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I have a 97 Impreza Outback Sport. The transmission went out on it and I had to painstakingly limp it home at 25mph. I pulled it into my garage and it has been sitting for about 2.5 months. I went to move it the other day and noticed it wouldn't move. The transmission is engaging and it tries to go but something is locked up. I cannot push it while in neutral either. I lifted the back end up and the back wheels are locked up. The back right wheel has about 1" of rotation either direction and the back left will not budge whatsoever. I suspected parking brake failure, as I had the parking brake engaged as it sat. There seems to be a normal amount of tension in the parking brake lever, but I am not sure how to check if it is stuck or not. Any help? I plan on lifting the front up as well this evening to see if the front wheels are locked up as well.

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Yeah, basically all cars can/will seize the the pads to the rotor IF left to sit for too long. It's always worse if car is stored outside, as even the moisture in the mornings can be problematic. If the car won't be moved every couple days, you should never set them as long as it's not parked on a really steep hill.

 

 

Whatever you do, do NOT try and force it with the car in gear by gunning it. I've seen videos of people breaking their engine mounts (or worse) trying that.

 

Best bet is remove one tire per side (start with the one that's completely frozen), and try hitting the rotor (not on the surface where the pads touch) and see if that'll loosen them. Sometimes it's the pads/shoes, other times it the tension in the cable. Be careful using any type of penetrating oil, as it needs completely removed to avoid brake failure i.e. oil gets on rotor once driving, contaminates the pads, and car fails to to stop.

Edited by Bushwick

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Thanks Bushwick. My initial thought was pulling it with my other vehicle to break loose whatever was stuck, but thankfully common sense kicked in and I decided against going that route. :)

 

I tried hammering on the wheel back and forth a bit with a rubber mallet, but have not yet taken the wheels off. I will try doing that tonight or this weekend.

 

I was worried at first it may be a transmission issue since my transmission had failed before, but I am leaning towards brakes since the transmission was functioning in low gears just fine when I moved it. I am no expert though.

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Yeah, parking brakes can be a real pain. You could try wedging something between the wheel lugs (make sure engine is in neutral and fronts are blocked to prevent car rolling) and try and turn the hub while hitting it. On some cars, it's possible to access the lever the e-brake cable attaches to at the rotor, which can sometimes be manipulated to release tension. Unsure what these have.

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not sure on a 97 - if it's rear disc, the parking brakes are inside the center drum area and can be loosed by rotating the 'star' wheel downward. Look behind an oval rubber plug on the backing plate.

 

(unless they are frozen in place...)

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both locking up in 2.5 months sounds very unlikely to me, unless it was sitting in water up to the hubs...

 

 

Manual or automatic transmission?

 

 

If it's an automatic transmission, there shouldn't be any resistance on the driveshaft, and I highly doubt it has a LSD, so the drivetrain should all spin freely (i.e., one locked brake should not prevent the other from spinning). In which case, my money is on rear diff.

 

If it's either an auto with very thoroughly ruined transfer clutches, or a manual, having the front wheels on the ground would prevent the driveshaft from spinning. This means that if one wheel is locked up, the drivetrain will prevent the other from spinning too. This would explain why you can turn one side a bit by hand (a little slop in the 4 axle joints, and the spider gears in the diff is normal), and not the other.

 

 

Either way, I think my next diagnostic step would be to get all 4 off the ground, and transmission in neutral, and try again. If it's an auto, then I'd disconnect the driveshaft and try again. Then the brakes (starting with the left adjuster).

Edited by Numbchux

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It's a manual.

 

I had wondered if all 4 wheels needed to be lifted to spin them by hand. I have heard mixed opinions on whether or not this was the case, so I wasn't sure. So in my case, I shouldn't be able to rotate either of the 2 rear wheels by hand with only the rear end lifted correct?

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Just the rears. 

 

 

@Numbchux You've apparently never done this as I've seen it happen from sitting in driveways. Moisture from rain or early morning are enough. Hell, we used to have it happen at a used car lot I used to work at, and that was on cars sitting a couple days to a week at most. I got chewed out for setting them after a car wouldn't move that the sale's guy was trying to take on a drive for a customer. Leave long enough and the rotors will need turned.

Edited by Bushwick

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It's a manual.

 

I had wondered if all 4 wheels needed to be lifted to spin them by hand. I have heard mixed opinions on whether or not this was the case, so I wasn't sure. So in my case, I shouldn't be able to rotate either of the 2 rear wheels by hand with only the rear end lifted correct?

 

With the fronts on the ground, the driveshaft will not be able to turn (by hand anyway). If the rear diff is a (functioning) LSD, you won't be able to turn either rears by hand. If the rear diff is open, turning one rear wheel will spin the other one the opposite direction. BUT, this means that if one rear wheel is locked, the other one will not spin either, as the drivetrain will lock it.

 

 

Just the rears. 

 

 

@Numbchux You've apparently never done this as I've seen it happen from sitting in driveways. Moisture from rain or early morning are enough. Hell, we used to have it happen at a used car lot I used to work at, and that was on cars sitting a couple days to a week at most. I got chewed out for setting them after a car wouldn't move that the sale's guy was trying to take on a drive for a customer. Leave long enough and the rotors will need turned.

 

I've had it happen once (one side) on a Legacy several years ago. My Celica has a functional drum parking brake (drum-in-disc virtually identical to the EJ Subarus), and I took it out of winter hibernation only a week ago, and everything is still working just like always.

 

 

I'm not saying it's impossible, just unlikely. And might warrant a couple other things to narrow it down before disassembling brakes. In fact, knowing that it's a manual transmission, my money is on the left rear brake seized, but I still would do a couple more things to verify that before tearing into them. If the car has a blown transmission, the driveshaft has to come out anyway, so disconnecting it to isolate the drivetrain isn't any work that doesn't have to be done anyway....

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