of it.) Clean the drums up real good- scrape off all loose rust and debris, rinse off well with brake cleaner, and then use a high temp spray paint.

My suggestion would be to just go buy some anti-sieze and put it on the ends of the wheel studs where the drums will be riding. I would be careful about getting it all over the wheel studs, myself. You just want it on the ends.

and why wait til you have title in hand to do your own repairs? Have at it now! :slight_smile:

Thanks texases; I was wondering if this is even possible or practical.

I would. Wire brush first ( as texases suggests) then spray them black with a rattle can. I do it every year when rotating tires and it looks good, especially if you have wheels where you can see the drums. Dollar store black is good enough. It takes only a few minutes and costs almost nothing. Rocketman

Also; is it a good idea to use brake parts cleaner, clean everything up; then use a rust converter: on the exterior of the drums, and interior of the drums?

If they don’t come off, you’re not using a big enough of a hammer or not enough violence.
Or, if you’re a carpacifist, you can use a puller - but where’s the fun in that?

I would just wire brush the rust off the areas where the drum mates up to axle flange and then apply a thin coat of anti-seize compound to those areas. You’ll never have a stuck drum.

Tester

Some of those drums are held on with two Phillips-head screws. Once those screws are removed, the drums usually come off without a fight…You don’t need to have the title in your hand to do your own maintenance…You just have to know what you are doing…Painting the brake drums on 10 year old pick-ups is loves labor lost…

I usually had more problem removing drums because the shoes caught on the worn ridge, requiring backing off the adjuster.

Painting them outside will not change whether or not they come off easy or not.
That’s a wear and adjustment issue inside, which you would not paint the braking suface inside.

Paint them if you want.
If you’re thinking of those colored ones you can see through the custom wheels on some…those are powder coated ( not painted ).

If painting, treat and prime for rust per instructions on the rust primer.

The 2003 Toyota Tacoma has disc brakes in the rear. The “drum” portion, the center section, has inside of it brake shoes for the purpose of use as a parking brake only.

You can, if you like, mask off the “disc” portion and paint the “drum” portion without any problem. My recommendation would be to but two paper plates to help mask the disc.

I painted some a while and it came off pretty quickly, probably because of the heat.
So if you do end up painting, perhaps use a high temp engine grade paint.

If mechanics are having a difficult time removing the drum, either they are not using the built-in threaded removal holes or those drums are really rusted. Use the 8mm x 1.25 threaded holes and use bolts to push off the drum.

Not all vehicles have those threaded holes, tho.
When those holes are missing, I usually smack the sides with a deadblow hammer while turning, smack the face a couple of times before it pops off. Sometimes a puller is necessary, depending on the car.

On my old 52 truck, the hub is part of the drum and it fits to a tapered shaft. That thing always requires a puller with a hammerhead to get off and then only when a full sledge is used. It laughs at a baby sledge. An impact gun on that puller will just run and run without doing anything. BFH violence is necessary.
When lets go, the loud pop is downright scary. It gets badly seized, no matter whether I put anti-seize on it or not.

Don’t do it, it’s a waste of time. Rust on the outside will not effect how the drums pull off. There might be rust around the center opening though. Wire brush the rim and some of the inside of the drum and brush some anti sieze on it.
I do not if Toy still does it but they did have a couple of screws holding the drum on. Also the drum might have threaded holes in which to screw two bolts into it. When the bolts are screwed in at the same time the drum is pulled off.

Also, painted drums just look dumb.

You can paint the area near the holes without any worry. There is heatproof paint for the entire outside, but it’s work for little results and probably doesn’t hold the color for long.

Not all vehicles have those threaded holes, tho.
RemcoW, that's true but the OP's subject vehicle does which is what I am talking about. BTW, FWIW, the original drums that came with the truck when new were painted.

True. You got me there.

if the drums are corroded, then they should be replaced, not reinstalled.

HUH??? If we did that in NH we’d be replacing the drums every 2-3 months.

Drum rotors are extremely thick. I’ve seen drums that have been corroding for over 30 years that are still fine. Corrosion means NOTHING. I’ve NEVER EVER seen a drum brake corrode bad enough to cause it any problem.

My wifes Accords and my Pathfinder all had little access holes on the drum to help get them off. The holes are used to bolt in a couple of 6mm bolts. Put the bolts in and keep turning them going back and forth from one to the other until the drum comes off…

My 4runner has rear disk, but inside the disk are shoes. So the disk is like a combination of disk and drum. And it has the same two 6mm bolt holes used to remove the rotor.