Rebuilding Rear Drum Brakes On A Jeep Wrangler YJ – Removal

Remarkably I still had my original rear drum brakes from 1993 on my Jeep Wrangler. I figured the 15 year mark was the time to change them out. This is not a complete overhaul. I didn’t have to rebuild the wheel cylinders just replaced almost all the springs and brake shoes.

Jack up the vehicle and remove the tire being worked on.


Original Drum Brake

Original Drum Brake

Remove the rear adjuster access plug on the rear drum backing plate and back off the star wheel. This allows the brakes to retract.


Rear Adjuster Plug

Rear Adjuster Plug



Accessing Rear Adjuster Plug

Accessing Rear Adjuster Plug


Turning Star Wheel

Turning Star Wheel

Remove the drum. There might be retaining spring nuts that have to come off, but mine didn’t have any.


Drum Removed

Drum Removed


Old Drum Interior

Old Drum Interior

Unhook and remove the return springs from the anchor pin.


Unhooking Return Springs

Unhooking Return Springs


Removing Return Spring

Removing Return Spring
NOTE: The cable guide for the adjuster cable comes off when both return springs are removed.

Remove the adjuster cable from the anchor pin.


Removing Adjuster Cable

Removing Adjuster Cable

Remove the shoe plate guide.


Remove Shoe Plate Guide

Remove Shoe Plate Guide

Disconnect the adjuster tension spring from the adjuster lever.


Disconnecting The Adjuster Tension Spring

Disconnecting The Adjuster Tension Spring

NOTE:Take off the adjuster cable from the adjuster lever if it wasn’t removed in the previous steps. I took mine off when removing it from the anchor pin.

Remove the adjuster tension spring from the adjuster lever, and remove both from the brake shoe.


Removing Adjuster Tension Lever

Removing Adjuster Tension Lever


Removing Spring From Shoe

Removing Spring From Shoe

Using a pair of needle nose pliers push in, turn and release the brake shoe hold down springs.


Positioning Pliers For Spring Removal

Positioning Pliers For Spring Removal



Push In And Turn To Release

Push In And Turn To Release
NOTE:It might be necessary to push against the hold spring pin from the back of the drum brakes.

Removing the hold down springs and pins allows for the removal of the shoes and adjuster screw assembly. The shoes and screw assembly will come off as one piece.


Hold Down Spring Pin Removed

Hold Down Spring Pin Removed



Old Brake Shoes Removed

Old Brake Shoes Removed

11 thoughts on “Rebuilding Rear Drum Brakes On A Jeep Wrangler YJ – Removal”

  1. Pingback: Adventures In DIY
  2. Great Article for DIY Jeep Wrangler rear brakes! I’m rebuilding a 1994 YJ and my internal parts look just fine – just a good cleaning. How to know when to replace the drums? I’m thinking of blasting what I have and ceramic coating the brake drums for longevity. Thanks. [email protected]

  3. Sorry I really don’t have a good answer for that. I checked my guides and the interwebs and the only thing I’ve been able to find is about disc brake pad thickness. I think it was eHow.com that mentioned disc brakes should be replaced when the braking material gets to be 1/4″ thick. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  4. If there’s any significant damage to the inside of the drum it should be machined out. After all the damage is removed, check the internal diameter of the drum where the shoes will be making contact. The lip of the drums are usually stamped with the maximum diameter that the drum can be safely machined to. If the stamping is unreadable, check an auto-parts website as they may have the number you’re looking for. When in doubt just buy new drums. I bought drums, shoes, and spring kits for both sides and a wheel cylinder for the passenger side for under $150. With brakes it’s worth the extra time/money.

  5. Thanks for adding more detail for people to reference. I bough new ones because the old ones were close to 10 years old.

  6. Just finished doing this same job. Thanks for the photos and guide, it was very helpful.

    (Especially since I had no adjusters at all in this ’95 my son just bought.)

    One thing which isn’t immediately obvious from the photos or description, is how the parking brake lever attaches to the brake shoe. (If you pay attention taking it apart, you can see, but if you don’t, . . .)

    Both Chilton and AllData don’t give much of a description of it, either.

    The top of the barking brake actuator has a little hook that slips into a part of the shoe, going *behind* the shoe. The parking brake strut (side with the spring) then goes around the front shoe (with the slight arch on the top), and the other end of the strut goes around the back shoe and parking brake lever together.

    Also, I put the adjuster cable on the opposite order, hooked the loop on the top, then rotating the adjusting lever up, it is easy to hook the spring on the appropriate part on the level (there’s even a slot for it to slide in, easy to do when the lever’s rotated up).

    Other than figuring out the parking brake lever placement, this guide was the most helpful and complete I’ve found. Thanks so much. 🙂

    Also, how does one tell if you need rear parking brake cables? Prior to this job, the parking brake didn’t hold much at all.

    The shoes (and hold down kit) were seriously messed on both sides, and there was *no* self adjuster on either side. So yeah; not much of a chance for the parking brake to work.

    But after doing this work, I only have slightly more grip on the parking brake. The parking brake pedal shows no resistance until about half way, then it does seem to resist and tighten up the brakes slightly, but bottoms out.

    Is this just a matter of tightening up the front parking brake cable nut, or is this a sign that the rear cables are toast?

    (They look newish, and seem to slide from my quick examination; hard to tell too much with that big spring at the end fighting you, though. I’m working solo so I had no-one to try the pedal while I watched the cable motion.)

    Also, I figured I’d wait until they self-adjusted over the next few days, before messing with the parking brake.

    (Hopefully I won’t have to go in again; to do the cables, I believe I have to take all the shoes and gear off each side again to replace those. D’oh. Although the second side took *way* less time than the first, after my re-education in the way of drum brakes.)

    Thanks for any tips. 🙂

  7. I’m glad you found this post helpful.

    I waited a couple of days (like you) and adjusted the parking brake cable using the nut where the 2 cables connect to the one.

    If I remember correctly, you’ll need to set the parking brake to where you want it to catch and then adjust the cable till the brakes engage.

  8. Thanks for the feedback.

    (Sorry about the duplicate post on part 2, my internet was flakey, and I didn’t think the first one went through.)

    Sounds good, I’ll let them self adjust for a couple of days, then adjust the nut for best range on the pedal.

    And if things don’t hold properly, or jam up, I’ll put on the new cables. You pretty must have to take everything off to redo the cable, eh (since the parking lever is behind the whole works)?

    (Oh well, first wheel took me a few hours, second wheel only 20 minutes or so, so if it comes do that, it’ll be quicker without the learning curve and the vehicle-less hunt for new adjusters, etc.. 🙂 )

    Thanks again. I think the best things about Wranglers is the wonderful community around them. Now that my son has one, I’m aching to get one myself by summer. 🙂

  9. Learnthethingsido:@Tallerico500 Just Engage the break as hard as you can open the MAIN LINE where it connects to the Caliper and then close it rlaley quick and tight Keep repaeting that till you get a little fluid that will come out. Then if that dont work Pump the hell out of them and them Engage them HOLD THEM TIGHTLY by squeezing the handle bar or what ever Break lever you have and open it again keep doing that to get all the Air out of the lines. It took me 2 days to figure it out but i got it And you can too

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