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Emergency Brake Shoe Replacement

By Tommy Olsson

Friction pad remains

The emergency brake shoes on the rear disk brake equipped Grand Cherokees have a tendency to come apart, especially in cold and wet climate, I've been told. Mine started to act up, and when I took it apart to see what the problem was, I could easily understand why it didn't work. The picture on the right shows what was left of the friction pads. They had come off from the metal shoes, and were loose inside the drum.

Taking It Apart

Step one was to break loose the lug nuts, jack up the rear end of the Jeep, put it on jack stands, and remove the wheels. Then the calipers need to be removed. That's just two 13 mm (1/2") bolts from the inside, and some applied force to slide the calipers off. The rear brake disc, which doubles as a drum for the emergency brake, is next to come off. You may need to shorten the adjustment for the emergency brake first. It is accessible through a hole in the shield, from the inside. There is a little oblong rubber plug covering the hole. Remove it, and use a screwdriver to turn the adjustment mechanism so that the shoes come closer together. That means a clockwise rotation on the driver's side, and counter-clockwise on the passenger side. You may also have to use a plastic hammer or something similar, and bang a few times on the disc to make it come loose. Don't inhale any of the brake dust that may have accumulated inside the drum. It's very dangerous for your respiratory system.

Emergency brake mechanismOnce the disc is removed, you can see the emergency brake mechanism. Start by removing the small spring at the bottom, using small pliers. Then remove the adjustment bolt and its socket. The next problem is the two clips and pins that hold the brake shoes in place. Press the bottom of the clip and push the clip downwards until the pin slides up into the bigger hole. You can now remove the clip and the pin.

The final obstacle is the larger spring at the top. You can only detach one end of it, and it is fairly obvious which one it is. Use some pliers and slide the spring out. Now the brake shoes can be removed. Observe how they are mounted.

At this point, I cleaned all the details. Using a steel brush, I removed as much of the rust as I could. Then I sprayed on some MoS2 oil for lubrication. It is important to make sure that the adjustment bolt works here. Work the cogwheel nut up and down along the thread a few times and spray oil on it. Then position the cogwheel nut close to the top of the bolt.

Putting It Back Together

Reassembly is just as easy. First put the short end of the upper spring into position in the hole of the brake shoe closest to the front of the vehicle. Put the shoe in position, making sure that it's not upside down. The straight edge is at the top, and the edge with a notch in it goes at the bottom. Then place the other shoe in position and reattach the other end of the upper spring with the pliers. Put the pins and clips back on (this isn't as easy as it sounds). Then place the adjustment bolt and its socket in position. The notch in each end fits in the notches at the lower end of the brake shoes. Remember to make the adjustment bolt as short as possible before doing this, or you won't get the disc back on. Then put back the small spring at the bottom and put the disc and calipers back on.

Then crawl beneath the Jeep again, armed with a screwdriver. Turn the cogwheel nut on the adjustment bolt until the brake shoes press against the interior of the drum. That is, until you can't wiggle the drum with your hands anymore. Set the emergency brake and release it, to center everything. Now release the adjustment three or four cogs, until the disc can be moved again. Put the wheels back on, remove the jack stands, and lower the Jeep. Don't forget to tighten the lug nuts, preferably using a torque wrench. When you start the Jeep, pump the brake pedal a few times to get the calipers in the right position.


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