Can Brake Drums Be Turned?

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Under ideal situations and general uses, your brake pads should be replaced with new ones at least once they cover a distance of about 10 000 to 20 000 miles to reduce wear and tear to the nearest minimum.

However, your brake rotors may take a little longer than that, which may need changing after traveling about 50 000 to 70 000 miles if you must keep your brakes in perfect conditions.

You are supposed to turn your brake drums mainly after you recognize certain symptoms. For instance, you should regularly check your tire for any smooth contact surface, and should it have a lip on the edge, which could allow the drum to come off without necessarily adjusting the shoes in, or even forcing them to come off.

Under these conditions, your brakes may have to be turned. Again, if the outer lip and its surface are worn to about 1/8 inches difference, you should measure the drum to ascertain whether or not it is excessively worn out as well. Commonly, brake drums were once turned whenever you install new brake shoes.

However, nowadays, auto shops put new brake drums on most modern cars just to save time and for the money too. All the same, brake drums are also commonly turned when they cause the brake pedals to pulsate from the drums whenever they are either warped or out of round.

Generally speaking, one of the first symptoms of a bad brake drum that you may observe is when the brake pedal feels free to the touch of your foot.

Should the brake drum be excessively worn out, you may feel certain vibrations in the pedal too. In addition, worn-out brake drums also cause shivering or pulsating that may become observable once you apply pressure to the brakes, which will necessitate you to turn them. So, yes, brake drums can be turned.(Read Also:Why Are Brake Calipers In Different Positions?)


Table Of Contents

Why are brake drums turned?

Break drums need turning whenever their inner surfaces are not smooth enough, a condition that is usually identified because it reduces brake life and its efficiency too. So, to eliminate this brake drum surface roughness, you turn them.

Sometimes, your brake shoes may rock badly when the brake drums are kind of over-worn or even cause the brake pedals to pulsate persistently if they are warped. In all these situations, the best antidote is to turn them.

However, regardless of why you have to turn your brake drums, never you turn them over the maximum diameter or the least thickness stamped or cast on the drum itself or the rotor.

  The maximum discard diameter for brake drums is the same diameter to which the brake drum may be either turned or worn and still be of good use too. All these may necessitate you to turn your brake drums.

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How do you turn brake drums?

To turn brake drums, you need certain essential tools such as wheel chicks or wooden blocks that will essentially stabilize the wheels in place, a car jack, axle stands, car grease and rags, screwdrivers, and other metallic tools such as a metal bar that is long enough to reach not less than 2 feet.

Step 1

Put the blocks ahead of the wheels to prevent any chance of movement of the vehicle.

Next, with the aid of the jack, lift its rear side a few inches above the ground since the axle will hold the car properly. This should allow you to go underneath the vehicle comfortably.

Step 2

Then, remove the cover of the brake drum.

Step 3

You can equally remove the holding screws if you have to. If it feels tough to remove, which often happens, grease and unscrew them using a screwdriver. It should easily come off afterward.

Step 4

Now, take brake drums to a garage for professional attention. On the other hand, if you have a lathe, you can simply scrape off any small metallic shavings on its surface, but make sure to seek the advice of an auto specialist on this. 

What happens if I can’t turn brake drums?

If you fail to turn your brake drums for whatever reason, first, your brakes will persistently wobble or pulsate and their efficiency will also be greatly compromised too.

In this situation, if you cannot turn them yourself, you are strongly advised to get the nearest auto shop to do the job, or else you may be risking more than you will care to think about.

Consequently, you are enjoined to see that your brake drums are turned whenever you observe the signs which will necessitate that.(Read Also: Can Brake Cleaner Remove Paint?)

How much does it cost to turn brake drums?

Although the cost of turning brake drums depends on how much work needs to be done as well as the model or make of your vehicle or even on the auto shop itself,  still a complete brake repair which includes pads, rotors, and caliper replacement too may cost anything between 300 to about  800 dollars. In any case, the most you can pay for it should not exceed about 1000 dollars for a complete job. 

What does the turning of brake drums do to the brakes?

The turning of brake drums simply refers to the smoothing of its internal surface which will greatly reduce any friction generated as a result.

Doing this will also prevent the brakes from pulsating through the pedals and also tremendously improve the braking efficiency of the vehicle too.

Frequently asked questions( FAQ)

How do you cut brake drums?

Cutting a brake drum involves cutting its inner edge while it is still on the brake lathe to prevent any ridge building up, especially where the brake shoes do not ride, which will make subsequent removal much easier.

Ideally, you should not cut more than about 1/8 inches from the previous shoe wear marks, although some people are against cutting brake drums, since doing so could lead to the drum warping and may also cause premature shoe wear. (Read Also: Are Brake Pads Sold In Paris?)

How to resurface brake drums at home

For you to resurface brake drums at home, you are talking of cleaning off every bit of rust from its surface to enable the brakes to work efficiently, which is a lot cheaper to resurface brake drums than it is to replace them, and what is more, it also takes much less time to complete as well, especially when done by specialists.

However, for you to be able to resurface brake drums at home successfully, you need certain mandatory tools, which were mentioned earlier in the article.

Here are some  recommended brake drums

(1). Power stop auto specialty rear replacement brake kit OE brake drums and ceramic brake pads

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This item is known to go for very pocket-friendly prices much more than its contemporaries despite its top-of-the-line features.

It stands as both a fast and easy solution to any poor braking performance. In addition, it is said to also be noise-free and dust resistant too, as well as thermally scorched ceramic brake pads. It is also provided with a fade-free performance like OE.

(2). AC Delco professional rear drum brake shoe adjuster and return spring kit

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Just like other similar products, this item is the most reliable high-quality replacement part for all your vehicle’s poor braking systems.

It is also supplied along with bolts, fasteners, bushings, and all other hardware that will be important for the effective repairs of your drum brake.

(3). Centric brake drum

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This product is crafted from some of the best materials you can get anywhere which confers on its rare durability, as long as it is compatible with the make or type of the brake drum of your vehicle.

In addition, it is sold subject to free delivery in America and many other countries too, but not either the APO or FPO. It is affordable and is equally covered with a one-year guarantee agreement, which means that in case of any dissatisfaction or premature malfunction, you can return the item for either replacement or a full refund provided the item is untempered.

Can Brake Drums Be Turned – Conclusion

Break drums are of very special relevance especially considering that the brakes of a vehicle are almost as important as its engine. The drums along with brake pads and rotors serve to bring the vehicle to a stop whenever needed.

However, sometimes, these brake drums can develop malfunctions of their own which may necessitate cutting, resurfacing, or turning them.

Therefore, if you must change your brake drums, go for a product with the most favorable customer reviews. Learn how to identify the signs which are indicative of any possible malfunction and what to do whenever that happens. In this way, you will get all the satisfaction you want from your brakes.

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