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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.

Brake Spring Pliers [Satco]
Street Pricing [Froogle]

 

6 Responses to Finds: Brake Spring Pliers

  1. Fletcher says:

    I don’t know how I’ve gone this long before discovering these. I hate doing drum brakes; maybe these will make the job a little more tolerable. Another worthy mention: The disc caliper piston recess tool. Well worth the $10.

  2. Ivan says:

    Doing the brakes on the cars is like pulling teeth at times. It’s just amazing how they get these assembled. I have learned to put an old carpet remain on the ground so that any flying objects think springs can be found rather quickly. While at the same time sitting a little warmer.
    Some autoparts stores do lend tools for some of these tasks. Well worth the effort, when having to deal with repairs.

  3. Andy says:

    I haven’t had to use one of these yet. I’ve always just mounted all the springs, set one shoe in place and pulled the other into place with a set of channel locks.

  4. Old Donn says:

    I guess I’m as old as my kids say I am. One of the first tools I bought was a set of these. Drum brakes are a vanishing breed, but these things make life a lot easier if you’re stuck with the job. Standard issue drum brakes are a day at the beach compared to the spring GM installed on my 99 Grand-Am. A piece of round bar bent into the shape of a W. It can be removed with channel locks, but is impossible to install without a special tool from MAC or Snap-on.

  5. steve in w ma says:

    I wish I had brake spring pliers—

    What I finally came up with my Honda Accord rear drum brakes is I block one of the drums into place with small wooden blocks that I c-clamp to the shoe. That holds the drum in place against the backing plate while I stretch the adjuster spring back into position.

    It works well, but I’m going to buy a set of these pliers this week in preparation for the next time I need to work on them because it’s *still* hard to stretch that spring and place it with a vise-grip or diagonal cutting pliers!

    As to the commenter about the power bleeder–it’s much cheaper than a power bleeder and almost as easy to take a 2 foot length of 2×4 and jam the brake pedal down with that (the other end against the front of the driver’s seat). This costs no money and also can’t accidentally let the brake pedal up on you when the bleeder screw is open.

  6. james in south AL says:

    I just bought one of these pliers and while they made the job a lot quicker, I had to use the hook on the back end of the spring coil rather than the spring loop to get it through the slot in the shoe.

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