Parking Brake Repair: A How-To Guide

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What You'll Need
Service Manual
Diagnostic Tool

Parking brake repair is something that must be done as part of any routine maintenance on a braking system. The parking brake is an important aspect of the safety of your vehicle. The repair of a parking brake is easy for any do-it-yourself mechanic.

Step 1 - Make Minor Adjustments

The first thing you will want to do is make some small adjustments. With time, parking brake systems tend to wear. A parking brake system is made with a bunch of pulleys and cables. These cables will and do stretch over time. First, check your service manual to make sure you are making the adjustments correctly. When you make the adjustments, you will tighten the cable, or remove the additional slack.

Step 2 - Apply Lubricant

Sometimes you will find that a parking brake will stick. Perhaps it does not release as easily as it should, and other times it wont pull or push back to the off position. This makes life difficult and the driver becomes frustrated. Generally, when a parking brake begins to stick, you should take out a bottle of lubricant and grease in between the sliding mechanisms. You should also apply additional lubricant to the actuator levers. The levers are found on the rear brake callipers.

Even after you have applied the lubricant, you may find that the parking brake is still sticking. In this case, you will need to remove the rear brakes and review the entire parking brake mechanism to identify the sticking problem. This is a little more time consuming but certainly worth it.

Step 3 - Replace Broken Cable

Replacing a broken cable is a fairly easy and straight forward process for any slightly skilled person.

Put the car up in the air using jacks and a jack stand. Pull apart the braking system to expose the end of the brake cable. Remove all the mounting hardware so that you can get to the individual cable. Then, lightly free the cable from the calliper. Remove the existing cable from all the attachment points on the interior of the vehicle. This is not a difficult process, but can require a little patience and moving things around from side to side.

Once you have the path of the cable fully traced, disassemble any trim necessary. This will give you an ability to get access to the bottom of the parking brake handle. Remove the interior parts of the cable. Pull the cable out from underneat the car.

Following the same process, you can add the new cable. Trace your path in reverse and add the trim back, as needed.

Step 4 - Use a Diagnostic Tool

Some new vehicles feature electric parking brakes. These brakes work in the same fashion as cable-operated systems, but use electric motors instead of physical effort to apply the brake. Electric parking brakes may require the use of a factory scan tool to place them into a service mode before repairs can be made. Backyard mechanics may find this frustrating, as performing a rear brake job is impossible without first electronically releasing the brakes.

A properly maintained parking brake will not only help your car pass required safety inspections, but it will keep you safe as well. You can take comfort in the fact you saved big by doing it yourself and that your car is safer than ever!