Brake drum cleaning interval.

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Jan 7, 2014
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Hello everyone, just a couple if quick questions. 1. How many miles do you consider good for cleaning the dust out of the brake drums? The service booklet of my Renault Clio says to do it every 40,000 miles but the service manual recommends every 60,000 miles. I don't know which interval to follow. And 2. Do I need to replace the axle nut every time I take it off? The service manual doesn't say anything about replacement, but the eBay kits, like the one below, come with a new nut. Thanks in advance for all your help.
 
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I don't touch them unless i need to rebuild them. Never gone into them for the sole purpose of cleaning.
 
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Sep 11, 2014
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WV
Darwin, every 40,000 not too excessive. Maintaining the rear will help the front brakes last longer as well. When they are clean, the self adjusters work better, and some reduced wear from extra brake dust as well. You should replace the nut every time it comes off. Just use a torque wrench on it to prevent rear bearing failure from under or over torque.
 
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The single-use-ness of that spindle nut would slow me down from drum maintenance. If I ever get truly bored I bang off my drums, anti-sieze the hub hole, make sure the adjuster isn't frozen, and put it all together. Simply dropping the drum on the floor knocks out "rustbestos" which I try to dispatch without aerosolizing all that much.
 
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Originally Posted By: spasm3
I don't touch them unless i need to rebuild them. Never gone into them for the sole purpose of cleaning.
I removed to check back shoes, and still good at 125k. I wouldnt bother taking em off to clean but thats just me.
 

JC1

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I have rear drums on both 97 Civic and 98 Sienna. I remove the rear drums and clean them and the shoes with brake cleaner every year. I have 166,xxx km on the Civic(rear shoes have never been replaced but they will need replacement next spring) and 262,xxx km on the Sienna (I haven't replaced the rear shoes, but the previous owner might have). You shouldn't have to replace the axle nut. Regards, JC.
 
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I have never cleaned brake drums. Have 337,000 miles on my semi and am just now considering doing the front brakes and drums in February. Back ones will go longer.
 
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I've never cleaned brake drums as a matter of routine maintenance. The only time I've cleaned a drum is when I've replaced the brake shoes.
 
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I inspect the rear drums and shoes once a year when I install my snow tires. The dust tends to work it's way out naturally. In your case. I might not replace the nut each time, but I would likely Loc-tite (Blue) it.
 
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So I was tired of looking at rusty drums on the matrix (former NY car). Also the drums were making a bit of noise. Got a couple of cans of brake clean, cleaned everything up, adjusted the shoes, and installed new bendix drums that are coated with a black finish from the factory. Came out good, no noise afterwards either. The shoes were fine.
 
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On my older vehicle, I pull the drums every 25k miles to clean and repack the "traditional" bearings.
 
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Another thing with drums is when you pull them for a looksee you can grind down the rust lip that catches the shoes during removal.
 
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Originally Posted By: eljefino
Another thing with drums is when you pull them for a looksee you can grind down the rust lip that catches the shoes during removal.
That is one of the reasons I never touch the drum brakes just to clean them. Also, for the people claiming they got couple hundred miles out of their original brake shoes, to me that means that either those miles were probably highway or that the shoes were not adjusted properly in the first place or maybe both. Getting them cleaned up or not has little to do with brake shoe life in my experience.
 
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Originally Posted By: KrisZ
Also, for the people claiming they got couple hundred miles out of their original brake shoes, to me that means that either those miles were probably highway or that the shoes were not adjusted properly in the first place or maybe both.
They must be have adjusted tighter than than a bulls backside in a hurricane to only get a couple of hundred miles out of them. LOL
 
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Originally Posted By: TiredTrucker
I have never cleaned brake drums. Have 337,000 miles on my semi and am just now considering doing the front brakes and drums in February. Back ones will go longer.
Not exactly an apples to apples comparison. Aren't most/all semi tractor drums open on the back side?
Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
I've never cleaned brake drums as a matter of routine maintenance. The only time I've cleaned a drum is when I've replaced the brake shoes.
Neither do I unless I have a specific problem. Some GM rear drums like to accumulate dust and get "grabby". My wife's old Grand Am would do this- but have seen it on Oldsmobiles and Buicks too. Remove the drum, remove the dust and they'd work as intended again.
 

Darwin1138

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Thanks to all for their responses, I am going to play on the safe side, so I am going to inspect them at 40,000 miles to see how things are holding up. As for the axle nut, I don't know what to think either its change is not needed or if it's needed no one really cares about it. I went to the dealership this morning and they didn't have it, nor did the central warehouse. They told me they were going to put a request to the plant, and it will take about a week to arrive. They cost about 8 dollars each, I didn't think they were too expensive. Anyway I prefer to change them because they are the only thing holding the wheel and they don't have any type of cotter pin or safety key to secure them.
 
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You don't have to use brake clean to get rid of the residual dust. Just take the garden hose and lightly spray the dust out. I dry with a leaf blower. Like The Eric said, old GM brakes would stick a little and wouldn't self-adjust if they were dirty inside. The water works every bit as well as brake clean in a can and is basically free. Only reason to use the aerosol is if there was oil or grease leaking onto the shoes. Then it is better to replace anyways.
 
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Yeah, you have a point there, Eric. Yep, semi drum brakes are indeed open on the back side. Didn't put the issue into that perspective. Thanks for the clarification.
 
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Got to thinking about this some more. I have never worried about taking things apart and cleaning out drums. With the amount of dirt and dust that flies up around the drums traveling the several miles of gravel roads we have to run every time we leave the house, I haven't worried about dust from brake shoes being an issue. We never have to do a brake job on any of our personal vehicles any sooner than family, friends, and neighbors that do not run up and down gravel roads frequently. Just one of those things that, put into perspective based on the situation, seems like not worthy of much of my time.
 
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