View Full Version : How to adjust brakes?

03-12-2016, 03:33 PM
I wanted to adjust my rear brake shoes inward a bit. It seemed simple, but I became confused.

1. Do both wheels need to be lifted off the ground at the same time in order for the wheel to turn freely?

2. To loosen the brakes, is the star wheel supposed to be pushed upwards (or down)?

My botched attempt:
I have a scissor jack somewhere in the black hole that I call a garage. I wanted to put it under the differential and jack up both wheels, but I couldn't find the jack. I used my bumper jack on the left rear bumper, but as a I jacked up the body on the springs, the wheel stayed on the ground. I jacked the car right up to the top of the bumper jack and the tire just barely lifted off the ground. I had trouble seeing the brake adjuster star wheel, but I turned it up several notches and the wheel felt more difficult to turn than when I started. The emergency brake was off, the transmission was in neutral, there were chocks on the front wheels, and a jack stand under the frame ahead of the left rear wheel.

03-12-2016, 05:29 PM
First and foremost, you need to get a floor jack that you can put under the differential and jack up the car. Then use jack stands before you get underneath the car. I am attaching a picture that I hope explains the turning of the star wheel. You can turn it easily to tighten the brakes but the tab will prevent it from backing off. I utilize a small thin screwdriver to push the lock tab out of the way to loosen the brakes. If I am tightening you don't need to move the tab out of the way and I use a brake adjustment tool which has the correct bends in it to make it easy.
I have the floor jack pictured here and it cost me $69, the $19. You can get a bigger jack and stands which I have, but almost always use these with my Falcon.

Jeff W
03-13-2016, 04:19 PM
I do what Larry does. Rotate the wheel by hand until I feel drag. Then back off a couple of clicks.

03-14-2016, 02:57 AM
First and foremost, you need to get a floor jack that you can put under the differential and jack up the car.

Hello, Larry and Jeff.

Yea, I have a set of jack stands but really do need to get a decent jack.

Here us what happened. There has been a "chirp chirp chirp" sound coming from the wheels.
I changed the wheel covers and still had the chirping sound.
I jacked up the rear of the car and it found that the left back wheel was dragging in one spot and that was making the chirping sound. I assumed that the bakes were out of adjustment, but also thought that maybe the brake drum could be out of round.
There is a "Just Brakes" shop near my house that is open on Sunday and I took it there yesterday morning. They turned the brake drum on a lathe and adjusted the shoes.
The wheel still hit a dragging spot as it rotated. They said that the brakes were adjusted perfectly and the dragging must be coming from the wheel bearing.

Huh. I had the new wheel bearings installed a month and a half ago. One of them must have been defective. I will take the car back this evening and explain that they need to replace that bearing.

03-14-2016, 10:04 AM

Though I can't agree more with the safety issue, there are a couple other things to note from reading your posts.

1) You were trying to loosen the adjuster, right? Lessen the drag? If you do this you'll find it harder to do than making it tighter. The brakes have a star-wheel adjuster and then a self-adjuster lever that hits at this start-wheel every time you back-up and apply the brakes. This assures you always have adjusted brakes - unless you only ever go forward. To spin the star-wheel backward you have fight against the self-adjuster. You can do it, but it can be a struggle to go backward. It goes very easy forward.

2) There is a potential that the cotter-pin under the dust cap is rubbing. Driving it wouldn't be noticed (except audibly, perhaps), but spinning the wheel by hand it might be enough to feel it catch. This is front brakes, of course. These dust-caps get all beat-up by animal mechanics and I always hammer them back out to make them a dome again, or replace them.

3) If you are talking rear brakes, also make sure the e-brake cable is releasing fully. I've seen e-brake cables that pull just fine, but don't relax as easily. On a Falcon you have three e-brake cables. One from the dash to the transmission cross-member, and one to each rear wheel. You can release the lever to the front cable and make sure all of these cable pull and release by hand without any catching.

03-15-2016, 06:29 PM
Hmmm. I asked the mechanic who installed the wheel bearings to look at the wheel. He said that chirping sound had come from one of the pivot pins (the pin with the spring and retaining cap). He said that it was rubbing against the brake drum and making the chirping sound. He also said that my brake drum was "egg shaped". He turned the drum again and installed new pins.

I do not hear the chirping sound anymore, so he evidently solved the problem. :)

The suspension, steering, drive train, and brakes are all dialed in now and I am very satisfied with how this car feels. It is really really nice and I get a lot of pleasure from driving it.

Here is some non-Falcon related Florida humor for y'all Pacific Northwest folks: