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Parking Brake Annoyance

I have a 2000 Buick Lesabre with 226k and my parking/E-brake annoys me. The brake isn’t stuck or anything, but the pedal doesn’t come back all the way, at least not enough to turn off the brake light or accompanying dinging. Most of the time, the cable is disconnected from the pedal to keep the light and dinging off unless I have to use it. Is there any way to adjust the parking brake to get the pedal to fully return or is there something else wrong with the system?

The parking brake cable is stretched - a lot. At this point it is probably so rusty you’ll never adjust it. By a device to clamp to the cable to take up the slack. They are available at auto parts stores. Just tell the counter guy what you said here. He should be able to get you the part. Why are you using the parking brake on a 226K mile car with an auto tranny anyway? If you get it to engage, you probably won’t get it to release.

The parking brake engages/releases just fine. I was able to tighten up the cable quite a bit at the adjustment screw/nut under the driver’s side door, but that didn’t seem to do anything even though I moved it a good two inches.The brake still returns to the same position and my rear wheels still spin freely. Also, my gf is planning on taking her driving test with my car, so the parking brake has to be functional. So,I’ll try to get my hands on one of those devices and see if that works.

@Mustangman: “Why are you using the parking brake on a 226K mile car with an auto tranny anyway?”

I don’t think vehicle age or high mileage are reasons not to use the parking brake. It adds an extra layer of safety, just like leaving a manual transmission in gear and using the parking brake.

I agree. In some states, it is illegal to park your car without setting the parking brake. No one will know unless the car rolls away and hits something. And that’s why the rule exists.

I don’t know a single person who uses a parking brake with an automatic transmission. Apparently it is a law in, at least, Texas. Mine in my GM SUV hasn’t worked since the truck passed 3000 miles. People rarely use the parking brakes so they corrode. Once applied, after many years, they often don’t release, hence my question. Sounds like the OP’s parking brake works fine, just won’t retract the pedal.

I don’t know anyone who DOESN’T use their parking brake. And, I haven’t come across a frozen brake cable due to rust, including 10-20 year old cars. I drive an '88 Toyota, and the parking brake has always worked fine.

Back to the OP. There should be a spring on the pedal to pull it all the way up. Maybe it’s broken or stretched.

I use my emergency brake all the time in my 2013 F-150 if I’m parked on a hill. I use it almost every time hitching to my trailer to keep it from the annoying creep back/forward after putting it in park and letting up on the brake.
As far as yours is concerned, I’d check the spring as previously mentioned and lube the pedal mechanism. They can get gummed up over time and not “snap” back into place.

I drive an automatic car, and I always use the parking brake

If the parking pawl fails, and you didn’t use the parking brake, you might look like an idiot

Better safe than sorry

Why take more chances than you have to?

I agree with EK Hammer . . . I’ve successfully “fixed” many parking brake pedals that didn’t pop all the way up, simply by cleaning and lubing the parking brake pedal assembly


Maybe the rear brakes are worn out too.

It is quite possible that the parking brakes on this car actually ARE the read brake pads

Few things I’d like to mention: my parking brake pedal is not gummed up. As it sits now without the cable attached, it stays in place but will freely swing back and fourth if I accidentally kick it, accompanied by a goal-scoring “Ding Ding Ding!”. Also, there is no spring in the pedal mechanism, nor any place to attach a spring. I just did a full rear brake job (pads, rotors, and calipers), partially hoping the new calipers and springs would solve the problem. It didn’t, so here I am, fresh out of ideas.
I could tighten up the turnbuckle-like adjuster and get the pedal to pull back until the light turned off, but then the next time I use my parking brake the pedal wouldn’t come back enough and the light would stay on again. Now, it’s tightened all the way, and it’s still not enough.
I guess all I’m wondering is if I have to replace cables, if there’s someplace I can spray WD-40 that I’m not thinking of and free something that’s gummed up, if there are some other adjustments that can be made elsewhere in the system, or if it’s something else entirely and it would be of no use for me to continue trying to fix this problem myself and just take it to a mechanic.

There should be a spring on the parking brake mechanism. Every pedal-style brake mechanism I’ve seen has one. This is because the cable works ONLY in tension, only when the pedal is pulling on the cable to tighten the parking brake. It cannot work to push the pedal all the way up when released, the cable will buckle and bend. And, there should be a touch of slack in the cable when the pedal is released to insure the brakes don’t drag. You may need to have the assembly looked at. There is supposed to be a spring.

I have an automatic trans, and I always use the parking brake–except for one type of situation:

If I am parking the car during wet weather, when the temperature has the potential to fall into the freezing range, I don’t set the parking brake. Although there is a chance of “roll away”, I don’t want to take a chance on the parking brake freezing up, due to a frozen cable.

I drive an automatic car, and I always use the parking brake

If the parking pawl fails, and you didn’t use the parking brake, you might look like an idiot

Better safe than sorry

Yup…same here. I ALWAYS use my parking brake. But my 05 4runner is the first Automatic I’ve owned in over 30 years. So I got use to always setting my parking brake.

If this link works:,carcode,1358018,parttype,1832

then you might need one of those.

BustedKnucles, I thought you meant on the pedal itself. There are two each on the actual brake mechanism on the rear - one on the cable, one on the lever. I just replaced my calipers which came with new springs on the parking brake mechanism, as well as being thoroughly lubricated.

@Mustangman: “I don’t know a single person who uses a parking brake with an automatic transmission.”

You do now. Hi, I’m Whitey. It’s nice to meet you. :wink:

Seriously, I use the parking brake every time, no matter which vehicle I’m driving. Other people who share fleet vehicles with me find it irritating, but so be it.

Good to meet you, too @Whitey. It is probably a good habit to have.

I set the (hand operated) parking brake on my manual trans car and occasionally my wife’s auto-trans car with a hand operated parking brake. I got out of the habit with the foot parking brake in my auto-trans truck. As I said, doesn’t work, almost never has.

Quick question, at point 7 in the diagram on this page:
Should I be able to grab the cable at that point and pull it towards the rear of the vehicle if it’s disconnected from the pedal? I currently can’t.