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Thread: Parking brake stuck?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Question Parking brake stuck?

    Hi gang, Just purchased a 97 Town & Country. I quickly found out that the parking brake would not hold. I removed both rear wheels and found the rear cable ends were not connected to either rear wheel. I connected them and the parking brake will not engage. I know the cables are not seized because I can pull them. I cannot move the lever that the cable connects to, therefore I cannot press the parking braking pedal. Anyone run into this before?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    SE Pennsylvania

    I just came in from doing the rear parking brakes on my 98 T & C.
    I'll turn 50 soon, so suffice it to say, I am sore and beat up right now, but I now have great knowledge.

    My T & C has AWD, 4 wheel disks (the parking brakes are drum), and Nivomat suspension. I'm the 2nd owner and the old girl has 152K on it. (I got it 3 years ago with 128K)

    The three major components of this parking brake system are
    1) The parking brake pedal.
    2) The parking brake cable.
    3) The parking brakes themselves.

    My particular symptoms were as follows (the van came with them... I am just now getting around to fixing it):
    Pedal would engage the brakes but the brakes would not release with the pedal. They'd squeal like crazy, it almost sounded like a broken spring was wedged in somelpace. Upon inspection, the cables were disconnected from the levers behind the brake backplates and the shoes were cooked and cracked.

    Diagnosis: The cable was fine. I became disconnected from the levers because the levers were rusty and would not release the brakes hence the noise and cooked shoes. Since the levers were not releasing, they would not keep tension on the cable and the cable would fall off the hooks. It finally was caught during a recent state inspection.

    How to fix: Spend a lot of money on parts and wait for nice weather. The parts are as follows:
    1) Shoes from NAPA around $75.00
    2) Spring kit from Chrysler around $30 to $35.
    3) Lever kit from Chrylser around $30 t $35.
    4) New cotter pins

    Weird tools:
    1) Torque wrench (Yeah right)
    2) Factory Service Manual (worth all $90.00)
    3) 1/2 inch breaker bar
    4) A seven foot long pipe
    5) Heavy leather gloves (trust me)

    Socket sizes
    1) Hub nut: 1/2 drive, 1-1/4 hex
    2) Bearing Hub Bolts: 1/2 drive, 18mm
    3) Speed Sensor: 3/8 drive, 10mm

    Allen sizes
    1) Caliper: 6mm
    2) Shoe retainers: 4.5 or 5.0mm (I forget)

    Disclaimer: This is very dangerous work and should only be attempted by very advanced shade tree mechanics. I will not go into details about proper jacking and vehicle support. This is not an all inclusive procedure. Your vehicle may differ. Don't sue me. This is only a story about what I did this afternoon while listening to the Eagles game.

    What has to be done: you will have to remove the bearing hub. You may want to bail right here.

    1) Crack lug nuts

    2) Chock, jack and support vehicle

    3) Remove wheel and knock out the center cap (If equipped)

    4) Remove hub nut cotter pin and castle retainer

    5) Replace wheel

    6) Lower vehicle onto tire

    7) Slip 7 ft. pipe over breaker bar and use 18mm socket to crack hub nut loose only (do not backoff or remove)

    8) Raise vehicle and support again

    9) Remove wheel again

    10) Remove and safely support caliper...remove the rotor.

    11) Remove speed sensor

    12) Remove bearing hub nut and washer

    13) The service manual says to diconnect the parking brake cable. I left it on until later. It was just easier that way. I have a dirt driveway and not a lift. I never cawl under the vehicle no matter how well it is supported. It's just not worth it. (After all, an emergency room visit is at least a $200.00 deductable).

    14) Spray the bearing hub bolt threads where they come through the outside of the backplate with WD-40 or Tri-Flow Teflon spray. You'll need the lubrication when backing out the bolts. I am real sore from those things today.

    15) Remove the Bearing Hub bolts. First, break them with a breaker bar and the 18mm socket. Then continue to back them out with the 1/2 inch drive ratchet and a six inch extension. WEAR THE GLOVES.
    16) Slide the whole mess off the axle.

    17) You'll probably have to punch the hub out of the backplate at this time (use a block of wood.)

    18) You may now replace the shoes springs and levers...WEAR GOGGLES. Totally back off the adjuster. You are on your own, You may want a helper at this time (2 sets of goggles). I did it by myself but then again, I used to repair clocks. This is an intricate task. Draw pictures, take notes, lay out the old parts, take photos...whatever it takes to do this right. You don't want to have to do all this work twice.

    19) I tend to lubricate brake parts (don't overdo it or you'll contaminate the shoes and pads and maybe lose your smart). Remember, the original culprit here is the rusted and siezed levers. I put lithium grease on the pivot points.

    20) Put it all back together. You'll have to do that whole double dance with the wheel again. This is because of two problems:
    A) the wheel on the ground holds the axle in place while you loosen and tighten the Hub Nut.
    B) You can't replace the cotter pin (use a new one) while the wheel is on the vehicle (at least not with my thick alloy wheels).

    A bit of advice...Now would be a good time to replace the half shafts, bearing hubs, brake shoes, rotors...what's in your wallet?

    It took me around 8 hours...I'm gettin' too old for this.

    My pedal ratchet still has issues. I fixed the brakes first because I knew they were definitely bad and was hoping that the proper operation of the system would help out the pedal. The pedal cannot be properly diagnosed without the rest of the system working properly.

    Torque reference (your vehicle may vary)

    Speed Sensor: 105 Inch LBS (9 Ft. LBS???)

    Brake Caliper: 192 Inch LBS. (16 Ft. LBS???)

    Bearing Hub Bolts: 95 Ft. LBS

    Bearing Hub Nut: 180 Ft. LBS

    Lug Nuts: 95 Ft. LBS

    It was fun

    Now then, can anyone pulleeese tell me how to remove and replace the rear jounce bumpers on this thing? I have bright new yellow ones in a bag laughing at me right now as I type this.

    I'm goin' to Moes.

    Paul G. Celentano

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to 98tac For This Useful Post:

    imickey503 (03-30-2014)

  5. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Fort Collins, CO

    My 1996 currently has that problem in that the parking brake will not engage/hold. Instead of thinking about the obvious, I got the wheels off to see if those cables were indeed connect, and sure enough they were and everything appeared hunky-dory with the rear drums.

    ...that's when I thought about the actual parking brake pedal mechanism.

    Sure enough, the ratchet mechanism itself failed (presumably from the pedal slamming forward when the release handle was pulled). The dealer wants major $$$ for just the new pedal/ratchet mechanism.

    I haven't fixed it as that particular van isn't going to be driven until December. However, I use the parking brake whenever I park my 2000. Instead of simply pulling the release and allowing the pedal to slam forward, I ease it back with my foot to prevent auto-destruct of said mechanism.
    2000 Chrysler 300M [Daily Driver] 158,000 miles as of Nov. 2014
    1996 Chrysler Town & Country LX [Always and forever the favorite.]
    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited [Gone, but not forgotten.]

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  7. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    I have had the same problem with the parking brake actuaters (2000 T&C LXI AWD) Dealer replaced them twice under warrenty. The end of the cable would pop off, then once the cable was placed back on the hook of the actuator the brake would stick on.
    I am cheap. I took the assembly appart and put the actuator in a vise. I worked it until it was free (first with a hammer, then a vise grip, then fingers). Once free, I packed a liberal amount of Never Seize in it and re-assembled. I did this on both sides. My cheap fix has worked better and lasted longer than the two dealer repairs with new parts!

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    SE Pennsylvania

    I did bang mine around with a hammer. Got one free and the other was hopeless. The one I got free still doesn't have as much swing as the new one. Maybe I'll take them to the shop at work and use a bigger hammer.

    Yeah, the parking pedal is my next endeavor. Will keep you all posted with procedures etc. I have to get it done for inspection before the end of the month.

  9. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Thanked 30 Times in 28 Posts

    Thanks Paul. It didn't occur to me till I read your how-to that to service the parking brake on a rear-disk equipped van, the hubs have to come off.
    The idea of drum-ro-disk swap is now looking much less attractive.

  10. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    SE Pennsylvania

    Coming soon...the complete "how to" guide for the parking brake pedal replacement. Just succefully got the whole system operational today. But right now it's the top of the 5th in Game 7 at Fenway.

  11. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    SE Pennsylvania

    And now, the long awaited "how to" chronicle of replacing the parking brake pedal assembly. There comes a time in every man's life when he has to replace one. First things first...get the parking brake assemblies on the rear wheels and the parking brake cable working first (see above).

    Disconnect the battery.

    Use a door clip removal tool to remove the plastic sill trim. Remove the kick panel (just pull on it).

    Remove the fuse access cover (two twist lock fasteners).

    Remove 5 Phillips head screws on the plastic steering column cover below the steering wheel. In addition to the 5 screws, there are 2 clips. Just pull out (gently). You will not be able to remove the cover at this time. You must first disconnect the release cable from the release handle. You can now remove the cover.

    Lock out the parking brake cable under the van by grasping the front cable and pulling the cable toward the rear of the vehicle. Lock it in place with a pair of vise grips butted up against a frame rail. This allows you to disconnect the front cable from the two rear cables at the cable equalizer. Disconnect the cable and then remove the vise grip and allow the front cable to relax.

    Scribe the reinforcement plate located behind the steering column cover. The scribe marks will aid in re-assembly and alignment. Unbolt the 10 bolts from the cover (10mm) and the one large Phillips head screw and remove the cover.

    Unbolt the hood release handle (2 Bolts, 10mm). Remove the cross bracket which held the hood release handle in place (3 Bolts, 10mm).


    Remove two Phillips head screws attaching the OBD terminal and remove terminal. Remove three bolts (10mm) hold the fuse blocks in place. MARK AND LABEL the two harnesses at the fuse block AND DOUBLE CHECK LABELS. They are polarized but it is still possible to put them back in the wrong sockets. To remove them, simply squeeze the white lever tabs and they slide right need to break the black clip like I did (It worked out OK). Move fuse blocks to the side as needed (gently).

    Remove the three bolts (lower, then forward, then upper) that hold the brake pedal assembly in place (10mm). Disconnect the brake light wire from the pedal assembly. Wiggle whole mess from under the dash.

    Bend the metal away from the cable anchor on the pulley and remove the cable anchor from the pedal assembly. You must still remove the cable jacket from the pedal assembly bracket. There is a funny little retainer here. And by the way, I forget which of these two procedures you do first but it’s not too bad. Remove the brake release cable.

    INTERMISSION. Right about now a panicky wife yells out the back door about the dishwasher leaking water everywhere. Leaving every tool I own scattered about my surgically dismantled minivan in full view of the neighborhood thieves, I walk to the house, enter the kitchen, look at the water on the floor, turn around, and go back outside. END OF INTERMISSION.

    The cause of the pedal assembly failure was not due so much that it had worn out, it was simply doomed to fail due to poor quality. The ratchet pawl was mounted on a sloppy pivot and would not get enough bite on the ratchet and would then slip. I believe that the new one has tighter tolerances...time will tell. I greased everything with lithium grease.

    Now to put it all back together. DO NOT REMOVE THE LOCKING PINS UNTIL TOLD TO DO SO!!! There are 2 of them…one for the parking brake release mechanism and another for the auto adjust mechanism.

    Install the cable into the pedal mechanism with the funny retainer and place the end of the cable into the pulley mechanism and lock into place by bending the tab in to keep it from popping out.

    Install the brake light wire and brake release cable. Place the assembly in position.

    Remove the lock pin for the brake release mechanism.

    Install the three mounting bolts…do no tighten…first the top, then the forward, then the lower. Then tighten them to 250 Inch Pounds.

    Be sure the parking brake pedal is fully released and reinstall the cable under the vehicle using the vise grip procedure.

    Remove the locking pin from the auto adjust mechanism.

    Curse the world because you just noticed that the cable fell off the right rear wheel’s parking brake actuator…Grrr. I was able to get it back on with a little persuasion from a screwdriver and without pinching my fingertips. It helps to have the spare tire removed and out of the way.

    At this point, see if the parking brake system works and replace everything you took apart in the reverse order. You may now get your vehicle to pass inspection and come up with some sort of scheme to pay off your credit card that you melted down for all of these brake parts.

    The parking brake works pretty well, probably goot enough for the boat ramp, though if feels kinda wimpy. I'll let them break in and then go back and adjust the shoes in the spring.

    I'm goin' to Moe's

  12. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Hudson Valley, NY US
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Quote Originally Posted by 98tac View Post
    ... It was fun
    Nice writeup! Too bad I didn't find it until after my identical repair for the identical reasons. (Mine's a 2001.) I DID find AutoZone's Repair Info for a 1999 very helpful (especially 98tac's step 18) and very similar to 98tac's writeup. (An Impact Wrench made short order of the Hub Nuts, and Bearing Hub Bolts removal.)
    While apart, I replaced a leaking LH Differential's Outer Flange Seal.

    Quote Originally Posted by 98tac View Post
    ... Now then, can anyone pulleeese tell me how to remove and replace the rear jounce bumpers on this thing? I have bright new yellow ones in a bag laughing at me right now as I type this.
    The RH side one? Mine broke off after finagling the half shaft back in and I need to order a replacement.

  13. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Aren't those rear disk parking brake set ups a lot of fun to work on?

    They do need regular use and regular maintenace. See my signature.

    You guys have posted a lot of good stuff. Hope it gets the attention it deserves.
    2007 GC SXT - Magnesium - S&G - 3.8L - 173,000 kms
    2002 GC Sport - Stone White - 3.3L - 358,500 kms
    2003 Jeep TJ Sport - 4.0L - 279,000 kms

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