How To Adjust Brakes In A Car? [ In Just 3 Steps ]

Drum brakes are a common braking system found on many vehicles. They have been used for many years and typically feature the disc brake at the front of the vehicle, while drum brakes are used in the rear. With proper maintenance, they can last a very long time.

Adjusting drum brakes is needed periodically to ensure they don’t drag when driving or cause the brake pads to wear out faster than usual. You may need to adjust your drum brakes if you have to press down further than normal on the brake pedal before it engages.

Only adjustments should be made once you have identified that brake pads and other parts are still in good condition and uncorroded.

This should be done by experienced professionals with knowledge of drum brake adjustment so as not to disturb any other system components. In this article, we want to discuss how to adjust the brakes in a car, so keep reading.

Here is How to Adjust Brakes in A Car

Step-1: Preparation

Adjusting the drum brakes of a vehicle is an important maintenance task that can help ensure the safety and proper functioning of the brakes. It is important to have all the necessary materials during this job.

These include eye protection, such as goggles or glasses, and a jack and jack stands to lift the car and provide access to the brake drums.

Rags or paper towels are also needed for cleaning any parts or tools that may become dirty during the process. Finally, a screwdriver will be needed to adjust the brake mechanisms in certain cases.

It’s also useful to gather any other supplies you might need before starting work on adjusting your car’s drum brakes; having all these readily available will save you time and hassle in completing the task accurately and efficiently.

One is ready for Part 2: Bleeding Drum Brakes when all these supplies have been acquired. This will involve the removal of the old fluid from each wheel cylinder, inspecting parts for wear, determining how much brake adjustment should be done, and finally, replacing any worn parts with new ones if necessary.

Step-2: Adjust the Drum Brake

To access the drum brake adjuster, you need to locate the access cover in the back of the brake drum. The rubber grommet protecting this cover should be carefully pried out using a screwdriver.

Once you have exposed the star wheel adjuster, you may begin adjusting it by turning it a few times. You will want to watch for any resistance that indicates that the pads are hitting against the drum and turn it in a different direction if necessary so as not to cause damage to either component.

Additionally, ensure only to perform one or two full turns at a time and check again until desired results are attained. Ensure all components are fixed securely in place and checked after every adjustment.

Step-3: Test It

The first step when checking your work on the brakes is to ensure that all the adjustments you’ve made are satisfactory. Carefully inspect the brakes to ensure that everything is properly in place. Once all the necessary changes have been completed, put the adjuster wheel cover back on the back of the drums.

After replacing the cover, take a moment to check your work and make sure everything is correctly in position before continuing to the next step.

The second step is to install the tires and place them back onto the car. Put one wheel onto each side and use either a ratchet or tire iron to tighten each lug nut in a star pattern until it’s snug.

Once all four tires have been secured, examine them again to ensure they are all firmly attached. After ensuring everything looks good, you can move on confidently, knowing that your brakes have been properly adjusted and installed possessively.

What Can Affect the Drum Brake System?

The drum brake system works by pressing a brake pad or shoe against the spinning inside surface of the drum. This forms friction that slows or stops the vehicle. When you apply the brakes, two narrow shoes are forced outward, pressing against the inner surface of the drum, creating friction that slows or stops the wheels from turning.

These drums will wear out over time due to excessive heat, wear, and dirt getting into them, which can affect their performance leading to poor brake response and even complete failure.

Besides regular wear and tear due to use, oil contamination can also reduce braking effectiveness in your car’s drum brake system. Dirt on your brake rotor is another factor that should be considered, as it can wear down your rotors faster than normal.

Poorly fitted brake parts can also cause issues with braking efficiency. Brake fade occurs when brakes get too hot after prolonged use, and this affects the performance of your Drum Brakes system slightly differently than cleaning or replacing worn parts would.

Lastly, improper lubrication can degrade your car’s Drum Brakes’ performance compared to what they could be providing operationally if they were properly lubed up properly.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. Why Do We Adjust Brake?

We adjust brakes in a car to ensure that the vehicle has maximum braking power. Brake adjustment ensures that the brake pads make full contact with the rotors, ensuring efficient stopping power and reducing wear on the brake system components.

It also helps prevent premature wear of brake discs, drums, and other components, which can lead to expensive repairs.

2. How Often Should I Adjust My Brakes?

Having your brakes inspected and adjusted every 6,000 to 10,000 miles or once a year is recommended, whichever comes first. If you travel frequently on long and steep roads or in bad weather conditions, it is advised to inspect and adjust your brakes more regularly.

3. What Tools Are Needed To Adjust Brakes?

The most common tools to adjust brakes are a lug wrench, an adjustable wrench, a torque wrench, and a brake spoon. A tire iron can also be helpful when removing the wheels from the car. Additionally, you may need lubricants such as brake grease and brake fluid, depending on the type of adjustment you are doing.

4. Can I Adjust My Brake Pedal?

Yes, you can adjust the brake pedal of your car. This is a fairly simple process, and it is something that should be done regularly to keep your brakes in good working order.

5. Why Are My Brakes Not Smooth?

If you have noticed that your car’s brakes are not as smooth as they once were, it is likely because they need to be adjusted. Brake adjustment is a relatively simple process and can be done at home with a few basic tools.


Adjusting your brakes is an important part of regular car maintenance. It ensures that your brakes work at full capacity and reduces wear on the brake system components. If you have any questions about how to adjust brakes in a car, it is best to seek advice from a professional mechanic

John D. Archer

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.