Dragging brakes cause excess fuel consumption and eventual brake failure. If you feel that your steering is pulling, your car is driving sluggishly or it is hard to maintain control on the road, you may have dragging brakes. Good brakes are essential for basic road safety, so make sure you solve this problem completely before getting back on the road.
Check the parking brake first and make sure you are not driving with it on. Driving with the parking brake on mimics the feel of dragging brakes and can damage your car in the same way.
Check the drum brakes, which are located in the rear of the car. The drum brakes are connected to a system of tubing that links the brakes to the master cylinder. If the springs seem broken or retracted, you have to replace them.
Remove the brake drum with a partner. Lift the back wheels of the car up with a jack. Oil the drum with penetrating oil to loosen it. Stick a crowbar underneath the brake drum on one side, and have your partner hit it off with a hammer. Pry and hammer until the drum falls off. This destroys the drum. Replace it with a new one.
Slip the new drum on. Shake it back and forth to test how loose it is. If it moves more than an inch to either side, take off the drum and tighten the star wheel. The star wheel is at the bottom of the brake and has a jagged outer edge. It can be tightened by turning it downwards with a wrench. Do this until the drum only moves slightly when you slip it on.
Check the emergency brake cable, which may be sticking, freezing or corroded. Completely disassemble your drum brake, taking off the drum and springs that hold the shoe in place with your hands. Unhook the spring clip with a screwdriver. This is the piece that holds the brake to the brake shoe. Make sure not to lose this piece, as it is small. The cable will now be sticking out. If it's corroded, rusty or frozen, pull it out with pliers and replace it with a new one.