Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

Car was sitting. Brakes frozen?

Someone I know has a classic Chevy from the 50s/60s.
It was not driven all summer, so he started it up today to winterize it (Stabil, etc)
When he backed out of the garage, the car was having problems moving, even as he raced the engine.

It's clear the brakes are stuck on.
Pedal is down.
Brakes lights stay on even with keys out of ignition.
And the car barely moves. It was starting to "peel out" when he tried to drive it back into the garage.
To get it to move forward, 2 people had to push it while he stepped on the gas.

First, what should he tell the mechanic?
The brakes are frozen?
Is this common for a car that has been sitting?

Next, how is this situation best addressed?
I assume he needs to call a flatbed to tow it to the local mechanic.
It might be as simple as a frozen caliper? Maybe 1 or all 4?
Should he avoid trying to back it out?
Should the tow truck driver put the 4 wheels on those "dolly" things, and have use wheel it out of the garage?

Thanks for any help.
«1

Comments

  • edited September 2012
    What is it? 50s/60s chevy is a bit vague.
    It has calipers so it has disk brakes? The pedal goes to the floor and doesn't come up, you say. Does it have power brakes too, then? If the pedal is on the floor, it may have some master cylinder issues and/or leaks.
    I'd take the wheels off and see what's going on.

  • I don't think Chevrolets of the 1950s and 1960s had disk brakes. However, I suppose the brake shoes could be stuck to the drums. My guess would be that the hand brake has been set and the cable is rusted so that the rear brakes won't release.
  • edited September 2012
    Yup.

    Although there could be a totally different car under that body, though. For instance, lots of vintage trucks are really just modern S-10s below the skins.
    There's really not too much information to say anything with any certainty.
  • 1960 Impala. Loaded. It has a master cylinder with a small reservoir.
    We tried pulling and releasing the hand brake cable, and it didn't seem stuck (at the handle anyway)
  • If it is the hand brake cable, you may need to get under the car and pound on the point where the hand brake cable attaches to each rear wheel. I have had to do that in cold weather with the cars I owned back in the 1960s when the hand brake was set and the brakes were frozen on.
  • If the car was pealing out, then it seems the front brakes are stuck due to rust. The rust is either from the brakes being wet when the car was parked. Or, a lot of humidity in the area where the car is parked.

    Freeing up the brakes is not too hard, but you need to identify which wheel(s) are actually rusted to the point they won't rotate. You jack up each wheel and make sure the car is in neutral and try to spin the wheel. A wheel that is struck you can try whacking it with a good heavy mallet. If that fails you can use a propane torch, like a plumber would use to sweat a pipe joint. Combining heat and whacks the the mallet might free up the wheel. The use of heat can get tricky so if you don't want to risk damage to the car, you might be best letting a mechanic do the job.
  • I agree with Triedaq that it's doubtful you have disk brakes.
  • Turbo, I don't think whacking it will help, as you'd think DRIVING the car back and forth would have unfrozen the brakes. We put the car in forward and reverse about 8 times until we figured out the brakes were stuck on. We barely were able to drive (and push) the car back into the garage, b/c the tires were dragging so hard. Thank god it was a dirt driveway. If it was just rust, that would have "Broken the seal", don't you think? I think it's more serious than simple rust needing to be jarred. I think the calipers are frozen or something.

    Can you explain in more detail what the issue is if the hand brake is the culprit? Actually, the front tires are definitely frozen, so I do not think it's the hand brake. Recall, the rear tail lights are stuck ON, so it's the brake pedal, if anything.

    Any other ideas?
  • edited September 2012
    How long has it been sitting?

    Since it has been sitting and the pedal is on the floor, you're gonna have to replace the fluids anyway so why not drain the brake fluid, disabling the brakes all together. One wheel cylinder* could be stuck on and if there's any fluid in the system, it may not back off.

    The hand brake is mechanical, with a large lever being pulled by a cable. You should be able to persuade them back into a non set position. If the cable is rusted and forces them to be pulled, snip it and push the lever back.

    The drums may be frozen to the shoes and the shoes could even be on. If a drum doesn't spin, you may need to take it off to see what the wheel cylinder is doing.


    *if this car has drum brakes, it doesn't have calipers but cylinders. It is a different mechanism for braking.
  • edited September 2012
    How long has it been sitting?

    Since it has been sitting and the pedal is on the floor, you're gonna have to replace the fluids anyway so why not drain the brake fluid, disabling the brakes all together. One wheel cylinder* could be stuck on and if there's any fluid in the system, it may not back off.

    The hand brake is mechanical, with a large lever being pulled by a cable. You should be able to persuade them back into a non set position. If the cable is rusted and forces them to be pulled, snip it and push the lever back, if it doesn't move by itself.

    The drums may be frozen to the shoes and the shoes could even be on. If a drum doesn't spin, you may need to take the drum off to see what the wheel cylinder is doing.
    If you've never touched drums before, perhaps google generic routines on how to take a drum off. For instance, there's a self adjusting mechanism inside them that you have to back off by rotating this little star wheel inside the whole things. It isn't difficult but often requires a puller and/or some violence with a BFH on the face of it where it normally meets the wheel to break it loose.


    *if this car has drum brakes, it doesn't have calipers but cylinders. It is a different mechanism for braking.
This discussion has been closed.