3 Main Causes of a Jammed Emergency Brake For Those in Automotive Service Training

A jammed emergency brake is one of the more common automotive problems that you’ll see in your career. There are a number of situations that may require some extra braking power, and in those cases, it’s important that a vehicle has a well-functioning emergency brake. The emergency braking system is made up of a series of cables that connect the rear brakes of the vehicle to a hand lever inside the car. When the level is pulled up, the parking brakes are engaged. 

Most drivers will use their emergency brake when putting the vehicle into park, especially when parked on a hill. Unfortunately, a number of conditions can cause a parking brake to jam, risking further damage to the entire braking system. Knowing how to avoid these common culprits is a great way to ensure the condition and safety of a vehicle. Let’s take a closer look at the three main causes of a jammed emergency brake!

1. The Effects of Cold Weather on an Emergency Brake 

If a vehicle is left in cold temperatures, ice is likely the culprit of a jammed parking brake. The parking brake can actually freeze in place when the weather conditions are cold and wet. Fortunately, this situation can be resolved fairly easily by turning the car on and allowing the engine to warm the vehicle. As the engine warms, the ice will melt to allow the driver to disengage the parking brake. You can speed up this process by gently revving the engine to help the engine heat up faster. Likewise, by disengaging the parking brake a few times after the car has warmed up, you can help to break up any remaining ice. In the instance that the parking brake remains jammed, a professional with automotive service training will be able to conduct a thorough inspection to assess the conditions of the brake. 

Professionals with automotive service training should know the effects of ice on the parking brake

2. Consider Rust or Corrosion After Auto Mechanic School

One of the most common causes of a jammed emergency brake is rust or corrosion. Over time, water and dirt particles cause the brake cables to erode. In turn, this can cause the brake to fail, the brake pads to stick to the wheels, or the brake cables to snap. This is a problem that is best solved through preventative measures. To prevent the brake from jamming, the emergency brake should be used on a routine basis to reduce the chance of rust forming on the surface of the cable. In the event that rusting does occur, it’s a good idea to engage and release the brake a number of times while shifting between drive and reverse to dislodge some of the rust. Those with a career in auto service operations should be able to conduct a visual inspection of the parking brake cables beneath the car. If the cables appear rusted or corroded, they may need to be replaced. 

Mechanics should check for rust or corrosion on the brake cables

3. Engaging the Brake For Too Long

Knowing when and how to use the parking brake is the first step to securing its function. The parking brake should only be engaged for limited periods of time. At most, the parking brake can be left on overnight. By leaving the parking brake engaged for too long, the vehicle may run into a number of issues, especially if left unattended for the winter. Under those conditions, the brake cable is at risk of stretching, rusting, or breaking. If the parking brake becomes jammed over time, the same tactics can be used to remedy a frozen parking brake. Beyond that, professional auto mechanics recommend that drivers avoid engaging the parking brake for long periods of time. 

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