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Parking brake not holding


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9 replies to this topic

#1 p3pppx

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 10:05 PM

I have a 2000 Outback 5MT and I'm having some issues with the side brake. I recently parked at the local donut shop at a very slight incline; put the car in neutral and put on the parking brakes. The car still started to roll back, so I had to put in 1st. The my wife was at a steep hill at a stop sign and attempted to use the parking brake method (I tell her that's not the best way, but...) but the parking brake did/could not hold the car.

Has anyone encountered this problem with the side brake

Patrick.

#2 nickb21

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 10:36 PM

Did it roll back with some resistance? If you pull up on the brake more does it work better?

I'm noticing a similiar (hopefully) thing with my 02, I have to yank up really hard to get the brake set. I'm planning on pulling the console apart and tightening things up via the adjuster screw thats in there. Else, I hear you have to do some adjustments at the parking break drums in back.

As for removing the console, someone has a nice write-up on removing things for a stereo install, that should get me most of the way there. I'll take a look and see if I can find the link.

#3 alias20035

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 11:27 PM

The parking brake cable does stretch and the parking brake shoes do wear a bit.

Both parking brake shoes can be adjusted to the proper clearance, and there is a cable adjustment in center console just behind the parking brake lever. There is one cable that goes from the lever to a bar which attaches to the two individual parking brake cables. The single cable between the lever and this bar adjusts in length to remove or add slack.

Your parking brake should firmly set after 4-5 clicks.... and really firm at about 7 clicks

Generally the first thing to do is to adjust your parking brakes, but this is a science and best left to the brake professionals. The rea hub backing plate has a rubber plug, when you remove the plug there is a adjustment wheel that can be turned to move the shoes closer to the rotor to accomodate for wear. Some drum brakes self adjust during brake application in reverse, but I don't think Subaru's do, I have always adjusted them manually. I have heard that this trick applies to Chryslers..... Someone else will need to comment on this.

Then adjust the cable to remove slack. You should see the adjuster nut if you remove the heated seat control (on 2000/2001 models), but I find that it is best to remove the center console/storage bin to access this. The cable should be adjusted so that is still slack until near the first click, this is to prevent the brake shoes from dragging with the lever down. Before you adjust the cable it is important that the bar connected to two individual parking brake cables be straight when the parking brake is off, pull relatively straight and be straight when the parking brake is set. If it is not straight, you need to adjusted one or both of the parking brake shoes to get it straight, otherwise you could have very uneven brake power on each side.

Since the parking brake shoes are not used to stop the car, just to hold it, I would guess that your cables are stretched.

I just had to adjust the cable on my 2001 Outback, it has just under 30,000 miles on it. I did not require any brake shoe adjustment.

Parking brake cables are like bicycle brake and shift cables, they will stretch a lot when new, and then the rate of stretch will slow greatly.

#4 p3pppx

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 11:46 PM

Well, I know my mechanic tightened the lever (it used to go up to 13 clicks, he adjusted it to 7 clicks as the maximum) and checked the parking brake shoes. I'm assuming he used the adjuster screws. I don't know if he tightened the brake cable however, I'll have to ask him.

The parking brakes should be able to hold the car on a steep hill (15-20 degree incline)?

Hey Alias, how come you know sooo much about subaru's. My wife thinks maybe you're a spy that's been planted here by Subaru :D

Thanks.

#5 alias20035

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 12:25 AM

Originally posted by p3pppx
Well, I know my mechanic tightened the lever (it used to go up to 13 clicks, he adjusted it to 7 clicks as the maximum) and checked the parking brake shoes. I'm assuming he used the adjuster screws. I don't know if he tightened the brake cable however, I'll have to ask him.

The parking brakes should be able to hold the car on a steep hill (15-20 degree incline)?

Hey Alias, how come you know sooo much about subaru's. My wife thinks maybe you're a spy that's been planted here by Subaru :D

Thanks.



I have owned 4 Subaru's in the last 12 years and driven them a lot. I have also done all of the maintainence myself, or at least all of the maintainence that I could do. My cars:

1985 GL dual range 4WD wagon (died at over 700,000 km (don't know for sure, the odometer broke about a year before I got rid of the car).

1994 Legacy Turbo Wagon that I converted to 5 speed manual transmission (the Turbo wagons were all 4EAT). Had too many hot weather problems (due to there not being an intercooler) and it was really expensive on gas (I averaged 18MPG!). Ran it one year only and then sold it for a lot more than I paid for it. Wish I still had it, Subaru Turbo parts are a lot easier to come by now....

1993 Legacy L Wagon, bought it in 95 with 48,000 km on it, hit a deer in 2000 with 466,000 km on it.

2001 Outback, now with 59,740km on it. No major gripes thus far. Changed jobs, so no longer a need to drive as much....

I also have a close friend who owns a Subaru dealership, but I don't think that makes me a spy. I have been rock climbing with a few executives from Subaru of America as well, it wasn't planned, they got lost in the woods and I found them.....

Also within my group of friend's and co-workers there are 36 Subaru's. Twelve years ago there were only 6 or so, but the reliability, fuel economy, and versitility of Subaru's has won many over. You will also find that Subaru owners share an active livestyle that tends to bring owners together. Often when I go rock climbing the parking lot is 60-70% Subaru, with one old air cooled VW Vanagon thrown in.... Now that I have found an inexpensive kit to install a Subaru EJ engine in the newer water cooled Vanagon I am considering building a Subagon (or Vanbaru)....

My 2001 Outback is the only Subaru that I have not done maintainance on as it is still under warranty.

You will also find that Subaru's tend to develop the exact same problems at roughly the same intervals.

If the parking brake holds well and the parking brake does not drag you are all set. You can tell if the parking brake is dragging be having someone in the back seat. Put the car in neutral while rolling and pull the parking brake lever slowly. As it approaches the first or second click you will hear (and feel in the lever) the shoes contact the drum. Release the lever and this sound should go away. If the brake does not make this engagement sound, they could be dragging. The person in the back seat should be able to hear the left and right brakes engage and disengage a lot easier than the driver. The left and right brakes may not engage or release at the same time, but this is somewhat normal, so long as the bar in the console is straight when the brakes are on and off the brakes are applied about equally.

#6 DerFahrer

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 12:34 AM

I think they just come out of adjustment after a while. I adjusted my Legacy's parking brake less than a year ago, and it's already about 15-16 clicks before it will hold the car. The pads looked okay when I did a brake job, so I don't think that's it. Who knows? I just know that adjusting that cable is much more of a pain than it should be...

#7 Tiny Clark

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 06:01 AM

Cars with 4 wheel disc brakes need to have the parking brakes "exercised" or they won't hold very well.

While driving, pull up on the brake lever and hold it for a few seconds. This gets rid of the road grime and rust that builds up on the drum.

Tiny

#8 p3pppx

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 09:15 AM

Originally posted by alias20035
I have owned 4 Subaru's in the last 12 years and driven them a lot. I have also done all of the maintainence myself, or at least all of the maintainence that I could do. My cars:

1985 GL dual range 4WD wagon (died at over 700,000 km (don't know for sure, the odometer broke about a year before I got rid of the car).

1994 Legacy Turbo Wagon that I converted to 5 speed manual transmission (the Turbo wagons were all 4EAT). Had too many hot weather problems (due to there not being an intercooler) and it was really expensive on gas (I averaged 18MPG!). Ran it one year only and then sold it for a lot more than I paid for it. Wish I still had it, Subaru Turbo parts are a lot easier to come by now....

1993 Legacy L Wagon, bought it in 95 with 48,000 km on it, hit a deer in 2000 with 466,000 km on it.

2001 Outback, now with 59,740km on it. No major gripes thus far. Changed jobs, so no longer a need to drive as much....

I also have a close friend who owns a Subaru dealership, but I don't think that makes me a spy. I have been rock climbing with a few executives from Subaru of America as well, it wasn't planned, they got lost in the woods and I found them.....

Also within my group of friend's and co-workers there are 36 Subaru's. Twelve years ago there were only 6 or so, but the reliability, fuel economy, and versitility of Subaru's has won many over. You will also find that Subaru owners share an active livestyle that tends to bring owners together. Often when I go rock climbing the parking lot is 60-70% Subaru, with one old air cooled VW Vanagon thrown in.... Now that I have found an inexpensive kit to install a Subaru EJ engine in the newer water cooled Vanagon I am considering building a Subagon (or Vanbaru)....

My 2001 Outback is the only Subaru that I have not done maintainance on as it is still under warranty.

You will also find that Subaru's tend to develop the exact same problems at roughly the same intervals.

If the parking brake holds well and the parking brake does not drag you are all set. You can tell if the parking brake is dragging be having someone in the back seat. Put the car in neutral while rolling and pull the parking brake lever slowly. As it approaches the first or second click you will hear (and feel in the lever) the shoes contact the drum. Release the lever and this sound should go away. If the brake does not make this engagement sound, they could be dragging. The person in the back seat should be able to hear the left and right brakes engage and disengage a lot easier than the driver. The left and right brakes may not engage or release at the same time, but this is somewhat normal, so long as the bar in the console is straight when the brakes are on and off the brakes are applied about equally.




I haven't accumulated any subuaru friends yet, but I'm noticing them everywhere now (like the beautiful subdued mustard yellow WRX yesterday). And about the active lifestyle you're right, I see about 3-4 outbacks when I go mountain biking and besides it's only been about 2 months as subaru owners and winter's upon us.

I was reading the post about the tire chains and snow (and your very informative response, as usual) and my wife's like we'll only be driving in the city where the snow will be plowed so how well it handles in the snow isn't an issue. I told her the fact that it handles well in snow will compel us to take out in the snow, the way I went out of the way to find a dirt/sand road leading to the water's edge at the beach.

I'll have someone sit in the back and check the sounds like you said. (it's to bad you're not a subuaru spy, it would have been a smart move on their part)

Thanks.

#9 Scoobaroo

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 11:29 AM

Alias,

Thanks for your informative posts on this board.
I wish all message boards on the net were this friendly.
Says something about Subie owners, I think. Always willing to help each other out.

#10 99obw

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 12:22 PM

For those in the salt belt daily use of the parking brake is highly recommended. The cables will rust solid if they aren't excercised, or worse, you will be able to apply the parking brake but not release it. I think most people don't do this, as my mom got mad at me for not telling her that the parking brake was set on my car after she couldn't get it to move. Then I asked her, "Do your parking brakes work?", "Well, no".....exactly, use them every time you park the car. When I buy a used car I usually have to change the cables to get the parking brakes to work, then I use them every day for years without trouble.

Our 99 outback is nearing 150k miles, and the parking brake shoes are nearly gone. I don't think they have ever been used to stop the car, but they do seem to wear, which is odd. I have the parts but have been putting it off. I will change all of the brake hardware as well when I am in there.




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