Finding The Right Brake Drum For Your Axle

It can be hard to find a new brake drum for your axle. This is especially the case if you have an older truck, such as a 1970 Chevy K20. If you’re having trouble finding the right brake drum for your axle, we can help.

The Importance Of Using The Right Brake Drums For Your Axle

brake drums

For optimal braking performance, the brake drums need to be exactly the right size. This sounds obvious, but the challenging part is finding the correct drums. We’ll talk more about that below. If you end up with drums that aren’t quite right, you can end up with the following problems:

  • If you use drums that are too big, the brake drum shoes can’t get enough pressure on the drum to provide good braking.
  • If you use drums that are too small, you’ll have trouble installing them. If you manage to install them, you’ll encounter a few braking issues. For example:
    • Your brakes will be too sensitive
    • The drum brake shoes will wear out fast
    • The brakes will overheat often

When you have brake drums that are just the right size, you won’t encounter any of the above issues.

Which Brake Drums Are Compatible With Your Axle?

The first thing is to figure out which replacement drums to buy. There a few ways to find out:

  1. The first thing is to check the drums on the axle. Some brake drums have specs etched on them. The specs may include the part number, the size, etc.
  2. Do a search online. Instead of Googling something like “Ford F250 drums”, do a search for your axle. Be cautious, though. There’s a lot of misinformation online.
  3. Some service manuals have this information.

Finding Brake Drums For Your New Axle

Once you have the correct specs, it’s time to look for brake drums. There are several ways to get a set:

  • Pick one up at a junkyard
  • Order a used set from someone on eBay, or another online marketplace
  • Order a new set online

Most people don’t install used brake drums on their trucks. It’s because used drums are very unreliable. For instance, a used drum may already be mostly worn out. Even if you find a brake drum that appears to be less worn, we still advise against installing it on your truck. It’s because:

  • There may be some structural issues, such as:
    • Out of round wear
    • Glaze
    • Hot spots
    • Ripples
    • Rust
    • Cracks
  • The inside diameter of one drum may not match the inside diameter of the other drum. In this case, one drum will stop faster than the other. This can twist the axle shaft.

In a nutshell, used drums are not a good idea. They can compromise your truck’s braking performance and, in some cases, mess up the axle too.

So the remaining option is to order a new set of brake drums online. You can Google your truck model + “drums” or “brake drums”. For example:

  • “Chevy C10 brake drums”
  • “GMC 1500 brake drums”
  • “Ram 1500 brake drums”

Be sure to do your due diligence when searching for brand new replacement brake drums. They are almost all made by aftermarket suppliers, and some are better than others. You can also consider converting to disc brakes. It’s actually a better option than replacing/installing brake drums. Read on to find out why.

It’s Much Easier To Convert To Disc Brakes

Bolt swap 1

Did you know that it can be cheaper to convert to disc brakes? The exact cost of switching to disc brakes depends on several factors. Yet, it usually costs the same as replacing drum brakes, give or take a few dollars. You’d get so much more value out of a set of disc brakes, too. This post covers all the reasons why disc brakes are a massive upgrade from drum brakes. To sum it up:

  • Drum brakes have lots of issues:
    • Wet weather performance issues
    • Rust
    • Quicker brake fade
    • Difficulty to inspect and work on
    • Heavy as compared to disc brakes
  • Disc brakes offer lots of benefits over drum brakes:
    • Better performance in wet weather
    • Easier maintenance
    • More consistent performance
    • Less unsprung weight
    • Less rotational inertia (less effort to stop)
    • Much easier inspection

It’s a whole lot easier to find a quality disc brake conversion kit than brake drums for your axle. We offer a full line up of disc brake conversion kits for a variety of axles. Find your axle here, and you’ll get a kit that has everything you need for an easy conversion to disc brakes.

Do you have any questions about converting to disc brakes? You’re welcome to contact us!