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2001 Mule 550 Brakes


Yasgur

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I'm embarrassed to say but I'm 58 years old and I never changed drum brakes before lol.  I have my mule that won't hold fluid. when I drive at top speed my brakes don't work.  I can let off the gas and stop ok so that is all that I have been doing.  There doesn't seem to be any leaks around maser cylinder.  I'm dreading that I will screw something up trying to change the brakes.  They have never been serviced. Only oil, fuel and air filter maintenance.  I looked on youtube but no videos of this model online.  I feel capable to do the job based on videos that I have seen with other drum changes.

 

My question here is what advice can you give me on this job?  What to look for and is it just a drum replacement kit that I need?  Do the cylinders come with it?  I'm assuming that's where they are leaking at although I see no evidence of leaking from the OUTSIDE of the hub.  My Kawasaki  dealer estimates 7-800 dollars to repair without having seen it.  I can't pay that but I'd like to try it myself.  What I DON'T want to have happen is that I pull the hubs and screw it all up and not be able to put it back together.

 

Thanks in advance. And don't laugh

Jeff

 

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I've been into my brakes a few times... 

The wheel cylinders are, from my dealer, $130 each. Check in the parts thread in this Kawasaki forum for other prices.

there are some chinese ones on amazon for about $50 I think.

once you get into the drum you can determine if the shoes need replaced. They might just need adjusted. Although brake fluid is kind of acidic and might eat away at the shoe material.

it's fairly simple. The rear ones have the E brake cable, so that's 1 extra thing to look after.

I would recommend buying a shop manual. I have one, I can post the page instructions here if you want me too.

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  • 1 month later...

I am new to this forum, and hoping I can find help with topics that I can’t find YouTube videos for.  I have a 2000 Mule 550 that I “got custody of” in my divorce.  It was purchased in 2004 from an individual, and we carried it to a Kawasaki shop for general service, fluid change, etc. at that time. Except for occasional oil change, and new tires,  nothing has been done to it since then!!!  It has been a great machine.  But recently, the right rear wheel locked up.  With the help of YouTube, my Daddy, and a good neighbor-I was able to pull the wheel and hub off (with a puller).   Cleaned the whole area, took the brakes off,(Making pictures after each step so I can hopefully put it back together), cleaned all the parts, and bought the service/repair manual.  I think the emergency brake cable was not releasing fully, and I need to adjust or replace it.  But my manual does not give any info on how to remove or adjust it.  Nor does it tell how to adjust the brakes when I put them back on. Does anyone know  where I can get this info?  If you would post pages from your shop manual, I would greatly appreciate it.  Thank you!

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On 4/20/2020 at 3:03 PM, Yasgur said:

I'm embarrassed to say but I'm 58 years old and I never changed drum brakes before lol.  I have my mule that won't hold fluid. when I drive at top speed my brakes don't work.  I can let off the gas and stop ok so that is all that I have been doing.  There doesn't seem to be any leaks around maser cylinder.  I'm dreading that I will screw something up trying to change the brakes.  They have never been serviced. Only oil, fuel and air filter maintenance.  I looked on youtube but no videos of this model online.  I feel capable to do the job based on videos that I have seen with other drum changes.

 

My question here is what advice can you give me on this job?  What to look for and is it just a drum replacement kit that I need?  Do the cylinders come with it?  I'm assuming that's where they are leaking at although I see no evidence of leaking from the OUTSIDE of the hub.  My Kawasaki  dealer estimates 7-800 dollars to repair without having seen it.  I can't pay that but I'd like to try it myself.  What I DON'T want to have happen is that I pull the hubs and screw it all up and not be able to put it back together.

 

Thanks in advance. And don't laugh

Jeff

 

Never heard back from the OP? Seems he just left us hanging. 

To anyone trying to work on drum brakes for the first time. Always work on one side at a time. Leaving the other side intact, you'll have something to look at, and compare to, if you get confused about the assembly. And try to take a couple of pictures of the assembly before you start to take it apart. 

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Sorry, I guess it was us that left you hanging then. All drum brakes are pretty much the same. In your case, I'd pull the drums first. That can be a lot of trouble right there. Typically they've been on there for years and sometimes the drums are stuck on. And it can easily be the hardest part. So I'd pull the drums now, they should be easier to do when you get ready to do the work. 

So pull the drums, and find a YouTube instructional that looks like your own setup. It's not really critical. 

The parts you'll definitely need, are the brake shoes. Hopefully not, but possibly new drums. And if a wheel cylinder is leaking, youll need a new set. They are rebuildable, but replacement is best. Everything that gets replaced, gets replaced on both sides. Or you'll have uneven braking. This is important! Buy new brake fluid, plenty of brake cleaner. Be certain that it's non chlorinated. The chlorinated is toxic, and requires specialized PPE safety stuff.  And a couple of cardboard boxes to slide under the works to catch fluids.

I'd want all new hardware also. However that's not absolutely necessary. But it does make things easier. Because sometimes old springs cause uneven brake reset. That can cause wierd brake pedal feel, to uneven stopping, to a single wheel locking up when braking. But usually it isn't a problem, so if it's hard to find, or you're on a budget. You could probably skip that. 

You'll definitely want to replace the fluid though. That's a generic job also. Plenty of examples on YouTube. And doesn't absolutely have to be done at the same time. 

To get started, you'll need to pull the drums to expose the internals on both sides. Do one side at a time. Because on the reassembly, you WILL need to look at how it goes together. So leave one side unmolested, for reference. This can be critical so don't take it lightly. 

Hose everything down with non chlorinated brake cleaner.  I buy the cheap stuff at Walmart. Three cans should be plenty. Slide a cardboard underneath the assembly, and hose it down. Everything about this job is messy. Plenty of cardboard, and maybe something more protective, if you're trying to keep a pristine garage floor. Pre planning is important for this.

Take pictures as you remove each part. Because there's not many parts, but they're layered. Some parts go over, some under. And there's subtle differences between left, and right. So pay close attention, and take a few pictures. You'll know when you have it right, because of how it fits together. 

It's really not that hard, certainly a beginner could do it. Especially with the help of YouTube. But it could take most of the day, especially if you have problems. Or get side tracked. 

You might also need to source parts that you don't have. So don't do this in the driveway behind a car that you might need. You might have to order parts from the internet. So plan ahead on where you do this. It might be there awhile, or it might take a couple hours. Unless you go all new parts, and have everything you need, expect that it won't be a quick job. I've spent a half day doing cars, when the auto parts was just right there.  So prepare for a small project, and be happy if it just falls together. But understand that sometimes you'll find other problems too. Like bearings that are bad. Or leaking seals. 

Don't worry about getting in over your head. It really isn't that complicated. Although I might not have painted a rosey picture. I try not to over simplify. I want you to know what you're getting into. You'll be glad you saved the $800.00. But you'll understand why it costs so much. It takes lots of time. We'll be here if you have questions. It'll come straight to my email after this.

Welcome to the forum, and Good luck! 

 

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Sounds like a hot sweaty job right there. Especially at this time of year. But interesting at the same time. I spent some time in the swamp in Louisiana. Not at all what I was expecting. It was nice, in its own way.

 When you get back, and decide to tackle that project we'll be here. There's no timeline, it's all on your schedule. Stay safe. 

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