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How To Replace A Vehicle Brake Wheel Cylinder

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If your brakes feel soft, you notice leaking around the rear wheels, or the rear brake squeaks, the brake wheel cylinder could be worn. The cylinders commonly do not wear too quickly, but heavier vehicles are more prone to brake cylinder failure. It is essential to fix the wheel cylinder to keep the vehicle safe. Follow these steps to replace a rear brake wheel cylinder.

Prepare to Replace the Brake Cylinders

To replace the brake cylinders, gather:

  • work gloves
  • safety goggles
  • rags
  • jack stand and wheel chocks
  • drain pan 
  • Phillips and flat-blade screwdrivers
  • vise grips or brake spring tool
  • open-end wrench
  • lug nut wrench
  • line wrench set
  • socket and ratchet set
  • lubricant spray
  • brake cleaner 
  • replacement wheel cylinder

Park the vehicle on a flat surface, shut off the engine, and let it cool. Open the hood, and disconnect the negative battery cable, which is commonly marked.  

Set the drain pan under the cylinder, if it leaks and to catch fluid when you remove it later. Slightly loosen the lug nuts on the tires with the lug wrench, jack the rear of the vehicle and place wheel chocks under the front tires. Completely detach the wheels, and lay them aside.

Remove the Old Wheel Cylinder

Mist the brake line connection that connects to the wheel cylinder with lubricant. Detach the brake drum cover, which should remove by hand, and check the inside of the drum for damage. If the drum shows damage, get it professionally resurfaced or replace it

Use a pair of vise grips or a brake spring tool to detach the brake shoe spring and clips, lay parts aside. Detach the fitting from the brake line with a line wrench to keep from damaging the fitting. Replace damaged springs and clips.

Disconnect the cylinder bolts on the back of the hub with the correct socket and ratchet, then pull the cylinder off the hub. A typical cylinder has two bolts that secure it to the hub. It is advised to replace brake shoes when you replace wheel cylinders by following instructions in your manual.

Install the New Wheel Cylinder

Mist brake cleaner on the front and back of the rear brakes with the drip pan underneath them. If the brakes have thick dust buildup, clean it with a wire brush. Install new brake shoes and secure the new cylinder using the provided bolts. 

Reattach the brake line and springs, then the brake drum and drum cover. Follow the steps in your manual to bleed the brakes to prevent air from getting trapped in the brake line. Lower the vehicle, reconnect the battery cable, and reinstall the wheels tightening the bolts according to the suggested torque in the manual.

For more information, contact your local car repair service.