Some mistakenly think of the parking brake as the emergency brake. However, a parking brake is designed to keep the vehicle from moving, while the latter is made to stop the vehicle which is already in motion much like how the usual brakes work. It has levers and cables connected together to force the rear brake shoes against the drums. In time though, constant tension on its cables will cause them to overly stretch, making them less reliable. You will notice the need to adjust the parking brakes when it takes about six or more clicks for it to engage.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- Jack stands
- Locking pliers
- Penetrating oil
- White grease
Step 1: Success of parking brake adjustments largely depends on the condition of the entire system, so make sure that the brakes are correctly adjusted. Do not miss any detail, even the parking brake adjusting springs.
Step 2: Raise the car securely with jack and jack stands, high enough to allow the rear wheels to turn freely. Check the parking brake cables, making sure they are not sticking in their guide conduits. Also inspect for kinks, frays, or corrosion. Replace as necessary. And then, grease up the sliding and pivoting friction points with white grease.
Step 3: Locate the adjuster. Parking brake adjusting device is usually at the junction of the cable from the brake pedal or lever. You may also find it at the cable or cables to the rear brakes. If there is none, look near the lever or pedal.
Step 4: Adjustment is usually done by setting the parking brake by one or two clicks on the ratchet. Now turn the adjusting nut until some drag can be felt when the rear wheel is turned by hand. If you see a locknut on the adjuster, loosen it first so that you can turn the adjusting nut. After adjustment, retighten the locknut.
Some cars may need the brakes fully released to enable parking brake adjustment. Draw back the adjuster until the parking brake cable becomes a little loose. That's the time to adjust and get some drag by manually turning the wheel. Then back off the adjuster until there is no more drag when the wheel turns. You will then have to back the adjuster off several turns more, depending on your unit. After locking the adjusting nuts, you can already lower the car.
Step 5: Release the parking brake. Make sure that the rear wheel spins freely with no brake drag at all.
Also remember that with self-adjusting rear drum brakes, you have to make sure that there is no contact between the linings and drums due to too tight parking brake cable. Any drag with the linings will continue rubbing on the brake drums because the self-adjusters force them to. This will result to subsequent wearing and early replacement need.
The entire parking brake adjustment process may take 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the assembly of your vehicle.