How to Adjust the Brake Shoes on a 1989 Chevrolet S-10

The 1989 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck was the second model year to offer the new 4.3-liter Vortec V-6 engine. The 1989 model year included standard antilock brakes and an optional electronic instrument panel. The vehicle featured front disc brakes and drum brakes for the rear axle. After replacing the rear brake shoes on your 1989 Chevrolet S-10 pickup, it is important to adjust the rear drums to ensure proper braking performance and longevity of the brake shoes.

Tools Used: Hydraulic jack and two jack stands, Wheel chokes, Drum brake adjustment tool or flat-head screwdriver

Adjust the Brake Shoes

Secure the front wheels of your vehicle with chokes. Utilize two chokes per wheel--one positioned in the front, another wedged on the backside of the tire. If your S-10 features a manual transmission, place the gear selector in the "Neutral" or "N" position.

Examine your vehicle's rear axle and locate the round-shaped differential carrier underneath the vehicle, mounted in the middle of axle. Position the hydraulic jack underneath the differential carrier and jack the vehicle up enough to gain enough clearance for the jack stands.

Place the jack stands underneath both sides of the rear axle. Be sure to position the jack stands apart, so that each side of the rear axle is supported properly. Slowly lower the vehicle with the hydraulic jack, so that the rear axle rests on the jack stand carriers.

Examine the back of the rear wheels and locate the oval-shaped rubber plugs mounted on the lower sides of the drum brakes. Remove the oval-shaped rubber plugs from the back of the drum brakes, using a flat-head screwdriver.

Climb out from underneath the vehicle and grasp one of the rear wheels. Attempt to rotate the wheel and note the resistance. If the rear wheel rotates freely for more than one revolution, the drum brakes are not properly adjusted and need tightening; if the wheel is extremely hard to turn, the brake shoes need adjustment, as well.

Look inside of the oval-shaped hole located on the back of the drum brake and insert the screwdriver or brake adjustment tool inside the slot. Depending on whether you need to loosen or tighten the brake shoes on your vehicle, you will need to rotate the small gear visible from the oval-shaped hole, up or down, using the brake adjustment tool or flat-head screwdriver.

Rotate the adjustment gear for each drum brake, frequently checking the results by turning the rear wheels. Once you have adjusted the rear brakes to the point where you can only rotate the wheels one full revolution when attempting to spin the wheels manually, reinstall the protective rubber plugs.

Lift the rear of the vehicle with the hydraulic jack and remove the jack stands from underneath the vehicle. Carefully lower the vehicle back to the ground, using the hydraulic jack. Remove the wheel chokes and drive the vehicle to a sparsely traveled road or empty parking lot.

Drive the vehicle at around 5-10 mph in reverse and deliberately apply the brakes to finish the adjustment process.

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