The Toyota Tacoma is one of the very few vehicles you can buy today with rear drum brakes. It’s certainly the only big volume seller that has them.
If you’re lucky enough to own a Tacoma, you might be wondering when it’s time to replace its drum shoes. This guide has all the information you need. First, let’s talk about why Tacoma models have drum brakes on the rear wheels rather than disc brakes at all four wheels.
Why Toyota Decided to Put Rear Drums on Tacoma Models
Many people shake their heads at Toyota’s decision to put drums on the rear of the Tacoma. Fans of other trucks point and laugh. However, there are a few good reasons why Tacomas have drums:
- Cost: Drum brakes are cheaper to manufacture than disc brakes, and Toyota passes the savings along to its customers. On the Tacoma (and most unloaded pickups), the front brakes do 70%-80% of the braking. The rear brakes are barely doing anything. For this reason, drivers do not notice a difference in the braking feel between the Tacoma with rear drum brakes and other trucks with rear discs.
- Off-Road Robustness: Drum brakes have an advantage off road. They are not as likely to ingest a pebble and have it lodge between the shoe and the drum. Pebbles do get stuck between the rotor and disc on disc brakes. This isn’t a huge problem, but it is annoying.
- Less Maintenance: Perhaps the biggest advantage of having drum brakes on the rear of the Tacoma is that they will go a really long time before needing new shoes. Many owners report that they are well past 100,000 miles before the brakes need service. Most disc brakes would need two sets of pads and a set of rotors by 100K miles. So the Tacoma’s drum brakes save the owner quite a bit of money.
Even though drum brake shoes last over 100K miles, they will need to be replaced eventually.
A Few Different Reasons Why Drum Brake Shoes Go Bad
If drum brake shoes don’t encounter any issues, they can last over 100K miles before they stop functioning well from normal wear and tear. However, drum brake shoes can fail sooner from the following issues:
- Excessive braking and towing
- Improper drum and/or shoe installation (this happens right after you get new drums and/or shoes installed if the technician didn’t do the installation correctly)
- Over-tightening the lug nuts, which can warp the drum
So basically, drum brake shoes can fail. As long as you can recognize the symptoms of failed drum brake shoes, you’ll be able to get them replaced before your truck’s braking performance is seriously compromised.
The Most Common Signs That Your Drum Brake Shoes Have Gone Bad
Here are the most common signs that your drum brakes need new shoes:
- Vibration or pulsation in the brake pedal when the brakes are applied
- Reduced brake response
- Loose parking brake (a good way to test this is to park your truck on an incline or hill and then apply the parking brake; if the truck starts to roll down the hill, then there’s not enough pad life left on the shoes)
- Scraping noise coming from the rear tires
Inspecting the Drum Brake Shoes
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of failing drum brake shoes, you can visually inspect the shoes to confirm that they need to be replaced. To do this:
- Chock the front wheels.
- Make sure the parking brake is off.
- Lift the rear of the truck.
- Remove the tires.
- Remove the drums.
- Inspect the shoes
- Check the pad thickness (if it’s below 3mm, then the shoes need to be replaced ASAP)
- Look for cracks or hot spots
If you have a 2005-2018 Tacoma and you need to replace your drum brake shoes, look no further than our high-quality drum brake shoes!