Chevrolet Full Size Cars 1979-1989




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Fig. Fig. 1 Drum brake adjustment

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Fig. Fig. 2 Adjusting the drum brakes is easily done using a special brake tool

Wheel Installed
  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  3. Remove the rubber plug from the adjusting slot on the backing plate.
  5. Insert a brake adjusting spoon into the slot and engage the lowest possible tooth on the starwheel. Move the end of the brake spoon downward to move the starwheel upward and expand the adjusting screw. Repeat this operation until the brakes lock the wheels.
  7. Insert a small screwdriver or piece of firm wire (coat hanger wire) into the adjusting slot and push the automatic adjuster lever out and free of the starwheel on the adjusting screw.
  9. Holding the adjusting lever out of the way, engage the topmost tooth possible on the starwheel with a brake adjusting spoon. Move the end of the adjusting spoon upward to move the adjusting screw starwheel downward and contact the adjusting screw. Back off the adjusting screw starwheel until the wheel spins freely with a minimum of drag. Keep track of the number of turns the starwheel is backed off.
  11. Repeat the operation for the other side. When backing off the brakes on the other side, the adjusting lever must be backed off the same number of turns to prevent side-to-side brake pull.
  13. When the brakes are adjusted, make several stops, while backing the car, to equalize all the wheels.
  15. Road test the vehicle and check for proper brake operation.

Wheel Removed

Although the previous method (wheel installed) may be used on most vehicles covered by this guide, an alternate method is available for later model vehicles. With the wheel and drum removed, measure the drum inner diameter and the brake shoe outer diameters. The shoes should be adjusted to an outer diameter of 0.050 in. (1.27mm) less than the drum inner diameter. A caliper type brake measuring tool should be used to assure proper and exact measurements. Once the measurements are made and the shoes adjusted, install the drum and the wheel assembly.



The pedal travel is measured as the distance which the pedal moves toward the floor from the fully released position. Inspection should be made with the brake pedal firmly depressed and when the brake system is cold. The brake pedal travel should be 2 1 / 4 in. (1979-84), 2 3 / 4 in. (1985 and later) or 3 1 / 3 in. (hydro-boost).

If equipped with power brakes, be sure to pump the brakes 3 times with the engine OFF, to remove the vacuum reserve before making the travel check.

  1. Under the dash, remove the pushrod-to-pedal clevis pin and separate the pushrod from the brake pedal.
  3. Loosen the pushrod adjuster locknut, then adjust the push rod.
  5. After the correct travel is established, tighten the locknut, engage the pushrod and secure using the clevis pin.