How to Replace Rear Brake Shoes on a Jeep Cherokee

How to Replace Rear Brake Shoes on a Jeep Cherokee

While many people swap in disk brakes, the rear drum brakes on the Jeep Cherokee work pretty well when they work correctly. They self adjust each time they are applied in reverse. The shoes will generally last at least 100,000 miles.

Begin by lifting the Jeep and removing the rear wheel. Next remove the brake drum. If it has never been off before, there will be one or two spring clips on the lug studs. Grab these with pliers and break them away or try to unscrew them from the studs.

Pull on the drum to remove it. If it hangs on the shoes, remove the rubber cap on the backing plate and use a brake spoon to release some of the tension on the shoes. Rotate the adjuster up to release.

If the drum hangs on the hub, try hitting the face of the drum with a hammer. This will often break loose the rust weld at the center. Penetrating oil may help as well. In severe cases you may need a drum removal tool.

Once the drum is removed, inspect the brakes. There should be two overlapping springs at the top, an adjuster cable running from the top to the bottom of the rear shoe, retaining springs on each shoe and a smaller spring connecting the two shoes at the bottom.

The adjusted lever should lightly contact the wheel on the adjuster screw. The screw should turn freely when the adjuster lever is moved away from it.

If any of the springs as broken or missing, you will need a spring kit with the new shoes. If the cable or the adjuster is not working properly, you will also need a small parts kit.

To remove the shoes, I start with the retaining clips. Press in on the cup using either a brake tool or a pair of vise grips. Reach behind the backing plate and rotate the pin until it lines up with the slot in the cup. Release the spring to separate it from the pin. Use the same procedure on the other shoe.

Next remove the two large springs at the top. Use either a spring tool or a pair of vise grips to release one spring at a time. Note that the spring on the rear shoe also holds the cable pivot in place. Note the arrangement so you can put it back later.

The two shoes can now be slipped down around the axle and the lower spring can be removed as well as the adjuster. Pay attention to how the hand brake lever engages the rear shoe so you can put that back later. Also note the orientation of the adjuster screw. I like to lay all the parts out on the floor in a sort of exploded view so that I can reference it upon reassembly.

The mounting pin for the new shoes will likely not be installed. To put it in, note which side it is mounted on the old shoe. Use a vise to press the pin into the hole in the new shoe.

Put a small dab of grease on the backing plate in the places where the shoes contact. Also inspect the wheel cylinder and replace it as necessary before installing the new shoes.

Set a shoe in place and set the retaining spring over the hole. Insert the pin from the rear and align it with the slot in the cup. Compress the spring and rotate the pin to lock into the cup. Then release the spring to hold it in place. Do the same with other shoe. Note that the front and rear shoes are different. Make sure you have them in the correct place. Also make sure they properly engage the wheel cylinder. Slip the bar in place between the shoes in the upper slots.

Put the loop of the cable over the anchor pin. Hook the spring for the front shoe in the hole and use a spring tool to hook the spring over the anchor pin. Carefully place the cable pivot into the hole in the rear shoe. Hook the spring to hold it in place. Use the tool to secure the spring to the anchor. Inspect the pivot to make sure it is properly engage in the hole and is flat against the shoe. Adjust as needed.

Use pliers to install the lower spring between the shoes. Rotate the adjuster screw to fully closed. Stretch the spring and slip the adjuster screw in place between the screws. Clip the adjuster lever to the pin in the rear shoe. Install the spring on the lever. Tip the lever up and attach the adjuster cable making sure it is routed properly around the pivot.

When properly fitted, the lever will be against the cog wheel o the screw. It if hangs above or below the wheel, adjust the pivot under the spring. Adjust the screw until the drum will go on with just a slight drag. Install the drum and make a final adjustment of the screw through the access hole in the backing plate.

Repeat the procedure on the opposite side. Keep in mind however that the other side is reversed and even the screw threads on the adjuster screw are opposite.