Best way to free up sticking parking brake cables?

I m in the driveway doing a rear brake job. new shoes, hardware, wheel cylinders, auto adjusters…, the works I think.

I tested my parking brake yester day. it does not release properly.

parking brakes are seldom used here as it is flat land.

it is not completely frozen up but I want it to work properly. what should I do to free it up?

oh yeah, I haven t done a rear brake job in 29 yrs so…

I do have a rear brake tool kit, sometimes its good that my son leaves his tools everywhere :slight_smile:

New cable assy? I ran over a chunk of semi tire and broke my cable assy? What the heck? Dealer said I was first person to ever order one. I have bad luck sometimes.

If I run across rusted/stuck parking brake cables, I cut the cables at the backing plates and then replace the cables while doing the brake job.


unfortunately, I have almost zero dollars left after getting all these parts so I m not gonna replace the cable ass.

I just want to clean and lube it if possible…

I’m with Tester on this one. I’ve never been able to free up a binding cable.

I have been able to free up a cable on occasion but it involved removing it in order to bend it a few dozen times to to break through the rust. It does work sometimes but there is no guarantee of success. I also let it soak overnight in oil or diesel fuel before it’s reinstalled.

Remove cable.
spray a can of PB Blast into cable and let soak.
spray another can of PB Blast into cable and let it soak.
apply park brake.
discover brakes are locked.

I remember years back, pulling off a set of cables that were not frozen up, just sticky.
I pulled them off and soaked them in a bucket of drain oil overnight. It only worked for about 6 months until I had to buy new ones though.


The problem might not be the cable. Maybe it is the mechanism in the cab where you set the parking brake. Check that first before working on the cable. Sometimes the vehicle’s drainage system that is supposed to route rain water from the top of the cab and the hood to the ground gets plugged up an directs a little water to where that mechanism is located instead, rusting it up.

There’s usually a spring involved, and an eccentric-shaped thing that turns as you set the brake. The cable is attached to that. I had all that rust up on my Ford truck a couple winters ago. I was able to get it working just by cleaning all the gunk out with the tip of a screwdriver and a liberal application of WD 40. After an overnight soak in the WD 40, it worked fine. I then wiped the excess WD 40 off, and applied a little 3-in-1 sewing machine oil to the mechanism and it has been working good as new since.

thanks guys…

I have dealt with a lot of rusted up cables on kids cars and my work cars. I think the key is taking them off and bending them, this usually gets them to move and then I pull the cable as far out of the sheath and grease (not oil) them. I do this wit the sheath hanging down and repeat many times until the cable slides freely. It sounds tedious but it is no more tedious than packing wheel bearings by hand.

I have never had to do the same cable twice but these cars didn’t last more than 3 years tops.

One of the keys is that after you get it freed up, to keep it from seizing again, you have to use it.