Parking Brake is Stuck

Is your parking brake stuck? When the parking brake is stuck, it is both dangerous and inconvenient. The parking brake is a part of your security when driving an automobile; the security of knowing you can stop the car. When that security is gone, driving with a stuck parking brake feels dangerous because it is. If you have problems with your parking brake to where it is stuck, read on to find out what you can do to get it right.

The Parking Brake

As cars are designed to go faster and the driver can do more things while the car is in motion, the more there is a need for parking and emergency brakes. The parking brake is designed to keep your car from moving when it is in park. The most ideal time to use the parking brakes is when you are parking on an incline or uneven surface where the car is likely to roll whether the engine is on or not.

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The first parking brakes were actually designed to be emergency brakes. The brakes consist of a parking brake cable that is connected to two wheel brakes. This is connected to a pulling component. This design is mostly found in the rear two wheels. Typically, the parking brake is operated by pulling a hand lever or a foot pedal.

The parking brake is an auxiliary brake system that is independent of your push pedal brake system. If the car is a manual transmission, the parking brake is typically engaged whenever the car is parked. The parking brake is an extra layer of security when your car is parked on even and slanted surfaces. The parking brake can also be back up when your push pedal braking system is not working properly. There are a few complications that can emerge in the braking systems; however, there are common solutions for most of them.

Causes of Stuck Parking Brake

When the parking brake malfunctions, most cars have a parking brake warning light that activates when something is wrong. The check engine light (CEL) may activate as well. If could be you are trying to drive with then parking brake on. In either case, you must find out why the parking brake is not working so that it may be repaired properly.

Why, exactly, is the parking brake jammed in the first place? It has gone from working fine to not working at all. There are a few things which affect the parking brake performance and life cycle. These things create different reasons as to why you cannot use your parking brake. Here are the most common problems associated with a parking brake that is stuck:

Wear and tear –The parking brake is needed to stop your car from moving at the most inopportune times. Most parking brakes are built to last you while. Yet, sometimes any automotive part can malfunction and some must be replaced. As a vehicle is continuously driven and accumulating miles some of the parts eventually wear out. Actually, all auto parts are subject to wear and tear over time. The more you drive the car the more wear and tear you can expect.

Idleness – If you never use your parking brake, it can become corroded or rusted over time. Idleness, the opposite of constant wear, can cause the parking brake to be jammed just as quickly as other reasons. If you are going to store your vehicle for a long period of time, you may want to engage and then disengage the parking brake before you leave it. If there is a maintenance staff, you can ask that the parking brake be engaged from time to time.

Long periods of engagement – Problems also arise when the parking brake is engaged for long periods of time. Ideally, the parking brake is not engaged when you drive and you use the push pedal brakes to stop first. If this is not the case, you may be using the parking brake too much. Perhaps the car was left in storage or at an airport with the parking brake engaged for more than a day or two. The prolonged periods of use can cause the parking brake to become stuck.

Rough driving – If the driver is too aggressive in pressing the brakes and engaging the parking brake, this can damage the parking brake. Some people snatch the parking brake lever up and slam it down rather than operating it gently. When the parking brake lever is pulled too hard. The brake shoes become stuck against the wheel drum and the parking brake able can become overstretched. The cable could be wearing thin due to the constant rough handling.

Faulty brake components – A component of the parking brake system may be a part of the problem. This may have come about simply by wear and tear. The rotor or brake caliper may be the problem, which also worsens the more you drive. It could also be the electronic parking brake module is not activated. In this case, the check engine light (CEL) is probably also activated. Also, the brake calipher squeezes the brake pads against the brake rotor when you are trying to slow down or come to a stop. When the brake calipher is damaged, it starts to stick to other parts.

Rust – Water, salt, debris and aging can cause rust and undesirable build up in the braking system, especially when the braking system is on the rear wheels. The rotors can also become rusted. The symptoms of this problem include noise, rusted back plates, and sticking calipers. The emergency brake may also be malfunctioning.

Bad Weather – Wet and cold weather conditions, to include rain, sleet, and ice, can cause parts of the braking system to freeze up. If you know that the weather forecast for your city is below freezing temperatures with humidity, avoid engaging the parking brake during the bad weather. If you live in an area where it is always cold or raining, you may want to develop a maintenance routine for your parking brake s to keep it working.

Corrosion – Water and dirt cause corrosion in the parking brake cables, which could cause the brake to jam and the cables to snap. This leads also to brake failure and sticky brake pads. Corrosion can also build up due to idleness, that is when the parking brake is hardly ever used.

You Treat Your Car Like Badly – Most vehicle owners understand that a vehicle must be inspected and serviced from time to time, as referred to as routine maintenance. For those who don’t, the likelihood of problems that cause the parking brake to remain stuck is extremely high. If the vehicle is not inspected routinely, small problems can escalate to major problems that are much more expensive to fix. This is also true for vehicles which sit for long periods of time.

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DIY Solutions for Stuck Parking Brake

The parking brake system is not complicated at all. In most cases, the parking brake problem can be solved by doing it yourself. If you are mechanically inclined and have the tools, you can troubleshoot and repair the jammed parking brake. If you have the tools and are ready to go, try these solutions based upon the symptoms of your case:

Rust or corrosion – If you think your parking brake is stuck due to rust or corrosion, try these steps:

  • Manually disturb the brakes. You can manually disturb the parking brake by applying pressure to the brakes and then releasing. Do this several times.
  • Shift into reverse and drive. You can try sifting your car into drive, then reverse, then back to drive. Do this a few times to see if the parking brake will engage.
  • Do a visual inspection of the parking brake cable. If you see rust in the parking brake system parts, replace them.
  • Try rocking your car back and forth to dislodge any obstruction and clear the parking brake. Make sure the car is OFF when you try this. Some will suggest going under the vehicle to dislodge the cables; however, this is not recommended.

Bad Weather – If your parking brake is sticking or frozen due to bad weather, there is something you can do to get it unjammed. Follow these steps if your parking brake is stuck due to bad weather:

  • Turn the car ON, as letting the engine warm up may melt away any ice. Rev the engine to speed up the process. Then try to disengage the parking brake after the car has had a chance to warm up.
  • Use your owner’s manual to locate the parking brake. When you find which wheel the parking brake is connected to, use the hairdryer to melt the ice or snow.
  • Try rocking your car back and forth to dislodge any obstruction and clear the parking brake. Make sure the car is OFF when you try this. Some will suggest going under the vehicle to dislodge the cables; however, this is not recommended.

Use an OBD2 Scanner – If your parking brake is stuck, use an OBD2 Scanner (view on Amazon) to pinpoint the problem. The OBD2 scanner may give the codes that are most likely related to the parking brake system as well as other problems that are developing problems.

Take your car to a repair shop – Taking a car to the repair shop is never a bad idea. If you don’t have an OBD2 scanner, your mechanic shop does. If you don’t have the time or skill to diagnose and repair the parking brake yourself, take your car to an automotive repair shop for an inspection as soon as possible.

Prevention from Stuck Parking Brakes

If your parking brakes are still working and you want to know how to prevent your parking brake from getting jammed, here are a few things you can do:

Use the parking brake regularly – Avoid build ups of rust and grime by using your parking brake more often. If you are the type of driver who rarely uses the parking brake, this is a good time to start. This can also help prevent freeze ups during the winter months.

Be gentle – Rough riding speeds up the wear and tear on your vehicle. Go easy when you pull the parking brake and when you return it. If you are handling the parking brake too roughly, it will tear something up.

Get your vehicle serviced regularly – When the braking system is serviced, the brake dust is cleaned and the parts are lubricated and adjusted. If your vehicle is not inspected routinely, these types of problems can escalate to major problems which end up much more expensive to fix. Have your vehicle serviced as recommended by the manufacturer and make sure checking the oil, brakes, steering and transmission fluid is a part of the service. Parking brake issues are usually pretty easy to diagnose and to repair.

Be Safe

Although you likely can drive your car with the parking brake engaged, it is not a good idea. When you drive with the parking brake stuck, it exposes the parts of the system to more corrosion. Repair options for the parking brake that is not working are simple and inexpensive. Have your parking brake repaired and drive safe on the road.