Back Tires Locked

Tiny
SLAWLESS02
  • MEMBER
  • 1976 MERCURY COUGAR
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 14,000 MILES
I am looking to buy a 1976 Mercury COugar. I was told that the only problem with it was that it only needed a new oil pan. I tried pushing the car onto an open trailer but, the back wheels were locked.
I tried pushing and releasing the emergency brake and the car was in neutral.
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Friday, December 10th, 2010 AT 4:30 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Ford wrote the book on sticking parking brake cables. It's common to need to replace them every few years. By applying the parking brake, there's a good chance the two rear cables stuck applied, but really suspect the short one that makes a 90 degree turn right behind the passenger front seat.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, December 10th, 2010 AT 4:40 PM
Tiny
SLAWLESS02
  • MEMBER
THanks,
Is there anything that I can do just to get it on the trailer so I can get it home?
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Friday, December 10th, 2010 AT 5:04 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Go in front of the right rear tire underneath. A section of the parking brake cable is exposed there. Tug on it while a helper holds the parking brake release handle in the release position. If the cables are just sluggish, doing this will pull it back from the pedal. Once you get some slack in front of the wheel, flex the cable casing ahead of where it comes out of the brake backing plate. If it is rusted solid, you're out of luck, but if it is just sticky, the cable will slowly retract under spring pressure as you flex it. Do the same thing at the left wheel to release that brake.

A clue can be found by looking at the cables right in front of the front end of the outer casings. If you see a half inch long shiny section, that proves the cable just pulled forward applying the brake. When flexing the casing, the goal is to get the cable to retract enough for that shiny spot to go back into the casing.

If the cables are rusted solid and won't apply or release, the only option is to cut them with a small air-powered cutoff tool. If you can do that close enough to the backing plate, there's a good chance the short remaining piece of cable will pop free and release on its own.

When you replace these cables, a lot of aftermarket ones have a small rubber accordion-type boot in the front end to keep water out. Consider sticking the stem for a spray can in there and filling the boot with grease. Chrysler has a can of "Spray White Lube" that works real well for this purpose. It's a lithium-based grease with a liquid. The liquid soaks in and takes the grease with it, then the liquid evaporates leaving the grease behind.

On most cars it is common to exercise the parking brake regularly to keep the cables freed up, or to never use them so they won't stick applied. That doesn't work on Fords. Even when you use the parking brake all the time, the cables will still eventually rust tight. It just might take an extra year or two for that to happen. When working for a mass merchandiser auto shop years ago, we stocked parking brake cables only for a number of Ford models; no other brands of cars, because we needed them so often.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, December 10th, 2010 AT 5:53 PM

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