It’s not a great feeling when you put your foot on the brake, and very little happens. We’d not long got back from the top of Cape York, and I thought that the brakes felt a bit weird when we rolled into Mareeba.
Sure enough, the next day with the camper off I got to do some testing, and the braking was shocking on our Isuzu Dmax, and even worse than that, I had to double pump the brake to get it to become firm, which is never a good sign.
We’ve had a fair number of Isuzu Dmax problems, but nothing like this before.
Recent shoe replacement
I had the rear brake shoes replaced in Cairns just under 6000km ago, and asides from getting stuck in a sandy creek I was a bit surprised at the dramatic performance change.
After some testing, I touched the front rotors which were cooking hot, and the rear drums were icey cold, which confirmed my suspicions; we had no working rear brakes.
Rather than muck around myself, I decided to find a mechanic to have a look, and he put it on the hoist, and tightened the shoes up using the adjuster.
However, he commented that the adjuster would spin both directions, and it shouldn’t do that; there’s a tab which should lock it and stop it reversing unless you push it in.
He pulled a wheel off, and you could see that this tab wasn’t engaging on the adjuster teeth properly, and he was suggesting that it probably came loose on its own, explaining the lack of brakes.
He then mentioned that he had an aftermarket set of brakes on a different Dmax do the same thing, and the pin that holds the tab in place seemed to be manufactured too low.
I hadn’t used genuine Isuzu brake pads on this instance as the mechanic who did the job wouldn’t warrant them (as he wouldn’t have been supplying them), and maybe this was a mistake.
The brakes are back, for now
Regardless, the brakes were re-adjusted tight, and we got our handbrake back (which had also completely died, for the first time), and the brakes were working perfectly fine.
In the past, we’d get a tight handbrake after going through mud or water, and it would gradually wear and need a higher pull on the lever, but it had never completely failed, and in this instance it was so bad that I couldn’t even get it to hold on a mild hill, on full height of the handbrake lever.
I didn’t think that the shoe adjustment would make the pedal sink to the floor and be soft, but it clearly does. We’ve now got working brakes, I can easily adjust them if needed (just hop under with a screwdriver), and I’ll be following up with the first mechanic about the brand of aftermarket shoes, and whether they’ve been manufactured incorrectly if they start to fade again.
This is the first time I’ve really looked into drum brakes on anything other than a camper trailer, and it was an interesting learning experience.
Digging into the issue
After writing this post, I had quite a few people comment or get in touch saying they’d had similar issues, and decided to keep digging.
Our brakes are still working OK, but I’m not sure if they’ve deteriorated at all. I contacted the original mechanic, who was very supportive, and told me the brake pads fitted are IBS, and part number NS3093.
I believe these are distributed by the same parent company as the Protex brand, and I’m waiting for information back. So far, there’s a couple of different options:
- The wrong brake shoes were put in the right box
- The wrong brake shoes were installed (mechanic got the wrong ones), which seems unlikely given my discussion with him
- The shoes were not manufactured correctly.
My gut tells me the bottom option is likely (given the information I’ve obtained so far), but I don’t really know. For now, I’ll wait to hear back, and monitor my brakes carefully. It’s a pain in the backside though.
Do you run genuine parts? Have you had any issues with your Dmax rear brakes?