Keeping your brakes working properly is an important part of vehicle maintenance. If your vehicle has drum brakes, you need to adjust them periodically to prevent them from dragging. You can take care of this task on your own if you know how to adjust drum brakes.
Gather Supplies and Materials
You can adjust drum brakes with commonly used tools that you probably already have inside your garage. This includes a screwdriver, socket and ratchet set and torque wrench. You also need eye protection, a jack, jack stands and rags or paper towels to protect the ground and clean up messes. Gather these materials before you start working so you don't have to delay the project to find something you need.
Prepare the Vehicle
Put the vehicle in park and set the parking brake. Then use the jack to lift one side of the rear of the vehicle off the ground. Place a jack stand under the vehicle and repeat the process on the other side. This should give you enough room to remove the wheels and work on the brakes. Check to make sure the jack stands can support the vehicle before moving on to the next step.
Access the Brake Adjustment Star Wheel
You have to remove the tires on both sides of the vehicle to access the brakes. If the lug nuts are secured tightly, you may need to loosen them before you lift the vehicle. As you remove the lug nuts, place them in a secure container so you can easily find them when it's time to put them back on. Slide the tires off the vehicle and move them out of the way.
Adjust the Star Wheel
When you look at the brake, you should see the cover that protects the brake. Use a screwdriver to remove this. Twist the star wheel until it touches the drum. Then turn it back one click. Check to make sure the drum still moves freely, making adjustments to the star wheel until it moves the way you want it. Repeat this on the other brake.
Test the Brakes
After you complete the adjustment, replace the brake covers and tires. Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle. Pump the brake pedal to make sure the pedal works. Then drive the vehicle in a safe place like a parking lot to make sure the brakes work properly. If you notice that the brakes don't seem to work before you get out of the driveway, don't keep driving. It's not safe to drive a vehicle with brakes that don't work.