Passenger vehicles are equipped with a safety feature known as a parking brake. Sometimes referred to as an “emergency” brake, these devices are in place to assist the transmission to hold your vehicle in place when you are parked. This is especially useful when you are parked on an incline. The parking brake is a mechanical device that works independently from the hydraulic braking system, although it may share some of its components.
The parking brake cable extends from the parking brake lever or pedal to the rear brakes. When you pull on the lever or step on the pedal, the cable is tightened and actuates the parking brake. If a vehicle has rear disc brakes, the brake caliper might be actuated manually with the parking brake lever and cable. Alternatively, the system might feature a set of brake shoes in a drum on the inside of the rotor.
If the parking brake cable in your vehicle becomes frayed, bent, corroded, or broken, you might notice one or more of the following signs:
The procedure to replace a parking brake cable can differ greatly from one vehicle to the next. Some vehicles feature a hand-operated parking brake lever. Others have a pedal-actuated brake. Still others include electronically-actuated parking brakes. In most cases, a parking brake cable is included in the system, but where it is located, how it is accessed, and how difficult a procedure it is to replace it varies.
For instance, if your vehicle has a hand-operated parking brake mounted in the center console, a technician would need to remove the center console to get at the cable. If, on the other hand, your vehicle has a foot pedal for the parking brake, lower dashboard or kick panel components would need to be removed.
Once the lever or pedal assembly has been uncovered, the cable must be detached. It must also be disconnected from the brake caliper or drum brake (depending on the style of parking brake). The cable must also be extracted from its path from the passenger compartment to the rear of the vehicle before a new cable is inserted and connected. Once all of the components have been reinstalled, the technician will lift and support your vehicle in the air and adjust the parking brake to the proper tension.