Parking Brake Cables replaced but still not working.


TheDeal526
08-10-2011, 02:45 PM
2001 Escort ZX2 DOHC
115,000 Miles

The parking brake on this Escort would not hold at all. And the parking brake lever seemed to have no resistance at all when I tried to lift it to apply the parking brake.

My mechanic said the 2 cables going from the lever to the rear brakes were bad. I had him replace them today, but while the brake lever has much more resistance when I try to apply it, the parking brakes still does not hold.

Can anyone out there think of anything else I need to check?

Thanks everyone!

denisond3
08-11-2011, 06:12 AM
If yours was a 2nd generation Escort, with drum brakes, I would be pretty sure the cause was a parking brake actuating lever inside the drum that was rusted up, and needed to be removed and freed up with penetrating oil and being worked back and forth. But yours probably has disc brakes in the back. Still I would suppose it is a rusted up mechanism back there.

TheDeal526
08-11-2011, 06:44 AM
If yours was a 2nd generation Escort, with drum brakes, I would be pretty sure the cause was a parking brake actuating lever inside the drum that was rusted up, and needed to be removed and freed up with penetrating oil and being worked back and forth. But yours probably has disc brakes in the back. Still I would suppose it is a rusted up mechanism back there.

denisond3, thanks. Actually I do have rear drums. My mechanic said he adjusted the rear brakes, but did not mention anything about using penetrating oil. I'll have to ask him.

Thanks again.

denisond3
08-11-2011, 07:30 AM
Again, your brakes may be different, but on the 2nd gen Escorts with drums, the self adjuster is inside the drum, not accessible from outside AT ALL. The way you adjust the brakes is by driving forward (or backward) and hitting the brakes. Its a neat system, but sort of a nuisance when you want to remove the drum; since you cant 'back-off' the adjuster in any way. The same item that has the self adjuster 'ratchet' on it also pushes the shoes apart when the handbrake is applied. Ford calls it the 'parking brake actuating lever'. It has a lever that extends through the brake backing plate to where the handbrake cable pulls on it, to pivot it when you pull up on the handbrake lever in the car. Unfortunately the pivot rusts up, (mostly on cars with automatics, where the handbrake may not be used for years at a time). Once it has rusted up, pulling on the lever will either not do anything, or it will force the pivot to turn a little, but not it wont release when you drop the handbrake handle to drive away. That results in the brake shoes wearing faster.
With the 2nd gen. brakes. there are two phillips head screws on the flat surface of the brake drum. These were needed during assembly of the car, but arent needed once the wheel is bolted on. Once the two screws are unscrewed (with a hand impact device for instance), the drum is only held on by the close fit of the hub and the drum. A tight close fit.
Commonly you have to force the drum loose from the hub (or unbolt the hub to get the drum/hub off). I find that hitting the drum with a hammer on the outer side of the flat surface will 'tip' the drum out at the other side a little. This means swinging the hammer 'in' toward the center of the car, at the very outer edge of the drum's front face, ...not its curved sides. Then you can walk it back and forth until its willing to be worked off of the shoes.
The 'parking brake actuating lever' can be removed -after you take the brake shoes off-, and with penetrating oil, a bench vise, and a pair of vise grip pliers, you can free up the pivot action. It does take some wiggling to get the 'parking brake actuating lever' out of the brake backing plate, but its do-able. There is a left and a right version of the actuator, and the last time I asked at a Ford dealership, the thing was $53 each.
There isnt any 'screw' type self-adjuster on the 2nd gen Escorts, but how the 3rd gen cars' rear brakes are adjusted, I dont know.
Good Luck.

Intuit
08-18-2011, 01:24 PM
Seconding Denisond.

I'd wager that the parking brake adjusters inside the drums were the only problem to start with.

Story...
Over time my e-brake got gradually worse. Less resistance at the lever. Eventually it got so I would have to max it just to hold it on a small hill. A lot of people in this situation have erroneously adjusted the brake lever. This will NEVER be necessary and I did not do this.**

Well, one day I jacked up the rear in order to rotate the tires. Got the jackstands setup and everything. Then I realized that I'd forgotten to loosen the lug nuts before lifting. "Eh, no problem. The e-brake is on." I thought. Went to torque the first lug nut on the driver side and the wheel rolled. "Huh. I could've sworn the e-brake was on. Oh well." Looked inside and it was indeed already engaged. So I went ahead and maxed it out. Went back to the wheel and it rolled again, just as before. "Hmmm." Went to the other passenger wheel and it was locked tight. Wouldn't budge at all while applying torque.

Looked at the cables where they hook at the drum. The driver side appeared to be tight while the passenger side appeared to be slacked. Pulled out the book to figure out how the cabling was routed and discovered a component labeled "parking brake balancer." Hmm.

So to get a better sense of what the hell was going on, thought I'd get a look at the parking brake balancer. Took the heatshield partially loose and pushed the exhaust aside a little. (exhaust pipe weld broke like a week later BTW) The parking brake balancer turned out to be a simple little clean metal isosceles triangle where the three cables intersect. It was cocked off to the side.The passenger side was slacked, but still solidly connected.

So wait," I thought, "the cable is solidly connected at every point, including at the drum, but still not tensioned. How can that be ?" It wouldn't make sense to conclude that the cable was seized. Pretty much impossible to think that it would've snapped within housing.

Decided the next step would be to pull apart the passenger side drum. Didn't see anything that was obviously wrong. But nothing would budge if I tried to move the lever that the p-brake cable hooks to.

As I began to pull things apart, it became obvious that this component, (the parking brake adjuster,) was totally frozen. Pretty much did as Denisond just described. Forced the adjuster to come apart into it's two halves. Used a sanding wheel drill attachment to cleanup everything, including the hub backplate where it moves against. Had bought new spring sets but determined that they were as weak or weaker and likely of lesser quality than my 120k+ OEM springs. Used high-temp Kendall blue bearing grease as lube for all the contact surfaces. Well over 100k later, it's still all good. :)

**(The P-Brake system has three automatic adjusters in total, barring any need to make any adjustments yourself. Once it's calibrated at the factory, that's it. -- BUT, since yours were already screwed with, this may yet be necessary.)

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