Ford Ranger Drum Brake Repair

Step by step repair instructions and photos for 2005 Ford Ranger rear drum brakes.

These days almost everyone needs to save money and hone their self sufficiency skills – and my house is no different.

When the brakes on my 2005 Ford Ranger started making that tell tale growl I decided I needed to do it myself this time despite the fact that it’s probably been at least 10 years since I did a brake job. Happily it was like riding a bicycle.  This repair is very similar to every other set of drum brakes that I’ve ever done, but your mileage may vary.

A shop might charge $2-300 or even more for this repair but the truth is that if you’re fairly mechanically inclined this isn’t an excessively difficult  job, and you can do it yourself with about $60 worth of brake shoes, and you won’t need any “special” tools.  Chances are that if you do any automotive work at all you already have most or all of the tools that you will need for this job:

  • Jack and jack stands or equivalent
  • Cross Wrench to remove the lug nuts
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Medium / large slot screwdriver
  • Small / medium “Vise Grip” type locking pliers
  • Locking needle nose pliers
  • Digital Camera

Expect to take from 30 minutes to 1 hour for each side unless you are already proficient – in which case you probably don’t need this guide.  If you get in a hurry and don’t read the directions – or if you run into problems like frozen or broken parts it could take quite a bit longer.  Clear your calendar for a few hours just in case. Try to have another vehicle available in case you need to make a parts run.

Brakes aren’t something that you want to foul up, and drum brakes are a lot more aggravating than discs are – so if you don’t have the patience to safely do a good job then you should just shell out the cash and let a professional do it for you.

This information may not be correct, and may cause extensive damage to you or your vehicle, and is only for information / entertainment use only.  You must agree that you are responsible for the consequences of any use or misuse.

Never work on any vehicle that is up on a jack – you will almost certainly injure or kill yourself, and damage the car.  Use jack stands or a safe equivalent like railroad cross ties or 6x6s.  Never work on any vehicle on a soft or unstable surface – concrete is best, asphalt can collapse under jack stands if you put enough weight on it.  You are solely responsible for your own safety and that of your car, passengers, other cars, drivers, and pedestrians.  If you are not 100% sure that you can safely complete this job then don’t do it.

Here is a valuable tip – do one side at a time.  That way if you get confused you can look at the other side to help you get it all together again.

Before you jack up the truck loosen all of the lug nuts while the tire is still on the ground.  Then once you have the car safely up and the tire off remove the retaining clips that the factory used to hold the drum on.  If the drums have ever been removed there won’t be any retainers so don’t worry about it, but if you have to remove them they will be damaged in the process which is OK, because they no longer serve any purpose – just throw them away.

use a screwdriver to pry the retainer clips lose and then just yank them off with a pair of pliers.
use a screwdriver to pry the retainer clips lose and then just yank them off with a pair of pliers.

Then remove the brake drum by gently tapping on it with a hammer to get it started, and then pry it off with a pry bar through the center hole.

Once you have the drums off examine them for deep scratches (like you will have if you wait too long to replace the shoes) or glazing (like you get if you drive like a mad man).  If the surface is not in good shape then you need to get the drums turned (7-10 bucks apiece) or replaced if they are too bad to turn.  Many parts stores that sell brake shoes also will turn your drums and discs.  If you don’t know what you are looking for, or if you aren’t sure, then take them to the parts store or machine shop to be checked.

Here’s what you will see once the drums are off –

Take several pictures of all of the springs and clips to help you get them all back together later.  Dont just rely on your memory!
Take several pictures of all of the springs and clips to help you get them all back together later. Don't just rely on your memory! If you don't have a digital camera then draw a diagram.

Helpful tip #1 – Put a ratchet strap, bungee cord, or giant rubber band around the outside of the brake shoes – this will help to hold it all together while you deconstruct the assembly.

Now remove the top spring from the rearmost brake shoe (the two sides are mirror imaged) by grasping it with a pair of vise grips and prying on them with a screw driver.

Don’t worry about the other top spring yet – it will be easy.

Now remove the spring from the auto adjusting lever by lifting the end of it up and off of the adjuster.

This will free up the adjuster lever which just hooks onto the end of the tensioner spring / cable and rides on the same stud as it’s lever spring

Now grasp both of the shoe hold down spring clips with a pair locking needle nosed pliers and remove it by compressing the spring and rotating it 90 degrees while you hold the retining rod from the back with finger pressure.  This is very easy to do with locking needle nose pliers and very hard to do without them.  If you don’t hold the rod from the back it will rotate along with the retainer, and make you say bad words.

Now use your locking pliers to grasp the spring that runs between the two brake shoes – stretch it just a little bit and pull the end out of the hole – note that this picture shows me holding the wrong end of the spring – I didn’t get a good shot of holding the correct end (this is on the passenger side).  Anyway, one end (the end toward the front of the truck)  will come out easily, and the other won’t come out at all without great difficulty and damaging the spring – so don’t force it.  Once you have the right end it will come right out with no problem.

Once you have the front end of the spring out just pivot the spring out and the other end will unhook.

Now take off the ratchet strap and the shoes will both come off – the front one will still be hooked to the big spring at the top but it won’t be under any tension and it will come right off.

Several parts will just come loose along with the brake shoes – like the star wheele auto adjuster –

The four brake shoes are all exactly alike except that two of them have this stud and the other two don’t.  The shoes with the stud install toward the rear of the vehicle.

The stud goes at the bottom by the way.

The rearmost shoe (with the stud) will still be attached by a soft steel clip to the parking brake lever.  You will have to bend apart the legs of the clip to remove it, and then you will have to crimp them back with a pair of pliers to install the new shoe.  Go ahead and do that.

One end of the adjuster star wheel assembly is threaded while the other end is not.  Turn the treaded end to shorten the adjuster assembly as short as it will go – but leave it loose – don’t screw it in tight and bound up.

Now you are ready to reassemble everything using the new brake shoes.

this thing is a pain in the butt
See that silvery thing under my left thumb?  That piece of sheet metal positions the cable / adjuster tension spring and is only held in place by the hole that it rides in and the slot in the shoe retractor – it’s kind of a pain in the butt. Don’t forget to position it as you install the shoes.

First rehook the big top spring to the forward shoe (it isn’t under any tension yet) and position both shoes while holding them loosely in place with the ratcheting strap or bungee cord.  Check to make sure that the slave cylinder rods, parking brake link, and star wheel adjuster are all in place on both ends – then lightly tighten the ratchet strap.

Replace both shoe hold down springs using the locking needle nosed pliers – push and rotate 90 degrees while holding the retaining rod from the back.

Use your locking pliers and screwdriver to pry the top spring back into place.

Replace the lower spring that goes between the shoes by tilting the rearward end into it’s hole in the rear shoe and stretching the spring with locking pliers to hook the front end into it’s hole in the front shoe.

Now route the adjuster tensioning cable around the shiny sheet metal braket on the rear shoe.

notice the sheet metal bracket (it's kind of blue in the picture) is only held in place by the notch in the parking brake link.

Now install the auto adjuster spring over the stud then hook the adjuster lever to the end of the spring/tensioner cable and install it over the same stud.

Now lift the end of the spring and hook it onto the adjuster lever

Remove the ratchet strap and check everything to make sure that it is all in place – slave cylinder rods on both ends, parking brake link on both ends, star wheel adjuster on both ends.  the top of the shoes should be bearing on the anchor pin that the two big springs hook to.  Also the adjuster lever should be engaging the teeth of the star wheel – if it isn’t the star wheel adjuster is probably installed backwards.  If all that looks good and you don’t have too many left over parts (any would be too many) then you are ready to re install the brake drum and the tire.

The brakes should work just fine, but they will adjust theirselves when you back the car up – so make a point of backing up and pumping the brakes a few times.  Drive around especially slowly and carefully untill you have determined that everything feels and sounds right, and the brakes work like they are supposed to.

Typical Drum Brakes - not exactly like Ford Ranger Drum Brakes but pretty close, and close enough to help you know what parts I am referring to in the article.

29 thoughts on “Ford Ranger Drum Brake Repair”

  1. Thanks for the great pics. I’ve got the Haynes and your pics filled in ALL the gaps that the Haynes didn’t cover. Thanks so much. My first brake job, ever. Without your pics I would not have completed this one.

  2. Thanks for the comment – I’m glad you found it helpful. How did you find it? It’s been almost a year since I posted this and yours is the first comment. So thanks.

  3. Hi,

    I was just googling for a good diagram of drum brake components and fellt like saying that your tutorial is really good !


  4. its been so long; don’t remember how I found it; had to be through a ‘google’ query about brakes. don’t remember the links before, and there weren’t any after; your pics and captions and directions were enough.

  5. I was following your sequence and it worked great on the left side where the shoe was worn away and broken from a hanging emergency break and oblivious girlfriend. (Now maybe she understands why I don’t always hear everything she says, it’s sort of like not noticing the continuous noise coming from the rear drum brake.) I was having one heck of a time getting the right side drum off when my auto mechanic neighbor recommended that I remove the rubber plug behind the adjusting star wheel on the back side of the carrier plate, push away the pawl spring with a small screwdriver, and back off the adjuster rod with another small screwdriver. That worked very well, and his great tip might save some other novice a bit of frustration by getting those drums to come off easily.

  6. thanks for your time and your patience,I used it and it was helpful,u forgot to clean it with brake cleaner that is recommended too,by the way it took me two days to finish it up and I didnt test drive it yet

  7. thank you so much for the pics I started with nothing and got a great help from them. and the instructions were helpful too. thanks so much from the little guy trying to save a buck.

  8. If you get any grease on the shoe or drum surfaces you absolutely should clean them, but otherwise IMHO it makes a big drippy mess. If you try at all though it isn’t too hard to avoid getting those greasy to begin with, and you can just save the 3-4 bucks you would spend on a can of brake cleaner. Just my opinion. Thanks for the comment though.

  9. The best how-to on the internet. I looked at a bunch and with your help I was able to fix my brakes today. The parts store sell replacement brake adjuster cables (for the e-brake) for like $13.00 which was well worth it, one of mine were broken.
    My only addition to your masterful how-to guide is to wear a life preserver while completing your brake job. You’ll thank me.

  10. Awesome illustrations, very helpful to complete the brake job. Figured I’d share a tip. Couldn’t find my locking needelenose pliers, so I improvised by useing a c-clamp to hold the lock down stud in place then pushed the lockdown spring in then twisted the washer to lock in place. Also, the aftermarket shoes I used has a front and a back shoe, front has a bit less pad if you use them.

  11. Not sure if you’re still monitoring this site, but I used your post here to help me put mine back together. I took a picture before I took it apart but it was so degraded on both sides that i could barely make anything out. THanks for having this. It’s one of the first sites that come up on google…have a question though. The adjuster on the right side didn’t seat properly. I took everything off and put it back on and still didn’t fit correctly. I’ll take a picture the next time i have the tire off but that’ll be at least a week. After putting the drums on, they wouldn’t turn or come off…they turn when I drive, so now I’m wondering if I got the wrong size shoes…ugh…the brakes had been ‘bad’ for over a year in the back, just now got the $$ to change them out and one wheel cylinder was leaking. I’ll post again if you answer this one, with more detail, that or I can email you. Autozone near me is full of zombies…

  12. Just checked the site where i got the drums from and then AZ where I got the shoes and they’re all the right parts…just wondering if because there’s so much air in the system that the wheel cylinders are pushed out all the way or close to it and aren’t going back in when I release the pedal…

  13. Steve, if you have air in the system the brakes absolutely won’t work right – if at all. You need to fix that by bleeding them. As far as other issues I just don’t have sufficient expertise to diagnose that. I really really recommend that you get a competent mechanic to look at them before driving it.

  14. yea, i’m going to work on bleeding them tomorrow. I drove around the small subdivision where i live and they work ok, they were a bit spongy as was expected. I just noticed that the pic you have up of where you adjust the adjusting lever is exactly what mine looks like, I guess I just didn’t pull hard enough on it. My hands were sore and swollen from all the work doing the front and back as well, so I’ll pop the drums off and see if I can readjust it.

  15. I just wanted to thank you for your presentation and detailed description of this task. I recently purchased a 2000 Ranger and was suspicious of rear brake performance. I pulled the drums for a quick look and discovered broken/missing springs and broken cables, junk shoes and One bad drum. Your posting made the job almost enjoyable (I only said a couple bad words) to do. Thanks again.

  16. Mr LaFerney- Thanks so much for the great photos. This was my first drum brake attempt and I would deem it successful. Only a few bad words, mostly connected with the shoe retaining springs and clips. The Haynes manual did not picture the adjusting pawl and spring. Unfortunately, these parts fell out before I got an eyeball on them. The hub was in the way of my line of sight. Your photos saved the day. This was part of a axle replace job. The opposite side was bare of parts because I got an “as is” axle from a junk yard.

  17. Thanks great info — helped me make the decision to tackle the job myself. Now David how about one for Ball Joints??

  18. Hi everyone
    Our 2005 Ford Ranger rear right brakes totally disintigrated. I need a set of wheel cylinder links for a 10″ drum. I live by the Arctic Circle, in Northern Canada. No dealers can seem to find us any. Can anyone tell me where to buy them? Thank you very much. My email address is We’re getting a blizzard now and I want to fix the brakes.

  19. I applaud you for taking the time to post this information, but you left out a few rather important steps. Lubrication of the adjuster assembly is pretty important, and I saw no where that you even inspected the wheel cylinder, I can see that yours is wet on one side, so I am curious as to how long you drove this after the repair before the wheel cylinder leaked all over your new shoes and ruined the linings? For the cost of a spring hardware kit ( about $14.00) it also make more sense to replace the springs and do a compete job to save time and money later on down the road. If I had a dollar for every time a vehicle was towed in after someone repaired their own brakes, I would have been able to retire 7 years ago.

    The 4 shoes are NOT exactly alike. there is a primary shoe and a secondary shoe, and while the backing plates are identical, the linings are different, these must be put in the correct location for proper brake operation and life expectancy. I also notice you did not lubricate the backing plates at the contact points.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to post the information. but maybe next time, show them how to do the complete job, right. Brakes are NOT something to fool around with. How would you like to look in your rear view mirror and wonder if the they guy driving behind you just did a half whited brake job? There is a LOT more to a correct and complete brake job than just replacing parts.

    M Warren, Manager, NPASC, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 23 Years Master Tech.

  20. Even though you are correct with your brake info, you could have been nicer saying it. Maybe YOU should have taken the time to post pics like this gentalman did, like everyone was asking for. BEAR

  21. I was suggested this web site by means of my cousin.
    I’m no longer positive whether this submit is written by him as nobody else realize such distinct about my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!

  22. Thanks for the great photos and description, my 2001 Mazda B2300 pickup has the same brakes, and I recently found a broken adjuster arm and cable in the drum when replacing a wheel stud. Your site identified the parts I needed, and was able to ask for at my local parts store. $13 solved the problem.

    re. Michael’s comments above. Fine, suggest lubricating the adjusters. Big deal, no need to cop an attitude over it.

    Listen pal, I also wish I had a dollar every time a vehicle was towed in after a “professional” worked on it. Including vehicle dealerships.

    In fact that was the problem i just had. A repair shop here had broken a wheel lug free of the rotor, but didn’t replace it — just screwed the nut back on the loose stud. Didn’t mention it either. No good. The loose stud contacted the adjuster arm, and that’s what i found when I opened things up to replace the stud.

    When I work on my own vehicle at least I know what was done and with what parts!

    Great site here — thank you!

  23. I couldn’t get my old drum off my 2000 Ranger 4 wheel drive got the new brakes on now I can’t put the drum back on any suggestions

  24. The idea of the tie down strap was extremely helpful-been doing my own brakes for forty years and it never occurred to me to use it-Thanks a heap

  25. I agree with BEAR’s comments, if it is sooo important to you to have the anal version of a brake job posted, you should have done it yourself. THIS GUY is helping people who don’t have the money to spend on an overpriced and ego bloated brake technician like yourself. I think your animosity shows because the website helps people to avoid your shops expensive repairs. KUDOS to this website!! We need more like it.

  26. Great blog post. What I would like to bring up is that laptop or coeuptmr memory must be purchased if your coeuptmr is unable to cope with anything you do with it. One can set up two RAM memory boards having 1GB each, for instance, but not one of 1GB and one of 2GB. One should look for the company’s documentation for the PC to be sure what type of storage is needed.

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