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Loose parking brake

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by BonesDT, December 3, 2005.

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    1. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      My parking brake pedal pushes to the floor and gives minimal braking.

      I have rear disc brakes. The parking brake shoes are fine and i adjusted the adjuster dial but still with no luck.

      I'm guessing the parking brake cables are stretched and I need to buy new ones, but there are a lot of "intermediate cables" and I don't know which ones need to be replaced.

      Maybe the parking brake pedal mechanism needs to be replaced. I find that when i release the parking brake, the dash light still stays on. This is because there is not enough tension in the pedal to release it all the way up. When i pull the pedal up with my hand, the dash light then goes away. I don't know if there is not enough tension because the parking brake cables are loose or because the coil spring in the pedal assembly is loose.

      Any thoughts?
       
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    3. budwich

      budwich Well-Known Member

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      If you look under neath the drive side body rail area, is the brake cable tight? If it isn't then the spring takeup isn't taking up the cable enough. It is supposed to keep it very tight so that when you apply the "pedel to the metal", your foot "motion" transfers "directly" to the brakes and not to taking up slack. It appears that perhaps your spring is broken or lost its "set position".... meaning that it has "spun" a turn or two resulting insufficient tension strength to maintain a tight brake cable. The system works much like a bycycle hand brake.... if the cable is too loose, your gripping on the brake lever will run out of "squeeze" before your brakes apply. Sounds like the same thing is happening to you.
       
    4. the wolf ex

      the wolf ex New Member

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      k now how do you fix it? lol I have the same problem
       
    5. snowburns

      snowburns Active Member

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      yeah me too...
       
    6. budwich

      budwich Well-Known Member

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      If your problem is as described ("spun" spring), then it is likely you need to replace the spring and / or the park brake control / lever.... I don't know if you can get a separate spring. You disconnect the cable by having someone pull on the intermediate cable (under the driver side body) and then insert a locking pin (nail or equivalent) to hold the spring take up. Then release the cable and then you can detach the cable lug from its hold on the brake control / lever. The assembly can then be unbolted and analysed to see if you can fix the spring (likely the tang is broken) or replace the unit. Hope it help.
       
    7. the wolf ex

      the wolf ex New Member

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      thanks man I'll have to check that one out tomorow night I'll update on what the problem is
       
    8. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      sorry, for some reason i wasnt getting the emails for this thread.

      yes, definately, there is slack in the cable, and thats exactly whats happening, pushing the pedal only takes up slack instead of directly going to the brakes.

      i remember hearing a while ago that p.b. cables stretch out over time and need to be replaced to tighten the p.b. can these metal cables really stretch though?

      like you said, the other option could be the coil spring in the pedal mechanism, which i removed (something i never want to do again) but cant really figure out how to diagnose.

      i use my parking brake ALL the time since '99 so its def got its wear somewhere. i just dont want to go out and buy a whole pedal assembly when its just stretched cables, and if its the cables, there are several cables all linked together, which ones do i replace?

      for those of you disconnecting the cables, mine were stuck in the brackets quite tightly. i had to heat up the brackets to red with a propane torch, and then pried the clamps open a little with pliers.
       
    9. '92Bauer

      '92Bauer Active Member

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      Sorry this is a little (alot) off topic, but I just realized you live about ten minutes away from me. I'm from Mamaroneck and in the process of looking at an auto red sport similar to yours.
       
    10. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      ok, ive studied my parking brake pedal assembly outside the vehicle and i concluded that it is fine and not "loose". the cables are somehow too loose or long. im kinda bored and i know everyone loves pics.

      this first pic shows the entire p.b. mechanism. the assemply contains two coil springs. the blue arrow points to a coil spring which returns the pull-release handle back in. the green arrow points to a minor spring which helps do the same. the gray arrow points to the p.b. switch which activates the dash light.

      the red arrow points to a coil spring underneath and a gear assembly. this system acts as a "tensioner" (like the fan belt tensioner) for the cable. it pulls the slack out of the cable and then locks in place, so when you depress the pedal, the slack is already locked out and the cable pulls directly on the brake shoes.
       

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    11. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      this next pic shows the parking brake from the back side. here, the coil spring is "bottomed out" because the cable has too much slack and the spring is unable to pull out anymore slack. this is what my parking brake looks like in my car. the spring and pedal assembly is working fine, its just the cable has so much slack, that the spring pulled some slack out but bottomed out and yet leaves still some more slack in the cable
       

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    12. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      here im pulling on the cable. this is what a good system should look like. here the cable has almost no slack, and the tensioner is pulling about 1/2" of slack out of the cable. basically, the tensioner is capable of pulling up to about 2.5" of slack out of the cable. my problem seems to be that i have more than 2.5" of slack in my cable.
       

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    13. budwich

      budwich Well-Known Member

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      Well... it appears that you have done a great job "my dear Watson"...:) but you still have a problem.... so on to something / somewhere else. I don't believe you can cause the cables to "stretch" that long without breakage.... even with a lot of use (how much do you use your park brake?). The next area to check is the brake lever at both brake... ensure that it is returning to its "resting" / non-operated position. From my limited experience, these usually get "gummed up" and don't return resulting in some drag on the brake shoes which ultimately "fail" in some form either requiring replacement or "grosser" adjustment of the adjusters at each brake. In addition, ensure that the cable conduit / retainers are locked into their holders and / or are not broken. If there is play in them or they are not seated properly then it is possible that they are causing the cable path to be "virtually longer" than it should be.
       
    14. BigDakota

      BigDakota Active Member

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      Thats a lot of slack!!! Check and make sure the cable is seated/locked onto its bracket on the frame. The bracket is located under the explorer, on the outside of the frame on the body mount framework..almost directly under that drivers side seat area.
       
    15. 410Fortune

      410Fortune ELITE BRONCO2ERER Moderator Emeritus

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      I used cable clamps (little u shaped bolts with two nuts)tto tie the 8.8 disc brake intermediate cable to the cable that comes from my BII floor pedal.

      Has not slipped an inch in like 6 years.

      This might be a perfect way to remove slack, cost was like $3 for two of them.

      Cut cable, overlap, clamp.
       
    16. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      yes, it is odd how my cable may have possibly stretched so much. all the brackets/conduits/etc. are all good, and i've disassembled the rear brakes (another job i hope i never have to do) and the p.b. shoes and "levers" all look fine.

      i still cant logically explain the problem, but i can tell you this: ive had my Ex since 1999, 98,000 miles, and I use the p.b. EVERY time i park, and i step on the pedal hard. but despite my roughness, i dont think i "snapped" anything. the p.b. pedal has slowly gotten looser and looser over time and has now gotten to the point where it wont hold my Ex on a hill with the pedal to the floor. so it definately feels like some sort of stretching/loosening.

      410fortune, most trucks i see have those threaded cable clamps in the p.b. cables, and if i had those, i should have an easy fix. but unfortunately, at least my year Ex, all the cable ends have fixed knobs on them that slip into brackets and there is no way to adjust the length.

      there is definately a good deal of slack in my cable. even before i started messing around with anything, i noticed the cable sag by the frame rail a little. the brake shoes are good and re-adjusted, the conduits are all in their brackets, and the pedal tensioner seems bottomed out. i dont understand how the cables stretched like they did, but im thinking the quickest, cheapest, and probably the most effective fix is to tie some knots in one of the cables to shorten it.
       
    17. 410Fortune

      410Fortune ELITE BRONCO2ERER Moderator Emeritus

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      NO I am talking about cutting the cable inteh middle of a run, overlapping your two halves to remove the slack, the using these clamps to secure the two ends together.

      You would not need any new cables and the parts at any hardware store are like $3.

      My 88 BII has 280K+ miles on it and my stock cable never stretched beyond the adjustability of the rear shoes.

      yes those rear drum pads are a PITA, after replacing mine twice I too hope I dont have to do it again. My dash light hadnt worked for a couple of years (the plastic on the sensor broke) and I was in 4 low for about 6 miles in Moab before I said :"hey whats that smell" um yeah brake shoes, pedal was to the floor. The pads were about 1 month old and it completely destroyed them :)
      When I put my rear locker in recently (had it done) I picked up another set and had them install the new pads. I use my BII to launch my boat and also for 4x4ing so the e brake is a necessity.
       
    18. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      i wasn't sure what clamps you meant, but i wanted to get a quick fix to this already.

      all i did was tie a knot in one of the short intermediate cables under the drivers door. my parking brake now works great for the first time in months! although, the knot thing gives a tiny bit of 'elasticity' to the line and i might need to tie another knot in the future it was an easy, fast, cheap fix (the clamps sound like a better fix).

      the problem was definately in the cable being too loose, either from long-term stretching of the cable or maybe my frame cable brackets bent inward.

      thanks for everyones help.
       
    19. gmanpaint

      gmanpaint Torsion Bar Free Elite Explorer

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      Resurrection of an old thread :thumbsup:

      Glad I found this thread, as it has given me an idea for my stretched cables. Wheeling and flexing the rear axle will stretch these cables just enough to render them non operational.

      Reading 410's "Cut & Clamp" method made me think. This sounds like a cheap & easy fix. But for shiz & grins, I'm thinking of embellishing this idea a bit. A small turnbuckle installed on the long intermediate cable would allow for easy fine tuning and future tightening. :)

      I love discovering old threads like this. :D
       
      Last edited: April 25, 2011
    20. morbe

      morbe New Member

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      Sorry I know that this is an old thread (VERY OLD), But my wife's parking break I think just called it a life. All the cables seem to be fine. there is tention! and when I pull on the cable from underneath the car I can hear the brake engaging. We applied the parking break and has the pedal was depressed in engage the brake, we heard a definate audible "POP" and the pedal fell right to the floor. because of the sound I released the parking break and attempted to re-engage it. This time no "CLICK, CLICK,CLICK!" just smoothly went right to the floor and will stay down till released is pulled and did not engauge a thing! All the cables seemed to be attached in the correct area and with further investigation. As the pedal is being depressed about and inch or so I see the cable begining to tighten but even when the pedal can depress another 3-4 inches at least! nothing happens, its something isnt grabing. Any thought.
      Thanks in advance!!!

      "Why the simple parking break lever was replaced by this complex parking break pedal i will never know"
       
    21. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      Wow, my last post was 2005. I remember being so happy when I posted that because I thought I fixed my p-brake for the first time in years. That was in 2005. My p-brake was not fixed then. My p-brake is still broken - it's 2011. Sigh!

      I have wet dreams of a time when I can pull up to a convenience store to grab something and not have to turn my engine off just to put it in gear ... dreams of not having to give an explanation speech to every parking attendant ... dreams of being able to leave the A/C and radio on when my girlfriend waits in the car for me and not having to worry about her rolling down the hill.

      I am a true handyman. I have never come across anything in my life I could not fix. I replaced EVERY part in the p-brake system - pedal assembly, all cables, p-brake shoes, rotors, internal hardware (adjuster screw, springs, pins, etc.) - I got nothing. I tried Lokar stainless steel cables - nothing. The one thing I didn't replace were the 2 metal lever tabs on each side. I did clean, sand them down & inspect them, but not replace. Only the dealership would have them, so that's my next plan, along with all new OEM cables (for some reason I keep binding and seizing brand new Raybestos cables).

      I obviously don't have an answer for you guys - good luck and may you avoid the p-brake gremlins.
       
    22. emag

      emag New Member

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      I'm seeing a looseness/limpness in my 2000 Exp XLT parking brake as well. Actually, it's been going on for 4-5 years now. When I pull the release lever, the pedal doesn't return all the way, leaving the brake light on. I need to "lift" the pedal with my left foot while holding the release, then let go of the release while still applying lift, to get the light off. My p-brake definitely engages, as I've had some "low sleep" nights where I've wondered why I wasn't moving out of my parking spot... This evening I checked the cable (thanks for the info on where to look) and there's definitely visible slack in the line before it splits off. While it's a "minor" inconvenience to me, I'm getting tired of telling people who borrow my Explorer about this little quirk.

      Is the line-cut & u-bolt trick really worth it? Or should I try the star gear adjustment thing first? This fix is probably third on my list of problems to take care of (driver's door lock actuator & latch spring being ahead of it), but it would be nice to have the p-brake functioning "properly" again.
       
    23. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      I'm still figuring my problem out, so take what I say with a grain of sand. I would not try to correct your problem with the star gear adjuster in the rear brake drums. This adjusts the clearance of the p-brake pads with the drum, which is operating perfectly in your case. These are also minute changes, certaintly not enough to take slack out of the cable.

      I invite you to try the line-cut & u-bolt trick on the cheap short cable under the driver's door. Do it on the short cable that is nothing but a cable with two metal knobs on each end (no black conduit). If you don't like it/screw up/doesn't work, replacing that cable costs pennies.

      I also notice LMC Truck sells this $33 adjuster. LMC Truck usually sells OEM or OEM-Like parts, but my Ex certaintly never came with this piece, but maybe it's one of those things that some Ex's had while others didn't:
      http://www.lmctruck.com/icatalog/fex/full.aspx?Page=80

      Your other option is to replace all the cables with new ones that hopefully won't have so much slack in them. My latest theory for my problem is that I've always been replacing the original cables with Raybestos cables. It may just be that Raybestos cables are junk and prone to failure. My plan is to replace all the cables with Ford/Motorcraft OEM, just haven't had the time to stop by the dealership, please post the part numbers if someone goes this route.
       
    24. mtnlovrs

      mtnlovrs Member

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      I read the whole thread and decided to share my experience with the parking brake, maybe it will help, maybe not. Budwich touched on it, but nobudy really picked up on it. Budwich said, "The next area to check is the brake lever at both brakes... ensure that it is returning to its "resting" / non-operated position." This was my problem. I hardly ever use my parking brake. I only use it when I park on a hill. Last September, while on vacation, a loud grinding noise was coming from the rear brakes. I found that the original PB shoes had fallen apart and the chunks of breaking material was getting caught between the shoe and the drum/rotor. I purchased new shoes and a spring kit and replaced the brakes, but when I attempted to adjust the PB, I found they would drag - no matter what I tried and they wouldn't keep the Explorer from moving when it was in gear at idle. I also noticed that the cables were loose and they would not tighten up until the PB pedal was all the way on the floor. I was very confused and pulled my hair out for a while until I realized that the brake levers on both sides were not going back to there home/non-operating position. I removed the brakes again to get them out of the way and then went to work on the parking brake levers. They were so rusty, that it took me quite a while with a BFH and a can of penatrating lubricant to finally break them loose. I worked them back and forth until they moved with ease, then I lubricated them with a high temperature brake caliper grease. When I put everything back together, I had no trouble adjusting them and everything worked perfect. Now, when I put it in gear, it doesn't move at idle. I hope this helps you guys.:)
       
    25. BonesDT

      BonesDT Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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      By levers, do you mean the 2-piece pivoting 1/4"ish thick metal tabs that hook directly onto the cable's eyelet? If so, this is exactly where I think my problem lies, they def do not move to the full off position. I get everything set up, push the p-brake on once, then release, and the pads never again retract back fully. I took those tabs and scrubbed them down with a wire brush and lubed them to death with axle grease and still nothing. I did notice one of them had a notch worn in it, right where it rubs against the shoe pad. These of course were the 1 and only item I never replaced in the entire p-brake system. Looks like I have to get my ass to Ford.
       
    26. mtnlovrs

      mtnlovrs Member

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      Yep! That's them - they go through the backing plate. Mine didn't have any wear on them, though - just rusty. I literally used a BFD and lots of oil and worked them back and forth. Good luck.:salute:
       

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