Q. I have an S-10 Blazer that I took in for brakes the other day. When I got the call to tell me what was wrong I was shocked by how much it was going to cost. Not only did I need rear brake pads and rotors, which I expected, I needed some kind of a dust shield on both sides and rear emergency brake shoes, too. Does that sound right; I always thought the rear brakes and emergency brake were one in the same?
A. Yes, it does sound correct. Most of the GM trucks and sport utility vehicles have this type of rear brake design. Your vehicle has rear disc brakes and then a separate set of emergency brake shoes that contact a surface on the inside of the brake rotor.
The dust shield you referred to is designed to keep all the road gunk and debris out of the emergency brake mechanism. This dust shield is also the backing plate for the e-brake shoes. The shoes are mounted to the plate and they need to ride smoothly on it. These backing plates are fairly thin and very exposed to road salt and water; consequently they rust away to nothing and no longer perform their desired function.
The end result is everything, including the rotors, become very corroded and unusable. All the extra parts and labor can add up to making a fairly expensive brake job.
They have come up with a two-piece backing plate now that doesn't require as much disassembly and will help keep the labor costs down. For anyone who has declined this service in the past because of the cost, you may want to look into this option and see if it fits the budget a little better.