How long do brake shoes last?

Does your car have a drum braking system? This is common in older cars or models with a combined braking system. For example, disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear brakes. Both systems contain wearing parts that eventually, will need to be replaced. 


The most commonly replaced part, are brake shoes. Brake shoes are made of friction material that pushes against the brake drum, causing enough braking force to slow the car. Since friction material wears down over time, brake shoes have a wear indicator that makes an audible sound when pressing against the brake drum. This is your sign that the brake shoes need replacing. 


In this article, we’ll go over the regular service intervals of brake shoes and how to tell that they need replacing. Read below for more! 

Natrad has a range of quality brake shoes from Mintex and Nisshinbo, globally recognised leading manufacturers in friction.


Replacing brake shoes 


As with every vehicle, regular service intervals indicate when certain parts should be replaced. Sticking to the recommended intervals is a great way of protecting your car and preventing costly damage and repairs in the long run. 


So, how do you know when to replace your brake shoes? A good estimate is roughly every 30,000 km, which is when you should at least have them inspected for wear. Natrad workshops are able to inspect your braking system and recommend any necessary servicing or repairs. You can also check your owner’s manual which will have the recommended time frame specific to your vehicle. This change interval also varies from vehicle to vehicle. 


If your mechanic hasn’t recommended they be replaced at your recent service, they may have a bit more life left in them. That’s when it’s down to you to listen out for abnormal sounds demonstrating that the wear indicator has been reached. When the wear indicator rubs against the drums, it will make a grinding noise or scraping noise, alerting you that the shoes are nearly fully worn. 


A brake shoe might last a bit longer depending on the driver and vehicle type. Factors that can influence the lifespan include: 


  • Driving style 
  • Driving conditions 
  • Driving frequency 
  • Driving distance 


For example, hard braking can reduce the lifespan of the brake system and therefore the shelf-life of the components within it. 

Brake shoes vs brake pads


So, why brake shoes? Brake shoes are used in drum brakes, which are a popular, cost-effective braking system used in many cars today. While many modern cars make use of disc brakes (also known as rotors), often you will find a car has both. 


Brake shoes and brake pads are very similar since they both use friction material to create braking force. 

The difference is in the design. 


Drum brakes work by placing the brake shoes on the inside of the drum assembly, which then expands outwards to press against the drum during braking. Disc rotors have a calliper assembly that contains the brake pads, which then press against the rotor during braking. 


They are both good options, it just depends on what your vehicle needs. 


Natrad has a range of high-quality brake shoes and brake pads suitable for a wide variety of vehicles. 


Brake shoes in drum brakes 


So, what are the common signs that you need to change your brake shoe? We mentioned earlier that wear indicators are designed to make a noticeable noise when the friction material is low – but what if there are other issues? 


Below are some common symptoms of brake drums that need to be replaced: 


  1. Inconsistent brake pedal feel: If your brake pedal is soft, spongy, vibrating or juddering, something is wrong. The brake shoes may be worn and resulting in effective braking. There may also be issues with pressure in the brake lines due to problems with the brake fluid. 
  2. Parking brake: if your brake feels loose, it may not engage correctly. It could be your brake shoe being worn or out of place, or possibly a broken cable. 
  3. Vehicle swaying: if the car is veering to one side during braking, you might have uneven wear on the brake shoes. This can lead to the car braking inconsistently to one side. 

If any of these sound familiar, just speak to your nearest Natrad today. The friendly staff are here to help and assist you with any braking problems. 

What next? 

If you think your brake shoes or brake drums are on the way out, don’t fret! Natrad workshops across the country are able to inspect, diagnose, repair and service your braking system with confidence. Just speak to the specialists about a brake shoe replacement today.