Drum brakes were the original style of brakes on vehicles all over the world. Drum brakes are still found on most new vehicles but not used as part of the primary braking system. Drum brakes on new cars are mostly placed inside the rear brake disc/rotor. The drum brakes are connected to a cable and at the other end is your e-brake or parking brakes lever. Drum brakes use to work just fine except when it rained or f you were driving down a long mountain road, they would do what is called brake fade. The more you used them and they got hot, the less they would stop your vehicle.
On some of the smaller import vehicles or American cars made overseas, drum brakes are still found on the rear wheels. Drum brakes are relatively inexpensive to manufacturer and they seem to last much longer than disc brakes. This is possibly attributed to the lack of stopping power they have.
If your vehicle has drum brakes and no disc brakes in the rear, the brakes are activated by the same brake master cylinder as your front brakes. You still need to have a brake fluid flush done every 3 years, but you will also need the drum brakes cleaned and adjusted. Drum brakes work by pushing brake shoes out against the brake drum. The drums are semi-sealed to prevent water from getting on the shoes. In doing this the brake shoe dust gets trapped in the drum and when the dust builds up, the drum brakes will not work as intended. When Peak Auto, next to the Cary Auto Mall, cleans and adjusts your drum brakes, we inspect the parts inside to make sure their is no leaks. We also measure the brake shoe thickness and will alert you if they need to be replaced.