Toyota Camry Rear Brake Shoe Adjustment

Updated on January 22, 2019
hardlymoving profile image

Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.

The rear brakes require adjustment if the Parking/Emergency Brake Handle can be pulled beyond 7 clicks. Many have failed DMV inspections unaware of or ignoring this minor maintenance task. This best time to perform this adjustment would be during tire rotation. With the wheels off, the brake drums can be quickly removed, and the brake system inspected, cleaned, and adjusted. The faster alternative, not requiring drum removal, is inserting a screwdriver through the Brake Adjustment Access Hole in order to turn the Brake Adjustment Wheel (Star Wheel); however, my preference is to remove the drum. With the Brake Drum off, accumulated brake dust can be cleaned-out, steel wool or sandpaper used to remove any Brake Shoe glaze, and the Wheel Cylinder inspected for any leaks. If the Brake Assembly does not 'float' on the Backing Plate which may cause uneven Brake Shoe wear, some grease on the Brake Shoe to Backing Plate contact points may be in order.

Due to more brake friction surface area with Drum Brakes when compared with Front Discs, rear brake shoes rarely require replacement: just an inspection and adjustment. Without this adjustment, the front brakes may wind up doing all the work ... noticeable by a slight 'nose dive' during hard stops. Front brakes provide approximately 80% of a car's stopping power. In the absence of a properly adjusted and functioning rear brake system, the front brakes will do all the work; hence more stress and wear on the front brake pads.

Remove the Accumulated Brake Dust

Use an aerosol brake cleaner solvent to wipe out the accumulated brake dust. A build-up of brake dust and dirt can cause glazing on the brake shoes and form groves in the interior brake drum contact surface. If these groves are noticeable, considered replacement or resurfacing the drum by a reputable automotive machine shop.

Inspect and Adjust the Brakes

Inspect the Wheel Cylinder for brake fluid leakage. If there is leakage, replacement of the cylinder is not covered in this article. Grab the left and right Brake Shoe with both hands (grease free) and determine if they move freely on the backing plate. If there appears to be too much resistance, apply some high-temperature grease (using a small brush or stick as the applicator) on the Backing Plate where the Brake Shoe meets the plate. Inspect the brake shoes for glaze. The glaze can be removed using light sandpaper.

Using a screwdriver, move the Brake Adjustment Wheel up (counterclockwise) 5 clicks. Remount the Brake Drum and spin the drum on the hub. If there is little to no drag on the Drum, remove the drum and adjust another 5 more clicks and try again. If during Drum rotation the friction point appears to happen on one shoe, a few hits with a rubber mallet on the Drum will help float the shoe away from the friction point and even out the shoe contact. A light amount of friction contact between the shoe and drum is normal. When the wheel is re-mounted and the car driven, the shoes will float, re-center and the shoe contact with the drum will equalize. Based off of prior adjustment jobs, not more than 10 clicks on the adjustment wheel is needed. Perform the adjustment on both the left and right wheel drums before checking the number of clicks need to lock the parking brakes with the Brake Handle.

Apply a light amount of high-temperature grease or lubricant like Anti-Seize where the Brake Drum meets the Wheel Hub and where rust had previously formed. This will ease future removal of the Drum on the next adjustment without requiring the two 12mm bolts to unfreeze and remove the Drum. Only a light amount is needed and avoid having any of the grease touch the brake contact surfaces.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 hardlymoving


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    • hardlymoving profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Memphis, TN


      You got me on the bolt size and pitch. I just screwed in any bolt from the box of left over nuts and bolts that fit into the drum. The car's Japanese so I figure the 12mm bolt pitch is pretty much standard.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Your tutorials have been a lifesaver. I performed a timing belt change, along with the other components, oil seals, water pump,

      tensioner, and etc. on my 1998 Camry.

      As far as the bolts to assist in the drum removal: you may want to specify 1.25 pitch, as well as the 12mm bolt size. If I'm wrong, please correct me. You are after all: the teacher.

      Thanks for all you do.

    • hardlymoving profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Memphis, TN


      As long as the engine and transmission are working okay, everything else that brakes can be fixed on the cheap if you do it yourself. The parts are inexpensive and can be had from many suppliers due to the Camry's popularity as well as the interchangeability of components with the Avalon and ES300. If you bring you car to a full service repair facility for what I consider simple taskes, many will charge exorbitant rates regardless of the degree of repair difficulty. In that case, find youself a good, honest mechanic or consider selling the car.

    • changdamyeuem profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a 1993 Toyota Camry 4 cylinder, 185k miles and I just do not not when it need to be replaced. Any suggestion would be very much appreciated.


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