E-brake issues

I have a 2004 Hyundai Accent, stick shift. I replaced the rear brake shoes and the wheel cylinder on the driver’s side and bled it after, and now my e-brake doesn’t have any tension in the handle and the brake light doesn’t come on when you pull it up. The brake does set enough, when you pull the handle up, to stop the car from moving, but I think on a steep incline it would probably roll. Any ideas on how to fix it?

I guessing that the parking brake lever (inside the drum) on one or both sides isn’t properly connected.

Did you clean and grease the adjusters? If the auto adjusters are not free to move and the mechanical levers and parts are not assembled correctly, the e-brake will not be very tight and work properly. The e-brake uses a cable and levers to tighten up the rear drum brakes, and does not use the hydraulic wheel cylinder. Having the rear brakes adjusted correctly is very important for both the hydraulic brakes and the e-brake. Too far out of adjustment and the wheel cylinder could over-extend and blow out. If the shoes don’t drag on the drum when you remove it, they are too loose.

There is a “star wheel” adjuster that moves the shoes in and out. You probably screwed it all the way down when you installed the new shoes and now you need to move the star wheels to adjust the shoes until they barely drag on the drums. Most cars have a little oval rubber plug on the top or bottom of the backing plate where you can access the star wheel with a flat head screwdriver and turn it a few notches at a time. Some cars have the access hole and plug on the face of the drum but that is less common. It’s a slow and tedious process that you can shorten by pulling the drum and doing a rough adjustment of the star wheel. I normally adjust it until the drum drags and back it off just enough to let the drum spin freely. Then I pop the drum back on and my star wheel adjustment is pretty quick.

If you adjust the star wheels properly the e-brake will work exactly as you remember with the proper tension on the e-brake handle or pedal.

A repair manual will show you how to properly adjust the parking brakes and the pull handle. It’ll be a very worthwhile investment, where you’ll apparently be doing your own maintenance.

I did turn the star wheel all the way in except for about a 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch, because that is how far back I had to turn it to be able to get the drum back on over the shoes. I know they drag a bit because when I turned the wheel after that, it only turns about once before stopping. I’m going to have to check the connection to the parking brake cable and check the manual for the adjusters location.