JBugs Video Series

VW Beetle Rear Brake Shoe Replacement:

Video Overview:

Replacing the rear brake shoes on your VW Brakes is a fairly simple affair provided you have a few tools. Follow along with one of our techs as he shows you how to replace and adjust the rear brakes on your VW.

Video Tips:

Tools you will need:

Lug Wrench
Bullnose/Linemans Pliers
36mm 1/2" socket
1/2" Breaker Bar
Jack Stands
Small Flat Blade Screwdriver

Video Transcript:

For this video we're going to show you how to replace the rear brake shoes and the brake hardware.


We start the rear brake shoe replacement, with the hub cap 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. 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. With the rear brake drum removed it's a good time to take a picture with a digital camera. So if you aren't familiar with the orientation of the brake components, you have a good reference for the reassembly. It's also a good idea to clean the brake surface with a can of brake cleaner, provided that you have a drain pan that you can place underneath so you don't get your driveway or garage floor dirty.


To remove the brake shoes, twist the brake shoe retaining spring pins with a pair of players while holding the caps. Remove the springs and pins from both sides and save all the hardware until after brakes are reassembled. Remove the lower break tension spring, using a pair of pliers to grasp it at one end. Remove the upper tension spring from the front brake shoe.


At this point both brake shoes can be pulled away from the backing plate as a group, so that you can unhook the parking brake cable from the parking brake lever. With the brake assembly completely removed from the backing plate. Remove the parking brake push bar, the retaining clip, and then disconnect the upper tension spring from the rear brake shoe. With a flat head screw driver or a pair of needle nose pliers twist open the parking brake pin clip. Slide the clip off the pin and pull the pin from the brake shoe and the parking brake lever again save all the hardware until you're done.


With the dis-assembly of the brake shoes complete. Clean all the hardware, pins, springs, and clips to make sure they're ready to go for the reassembly. For the reassembly we're going to first start by attaching the parking brake lever to the rear brake shoe. With the pin and clip use a pair of pliers to squeeze the clip in place to hold it to the pin.


Smear a small amount of grease on the backing plate on a break shoe nubs. Screw the brake adjusters in completely making sure to align the slots and the screws vertically. Slide the brake shoe retaining pins through the back of the backing plate for the front and the rear shoes. For the rear brake shoe attach the parking brake cable to the parking brake lever. Then line up the brake shoe with the wheel cylinder at the top and the brake adjuster at the bottom.


Guide the brake shoe retaining pin through the brake shoe. Set the spring over the shoe and then slide the cap in place over the spring and pin. The cap needs to be pressed down over the pin to compress the spring and then twisted 90 degrees to hold everything in place. This can oftentimes be done with your fingers if not; you can use a pair of needle nose pliers to twist the pin while holding the cap down. Install the front brake shoe with the pin, spring, and cap using the same method.


Next, install the parking brake push bar in place between the brake shoes by pulling the rear brake shoe away from the rear wheel cylinder slightly. The push bar has a small notch on one side. The smaller notch is going to be going towards the front and the larger notch is going to go towards the rear.


Install the upper break tension spring, which is the shorter of the two tension springs. By placing it in the hole in one shoe and stretching it to the other hole with a pair of pliers. The push bar has a small recess on one side so installing it on the right side it would seem as it is upside down. VW decided for some reason to use the same bar for left and right. On the right side which we are showing here the recessed area is going to face down.


Next slide the parking brake tension spring to the push bar clip in place over the bottom of the push bar first and then over the tension spring. Lastly install the lower brake tension spring placing it in place on the rear and stretching it to the front hole with a pair of pliers.


Now double check the alignment of the brake shoe with the brake adjusting screw. The brake adjusting screw has a slanted surface. It's narrower at the top typically and wider at the bottom. Make sure that the angle on the screw matches the angle of the shoe. Rotate the screw around 90 degrees if necessary to get them to line up. Now we can slide the brake drum in place and adjust the brake shoes. To show you what's happening then we turn the shoe adjusters we have the front drum off here. We use a flat head screwdriver to adjust the brake shoe adjusting nuts.


We access the nuts through the holes in the backing plate. When you turn the adjusting nut the screw move either in or out to push the brake shoe up or let it pull down to loosen or tighten the brake. With the rear brake drum set in place we go underneath the car the backside of the backing plate where we first adjust the rear shoe.


You want to rotate the screw for each shoe until you can no longer spin the brake drum then back it off a few turns so the brake drum spins yet you still feel some drag from the shoe. We repeat the process for the front shoe. With the brake shoes adjusted we install the brake adjustment and inspection hole plugs and place on the back of the backing plate. Now coming to the front of drum with the shoes adjusted you can hear the drag or resistance from the brake shoes as we spin the drum.


Now install the axle nut, the wheel, and the lug bolts jack up the car, remove the jack stands and lower the car back down on the ground. Torque the lug bolt and then finish up by tightening the rear axle nut. The axle nut needs to be tightened to at least 250 foot pounds. You don't necessarily need a torque wrench you can do a little quick math. If you weigh 150 pounds and you step out 18 inches away from the axle you are well past 250 foot pounds. You want to tighten the axle nut until the grooves in the castle nut line up with the holes from the axle so we can install the cotter pin.


Once the axle is tight we've installed the cotter pin we bend over to keep the axle nut from backing off snap your hub cap back on and repeat the process for the opposite side brake. The rear brake shoes have been replaced.