An emergency brake is a latching brake used for keeping the car at stationery position. Also known as hand brake, e-brake or parking brake, the emergency brake consists of a cable connected to the brake mechanism at one end and to some type of lever that is actuated by the driver at the other end. The need for an emergency brake is almost unnecessary, until when your hydraulic brakes fail or your car begins to roll down a steep hill. However, the emergency brake forms an integral part of the braking mechanism, thereby helping in avoiding a number of dangerous situations. An emergency brake fails when the rubber hose, covering the cable, wears out. Due to this, water, road salt and other debris get on the metal cable, thereby causing it to rust and break. However, fixing it is neither difficult nor you have to call a mechanic to fix it. Read through the following lines to know how you can repair the parking brake all by yourself.
Image: By English: Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Tips For Repairing A Parking Brake
- Remove the boot from the floor covering the bottom of the emergency brake handle. In case the boot is plastic, loosen it with a flat head screwdriver; pull it up and off the handle. In case it is a leather boot, simply unzip or unlace the leather and pull the boot off the leather.
- Carefully pull out the two cables that come along with the emergency brake handle, connected to the underneath of the car. Each cable is connected to one of the rear tires. It is the slack cable that requires fixation.
- Using a lug wrench, loosen the lug nuts on the tire that the broken cable is connected to. Raise the car on the tire jack and transfer the weight of the car on the jack. Now, remove the lug nuts and separate the tire so that you can access the wheel drum.
- Slide down behind the wheel drum and pull the emergency brake cable connected to the drum. Each side of the emergency brake system consists of two separate cables. Both the cables run from the handle straight back to the equalizer bar. Two cables come up from the equalizer bar, each one going at an angle to each brake. In case you pull a cable connected to the brake drum and find it loose, you will have to repair both the parts of the cable. But if it is not loose, you only have to replace the cable from the emergency brake handle to the equalizer bar.
- Carefully remove the broken cable line. Loosen the tension nut holding the cable to the emergency brake handle with a socket wrench. Pull the cable out from the nut.
- Now, loosen the anchor nut on the equalizer bar and remove the other end of the cable from there. The anchor end of the cable has a metal stop pressed onto it. For removing the cable running to the wheel drum, remove the drum by loosening the bolts attached to the axle and pull it. Now, remove the tension nut by holding the cable inside the brake system mechanism.
- Replace the broken cable with the new one and install the anchor ends at the equalizer first. Pass on the cable through the tension nut, hold it with a pair of vise grips and tighten the nut into place. Ensure that the tension nut should be firm on the touch. Make sure that the cable should not slide back and forth when you move the handle.
- Pour a capful of motor oil into the tubing surrounding the metal cable, before installing a new emergency brake cable. Move the cable up and down several times to allow the oil to move, along its entire length. The coating of oil will prevent any salt or debris from sticking to the cable.
- Be careful while tightening the tension nut on any kind of cable, as cables under tension nut tends to break easily. The sharp ends of the tension nut can cause a strike, thereby injuring you seriously.