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Old 09-21-2015, 06:33 PM   #1
johnnybev81
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Mad Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

The inside shoe on my driver side rear drum brake was worn down to the metal of the shoe. Following what little info I could find, I managed to unhook the spring for the auto adjuster which is positioned on the top, then the smaller hooked spring which connects the star wheel assembly's retaining clip to the shoe frame, and also the retaining spring and cup which hold the shoe on the assembly. No troubles except for a two inch compression spring which dropped out when the star wheel assembly came out. After examining the other side and not seeing anywhere for the compression spring to go, I put it inside the star wheel assembly's stationary piece which sits against the outside shoe.

Long story short, I have to pump the brakes now to fully stop the car. I took the wheel and drum back off again to inspect it and the retaining clip was not holding onto the star wheel - it was hanging down slightly away from the SW instead of engaging it. I manually adjusted the SW tighter to give more resistance when spinning the drum, put everything back on and did another test drive. Same results. The brakes still need to be pumped before the brake pedal has resistance.

What did I do wrong? Any help will be dry appreciated.
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Old 09-21-2015, 08:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

While diy can be rewarding when repairs go right, not having familiarity and experience servicing brakes can be an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately, if you spend time Googling and searching youtube videos, you'll have more info for immediate review if a service manual isn't around. Don't be discouraged by what you find. In general, all drum brakes use similar parts and operate the same way, expanding a pair of brake shoes into the inside drum surface to stop the drum from turning. Any picture or exploded diagram will help with familiarization of where parts go and how they're used. If you study drum brakes you'll see basically four sections; a pair of brake shoes being operated by the hydraulic wheel cylinder pistons, the retaining hardware to hold the brake shoes upright, the springs to pull the brake shoes away from the drum and the star wheel adjuster. Some bemoan drum brakes and their complexity compared to disc brakes but ignore history. Drum brakes were adaptations from horse drawn carriages and used safely for many years before the aircraft industry developed disc brakes. The auto industry simply adopted disc brakes for cars. Every truck has drum brakes and work fine otherwise we'd hear about it. Drum brakes falls into two areas; mechanical parts and hydraulics. Repair whatever mechanical parts need replacement and adjustment. The wheel cylinder pistons depends on a pair of pistons and rubber seals to keep brake fluid in and allow pedal pressure to push pistons out against each brake shoe. If brake fluid was never replaced after brakes were serviced, fluid may have absorbed moisture over the years and can cause corrosion within the system. Flushing and bleeding brakes are normal procedures many are in fear of from lack of knowledge. Couple abs complications and more are reluctant to replace brake fluid. Instead of turning to a brake shop for this service, many ignore it based on "the brakes work perfectly after I replaced all the brake parts". Like motor oil, brake oil needs to be replaced periodically.

Mechanical parts are relatively easy to understand
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

Haha, nice typo, right? Dry=very. Stupid iPhone. The thing that's the weirdest is that the clip which maintains the position of the star wheel doesn't hold its position. The brakes worked before, even with the heavily worn shoe.
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Old 09-24-2015, 08:06 AM   #4
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Thumbs Up Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

I figured I'd post a follow up in case it can benefit anybody. There are two forked ends to the automatic adjuster assembly. Even if you have the forked ends facing the correct direction, if the end closest to the star wheel is not put in right side up, the lever which operates the star wheel not have be able to stay against the star (gear).

Yesterday I took off the wheel and drum again and removed the secondary or "inside" shoe to carefully re-examine the issue when I noticed there is an additional notch on the fork which holds the lever up. That was the source of my trouble as the incorrect positioning of that work will lead to no tension on the star wheel.

Bleeding the brakes is important, of course, but was not the source of my problem (which I've noticed people in other car forums also encountered but were never answered with this simple solution).

Now to just buy a brake spoon and readjust the star wheel one last time before slamming the brakes while going 5mph in reverse a few times to finish the job.

p.s. Drum brakes are 1,000x more tedious than disc brakes and maybe the days of horse drawn carts is where they should have stayed in history.
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Old 09-24-2015, 10:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

Drum brakes work fine when maintained. A person unfamiliar with drum brakes can cause brake problems........
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Old 09-24-2015, 10:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

Johnny,
When working on drum brakes (thank god for disc brakes) don't work on both sides at the same time. If you have problems re-installing parts on one side, just go to the opposite side and check the placement of parts. It's really as simple as that.
I hate working on drum brakes due to their fiddliness (if that's a word?)
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

+1 on the difficulty level working on drum brakes WRT disc brakes. I did a DIY for L-Series front discs that is in the HowTo forum. Simple stuff. I purposely didn't do one for the drums, because I think most DIY mechanics can get into trouble with these. There are many (mostly wrong) ways to reassemble the parts after you get them apart. You can take a digital photo before taking anything apart as a guide or you can peek at the other side for help. The line diagrams in the FSM are so vague as to be of little guidance. Then there is the possibility that a previous mechanic or DIY repair scrambled some parts before you got there. All these can result in improper operation. My experience is that there are two main difficulties with these. The first is that everything goes sproing when you try to re-hook the tension springs on the shoes, the pistons come out of the cylinder and you have brake fluid everywhere and air in the system. To prevent this, fasten a belt strap or rope around the shoes before trying the hook on the springs. The other problem is when using aftermarket shoes the flat blade portion of the shoe is slightly thinner than the OEM ones. The fork on the end of the adjuster is now a little too wide to keep the thin sheet metal pawl for the adjuster rachet from dropping into the fork gap. The result is the brakes will not self adjust and you won't be able to apply the handbrake and the pedal will have too much travel. The cure for this is to squeeze the fork slot a little tighter in a vise. Add in the tiny fragile bleeders that weld themselves into the aluminum cylinder bodies and you have a whole bunch of issues. I forgot one. There is the ridge of rust that builds up on the edge of the drum that needs to be removed before it will go back on over the new shoes.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

Actually, the ridge of rust on the edge of drums is the original drum surface never touched by brake shoes. What you see is the result of normal wear and tear of drums worn away where brake shoes make contact, leaving the ridge. Its not rust growing, just original metal.
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Old 05-10-2021, 09:41 AM   #9
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Dizzy Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

I recently obtained 2002 L100, and I too desperately need to find a precise diagram of how the springs, shoes and components are to fit together.... I'm really annoyed to yet again encounter the "drum brakes are all the same" since covered wagons arrogance..... and/or the ole' take photos and/or don't touch the good side. All useless for me, as my working hunch is that a mechanic who'd serviced the vehicle over the past decade repeatedly was installing components (on both sides!) incorrectly, such that in multiple service calls, owner was reporting the springs, adjusters, etc. were (literally) falling off inside the drum. Has now happened to me twice.

What's especially mind-boggling is the utter lack of repair videos for this job, or precise diagrams -- not in Haynes, Chilton (same thing) or even AllData....

So please, no more knowing crap about covered wagons. Anybody have an actual photo/diagram set for exactly how the shoes, springs, adjuster, and parking brake lever (the real issue) are to line up inside the drums on the L-series?
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Old 06-13-2021, 12:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes trick revisited

hi drum brakers with saturn L 100- mine a 01 . the left rear brake after a few days starts making a thudding repeating noise . took drum off and noticed the top cross shoe return spring which holds the shoes against the cylinder had popped off and was sitting there loose apparently allowing the shoe to stay against the drums instead of returning as the spring is intended to make them do. putting the spring back on solves the problem but it pops off again. took a spare spring from my junk pile which exactly matched up, bent the left front end of the spring to slightly lengthen the hook and reinstalled it. seems to be working. did check a new spring in a box of multiple brake parts at little joes car parts and it is exactly the same as my old ones. is this a common problem in saturns and is it a design problem. my dodges and fords from the 60s and 70s were all drum brakes at least in the rear and never had this problem . springs then busted after 20 years from rust. what think? thanks tons bob f
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Old 06-13-2021, 05:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes trick revisited

Although my rear brake set up is currently with rear discs, I did perform one rear drum brake service before converting to rear discs. The service included a full spring replacement. (It occurred at about 160K miles.) At no time were there any problems with the brake springs - factory springs nor new aftermarket springs. I would not consider reinstalling used brake springs unless there was no other alternative. Used springs may appear identical to new springs, but spring tension strength will in no way be equal to that of new springs. This is likely to include not only the coiled portions but the smaller curved portions as well.
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Old 06-14-2021, 01:49 PM   #12
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

New Hardware kits for rear drum brakes run between $5.00 to $8.00 on Rock Auto. That's all the springs and clips for BOTH sides.

I concur with Pierrot, it is false economy to put used springs on the rear brakes, ESPECIALLY when new kits are so cheap.

I have no sympathy for tight ass folks who will not spend on their brakes to keep their vehicles and their passengers safe. Try getting hospital treatment for $5.00 to $8.00!!!!
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:05 AM   #13
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes trick revisited

Rather unhelpful, even condescending non-replies. Well bully for some that "at no time" did they have any problem with new spring kits, implying somehow that those of us who do encounter the infernal L-series brake nightmares didn't buy correct springs or were using used/old hardware. To the contrary, in my 2002 L100's case, the previous mechanic each time had bought new hardware kits, and I did too. (best available) Same results.

Also stunningly not helpful is this knowing refrain that diy folks shouldn't do this job, should take the car to a mechanic. (right, the very ones who will have no idea why the adjusters keep popping off, who will have no idea just how the various curious components of the adjuster and brake hardware kits are to be placed.... they just consult their horse & buggy pals here, and guess....)

The key problem, so ardently avoided here and elsewhere on saturn"fans" is that there apparently are no detailed diagrams (not just the vague line drawings) and/or videos available clearly demonstrating just how the components from the repair kits (even acdelco oem) are to fit together.... on the Saturn L-series. Please somebody do chime in with any evidence to the contrary.

Last edited by havai; 07-21-2021 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:16 AM   #14
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridasl22002 View Post
New Hardware kits for rear drum brakes run between $5.00 to $8.00 on Rock Auto. That's all the springs and clips for BOTH sides.

I concur with Pierrot, it is false economy to put used springs on the rear brakes, ESPECIALLY when new kits are so cheap.

I have no sympathy for tight ass folks who will not spend on their brakes to keep their vehicles and their passengers safe. Try getting hospital treatment for $5.00 to $8.00!!!!
Ok, you're focusing on the original poster and berating him for apparently not getting new parts. Ok, fine. (in my case, not an issue)

"False economy" is ignoring the underlying issue at hand (how the blazes to put everything back together) with snarling sermons about hospital bills. Want to save a life? try answering the original question.... Or is this "saturn fans" forum only meant for mechanic types to tell us that "you can't handle it" -- go find a mechanic. (who likely never worked on a L-series/Saab either)
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Old 07-21-2021, 11:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes trick revisited

Quote:
Originally Posted by havai View Post
Rather unhelpful, even condescending non-replies. Well bully for some that "at no time" did they have any problem with new spring kits, implying somehow that those of us who do encounter the infernal L-series brake nightmares didn't buy correct springs or were using used/old hardware. To the contrary, in my 2002 L100's case, the previous mechanic each time had bought new hardware kits, and I did too.
1) What was written in my first four sentences of post #11 were facts regarding my own experience. They were presented to support the statement of opinion which followed. The opinion was then followed by reasons in support of it. My concern was with the safety of the operation of the brake servicing to be performed and nothing more.

2) My reply was to rfisher's post #10. It was neither directly nor indirectly related to your post #9. If I had responded to your post I would've used a quote from it for clarity.
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Old 08-04-2021, 08:37 AM   #16
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Default Re: Trouble with drum brakes on my 2002 L100

hi to sages pierrot and havai- successfully serviced springs, cylinders, shoes and so called automatic adjusters on drum brakes since 63. all had the same problem- the automatic adjuster starwheel , holding spring and adjuster lever was located on the bottom of the shoes where it received regular hits from rain and salt slush causing it to rust and seize in less than a year. driving in reverse while exercising the brake pedal would cause the outer shoe to move down and pull the cable advancing the starwheel and tightening the shoes against the drum.anybody remember then spinning the drum and listening for slight contact ?going forward the shoe would move back to its original position. this worked for a while and all was good until it had a seizure. disassembly, cleaning, wire brushing and relubing was the only answer which most ignored. figure this is why all those old tankers had brake spoon slots in the backing plate and rubber plugs which soon dried hard and fell out. this was so you could manually adjust the starwheel if it was stuck. the saturn L drum brakes moved the adjuster mechanism up to just under the cylinder, redesigned it and apparently used more corrosion resistant metal, but you have to reassemble it carefully as stated. this change does in fact slow down the corrosion. two complaints- my L drum brakes do not have manual adjusting slots on either backing plate and replacement drums are not predrilled for the little screw which holds the drum on the hub(i use a sawed off bolt as a pilot stud to hold it stationary when i mount the wheel. these adaptations have somewhat reduced my use of heinous adjectives/adverbs against the engineers and their muthas who designed some of these conundrums. as the rest of you do i bemoan the non availability of a good diagram. as we said in the last war, keep up the good work and give em hell. thanks tons bob f
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