GM Malibu/Cutlass 1997-2000

Brake Shoes

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INSPECTION



After removing the brake drum, inspect the brake shoes. If the lining is worn down to within 1 / 32 in. (0.8mm) of a rivet, the shoes must be replaced.


NOTE
This figure may disagree with your state's automobile inspection laws.

If the brake lining is soaked with brake fluid or grease, it must be replaced. If this is the case, the brake drum should be sanded with crocus cloth to remove all traces of brake fluid, and the wheel cylinders should be rebuilt. Clean all grit from the friction surface of the drum before replacing it.

If the lining is chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged, it must be replaced with a new lining.


NOTE
Always replace the brake linings in sets of two on both ends of the axle. Never replace just one shoe, or both shoes on one side and not the other. When replacing the brakes, it is a good idea to replace one side at a time so that you always have an example to refer to if you get confused during reassembly.

Check the condition of the shoes, retracting springs, and hold-down springs for signs of overheating. If the shoes or springs have a slight blue color, this indicates overheating and replacement of the shoes and springs is recommended. The wheel cylinders should be rebuilt as a precaution against future problems.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION




CAUTION
Older brake pads or shoes may contain asbestos, which has been determined to be a cancer causing agent. Never clean the brake surfaces with compressed air! Avoid inhaling any dust from any brake surface! When cleaning brake surfaces, use a commercially available brake cleaning fluid.


NOTE
Always replace drum brake shoes one side at a time. This way you can always refer to the assembled side whenever you need too.



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Fig. Before beginning brake shoe removal, wash off the entire drum area with an approved brake cleaning solution.

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle and remove the wheel and tire assembly.
  2.  
  3. Remove the brake drum.
  4.  
  5. If necessary for access, remove the hub and bearing assembly, as outlined in .
  6.  


NOTE
Because of the strength of the large return/hold-down spring on this vehicle's rear drum brakes, it is recommended that you use the special tool shown for the return spring removal.

  1. Remove the top spring using a brake spring tool or a set of needle-nose pliers.
  2.  



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Fig. Grasp the top spring at one end and lift it off the adjuster

  1. Remove the retractor spring, using either a special tool as shown in the photos, or using a large pair of adjustable pliers to brace against the shoe and pull the springs out. However, if using the pliers it may be necessary to replace the shoes, because they may get damaged during spring removal.
  2.  



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Fig. Using a special tool, like this one from Lisle®, for removing the retractor spring should be considered



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Fig. The tool grasps the end of the spring, and as the thumbscrews are tightened, it safely lifts and pulls the spring ends out of the shoe frame without contacting the friction material.



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Fig. The special tool also holds the spring in position during re-installation.

  1. Remove the brake shoes from the backing plate. To remove the rear shoe, the parking brake lever must be disconnected from the parking brake cable, as follows:
    1. Using a pair of cutting pliers, slide the spring off of the parking brake lever.
    2.  
    3. Lift and twist the lever off of the parking brake cable.
    4.  

  2.  



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Fig. The spring on the parking brake cable must be moved back to remove the parking brake lever



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Fig. With the pliers against the lever, gently pry the spring up away from the lever



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Fig. Hold the spring off of the lever then remove the lever from the parking brake cable

  1. Remove the drum brake adjusting assembly.
  2.  
  3. Inspect the adjuster assembly, as follows:
    1. Checking the threads the entire length of the adjusting screw.
    2.  
    3. Check the teeth on the adjuster screw cam.
    4.  
    5. Inspect the keyed notches on each end for bends or heat stress.
    6.  
    7. Screw the adjuster halves together until fully shortened.
    8.  

  4.  
  5. With the brake shoes removed and separated, remove the parking brake lever from the rear shoe.
    1. Spread the C-clip open with a small suitable prytool.
    2.  
    3. Push the C-clip off the lever retaining pin.
    4.  
    5. Remove the pin and lever from the shoe.
    6.  

  6.  
  7. Check the wheel cylinders by carefully pulling the lower edges of the wheel cylinder boots away from the cylinders. If there is excessive leakage, the inside of the cylinder will be moist with fluid. If leakage exists, a wheel cylinder overhaul or replacement is in order. Do not delay, because brake failure could result.
  8.  


NOTE
A small amount of fluid will be present to act as a lubricant for the wheel cylinder pistons. Fluid spilling from the boot center hole, after the piston is removed, indicates cup leakage and the necessity for cylinder overhaul.

To install

  1. Check the backing plate attaching bolts to make sure that they are tight. Use fine emery cloth to clean all rust and dirt from the shoe contact surfaces on the plate.
  2.  
  3. Lubricate the fulcrum end of the parking brake lever with brake grease specially made for the purpose. Install the lever on the secondary shoe and secure with C-clip.
  4.  



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Fig. Squeeze the C-clip tabs together with a pair of needle-nose pliers or a pair of cutting pliers

  1. Lubricate the shoe contact surfaces on the backing plate with the brake grease. Be certain when you are using this stuff that none of it actually gets on the linings or drums. Apply the same grease to the point where the parking brake cable contacts the plate. Use the grease sparingly.
  2.  
  3. Attach the parking brake cable to the parking brake lever on the rear shoe, as follows:
    1. Grasp the cable end with a pair of pliers.
    2.  
    3. Loosely place the jaws of a pair of cutting pliers between the spring end and the cable end. The two pliers should butt against each other.
    4.  
    5. While tightly squeezing the cable end with the pliers, lever the cutting pliers and spring end away from the cable end.
    6.  
    7. When enough cable is exposed place the adjuster lever onto the cable end in the correct direction.
    8.  

  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Grasp the cable end with a pair of pliers and loosely place the jaws of a pair of cutting pliers between the spring end and the cable end. The two pliers should butt against each other



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Fig. While tightly squeezing the cable end with the pliers, lever the cutting pliers and spring end away from the cable end

  1. Route the parking brake cable through the keeper on the bottom of the backing plate.
  2.  



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Fig. Route the parking brake cable through the keeper on the bottom of the backing plate

  1. With the rear shoe attached by the parking brake lever, attach the two brake shoes together on the backing plate, as follows:
    1. Hold the rear shoe in position, and place the adjuster end onto it.
    2.  
    3. Place one end of the top spring into the rear brake shoe.
    4.  
    5. Place the forward shoe and the remaining adjuster hardware into position on the backing plate.
    6.  
    7. Connect the top spring from the rear shoe onto the adjuster arm.
    8.  

  2.  
  3. Install the retractor spring to both shoes.
  4.  
  5. Take a look at everything. Make sure the linings are in the right place, the self-adjusting mechanism is correctly installed, and the parking brake parts are all hooked up. If in doubt, remove the other wheel and take a look at that one for comparison.
  6.  
  7. Measure the width of the linings, then measure the inside width of the drum. Adjust the linings by means of the adjuster so that the drum will fit onto the linings.
  8.  
  9. Install the hub and bearing assembly onto the axle if removed. Tighten the retaining bolts to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).
  10.  
  11. Install the drum and wheel, tightening the lug nuts to 100 ft. lbs. (140 Nm). Adjust the brakes using the procedure given in this section. Adjust the parking brake.
  12.  
  13. Lower the car and check the pedal for any sponginess or lack of a hard feel. Check the braking action and the parking brake. The brakes must not be applied severely immediately after installation. They should be used moderately for the first 200 miles of city driving or 1000 miles of highway driving, to allow the linings to conform to the shape of the drum.
  14.  

ADJUSTMENTS





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Fig. Adjusting the drum brakes before installing the drum



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Fig. Either feel for slight contact when installing the drum . . .



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Fig. . . . or, measure the clearance using an H-gauge

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel assembly.
  4.  
  5. Matchmark the relationship of the drum to the axle flange, then remove the brake drum.
  6.  
  7. Measure the drum inside diameter using a brake shoe gauge, or equivalent.
  8.  
  9. Turning the star wheel, adjust the shoe and lining diameter to be 0.030 in. (0.76mm) less than the inside drum diameter for each wheel.
  10.  
  11. Install the drums and wheels, aligning the previous marks.
  12.  
  13. Carefully lower the vehicle.
  14.  
  15. Tighten the wheel nuts to 100 ft. lbs. (140 Nm).
  16.  

 
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