How long do brake drums last?

Is your next brake service coming up and you’re not sure what to expect? Let us help. 


This article will cover the basics of drum brakes and what you can expect when getting them serviced. Brake drums are a durable part of the braking system and typically can last several thousand kilometres. They also generally last a bit longer than disc brakes due to the way they are built. They wear slower and are hardier, making them a great choice for passenger vehicles. Read below to learn more about drum brake replacement, servicing and repairs.

How do drum brakes work?


Drum brakes are made up of a complex assembly containing several internal components. It is because of this complexity that makes them difficult to maintain, with more parts that can wear or fail over time. However, they are generally cheaper and given their durability, this makes them good value for money. 


The inner assembly contains one of the most important parts, brake shoes. Brake shoes are made up of friction material, which when pressed against the drum, generates enough braking force to slow the car. Over time, the friction material wears down and you will need a brake shoe replacement. Drum brakes have a longer lifespan and typically don’t need replacement as often, but it will happen eventually in the vehicle’s lifetime. 


Most vehicles have drums as rear brakes, with discs and brake pads at the front. Discs do most of the work at the front in front wheel drives as they perform a little better, taking the pressure off the drum brakes. 

Does your car have drum brakes? If you’re unsure, speak to your nearest Natrad workshop for specialist advice on the braking system. If you have any issues, our friendly staff are ready to help. 

Brake drum replacement 


Brake drums can last over 100,000km in many cars. However, this number can vary significantly between cars and between drivers. That’s because several situational factors influence the part’s lifespan. These include: 


  • Driving style 
  • Driving conditions 
  • Driving frequency


You can check your owner’s manual for advice if you’re not sure when your brake drums are meant to be replaced. However, you can also get them inspected at Natrad, especially if you think there is a problem with braking performance. Read more below about brake drum failure symptoms. 


Get your drum brake inspected at Natrad 


While brake drum replacement may be a part of your regular servicing, sometimes unexpected issues can arise. It’s important to know when there is a problem so you can avoid unsafe braking conditions and any potential accidents. So how do you know when your brake drums are in trouble? 


  1. Unresponsive brake pedal: if your brake pedal is spongy, soft and not responsive then there could be an issue with your brake drum. If internal components have failed or worn out, then you could be experiencing less effective braking. 
  2. Grinding noise: this could be due to the ‘metal plate’ also known as the wear indicator on your brake shoes. If the shoes are worn, they will make a loud noise when pressing against the brake drum. 
  3. Full pedal depletion: another sign is when the brake pedal sinks fully to the floor. There should always be a gap between the pedal and the floor of the car, it should also take some resistance to press. 
  4. Braking feel: if you experience inconsistent brake pedal feel such as frequent shaking, juddering or vibrating, it could be that a component has worn out, This is most likely the brake shoe. Excessive wear can lead to brake drum damage if left unchecked.


Do you recognise any of these symptoms? Then it’s time to get your braking system looked at as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it’s too late, nip into Natrad today. Our qualified mechanics can look after all your braking system needs.