Originally Posted by captainmiller
I asked about that, he said they inspected the other side and it looked fine. I hope I don't have to deal with it any time soon. BTW, what is the adjuster kit and what does it do?
Cool, glad you got it solved. Drums suck to work on, but they aren't really bad to work on. If you ever decide to do them, take pictures of the mechanism and keep the driver & passenger side parts seperate (there are parts that are reversed depending on the side you are looking at.)
The adjusters are like little turn-buckles. As the brake shoes wear down, they unscrew and get longer to close the gap between the shoe surface and the drum. Without them, the drum brakes would become very spongy over time...since you would need a lot of movement before the shoes touch the drum surface.
Hmm.. the way it works: The shoes have to be spread apart to apply pressure to the inside of the drum. Hydrualic pistons do this when you press the brake pedal. A mechanical lever does it if you apply the parking brake. To get the brakes to release, big springs pull the shoes away from the drum surface. A little pawl and ratchet deal on the adjuster unscrews it (making it longer) and forces the shoes as close to the drum surface as possible to make up for wear. The automatic adjuster is actually a pretty cool gizmo. I have a Honda motorcycle that I have to adjust the drum brake on manually.
As a part of routine maintenance, I pull the drums off and blow out the brake dust so I can see the condition of the parts as well as the shoes. I also occasionally apply the parking brake and release it to make sure the cables haven't rusted in place, which happens a lot since few people ever use the parking brake on automatic transmission cars. Not as powerfull or as easy to work on as disk brakes, but still a pretty good design all the way around.