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Old 07-19-2008, 11:10 AM   #1
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92 VX Drum Brake Headaches

Well friends, I've had a one hell of a time over yesterday and today. I tried to replace the brake shoes on the rear drums of my VX myself for the first time, and it's been tough sledding. To my consternation, changing out the pads on drums are much more difficult than front disc pads. There are far more parts, and the Honda Service Manual is less than clear about the actual process-I simply was not able to do the job in the same way as described in the book. Here are some of the problems:

1. Extremely difficult to remove the U-clip from the pin that attaches the parking brake lever to the trailing brake shoe. Managed to get the passenger side clip off and the pads replaced on that side after much hassle. Chewed up the parking brake lever and pin a bit. Had to leave the driver's side drum unfinished after fighting with this one little item for hours last night. I tried needle-nose pliers, small screwdriver bit heads, etc. (it's sitting out in the garage right now awaiting my next attempt at removing the U-clip). Any ideas on the easiest way to get these things off?

2. Discovered it's very difficult to put the new pads back on with only two hands-everything just falls off unless you have someone else hold the pads on while you attach the springs. Springs-particularly the upper one-very hard to stretch and attach with needle-nose pliers.

3. The install sequence (?) as described in the Honda manual just not possible in my case-there isn't a step called "put pads on". The manual only speaks of reassembling everything, then the pads are sort of magically on the drums. I had to improvise the install sequence to get everything on the car.

4. Once I finally did get the passenger side pads and everything put on, the drum wouldn't slide over the pads. My bad. In fighting to get everything on, I backed off the auto adjuster, leaving the pads spread out too far. I took a small screwdriver and rotated it down all the way. The drum slid on, but the pads still drag a bit when I rotate the drum. Info on the web seems to indicate this is normal. I just hope everything works correctly when I get it all put back together...

Needless to say, this won't be a DIY job again for me in the future. I've decided to leave this one to the pros from here on. The job has taken 4-5 hours so far, and it's still not finished. I've got a chronic bad back, and have to limit my DIY auto repair battles to those I can win relatively quickly. It's a tough choice: finances are tight and I want to save as much money as possible, but that has to be balanced with the severe back pain I suffer after each home repair job.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:12 PM   #2
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Addendum: I got so frustrated with the U-clip I took it and the parking brake lever over to the local Brakes Plus. They promptly got it off. I then completed the driver side install, which took considerably less time than it's opposite number did.

I then went out and test drove the car; I did some braking tests (forward and backing up). When I got back home, I jacked up the rear end to check it out-spun the wheels, and both rear brakes are still dragging a bit in spots. I had set the adjusters on each side to the minimum, as the drums would only slide on at this setting (they are brand new Beck/Arnleys). Is this normal, or could it be the drums are out of true ? I should think the brake drag will affect my mpg somewhat-and I don't want that.

I would greatly appreciate any information as to how rear drum brake pad replacement is supposed to go compared to how it went for me. This drum brake rookie would be happy to be enlightened by your experiences .
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:10 AM   #3
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I did a rear brake replacement in my former '95 VX about 5 years ago. The rear brakes never worked very well, even when brand new: always a pulsing pedal (I wish Honda had used disc brakes on the rear). I know about the problems that you described, but I was able to disassemble and reassemble everything without any big headaches. I used one side as a template to do the other side. When I finished, it just wasn't braking properly...both sides dragged a bit, but I figured it was just the lousy drum brakes that I always experienced since the car was brand new. Two days after doing the job, one of the wheel cylinders crapped out. I took it to a mechanic to replace because I was fed up w/ drum brakes at this point. When I got the car back, he told me I had installed the parking brake cable incorrectly. I told him that's how it came from the factory because it was the first set of replacement rear brakes, and all I did was reinstall them the way they came off. Anyway, I don't know what he did differently than me, but the brakes never worked so well.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:25 AM   #4
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Like you, I used one side as a template to do the other. As of right now the brakes are working okay. After putting everything together, I spun the wheels, and noticed that both drums were rubbing against the shoes in one spot...I wonder if the new drums are out of round. It wouldn't be the first time a Made In China product had quality control problems. I've decided to take the old drums and have them machined; I'll then put them back on the car and see what happens.

I inspected the wheel cylinders after removing the pads. They looked fine; no fluid leakage or rubber boot damage.
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