1990 Geo Prizm 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Manual 179000 miles
While driving the car begins to slow. At first it is a gentle slowness but quickly becomes very pronounced. Within a block or two of noticing it the baking action is so strong I have to pull off the street. By then the car will only be moved by using 1st gear. This is a random happening. I drove it 13 miles to a garage with no problem. They checked and fixed several brake items and I drove it home. The next day the same thing happened in a 2 mile drive. While this braking action is going on I am able to shift gears. At one time the emergency brake handle was slack, no tension at all.
Have you heard of this problem? I would appreciate any information available.'
Sincerely, Ray McClean
You have a rear wheel cylinder (maybe both) that has failed. Some times, it has locked up on you. When this happens, the brake shoes are pushed out against the drum causing the wheel to lock up and you can't move. When this happens, your parking brake lever will lose its braking ability because the shoes are already pushed against the drum.
If the rear brake has not been serviced for the past a couple years, I would do a complete rear brake service. Replace the shoes and spring kit. You may get away with re-surfacing the drums (rather than replacing them), replace both wheel cylinders and make sure that the brake system bleeding is done.