I have a 1997 Chevy Suburban and the brakes suddenly started feeling spongy (which is a different question) - I went through to inspect all my brakes and front brake pads look fine/reasonable wear, and the passenger side brake drum pad looks about the same wear as the front disc brakes.

However the drivers side rear drum brake the shoes are worn down probably 2x as much, I'd guess that they probably should be replaced at this point. But the drums feel fine - no visual grooves and they feel smooth when I run my fingernails in and out on the drums.

Is that kind of uneven wear between passenger/drivers side normal? Or does that indicate some other issue?

  • Does the parking brake fully release on that side? Also, your other question mentions the shoe adjusters were replaced in 2021. Are they correctly set? Feb 16, 2023 at 16:18
  • I think they were (it was done at a reputable shop). IIRC the shoes were evenly worn on that side. Feb 16, 2023 at 19:29
  • The front disk pads and back drum shoes are unlikely to have the same wear front to back. Side to side, yes. If front and back have the same wear, it's perhaps coincidental. I have had cars with disks all round, and with front disks / rear drums. Either way, the front brakes wear typically twice as fast as the rear. Feb 16, 2023 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


No, it is not normal.

Possible causes -

  • The less worn side shoes have been replaced more recently than the other
  • The hand/emergency brake cable is badly adjusted
  • The hand/emergency brake cable is damaged/corroded/seized on the worn side
  • The brake mechanism is slightly seized on the worn side
  • The hydraulic brake cylinder is seizing on the worn side

It is a common misconception that the brake that is least worn is not working properly. The most likely thing is that the most worn side is not releasing properly after braking, which causes increased wear.

What I would do to start with is to safely raise both back wheels off the ground. Ideally support them on axle stands so that they are at their normal running height compared to the body. Press the foot brake very hard, then release. Pull the hand/emergency brake hard then release it. Then try to rotate both back wheels by hand. Is one more dufficult to turn than the other?

It is possible that something only seizes when the brakes are hot, but this is a good place to start.

  • Well, the shoes were definitely replaced at the same time (2 yrs ago). So was the adjuster and I think the cylinder(?) was leaking and they replaced that. I know that the brake cable at the very least can be released - it's been years since I've taken off a brake drum so I didn't realize I needed to take off the parking brake until I was watching a YT video to figure out how to pull off a drum, lol. The worn side definitely both brakes as well as releases. Feb 16, 2023 at 19:27

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