How To Check for Brake Problems Part 1

How To Check for Brake Problems Part 1

For the month of December we will be covering how to check for brake problems. This is a pretty common concern for most people and we want people to know how to correctly check for brake problems.

Someone once said that you need to be smarter than the thing you are working on in order to repair it successfully. Nothing could be more true when diagnosing brake problems. Many time the source or cause of a brake problem is right in front of you but you may not immediately see it. By understanding how a system works and what makes it work you will make you far more successful in your repair efforts.

The “street rod” shown in these photos feature has a mid-70’s Ford rear end in it. It uses a very common drum brake system but not a system that has only one set of component parts or hardware. By know this fact and understanding how to do basic brake work you can successfully diagnose and repair the problem present.

The brake issue on this “rod” was that under moderate to hard braking the left rear wheel would lock up and start to skid. At speed this problem is safety related while at very low speed it’s embarrassing. While it would have been an easy repair to simply slap on a complete new rear brake system it is really far better to know what you are fixing and why you are fixing it.

Step 1

When you have a brake problem on a street rod such as described above it’s best to perform a visual inspection of the complete rear brake system. Because of the large contact patch of the rear tires the problem is even more evident.

How to check for brake problems 1

Step 2

Don’t try to just do a basic brake adjustment on the wheel on the opposite side from the wheel locking up. Plan to remove both rear wheels and brake drums.

How to check for brake problems 2


Step 3

Remember it’s ok to remove lug nuts with an impact but the installation tightening should be done with a torque wrench. This is true even when the wheel is used on a drum brake system. “Wheel Off” issues are serious and usually happen because of improper lug nut torque on wheel installation.

How to check for brake problems 3

Step 4

After removing the wheel try to rotate the brake drum. If you can’t rotate it figure out why. If you can’t remove the drum by hand is it because the drum is stuck around the center hole or on the brake shoes?How to check for brake problems 4


We will have more of the story on how to check for brake problems next week for Tech Tricks Tuesday.

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