(I think) I messed up the ebrake on my wife’s car and I need to fix it. The car is a 1999 Chevrolet Prizm.
My car has a manual transmission, so I have the habit of pulling the e-brake when I park. One time, by habit, did the same on my wife’s car (which has an automatic transmission). I wasn’t pulling it hard, but high enough to engage it. Immediately I felt a lot of play on the e-brake. I figured that the cable adjustment must have become loose. I removed the center console and tightened the brake lever adjustment. I thought I took care of the problem. But, now the e-brake is too hard to pull and still doesn’t fully engage the e-brake. If I pull it really high (6-7 clicks), ebrake sort-of engages (drags slowly on an incline), but I know something is not right.
I don’t want to throw money at random guesses and waste hours of my time “fixing” things that are not broken. I read about others in the same situation who stretched their brake cable. To get an idea of what is going on, I got under the car, removed the heat shields to inspect the point where the cables are attached to the part that comes to the ebrake lever. I noticed 2 things:
- the cable that goes to the passenger side rear wheel is not at the same level as the driver side cable. It appears to be pushed towards the front (i think) of the car (as if it is engaged)
- the passenger side rear wheel is kind of stuck (not so much now after i removed it once, cleaned out the rust, greased it and readjusted the brakes) but the driver side wheel spins freely.
What I did so far…
I removed the passenger side brake drum, checked if the cable is stretched. It was a pain (literally) to put that cable back. I lost a lot of skin on my fingers trying to reinstall it. Surprisingly it was easy to remove it. After removing the cable from the brake shoes, I tried pulling at the cable to see if would move (in case it is stuck). It didn’t move a bit. I sprayed some pb blaster on the cable. No luck.
What I am assuming is that, somehow the passenger side brake cable is faulty. But I cannot visually see any frayed wires (if it is stretched).
Before I throw time and money at changing this cable (which I am not completely sure is the culprit) I want to run it by the experts on this forum, to see what they think the problem could be. I am a newbie at diy. I want to make sure that I haven’t overlooked something obvious.
What could have caused the sudden play on the ebrake lever?
Did I overtighten the adjustment on the lever?
How can I know for sure that (if) the cable is faulty?
Any insight or suggestions will be much appreciated. Thanks
[side story of this brake job:
After I reinstalled the brake pads, I thought I should be extra thorough and I wanted to make sure the brakes are moving as they are supposed to (& that i didn’t screw up anything while I was putting it back). So, I went inside and pumped the brake few times. I immediately felt the brake pedal go all the way to the floor. I cursed myself and went back to check the wheel. I saw brake fluid sprayed all over the place and the wheel cylinder pistons pushed out. I managed to remove the wheel cylinder and I was able to bleed the wheel cylinder and put back its pistons back. I made the same blunder twice before I figured that I was supposed to put the brake drum before pumping the brake pedal. With that drum off, there was nothing from stopping the wheel cylinder pistons from pushing out and all the brake fluid squirted out. Anyways, the car was very forgiving, so I didn’t mess up too much, but I ended by wasting some brake fluid and a lot of clean up in the process. It was a good lesson learned & I sort of ended up flushing the brake system (at least part of it). The work was only supposed to be to remove 4-5 bolts on the heat shield and visually inspect the brake cables. Hopefully, someone else could use this lesson and not make the same moronic blunder that I made.