• Repair a Brake Cylinder in 7 Easy Steps

    When you need to repair your brake cylinder, the first order of business is locating it. There are several steps that are necessary in order to repair or replace your brake cylinder. These can be accomplished by a layman once you have the necessary tools and space. Front brakes operate with calipers and brake pads that are compressed onto a brake rotor. The back brakes have a brake drum which houses the shoes, cylinder and other mechanisms that stop the wheel from rotating.

    Tools and Materials Needed:

    • Drain pan hammer
    • Screwdriver
    • Brake shoe removal tool
    • Ratchet set
    • Brake drum puller
    • Jack stands
    • Line wrench
    • Brake spring removal kit
    • Car jack
    • New brake cylinder
    • Tire iron

    Step 1: Tire Removal

    Loosen the lug nuts for the wheel that you will be working on with the ratchet or tire iron. Jack up the car using the hydraulic jack, and make sure that it’s secured on the jack stand. Take off the lug nuts and set them in a safe place.

    Step 2: Drum Removal

    The first thing you will encounter after taking off the tire is the outer drum. Using a screwdriver, spin the drum so that the access hole and adjuster screw are in line. Spin the screw counter-clockwise and listen for a few ticks once the screw is retracted sufficiently. The drum should fall off. If this doesn’t happen, take out the retaining screws. Use the hammer and sufficient force to knock it loose. If this also doesn’t work, you will need to use a tool known as the brake drum disassembling tool. This tool was designed specifically for this job.

    Step 3: Identify Parts

    The brake drum consists of two brake shoes, a wheel cylinder, two retaining brake shoe springs, an emergency brake actuator arm and a brake shoe return spring.

    Step 4: Brake Shoe Removal

    The best approach to have access to the wheel cylinder is by taking off the brake shoes.

    If the brake shoe is less than 1/8 of an inch then you will want to replace it as well. Once you have done this, you can separate the dust boot from the wheel cylinder and do a quick check to see if there are any leaks. If you detect leaks, it will be necessary to replace this as well. 

    Using your brake spring disassembling device, remove the return spring from each shoe. Release the spring retainer latch on one shoe and take it off. You can leave one shoe on for future reference. There is no need to replace the shoes if they are in good condition. Simply place the hardware on the shoe and continue with the brake cylinder.

    Step 5: Cylinder Removal

    Once both shoes have been removed, look behind the wheel assembly and connect the wrench onto the brake. Loosen and take off the mounting while ensuring a pan is placed underneath to collect any leaking brake fluid. Take off the bolts on the cylinder and put the new parts in place.

    Step 6: Reconnect Mounting and Brake Line

    Ensure that the mounting for the brakes on the cylinder is tight. Check that your brake line is tight by using the wrench.

    Step 7: Reassembling

    Once you have replaced the cylinder, connect the brake shoes with the return spring. The retaining spring adjustments need to be made with the adjuster screw to ensure that the vehicle is fit to drive again. You may also need to remove the air from the line by bleeding the brakes.