Removing the springs on drum brakes can be a nightmare, alternately refusing to come apart then flinging parts all over the garage — all while you pretend you have three hands in order to compress the spring and manipulate the catch at the same time.
There’s an easier way: brake spring pliers. And they’re not even that expensive.
The “tong” end is used for installing springs over an anchor post while the “handle” ends are useful for stretching the small shoe-return springs.
I’ve always wondered why more people don’t do their own brake work. Pricing at the widely-known “brake shops” varies from excessive to absurd, and their ads are almost universally deceiving. A $99 “brake job” usually ends up being “per axle” then “pads only” — which means that they’ll take 10 minutes to stick pads in for $99. Wow. Great deal.
With simple tools and a free Saturday afternoon you can service your own brakes on a new-model car for hundreds of dollars less than the cost of a “brake job.” For example: Rather than $250 or more an axle, try spending $50-$75 on pads, and $20-$30 on having the rotors turned — at the same shop, by the way.
Yeah, it’s dirty. Try this: Wear latex gloves to avoid having to dig brake dust out from under your fingernails, then clean up afterwards and take your wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfrend/significant other/self out to a $150+ fancy dinner with the cash you’ve saved — or do the other end of the car now instead of later.
We’ve used lost of different brands of brake spring pliers, but the one pictured above comes from Satco industries (link below). Froogle’ll turn up dozens for around $5-$10, and you can find these at most automotive parts stores or tool suppliers as well.