NuBrakes Blog What are Brake Shoes and When should I replace them? Image

What are Brake Shoes and When should I replace them?

What is a Brake Shoe?

Brake shoes are inside the drum brake system, and the friction material is pulled outward against the brake drums to slow a car down when the brake pedal is pressed. Brake shoes use organic and metallic materials bound together under extreme heat and pressure to prevent them from shedding or breaking. They are made durable enough to withstand the friction required for braking.

Drum brakes are less popular in modern automobiles but are still used on some rear wheels as they are more cost-friendly to manufacture.

Signs You Should Replace Your Brake Shoes

Signs your brake shoes should be replaced:

Squealing noises

Brake shoes, when worn, will create a scraping noise on the inside of the drum or create a squeaking noise when the brake shoe becomes dusty.

More effort to brake

As brake shoes wear out, you'll need to press harder on the brake pedal to come to a complete stop which becomes more dangerous over time.

Loose parking brake

A loose parking brake can indicate that the brakes are deteriorating since it is also housed in the drum brake. You might notice it rolling even after you press the emergency brake, so you should have your drum brakes checked by a mechanic.

Vibrations in the brake pedal when the brakes are used 

Powerful vibrations in your brake pedal should be an indication that your drum brakes are wearing down.

Loose or “spongy” feeling with the brake pedal 

A loose feeling when your press down on your brake pedal indicates that there may be something wrong with your brakes, and you should get this examined by a mechanic immediately.

Brake light warning on the dashboard 

If you see a brake light warning that your brakes must be replaced, please contact a mechanic right away.

Why do Brake Shoes fail?

  • Regular wear from friction
  • Grease or oil on the brakes reduces friction.
  • Brakes overheat and the brake drums develop hot spots that resist friction from the brake shoes

How To Maintain Brake Shoes

Here are three tips for maintaining brake shoes:

Slow down gently

When you brake quickly, your brake shoes must work harder to stop your car, thus creating premature wear and tear. Slowing down gradually extends the life of your brakes.

Maintain a healthy car weight

When your vehicle is heavier than usual, your brakes must compensate for the increased kinetic load, forcing them to work harder and resulting in premature wear and tear.

When possible, use engine braking

When driving a manual car, consider pulling your foot off the accelerator to deactivate your engine at low speeds. You can extend the life of the friction material in your brake shoes by not relying on your brakes to slow down your car.

When should I replace my Brake Shoes?

On average, brake shoes should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, but this may depend on your vehicle type.

You should inspect them at each oil change, but especially if you see any of the six signs above, you should contact a mechanic immediately.

If you want to change your brake shoes, you'll need gloves, a mask, high-temperature grease, brake fluid, brake spring pliers, hold-down remover, drip tray, brake cleaner, and brake hardware.


In conclusion, brake shoes play an essential role in the drum brake system, as they create friction against the brake drums, slowing down the car.

Regular maintenance can extend the life of the brake shoes, but if you notice any of the signs mentioned in this article, you should contact a mechanic immediately.

If you have questions about your brakes or want to schedule a service appointment, please contact us today.


Brake problems? Schedule a free brake repair estimate now.

More Brake Posts

Schedule A Brake Repair Or Get a Quote Now.