Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Bad Parking Brake in 2003 Jeep Liberty

2003 Jeep Liberty, 97,000 miles

I live in Massachusetts and recently failed my state vehicle inspection. Massachusetts requires that a vehicle’s parking brake hold the vehicle still up to 1200 RPM’s. If I set my parking brake to the “on” position, and put it in “drive,” the vehicle will move forward quite easily, without me even touching the gas pedal.

I took it to a local shop and explained the problem. The guy took a look, and told me I needed new emergency brake shoes. He replaced those shoes, along with the related hardware (springs, etc.), and put in two new rotors on the rear end. He said that I’d need to drive it for a few days and that eventually, the shoes should hold it. If this did not work, he said he might have to replace the emergency brake cable itself.

I took it home today, set the parking brake, and put it in drive. I see no change in the vehicle’s performance - the problem is still there.

I want your expert opinions on this. Do you think the mechanic is on the right track, and that I should follow his advice? Or, should I take it to somebody else (maybe say a jeep dealer), and have them take a look at it? I am not mechanically inclined at all, so this isn’t something I could do myself.

Based on the fact that this mechanic told you that the parking brake would get better over time - (?) - I think that you need a new mechanic. It doesn’t need to be a dealer. A good locally owned brake shop would do it. There are normally quite basic adjustments to be made to the pedal/cable. Was it adjusted? Whatever work was done should have included doing whatever adjustments are needed. Did this mechanic try to imply that brake cable was going to shrink over a few days or something?

You’d like to have this fixed for more reasons than just to pass inspection - in fact, there’s a reason that its part of the inspection. You need the thing to work properly.

What ‘sets’ the rear brakes is NOT driving around for a few days, but going in reverse and stopping fairly aggressively. Go to the nearest parking lot where you can be alone. Make sure no one is near you (I’m thinking of the parking lot in Hyannis, near the Sears Mall, between Sears and Christmas tree shop.) it may take 10 or 20 short quick stops to adjust the brakes. (or more) If you are quiet, and have the windows open (on an un windy day) you can sometimes actually hear the adjuster ratchet clicking to tighten the brakes up. It clicks once per backwards stop. so it may take many backwards stops to accomplish this.

The mechanic is correct that this takes a couple of drives, what he didn’t explain is that it is the backing up and sudden stopping that is what is needed. If you pull out of your driveway and always go ahead you could conceivably rarely use reverse for a day. I know I try to pull into through parking spots whenever I find one.

Didn’t the mechanic set the brakes and try this?

The sticking brake cable is of concern. However they can be lubed and worked to free them up. Your screen name suggest Beach and sand?? It may have sand in the cable openings, thus needing repair/cleaning or replacement.

Just to clarify, are you saying that I should put it in reverse and pull on the e-brake lever to stop? Or should I use the brake pedal?

He said that he drove it and got it to hold up to 1100. I didn’t come close to that, and I pulled up on the lever hard (and I’m pretty strong). That made me wonder if he was blowing smoke.

And I actually don’t live on nantucket any more, and the vehicle was never driven on the beach, so I don’t think sand is the issue.

I have no idea what’s going on with this vehicle but I’m in agreement about finding another mechanic.

You paid him to fix the park brake and the park brake should have been working when he handed the vehicle back to you.
Based on the drive it a few days comment he’s a bit suspect at this point.

Take it to the guy and give him a chance to fix it for free. No charge or you will report him to BBB!

OK- quick update. I did some browsing last night on several discussion forums for jeep owners, and a number of them mentioned that the parking-brakes for a liberty are “self adjusting.” They indicated that in order to get the brakes to tighten, I should drive the vehicle in reverse (at a little under 10 MPH), and pull on the brake lever to stop the vehicle.

I did this maybe half a dozen times. Now, the parking brake will hold the vehicle still at idle, and if I REALLY pull up on it, it works up to around 1100 RPM.

OK, first thing first. The parking brake on a Jeep Liberty is not self-adjusting. You have rear disc brakes with an internal drum parking brake. The only adjustment is probably the adjuster between the parking brake shoes. Sounds like these need to be wound up a few clicks.

“No charge or you will report him to BBB!”

Unfortunately the BBB is a joke. They might take away his shiny plaque if he doesn’t pay his dues. Other than that, they have no teeth.

the liberty DOES have self adjusting e brake pads. Here’s the picture of the replacement parts.

RAYBESTOS Part # H7328 More Information About this Part Professional Grade; Parking Brake Drum In Hat Hardware Kit
[ Rear

Part Image

Update -

The self-adjustment method ended up doing the trick. The vehicle was successfully re-inspected this morning.

Thanks cappy208!