Brake Squeal is the most common complaint. It is usually dust in the drum. Cheaper imported linings are used on exchange shoes by some suppliers. These wear quite quickly, producing alot of dust. Clean them out regularly, and chamfer the leading edge of each shoe. DO NOT breath in the DUST, wear a mask, and hoover up the residue. Old brakes are made of asbestos. Another cause of squeal is hard linings and swapping over one shoe to the other side will often cure this.
Difficulty in pushing the car with the handbrake OFF, will indicate sticking rear brake shoes, in that infamous slot in the backplate. Free the cylinder off. It can also be a seized rear cylinder, or a front one. A hot drum after a braking free drive will show up the faultly wheel.
Handbrake cable seems to not return, giving a 'bouncy' handbrake lever. It is the cable seized up, look under the drivers seat, under the carpet. The cable should return easily into its sheath. Grease this cable often.
Brake fluid level drops are always leaks! Check each brake cylinder on each wheel. Also check under the carpet, under the brake pedal, up where it goes into the master cylinder. Fluid here means a new seal on the master cylinder. Check ALL the brake pipes for corrosion, especially the one on the back axle, and the two on the backplates of the front wheels. Check for loose unions, especially if the brakes have been worked on recently.
Brake pedal travels a long way. Brakes need adjusting. This is often caused by people NOT looseninng off the handbrake cable BEFORE adjusting the rear brakes. The handbrake lever on the brake backplate, to which the cable connects, should be up against the backplate, not out of angle. Re-adjust the handbrake after.
Drum brakes need regular adjusting and cleaning out. Shoes do not last very long up the front, depending on how you drive. With modern self adjusting brakes and discs, people have forgotten how to look after cars. Change the brake fluid every three years as well as all the seals and brake hoses. Make you life easy and buy the correct square ended wrench from Draper for adjusting.
Brakes pull to one side; soft tire on that side; oil on the linings from a worn wheel bearing seal; brake fluid on the linings from a leaking cylinder; worn king pinss; tracking badly out; wheel bearing breaking up... the cause must be investigated immediately.
Brakes stay on; master cylinder seals have broken up inside, or if it is on one wheel only, seized cylinder or a brake hose with its inner lining breaking up, acting as a NRV.
Rear brakes will not free off on a freezing day. The water inside the handbrake cable is ice, locking it on. You should have filled it with grease in the autumn. Try not to use the handbrake if you can park offroad, in freezing weather.