Stuck in the Sticks ~ brakes are frozen

My sisters went on vacation without me. Before leaving the frozen tundra for the warm tropics, my sis parked her car at my house and asked me to move it a few feet each day to keep the brakes from sticking. After four days of NOT moving it,the brakes are stuck. The emergency brake is not engaged. It smells a little like a burning car when I rev up the engine in a futile attempt to make the thing move.It’s a 1990-ish Dodge Caravan ~ any words of wisdom? Do I keep trying to move it?

Was the emergency brake engaged when it was originally parked? Are you saying it is not engaged because you released the lever? We need a little more info.

No, the emergency brake was NOT engaged when it was originally parked. I had mentioned that my sister had asked me to move the van daily “to keep the brakes from sticking” so she’s pretty obviously aware that there’s a brake problem. Thanks!

This is an auto tranny right?

I would say that there is something quite wrong with the brakes, because they shouldn’t have frozen if they were never applied in the first place, anything I would guess would be a shot in the dark. Or possibly something wrong with the parking pawl in the transmission, which is what is keeping the car in place when you don’t have the parking brake on.

If it is the brakes, there might be no brake surface left and the metal that the material would have been mounted on is rusted to the rotors. Like I said it is a shot in the dark with so little info.

One of the other guys probably has a better answer for you, but I saw that your post was neglected and needed a bump.

thanks~ I’m willing to bet that the rotors (or calipers?) are rusted. Bottom line question is ~ do I keep trying to move the van by hitting the reverse and drive and break the rust or do I leave it to sit there? She’ll be returning in a week and will need to get home, two hours away. She should have it towed and repaired but she very likely will want to take her life into her hands and drive brake-free…

Over the course of 4 days you might get a little bit of surface rust. You are NOT going to end up with enough rust to lock up the brakes. This usually does happen b/c the parking brake was applied and then froze in place but you osay it was never set.

I think that you need to get your sister on the phone and get the “back story” about this. There has to be one b/c brakes don’t normally freeze up from sitting around for a few days. She must have been having this problem and perhaps neglected it. Ask her for what she knows about the history of the problem & brakes & then maybe someone can better help.

Well, if she let things go to the point where the car can’t sit for 24 hours without having problems, I would say to try to break them loose. You could also get someone to jack the car up and take off one of the wheels to see if there is any pad left on the brakes. Whatever you do, don’t use any penetrating oil that will make a probable wreck into a certain wreck.

Edit: listen to cigroller before you do what I just suggested.

Shot in the dark but open all break bleeders 1 at a time to take off pressure if it moves you have a clogged line or hose.

We had a truck at work that would lock up all the time if left too long, It would take a bit to get it to break free, as it was a beater work truck we really didn’t give it any tlc. Does it have 4 wheel disk brakes? If so maybe hitting it with brakleen a few times before you try to move it would help. Maybe autozone has some suggestions. Good luck

Thanks all ~ I’m going to forward this post to the van owner. I appreciate everybody’s input. Since I don’t see anybody saying “oh yeah, just tork the gas and bust it loose” I’m not going to try that option. Sounds like a job for the pros. Thanks again!

Hadn’t thought of AutoZone. Will check with them. Thanks!

I’m wondering if the parking brake WAS set, then released BUT only the inside parking brake lever released and not the drum brake.

If this is an early 90’s van, there is drums on the rear and discs on the front.

When you revved the engine, did either front wheel spin? If so, that eliminates the front brakes as the problem. Could you have been smelling the tire burning?

I’m wondering if this van has the dreadful Bendix 10 ABS. These systems are a major headache, although I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the brakes locking like this.

I spoke to my sister ~ she says its the drum brakes in the back that lock or freeze if the van’s been sitting too long, and yes, they do need to be replaced. Like now. Thanks for the good advice, folks.

I think we need some more information.

  • Frozen tundra and warm tropics: What exactly are you talking about?

    Under reasonably normal conditions there must be something wrong and possible dangerous, with the car to require moving the car every day to prevent the brakes from sticking.