How-to » Brakes » Drum Brakes » How to Perform a Brake Safety Inspection

How to Perform a Brake Safety Inspection

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Note: This is a general guide for all vehicles.

Tools
  • Flashlight
  • Floor Jack
  • 2 more tools
Difficulty

Moderate

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Steps

Safety Tip:
Always wear safety glasses when working on your vehicle. Wear other personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary, for example latex gloves or closed toe shoes.

1
Check for a solid brake pedal and test drive the vehicle. Make sure the vehicle stops smoothly and does not pull to either side. Park your vehicle on a solid, level surface.
2
Open the hood and locate the brake master cylinder reservoir on the driver side firewall. Remove the reservoir cap and check the brake fluid color and the fluid level. The fluid color should be clear and the fluid level should be above the halfway mark or add line.
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3
Remove the hub caps if applicable. Break loose the wheel lug nuts with a tire iron but do not remove.
4
Lift up the front of the vehicle with a floor jack and support it with jack stands.
5
Lift up the rear of the vehicle and support it with jack stands.
6
Remove the wheel lug nuts. Remove the wheels.
7
If applicable, remove the rear brake drums. Inspect the brake rotors and drums for scoring, grooves, and discoloration from heat. If you notice these symptoms, the rotors and drums will need to be resurfaced or replaced.
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8
Inspect the brake linings for wear and fluid contamination. Worn or contaminated linings must be replaced.
9
Inspect the brake calipers for binding. Excessive rust and uneven pad wear are symptoms of a binding caliper.
10
Inspect the master cylinder, calipers, brake hoses, and wheel cylinders for fluid leaks.
11
Refer to the replacement instructions for any components that do not pass the inspection. Sometimes a complete brake job is the best course of action.
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