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MikalCarbine 11-28-2010 02:08 PM

Rear brake help ASAP
I adjusted my rears the other week and felt I over adjusted them. Today I figured I'd adjust them correctly and did it per this post:

Once tightening up the rear wheels so they wouldn't spin I can't get the star adjuster to spin backwards to loosen it up! I'm pretty sure I am hitting the lever that hits the star screw with a screw driver but it doesn't help. I need some advice asap on this. Would PB blaster affect the rear brakes in a negative way? Like getting grease on front rotors?

Atthehop 11-28-2010 03:24 PM

YOu usually need to pull the bar away from the star adjuster to loosen the adjuster. Pushing in on ot only holds it toghter.

Ratrod 11-28-2010 03:26 PM

I would pull the drums and check the brakes, wheel cylinders and adjusters. I suggest this because I dont know the mileage or if you are located somewhere the roads are salted. Dont spray any lubricant into the hole.

MikalCarbine 11-28-2010 03:32 PM

From what I can gather from the FSM and other places, pulling the handle of the brake spoon UPWARDS tightens up the brakes, pushing it DOWNWARDS loosens it. I'm 99% sure I am pushing the level away from the star adjuster, I even made a custom bent screwdriver to pry it away and the stars won't budge one bit. Attempting to pull the drums would be useless right now because the brake shoes are maxed and there's no way in hell the drums aren't coming off without a massive fight.

Does anyone know if driving while the brakes are maxed like this from the adjuster will force the adjuster to loosen? I'm desperate and am about to try this. I've read that it should from other automobiles but I don't know if this setup is the same

rrich 11-28-2010 03:57 PM

No, all you'll do is damage things.

Use a flashlight and mirror - look in the hole. You'll see the star wheel - beyond that is the lever. Poke a small screwdriver though the hole - when you push on the lever it will move and feel spring loaded. Pushing on the wrong thing won't feel springy.

WHILE PUSHING THE LEVER AWAY FROM THE STAR WHEEL, TURN THE STAR WHEEL WITH THE SPOON - THE SIDE TOWARD YOU DOWN. You'll have two tools in there at the same time. The star will not turn unless the lever is held completely away from the wheel WHILE you turn it.

Now that the brakes are tight, it's doubtfull you can get the drums off without cutting them in half.

It the other side can be removed, take the drum off and look how it's made. or look in the service manual or do a search on the internet for BENDIX BRAKES for a picture.

MikalCarbine 11-28-2010 04:04 PM

I appreciate your advice in this thread. I've seen similar threads on this and you seem to help a lot.

I've tried that exact procedure for 2 hours with no luck. It is like the star screw is completely seized at this point, is this possible? I kept questioning whether or not I was pushing the lever far enough (I do feel the springness btw) and I've moved it up to 1/4 to 1/2" and it doesn't seem to help at all. My brake spoon sucks and at this point some of the stars are rounding off quite nicely...

I'm putting the screwdriver under the star screw and pushing directly back on the lever as shown in the picture above. No luck with the star screw..

When you say the side of the spoon towards me downwards, this means turning the star screw (from my POV through the hole) from TOP to BOTTOM?

Edit: I just wanted to add that before I adjusted the star screw to tighten the brakes per the instructions I originally linked, I made sure I could back off the star adjuster and it worked fine. It seems now something is jammed up

rrich 11-28-2010 05:05 PM

Maybe sharpen the edge of the spoon to stop it from slipping. Most brake spoons were made for the older wheels - bigger notches. Just file or grind the edge down to almost sharp.

If you can feel the springyness - then you are doing it right. You must have tightened it really tight.
As you can see from thr pict - it's simple.

Yes, the wheel needs to turn from top to bottom as viewed from the inside - your side goes down - unless somehow you switched the star adjusters side for side - left wheel to right wheel etc.. The lever 'catches' on the notches pushing the outside of the wheel down - ratchet style.

When it's that tight, it seems to be stuck, but the thinner spoon blade and a bit of "Omph" should do the trick.

MikalCarbine 11-28-2010 05:25 PM

Thanks for the info, it is dark and very cold out now so I've given up until tomorrow. Using my girlfriends car to get to work haha

I started fashioning a new spoon out of a butter knife but I'll try grinding down my existing one first since it has the right angles but the edges are too thick.

Quick question, would driving it in reverse and braking then forward and braking perhaps loosen up the star adjuster? Does braking forward help the star adjuster "loosen" the pads whereas braking reverse would help "tighten" them?

rrich 11-28-2010 07:35 PM

Trying to drive it like that will not solve the problem, but it could do lots of damage.


The sharper edge on the brake tool will enable you to put more turning pressure on the star wheel.

Joshpeb2 11-28-2010 08:01 PM

driving in ANY direction only tightens the star adjuster. There is NO WAY to back it off by driving it. When you overtighten the star adjuster it seems as if it's frozen but, it really is not. It is difficult sometimes to get the right leverage to break it free again but, once you get past that point it should turn relatively easy. This is one of those situations where patience really pays off.

Gary2 11-28-2010 08:22 PM

while you have her car maybe stop and buy a real brake spoon . Brakes can be a big enough pain at times with the correct tools.

T2000J 11-28-2010 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by Joshpeb2 (Post 898228)
driving in ANY direction only tightens the star adjuster. There is NO WAY to back it off by driving it. When you overtighten the star adjuster it seems as if it's frozen but, it really is not. It is difficult sometimes to get the right leverage to break it free again but, once you get past that point it should turn relatively easy. This is one of those situations where patience really pays off.


you should be able to spin that with screw driver i never used a tool just pull that arm out twards you and spin them teeth once you get it backed off i'd pull it out and anti seize the threads and tight'n the breaks till you can just get the drum on .you'll have a high pedal and good e-brake

rrich 11-28-2010 09:01 PM

I think he said he has a regular "brake spoon" - slang for the correct tool. About $5.
A modified butter knife is probably too weak and will bend.

A wide blade screwdriver also works, if you can get it in the hole.

Nothing beats having the right tool to do the job.

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 05:25 AM

I've ground down my brake spoon for a sharper edge bland have also made a butter knife tool to try. Thanks for the advice on not driving it. My dad kept saying to give it a try but I had a feeling I shouldn't. Guess my gut was right. Ill try my "new" tools and maybe a screw driver today when I get out of work. Got here early so I can leave early and have a little extra daylight

Hammerwalk 11-29-2010 11:21 AM

Didnt want to create another thread, unless i need to, but I have some questions about the rear brakes that are similar to this.

Recently, i had my Jeep taken in to have work done on it as it was under a warranty, so hell, why not right? One the items they worked on was my rear brakes, specifically the driver side. No more than 2 days after "rear brake service" was finished, I found that my driver side rear had seized up on me. I had driven about 45 miles, and the last 2 miles is where i had the issue after going from the highway, to stop and go traffic. Once i got to my destination I realized what happened.

The only thing i can think of is some spring didnt do its job. I mean, apparently my brakes worked, but the left didnt release after i stopped. The only way i got it to release, was by moving the e-brake up and down several times in a row, and it then finally came lose where i could have the jeep in neutral and be able to push it.

Could this be a similar issue to what the OP has, as far as the parts maybe? Unfortunately, the dealership is not Jeep, and the mechanics "have no clue, and cannot replicate the problem". Any idea to what mechanism may have failed?

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 12:16 PM

Reobserving my picture it seems like the star adjuster should go from bottom to top... if you look closer and see that the flat edges of the star screw catch the lever. This prevents the screw from turning bottom to top (through my viewpoint) without pushing the latch out of the way. Does this make sense? I tried going top to bottom and its still stuck on tight, I have a feeling I keep on tightening it... Idk I'm still confused and it's not budging either way

jeepjones 11-29-2010 12:26 PM

If all this doesn't work You might have to fight with the drum and remove it.

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 12:37 PM

I don't think that's an option for me just now, I don't have the means to split a drum in half. Is there any way to break this star screw assembly to relieve the tension it is putting on the brakes? Like take a screwdriver and hammer and dislodge the entire assembly?

Edit: The FSM states: (6) Rotate adjuster screw star wheel (move tool
handle upward) until slight drag can be felt when
wheel is rotated.

So it seems moving the star top to bottom actually tightens the shoes...

jeepjones 11-29-2010 12:40 PM

You wouldn't have to actually destroy the drum! It will come off.

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 12:50 PM

With a hammer? I don't think I can take that root either because I live in some yuppy establishment and don't want to cause noise complaints. Slightly hammering is ok but going to town with a 3lb sledge for 20 minutes probably isn't acceptable :(

jasonwrangler 11-29-2010 12:51 PM

I took a mallet smacked my rear drums for a good hour they still stuck on. HELP!.

jeepjones 11-29-2010 12:53 PM

Guess your screwed. Ok, I know your getting frustrated, believe me when I tell you that you are doing something wrong when it comes to your adjuster. You have to be patient and figure it out because there isn't anymore tricks to it than you have already been told. The only other option you have at this point it to tow it to a garage and pay a guy like me to fix your mistake.

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 01:01 PM

Can you offer any advice on the direction debate that I was having above? I may be wrong but I feel the star needs to be adjusted from bottom to top (read) from the POV of the hole on the inside of the rear assembly...

jeepjones 11-29-2010 01:11 PM

I'm going to assume when you were tightening the star wheel that you really,really tightened it up, am I correct? That was your first mistake, the star wheel easily tightens up but as you now know is a lot harder to back off. The adjuster adjusts in a different direction depending on the side you are on. Just keep trying, you know what you have to do. If you have damaged the star wheel as you mentioned the drum is going to have to come off and the star wheel replaced. Sorry but I can't help you any further than that. Unless you can remember which way you adjusted to tighten, it's the opposite way too loosen.

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 01:28 PM


Originally Posted by jeepjones (Post 899295)
The adjuster adjusts in a different direction depending on the side you are on.

I thought this isn't true becuase the R/L adjusters are different so they would in fact turn in the same directions to tighten/loosen or is that false?

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 04:15 PM

Got it!

The star DOES need to spin from BOTTOM to TOP to back off the adjuster from the POV of the access hole. I had mine beasted on so tight from thinking elsewise it made it near impossible. What I did was get a 2nd set of hands and using 4 hands we held a flashlight, the lever down, and then used a flathead screwdriver and hammered the star adjuster upwards (bottom to top) to free it. Pulled the drum and lubed up the star adjusters and it looks OK for now. Shoes weren't as bad as I thought and I'll be holding out on anymore brake work until after winter haha.

rrich 11-29-2010 04:42 PM

Wow - I saw the picture but it didn't click. I guess I'm old, that brake is slightly different than others. This one the lever is on the underside of the wheel. When you back up it moves the outside of the wheel UP to tighten it. From the backside it would be DOWN to tighten. So the reverse to loosen it.
From the inside - backing plate side, you would turn the wheel UP to loosen it.

Since the other side has reverse threads on the wheel, it would be the same.

Sorry for the misleading advice - guess I did way too many of the other type with the lever pushing down.

MikalCarbine 11-29-2010 04:47 PM

No problem, I appreciate the help and your wisdom, this has been a huge learning process and will definitely help when I overhaul my rear brakes in the spring

URascal 11-29-2010 09:02 PM

Did you ever get the adjusters loose or the drums off? Man, the suspense is killing me. I gotta know what happened.

URascal 11-29-2010 09:04 PM

Disregard my last post, sorry. I didn't see your post. Glad you got it fixed.

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