What did I do to mess up the self-adjuster on one of my rear wheels during a DIY brake job?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently did a rear brake job on my '94 Chevy Astro van. Now the self-adjuster
on the left rear wheel over-adjusts the brake periodically and I have to get out
and get under it and loosen it up. What did I do wrong? -- Dave

TOM: Well, stealing the used parts from your neighbor's Astro van was probably
your first mistake, Dave.

RAY: Actually, two possibilities come to mind. One is that you put the springs
on wrong. The other is that you damaged one of the springs.

TOM: Start by taking both rear wheels off. Since the right rear adjuster is
working fine, carefully compare the two. You may discover that you've switched
the springs on the left side or attached a spring to the wrong hole.

RAY: If you don't notice any difference between the two wheels, the next thing
to do is to replace all of the brake hardware on that left wheel. You can buy
what's called a "combination kit" at your local auto parts store for about 20
bucks. That contains all of the springs and hardware for the brake assembly. And
if you stretched or damaged a spring the first time around, that will almost
certainly fix it.

TOM: And do it right away, Dave. If for any reason, you can't fix it yourself,
take it to a mechanic and pay him to do it. Trust us on this; having one wheel
lock up at high speed will not be an enjoyable experience.

* * *

The secrets to buying a great used car -- and not a lemon -- are in Tom and
Ray's latest pamphlet, "How to Buy a Great Used Car." Send $3 and a stamped (55
cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Used Car, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ

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