Ford Escort rear drum brake maintenance

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A video is available to go along with this guide, available in low quality or high quality. The video has the rear brake shoe and spring replacement as well as the fix for the parking brake spreader (half the reason the parking brake fails) and the text is only for the brake shoe and spring replacement. The parts for the drum brakes are very cheap. You can get lifetime shoes and the spring kit for $20-25. For some reason, shops will charge you $100 or more (much more) to do this exact service. Flip them the bird and do it yourself for next to nothing. Overall, this is an intimidating job. Once you take the drums off it looks like a mess back there. Believe it or not, it is a very simple mess. Don't let all the springs scare you. Just put both sides of the car on jackstands and take the drums off both sides. Do one side at a time so that if you get lost or think you messed up, you can look at the other side for reference. Good luck.


Escort reardrums01.jpg
  • Pliers.
  • Flat-head screwdriver.
  • Phillip-head screwdriver.
  • Really big hammer.
  • Needle-nose pliers.
  • Brake spring kit.
  • Brake shoe kit (if replacing the shoes, not pictured).
  • Brake parts cleaner (any part store carries it, not pictured).
  • White lithium grease or equivalent brake safe grease (not pictured).
  • Safety glasses (not pictured) Wear these unless you want to lose your eye!


  1. If equipped, remove the drum screws. Not all cars will have these if a previous owner removed them. If you can't remove them with a screwdriver, borrow or buy an impact driver ($10 at Auto Zone). If that doesn't work (probably won't) then just drill them out. The only purpose they serve is to ease installation of the drums. When you put the wheel back on, it'll seat the drum anyway. You do not have to worry about replacing or fixing them if you have to drill them out.
    Escort reardrums02.jpg
  2. To remove the drum from the hub, a BFH comes in handy. This might take awhile because corrosion builds up and causes the drum to stick. Just beat around on the flat end (as pictured) and on the outside edge to loosen it up.
    Escort reardrums03.jpg
  3. Another way to remove the drum (after beating it with a hammer doesn't work) is to use a thick flat-head screwdriver between the drum edge and outer lip of the backplate. Just insert it (as pictured) and hammer it in. Repeat this all the way around the drum and it should walk off the hub at this point.
    Escort reardrums04.jpg
  4. After you remove the drum you'll want to inspect it. You are looking for deep grooves cut into the surface. Also, check the brake shoes. If there appears to be less then 2mm of material left, replace them. If the surface of the drum is smooth, then you don't have to replace or resurface it. It is always a good idea to do so anyway, but it will still work if you don't, as long as it isn't damaged. Any machine shop can resurface the drums ($10-15) but if they are too thin (from use or previous machine work) then they will have to be replaced. Replacements typically run $20-30 each.
    Escort reardrums05.jpg
    • If you have some brake parts cleaner, now would be a great time to spray the assembly. You don't want to breathe in that brake dust.
  5. This is a picture of the complete assembly. This is a good reference picture for re-assembly. Of course, yours won't look like this until you do the service. The springs are going to be coated with brake dust and rust. The two yellow springs are the upper and lower shoe returns, the white spring (the driver-side is black) is one of the parking brake return springs, and the small black one (behind the upper yellow spring) is the self-adjuster tension spring. Before you proceed, check the wheel cylinder for leaks. It is the part that the two upper portions of the shoes rest in. It has a brake line coming in from the back. Just run your finger around where the rubber ends meet the metal and check for brake fluid.
    Escort reardrums06.jpg
  6. Remove the lower shoe return spring. You can use the pliers to do this. Be careful, the spring can get away from you and go flying.
    Escort reardrums07.jpg
  7. Remove the upper shoe return spring.
    Escort reardrums08.jpg
  8. Remove the parking brake spring.
    Escort reardrums09.jpg
  9. Remove the lower shoe retainer. This little part consist of a stud and spring clip. Just squeeze the clip together with the large pliers and use the needle-nose to rotate the stud so that it'll pass through the groove in the spring clip.
    Escort reardrums10.jpg
  10. Remove the upper shoe retainer.
    Escort reardrums11.jpg
    Close-up of the retainer so you can see the groove that the stud passes through.
    Escort reardrums12.jpg
  11. Remove the lower shoe. You'll have to pull it out of the adjuster.
    Escort reardrums13.jpg
  12. Remove the upper shoe. You'll have to pull it out of the parking brake lever.
    Escort reardrums14.jpg
  13. After you take the shoes out, you'll be able to easily see the adjuster spring. Go ahead and remove it and replace it with a new one from the kit.
    Escort reardrums15.jpg
  14. Grease the contact points on the back plate. There are 6 points where the shoes contact the plate. You can see them labeled in red in the picture.
    Escort reardrums16.jpg
  15. Now you'll need to push the adjuster all the way back so that you can get the shoes in and the drum on.
    Escort reardrums17.jpg
  16. Install the shoes, starting with the upper shoe and retainer. Install the parking brake return spring (use a new one from the kit) and then install the new yellow upper and lower shoe return springs. Make certain your shoes are seated in the wheel cylinder and the lower brace being pointed to with the screwdriver in the picture below. Also, be certain your adjuster is pushed all the way back or you won't be able to get the drum back on or it will drag. Go ahead and install the drum (and screws if you still have them) and move on to the next step.
    Escort reardrums18.jpg
  17. There is another parking brake return spring on the outside of drum. You can see it pictured and it is part of the new spring kit. Go ahead and replace that.
    Escort reardrums19.jpg

You are done with the labor part of it. Put your wheels back on and put the car on the ground. IMPORTANT! Before you drive the car you need to seat the brakes. The car will not stop the first 1-3 times you push the brakes so do not drive it until you seat the brakes. Just start the car and pump the brakes until you feel them build up pressure. Now you can drive the car. It may take several trips to get the rear brakes completely adjusted out. You can speed this up by finding a safe place to reverse 10-15 mph and then apply the brakes heavily. This will load them and cause them to seat faster.

Also see

  • Ford Escort & ZX2 section for the entire index of all Ford Escort and ZX2 related articles.