Car & Truck Brake Shoes

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The Importance of Brake Shoes for Cars and Trucks

What are brake shoes? A critical part of a vehicle's drum brake system, brake shoes are rigid, semi-circular plates, usually made of steel, lined on the outside of the curved surface with a friction-producing material. When a driver steps on the brake pedal, the shoe's lining presses against the inner surface of the brake drum, slowing and stopping the car.

Brake shoes vs. brake pads

Brake shoes are used in drum brakes. Brake pads, on the other hand, are found on a disc brake. While both can be found on eBay Motors, they perform the same function but are vastly different. The shoes and drums push together, while the pads squeeze against the brake rotor. Shoes are curved to match the curvature of the brake drum while pads are flat.

What are brake shoe linings made of?

Brake shoe lining is usually made with one of three materials:

  • Organic: In the 1980s, organic shoes, made from carbon, Kevlar, fiberglass, and similar materials, were the first to replace asbestos-lined shoes. They are inexpensive and work well in most situations. However, organic brake shoes can produce black brake dust that settles on the wheel rim. The material is softer than other options.
  • Semi-metallic: Semi-metallic brake shoes help a car stop sooner than with organic-lined shoes, and they produce less brake dust. These brake shoes last longer and tolerate higher temperatures than organic linings. Semi-metallic linings are best suited for extended-performance driving.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic linings last longer than the other options but are the most expensive. They dissipate brake heat faster. Ceramic brakes are also cleaner and quieter.
Are brake shoes universal?

No. There are two shoes per wheel. The rear brake shoes may differ from the front brake shoes. The primary and secondary shoes in each set are different and not interchangeable. The shoes must also match the diameter of the brake drum, which can vary based on the vehicle model.

How do you know it's time for brake shoe replacement?

Replace your brake shoes between 25,000 and 65,000 miles. If you are hearing squealing noises, feeling a loose brake pedal, or pressing harder on the brake to stop, these are signs you need to replace your brake shoes.

From a technical standpoint, some brake linings are held in place with rivets. These shoes should be replaced when the lining is worn down to 1.5 millimeters above the rivet heads. If the brake shoe lining is glued to the brake shoe, it needs to be replaced more often — when the lining is within 3 millimeters of the brake shoe's surface.

If the brake shoes aren't replaced on time, you risk damaging the brake drums. You should inspect all brake parts whenever the wheels are removed.