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How to inspect the rear brakes on a Vanagon

August 5, 2014 0 Comments Ask Ken, Brakes Ken Wilford

Getting ready to inspect rear brakes:

Anything having to do with the brake system is very dirty. You will at least want some latex gloves, brake cleaner and a pair of overalls to cover your clothes. You will get dirty. The first step in doing your rear brakes is to take the wheel off. Take a 19mm socket and break the lug nuts loose on the wheel that you want to remove. A 19mm socket with a large breaker bar is best. Next chock the front wheel on that side with a large block of wood or a brick. Release the emergency brake. Now jack up the rear of the van and finish removing the rear wheel. Once the wheel is off you will see the drum with two small 11mm bolts holding it in place. Remove these and now you can get the drum off. Many times the drum is stuck on there pretty good with rust, etc. Hitting with a hammer in the space between the lug studs in a side to side and up and down pattern should shock the drum loose. Usually after doing this for about 30 seconds you will see a puff of dust and the drum will be loose. If it is still stuck you might want to try some heat on the center of the drum with a small torch if you have one. Once the drum is off you can spray everything down with brake cleaner so that you can see what is going on in there.

Drum Inspection: Inspect your drum around the edge where the brake shoes touch. Is the drum smooth or does it have lines and is rough to the touch? You want a smooth drum. If you are in doubt take your drum to a local machine shop where they can check to see if it is worn out (inside diameter wear limit is stamped on your drum it is 253mm or 9.960 inches) and also machine it smooth again. A brand new drum will be needed if your old one cannot be machined. With brakes a rule of thumb is that you should always replace brake parts in pairs. If you need a new drum on one side, then you should replace both at the same time.

Rear Wheel Cylinder Inspection: Next inspect the rear wheel cylinder. Pull the boots back one at a time and look under them. It should be totally dry under the boots. They do not keep fluid in, the only keep dust from getting in this area. If it is juicy looking under one of the boots then the rear wheel cylinder is bad and should be replaced immediately.

Brake Shoe Inpsection: Next take a look at the shoes. Any wear will be at the top half of the shoes. One shoe only does the emergency brake so this normally doesn’t show much wear. Look at the one toward the front of the van. This one is doing the stopping work when you push the brake pedal. The original thickness should be 6mm (a little less than a 1/4″). The wear limit is 2.5mm (a little more than a 1/16th of an inch). If you can see that the rivets that hold the pads on have been touching the drum even just a little then you know that the shoes need to be replaced.

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