JBUGS VIDEO SERIES

JBugs Video Series

VW Beetle Brake Inspection:

Video Overview:

Ensuring you can stop your car is the most important aspect of driving. We show you how to inspect all of the brake components of your Beetle, from the drums and shoes to the hardware and hydraulics.


Video Transcript:

For this video we're going to go through and show you guy's how to do a brake inspection. We're not going to be doing any repairs in this video but more so showing you guys what to look for on your cars at home just to make certain your brake systems up to snuff.

 

We're going to start our brake inspection in the rear this case. With the hubcap off you should see the axle nut which should have a cotter pin in place which needs to be removed.

 

Once it is removed we can loosen the rear axle nut. The axle nut should be extremely tight and is normally going to require the use of a breaker bar and typically section of pipe for additional leverage. The rear axle nuts on all VW's are standard traded on both sides.

 

After the axle nut is loose we loosen the lug bolts and then we can jack up the rear of the car. Make sure to support the rear of the car with jack stands and then we can remove the rear wheel.

 

With the parking brake off remove the brake drum. If the drum does not come off with some heavy pulling, you may have to go on the back side of the brake, and loosen the break adjusters to pull some of the tension off to allow it to come off. Oftentimes tapping on the drums with a hammer may help it slide off as well.

 

With the drum off we can now inspect the brake surface inside the drum. Here we see a deep grove that has been worn into to the surface. This isn't a big deal because of long as the brake is within specs it can be turned by your local brake or auto shop. If the drum is out of spec, meaning it's been turned to many times before or is excessively warped, the brake drum will need to be replaced.

 

Looking at the backing plate we now inspect the brake shoes. On the left side the brake shoes are in good shape, the pads have good thickness and are evenly worn. There aren't any signs of moisture or any other damage to the brake shoe. However on the right side we noticed the brake shoes are cracked excessively. Along with being crack the right side brake shoes are wearing unevenly as well. The front shoe is narrower than the rear issue so these brake shoes will have to be replaced.

 

The wheel cylinder boots are in good shape and are not leaking. The brake shoe retaining pins, springs, and caps all intact. The parking brake push bar is properly installed between the shoes and the lever. The parking brake cable is attached to pull lever properly. We see that the upper brake shoe tension spring is in place and held to the push bar with retaining clip, and at the lower brake shoe tension spring is in place as well. The break shoe adjuster screws and nuts are all in good shape and the tension tabs are intact on both sides.

 

Lastly on the rear we'll take a look at the brake hydraulics. Behind the backing plate inspect the steel brake lines. Look for any crimps, kinks, cracks, or leaking. Also look at the brake hoses look for any bubbles and again cracks, kinks, or leaks. Make sure that the brake bleeder valves on the wheel cylinders are intact.

 

With the rear inspection complete it's time to take a look at the front brakes. As we did with the rear we're going to loosen the lug bolts before we jack up the front of the car. With the front of the car jacked up we support on jack stands, then remove the front wheels.

 

On the left side the speedometer cable clip will have to be removed from the speedometer cable. So that we can pop off the grease cap with a pry bar or in our case a pickle fork. Now we can loosen the axle nut screw with a 6 millimeter allen wrench and we can remove the axle nut. The left hand side nut is reversed so left hand thread. So it will turn to the right to remove it. The right side axle nut has a standard thread.

 

Now we can pull the brake drum off. If the drum doesn't come off, again as we mentioned you may have to go through and losing the brake adjuster screws to release some tension to allow it to come off easily. When you pull off the brake drum the thrust washer and inner bearing will come out with the drum.

 

Now is a good time to inspect the bearings both the inner and outer and the seals looking for any grooves, ware marks, a lack of grease and to make certain that the inner wheel seal is not cracked up, dried, or missing. With the brake drum off we inspect brake surface inside the drum looking for any cracks or as we see here, a deep grove that has been worn into the surface. Again same as on the rear as long as the drum is within specs, it can be turned by a local automotive shop. If the drum is out of specs it needs to be replaced.

 

We'll take a look at the brake shoes now. On the left side the brake shoes are in good shape. The pads have good thickness are evenly worn and there isn't any sign of moisture or any other damage. However on the right side the brake shoes are unevenly worn. The top shoe is thicker than the bottom shoes here. The wheel cylinder boots are in good shape and they are not leaking. The brake shoe retaining pins caps and caps are all in place. On the left hand side we can see the front and rear brake shoe tension springs are both in place properly.

 

On the right side you see the rear tension brake spring is in the wrong location on the bottom. This spring is rubbing against the wheel cylinder boot which isn't torn fortunately. This is most likely the reason to be shoes are wearing unevenly. Otherwise the brake shoe adjuster screws and nuts are in good shape and tension tabs are intact.We'll take a look on the back side of the backing plate at the brake hoses. Looking for any bubbles, cracks, kinks, or leaking.

 

On the left hand side the brake hoses in good shape, but unfortunately the right side brake hose was installed incorrectly. This caused the hose to kink and crack so it needs to be replaced. It is also unlikely with his hose that this break was actually working properly. We'll also take a look at the steel brake lines looking for any kinks, cracks, or leaks as well.

 

On both wheel cylinders make sure that the brake bleeder valves are intact which they are left hand side, but unfortunately on the right hand side the brake bleeder valve is broken off. So this wheel cylinder will have to be replaced.

 

With the front left wheel off we can see the master cylinder and we're going to look for leaks which would be apparent with any moisture on the frame head below. We'll also take a look at the feed lines from the reservoir up above. Looking for any cracks, leaks, or otherwise.

 

The brake light switches and wiring should be in place and there shouldn't be any leaking or moisture apparent. Lastly we'll check all the brake lines going from the master cylinder making certain that all the steel lines are not cracked, kinked, or leaking as well.

 

With the hood open in the trunk we can take a look at the brake fluid reservoir which in our case as a non-vented cap so that will need to be replaced. With the cap removed we can take a look at the fluid level and look for any dirty fluid or any debris in the fluid.

 

Lastly we'll take a look at the feed hoses from reservoir to the steel lines and again the steel lines on the top side for any leaks or cracks. With our brake inspection complete we've noted that we only have issues on the right hand side of the car.

 

We will replace the shoes, wheel cylinders, and hoses on both the left and right sides of the front and we will replace the brake shoes on the left and right sides of the rear. The reason we do this is to keep the brake system equal from left to right side. That way when you hit the brakes the car doesn't pull too hard to one side or the other.

 

This is important on break drum systems and especially old VW's. Old Volkswagens don't have automatic adjusting brake shoes like more modern cars do so what you do to one side of the brake system, you do to the other.