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2003 Buick Century New Drum Brakes Smoking?

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New User

Jul 1, 2019, 4:36 PM

Post #1 of 4 (867 views)
2003 Buick Century New Drum Brakes Smoking? Sign In

Year: 2003
Make: Buick
Model: Century
Engine size: 3.1L (V6)
Mileage: 49,000 (Yes, seriously)

I had a shop install newly purchased drum brakes recently. After their first installation, the drums made a persistent pulsating noise whenever I braked. Okay, so they didn't do it right the first time, no biggie. I used the service warranty to get them to fix it properly a few days later. They DID adjust it, but now when I got home, I noticed some light smoke was coming from my back brake drums and they were really hot. I don't think this is normal. I read on other forums that this can cause warping on some parts of the car around that area due to heat or that it may catch fire, and I don't want that. Can anyone help me try and find out what is going on?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 1, 2019, 5:52 PM

Post #2 of 4 (859 views)
Re: 2003 Buick Century New Drum Brakes Smoking? Sign In

If you know tell me. Is the parking brake also part of the same brake on this? I can't be 100% sure of the set up it's late for drum brakes despite seems old.
Doesn't matter you sure can warp a drum just as any metal too overheated. In that you notice time to quit driving this.
If I'll say "good old drum brakes" they incorporate the parking brake with same shoes such that adjustment of cables for parking brake (can easily be the problem here) is coordinated with the service part being set properly first, then if any adjustment to parking brake short of one being replaced is pretty much never!
That type was used for decades on end still confused the daylights out of techs.
Take it back or tow it as it's going to ruin things. You are overheating brake fluid, the bearings and can possibly harm the wheel if alloy?
Low mile such as this also means if back DRUM brakes were needed at all they probably wore from a stuck parking brake first and still not right.

It's not your job just look under the car see if a long cable is hanging down loose if so it's frozen and was adjusted so can't release then service brake adjusted isn't anchored up top is the common OLD mistake but they don't make this type anymore.
Take it back - it's theirs to fix if replacing everything all over again. Tell tale with this is parking brake - count the clicks till it holds now or after next try. The standard was to be loose enough but about 6-7 clicks it's holding the car best aiming forward if on a slope I stop the novel there's a reason but let that go,


New User

Jul 1, 2019, 6:13 PM

Post #3 of 4 (857 views)
Re: 2003 Buick Century New Drum Brakes Smoking? Sign In

Hello, Tom. I did get new brake shoes for the drums as well as I wanted to get all my brake maintenance done at the same time and not have to deal with individual parts messing up. The parking brake may be a part of the back braking mechanism, but I am not sure. All I can say about that is that when I applied the mercy brake after the 2nd adjustment when I got home, it felt like it held a LOT tighter than the first time they adjusted it (where the newly installed drums would make a pulsing noise upon braking).

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 1, 2019, 8:17 PM

Post #4 of 4 (842 views)
Re: 2003 Buick Century New Drum Brakes Smoking? Sign In

You aren't supposed to be the tech - you paid for this to get done. Correct me if that's misunderstood.
It's OK but brakes area brakes and dangerous to have wrong or do incorrectly. Obviously the latter.
Parking (brake) or as you put it, "Mercy Brake" (love that) is part of the deal in that if it's not right the rest isn't going to be. By rights it shouldn't change that much with a rear brake job.

That would be at the age, at least thought to be those low miles to do it up. Drums, shoes, hardware, WHEEL CYLINDERS, check or replace all parking brake cables and that it's setting is right with all that new - it should be most never get touched. If you have to there's a problem before or currently still wrong.
Just know parts depend on the other parts and things to be correct or the whole show will screw up - that's clearly what happened.
Said early that this brake is really so simple it scares techs! At a glance there's springs and things, clips and a star adjuster inside that needs to work. Those things over just time should actually be taken care of vs basic "disc" brakes you are tossing the most it with one throw.

I don't want to beat it up the shop is in biz and this brake is NOT obsolete at all just almost not used on cars or lighter trucks anymore even about this old.
One more try for them and the only thing you should be told with new brakes is that they will take short miles of use to feel their very best just a matter of breaking in. More so on a drum style than disc style of brake because friction surface is a round drum with shoes to match up just right even all new isn't 100% perfect but is with just a little use.

Now you know what they should,

(edit to fix some of my typos - blame computer)

(This post was edited by Tom Greenleaf on Jul 1, 2019, 8:28 PM)

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