Stuck Plymouth Breeze Drum Brakes

Drum brake assembly with new pads and springs

I started hearing a grinding noise from the back right wheel of my 2000 Plymouth Breeze late last spring. It got bad enough that I had to quit driving it until I could get a chance to look at it. With the sale of my old house behind me, I was finally able to pull of the drum and take a look at what was dragging.

Old brake pads chewed up from wear

The grinding noise I was hearing was the rivets being jammed into the sides of the drum. The brakes were unable to retract. I've probably been driving like this for months until finally I ran out of pad material and started grinding metal.

It ended up that the brake hose was clogged. Pressure from the pedal could drive through and push out the wheel cylinder, but the springs didn't have enough force to pull the shoes back. The clogged hose wouldn't let the brake fluid flow back, and the brakes were stuck on.

Cleaned up backing plate

I pulled everything apart and cleaned all the surfaces where the shoes touch. At this point, I still hadn't figured out what was causing the issue, and I thought maybe the shoes had rusted in place. I sanded the few places with 100 grit paper to clean off the rust.

Attached parking brake cable

Putting the parking brake cable on the trailing shoe was a little tricky. You can't just push the spring back; you have to pull the "nub" on cable front at the same. After I had enough room to slip on the shoe, I kind of held the spring back with my foot for a split second until I could get it connected.

Drum Brake Adjuster Mechanism

Here is a quick picture of the adjuster attached to the leading brake shoe. I like the design of this adjuster because it self-adjusts any time the brakes are used. For comparison, my truck either has to be manually adjusted, or somehow it self-adjusts (a little) when you stop in reverse.

The quadrant gear has grooves along the sides that lock into matching grooves on the knurled pin. This provides a ratcheting action to hold the adjuster in place. Each time the brakes are engaged, the quadrant gear is pulled away from the knurled pin while the spring turns it to lengthen the adjuster.

Sometimes, you have to back off the adjuster to remove the drum, and that's tricky to do. You're not only trying to turn the gear forward (from the back side of the backing plate), but you have to at the same time push on it to disengage it from the pin. I found it difficult to get the gear to turn without this extra push and pivot.

Drum brakes with all springs installed

Here is a couple shots of the completed assembly with all the new springs installed. The manual I was working from advised installing the adjuster spring, then the top spring, and the bottom spring last. I found that installing the bottom spring before the top spring was easier because it held the shoes tight at the bottom while the top spring is pulled into place. The top spring is harder to install, and the more help the better.

(Click the image for a larger view)

Installed, new brake hose

I didn't get around to figuring out what was causing the brakes to stick until after I had them rebuilt. The piston in the wheel cylinder would just slide back and forth, and it wouldn't retract enough to get the drum on.

I could get the cylinder to release if I cracked the bleeder, but then it would just stick again if I pressed the brake pedal. I then tried loosening the brake hose at the cylinder, and had the same results. Finally, I knew the hose was bad when the cylinder didn't budge at all after I separated the hose from brake line.

Installed Drum and completed brake job

With a new, $13 brake hose (and about $70 in other parts), the brakes work and feel much better. I realize that I should have taken care of this long before I started hearing the grinding. I really notice it in the parking brake, which engages sooner and works much better.

There are a couple other noises on the Breeze that I need to take care of in the next few months, but I'm going to wait a while before I tackle those. There are a lot of higher priority items going on, and I'm more comfortable that they aren't safety issues.

 
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