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Brake Drums And Stopping Power

By listoff, May 2, 2016

Hello! 2010 Corolla S with 112,000 miles.

I have an issue with my braking power and I believe it has to do with the adjusters on my read drums. I'm looking for confirmation on my thoughts or suggestions on what else to look for.

I noticed a couple years ago that my brakes started to get soft and it seemed like my braking power was reduced. I thought about bleeding the brakes, but procrastinated on doing it. During my procrastination period, I researched it more and decided I would try to adjust the rear brakes. Took off the wheels, freed the drums, and started to adjust. I was immediately struck by the number of times I had to turn the adjustment gear to get the brake shoes to drag on the drums. Once I was happy with the adjustment, I put it all back together. Success! Better braking and less brake pedal travel. As an added bonus, I didn't have to pull the hand brake through the sunroof to engage!

Three months later, same pedal travel and soft brakes. Climbed under, readjusted, and once again I was good to go! And here we are again with the same issue months later. It never seems to get worse past a certain point, but it is pretty annoying to have to keep doing this when the brakes are supposedly self adjusting. I've tried all the suggestions out there by driving backwards and slamming the brakes, pulling the hand brake repeatedly, all kind of weird stuff. The adjustment wheel moves freely, but no matter what I do, they don't seem to stay adjusted or tight for very long.

Am I wrong in thinking something's up with the adjusters. I will say in December 2013 I was in an accident where the front end was pretty banged up. The shop put it all back together, but it seems like the brakes started to get funky after that. I'm wondering if the accident introduced air in the lines and the repair shop didn't bleed them properly. But if that was the case, would get get a firmer pedal and better braking after an adjustment? You would think if it was air in the brake lines that it would stay mushy even after an adjustment - which isn't the case.


2010 Toyota Corolla Service Brakes, Hydraulic Service Bulletin 343704

  • Action Number: 10050779
    Service Bulletin Number: 343704
    Report Date: Dec 05, 2012
    Component: Service Brakes, Hydraulic
  • Summary: Toyota: over time, a perceptible, but slight increase in brake pedal travel and will not effect braking performance, but to address this condition, an improved rear drum brake adjusters was developed. Models 2009-2013 Corolla.


Look at that! I had no idea that was released! Thank you very much for your help.

Dom - great catch. Very interesting! I wonder what Toyota changed that cause the self-adjusters to be not as effective as before. Toyota is pretty predictable with equipment, they usually don't change anything unless it is mandated by regulations or if there is some significant cause for changing a system.

It's funny - I have such a dislike for all the Toyota dealerships near me that even though it's a TSB and would be fixed for free, I'm going to buy the adjusters and do it myself. Thank you Dom for finding the TSB - I feel much better knowing Toyota acknowledges the issue and agrees with my assessment on the adjusters. At least I know I won't be throwing away my money on a guess! Thanks again!

Thanks again for all your help!

Since  retiring I don't drive the Corolla that much and have been away from the forum.  When i bought my 04 new and started driving to work i noticed braking was slowly become poor.  One day i had to make a panic stop.  Scary. Took car back to dealer and explained situation.  They readjusted the rear drums and asked if i used the hand brake any.  NO, no need to i said.  I was informed on my generation the handbrake adjust the rear drums.  Was told to pull on it half dozen or so times and to use it whenever parked.  Problem solved.  Couple time i did have drums manually adjusted as a courtesy by my family tech/mechanic. Helped.

  • 320 posts

Welcome back! I'm glad to see your return!  

What's kind of interesting is that drum brakes all used to be self-adjusting, when you went backwards and stopped... could be worse. On some cars with four-way discs they have to manually adjust the e-brakes.

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