Drum Brake Adjustment On 94-01 Dodge Ram

Published: November 16, 2015

I needed to adjust drum brakes on my Ram and the first hurdle to overcome was figuring out which way to turn the adjuster.

In my case, I needed to compensate for brake shoe wear and expand the shoes so that parking brake would hold the vehicle in place when applied. If you are having difficulties removing the drums you want to contract the brake shoes.

If you think of the adjusters as screws running length-wise front to rear of the vehicle pointing toward the front, screwing the adjusters in (moving them forward) expands the brake shoes and unscrewing the adjusters (moving them rearward) contracts the brake shoes.

There is a self-adjustment mechanism built into the drum brakes. When the shoes are expanding, the star wheels turn with little resistance as we are working in the direction of self-adjustment. When the shoes are contracting, we are working against the self-adjustment mechanism and the star wheels catch on the retainer with a characteristic metallic "clunk" as wel as are more difficult to move.

Adjusters on both left and right sides of the vehicle both "face forward". Hence, to expand the shoes on the right drum you would rotate the star wheel up, and to expand the shoes on the left drum you would rotate the star wheel down.

The procedure for adjusting brakes is to expand the shoes until the brakes start to drag (wheels need to be off the ground to check this), then contract the shoes a bit.