Comprehensive Guide to Fixing a Non-Working Car Parking Brake

If your vehicle's parking brake isn't holding the way it should, it can be a major safety concern. This guide will walk you through the steps to diagnose and fix common issues with parking brakes.

Step 1: Safety First!

Before beginning any repair, ensure that the vehicle is in a safe and stable condition. Use wheel chocks to prevent the vehicle from rolling and work on a flat surface.

Step 2: Check the Parking Brake Cable

  • Inspect the parking brake cable for any signs of wear, fraying, or rust.
  • If the cable is damaged, it will need to be replaced. Refer to your vehicle's repair manual for specific instructions on replacing the cable.

Step 3: Adjust the Parking Brake

Over time, the parking brake can become loose and may need adjustment.

  • Locate the parking brake adjuster, typically found underneath the car or near the parking brake lever inside the vehicle.
  • Turn the adjuster to tighten the brake. Refer to your vehicle's repair manual for specific instructions, as the process can vary between models.
  • Test the parking brake to ensure it holds the vehicle securely. If not, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Inspect the Parking Brake Shoes or Pads

  • Jack up the car and remove the wheels where the parking brake mechanism is located (usually the rear wheels).
  • Inspect the brake shoes or pads for wear. If they're worn out or damaged, they'll need to be replaced.
  • Install new brake shoes or pads as needed, ensuring you also replace any worn hardware.

Step 5: Check the Parking Brake Drum or Rotor

The parking brake mechanism might operate within a drum or a rotor, depending on the vehicle design.

  • Inspect the drum or rotor for signs of wear, damage, or scoring.
  • If the drum or rotor is damaged, it may need to be resurfaced or replaced.

Step 6: Lubricate the Mechanism

Lubrication can help the parking brake operate smoothly and prevent parts from wearing out prematurely.

  • Apply a high-temperature brake grease to pivot points and moving parts of the parking brake mechanism.
  • Ensure that no grease gets on the brake shoes, pads, or braking surfaces.

Step 7: Reassemble and Test

  • Once you've made necessary repairs and adjustments, reassemble any parts you've disassembled.
  • Lower the vehicle, ensuring all tools and equipment are clear.
  • Test drive the car in a safe area, using the parking brake several times to ensure it's working effectively.

Final Thoughts

If you've gone through all these steps and the parking brake is still not functioning correctly, it's essential to consult with a professional mechanic or refer to your vehicle's repair manual for more specific troubleshooting. Remember, a functioning parking brake is crucial for your safety and the safety of others.

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