Brake job broke my parking brake

I went to the local mechanic today to get my brakes replaced. After they replaced the rotors and pads, they brought out the car. As I stood there next to them, my car started to roll away. I jumped in, slammed the brakes and saw that the parking brake was all the way up. I drive a manual transmission 1999 Mazda Miata, and use the brake regularly when parked.

In any case, the shop put the car back up and inspected it. After tightening the adjustemets from the interior of the car, and giving plenty of dumb looks and pokes, they told me that my calipers were broken and needed to be replaced.

This is the first time this kind of problem has come up and I’ve owned a Miata before without this ever happening. I’m suspecting that something more is going on, since it was working perfectly fine as I used the parking brake when I brought it to them.

So what do you guys think? Is my caliper really done for, or did they mess stuff up when they replaced the pads and rotors? Thanks for any help you guys have.


I’m saying they messed it up - either the cable is loose or not re-connected. Especially if it worked when you brought it in. Does your cable go to one rear tire or both?

First question I have is did they replace rotors/pads on both the front and the rear?
The park brake works the real calipers.

The odds of having 1 broken caliper is near zero. The odds of having 2 of them are non-existent IMHO.

Just offhand, it may be that the rear brakes were not pumped enough before bringing the car out of the shop and the rear caliper pistons (assuming they did the rear brakes) have simply not adjusted themselves out yet.
It’s the shop’s responsibility to check and adjust the park brake if they did do work on the rear brakes and the part about having 2 bad calipers is bogus.

If the calipers were really “bad” then why in the world did they not notice something a blind man should have seen.

When the rear brake pads are replaced, it requires that the caliper pistons be rotated back into their bores. So it may be that the rear brake calipers are out of adjustment. To get the calipers properly adjusted and maybe restore the parking brake function, operate the parking brake lever several times. This will cause the caliper pistons to rotate back out their bores to bring the brake pads closer to the brake rotors.


exactly,somtimes this takes several attempts.(the only problen I see now is that they adjusted the cables already)now you will have a one click WONDER)

good call.

smokey GONE.

Thank you all for the great advice. It seems like the likelihood of two calipers going out at the same time is pretty small and it sounds like something wasn’t done right when replacing the brakes and rotors.

I have driven a couple times since the brake job, pumping the hand brake several times to get it working, without any change. I’ll give it another day or so, but then I’ll need to take it in if things don’t improve.

This may go without saying, but do you think that I should take it to another, more reputable shop to seek their advice, versus taking it back to the original guys who didn’t seem to know how to fix it even when they tried.

While I think I’ve answered my own question, I’m curious as to the obligations to the work that the previous shop did. Do I hold them to the fire to fix it, or cut my losses and go somewhere else? What’s the protocol for instances like this?

Thanks again for all your help.


At first there was no tension at all in the brake. Then they ‘tightened’ it at the adjustment screw next to the handle and now there is more tension. But even though it feels like it works, the brakes don’t engage with the hand brake at all.

As far as the cable, they go to both back wheels.

Thanks for the reply.


I would take it back and ask that they get the parking rake right as they should have before you assumed the car in your care.
Standard shift should have a working parking brake for safety reasons in many states that have safety inspections. There responsibility. NO MORE NEW PARTS; just finish the job, PLEASE AND THANK YOU. Good luck.

Then I’m beginning to wonder if these guys forced the caliper pistons in as you would with front calipers by pressing them in instead of rotating them in. And if they did that, they damaged the parking brake ratchet mechanism inside the caliper. And when that happens, the parking brake will never function again unless you replace the rear calipers.


I’ve had both calipers on my car seize up and the symptoms were exactly like this. To get my handbrake working again I had to replace both rear-calipers. And it happened many thousands of miles after the previous brake job. Heck, the previous brake job was before I owned the car.