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To release a stuck parking brake, first try applying and releasing the brake several times. If that doesn’t work, try gently rocking the car back and forth, shifting from drive to reverse.
If those approaches don’t work, locate the area where the parking brake cables enter the actual brake assembly. In most cases, a stuck parking brake is the result of rust on the cable return springs or cables. Spray penetrating oil on the springs and cables that you can see, and allow it to soak for a few minutes. Then you can try applying and releasing the parking brake a few times to see it it loosens.
To help prevent the parking brake from seizing, develop the habit of using the parking brake frequently. This helps prevent rust from seizing the cable assembly.
For more information on the types of parking brakes and how to release them, see our handy “How To” guide for stuck brakes.
An emergency parking brake system involves an electrical or mechanical linkage to the rear brakes. This linkage sets the brakes by locking the brake caliper pads or drum shoes against the brake rotor or drum. In some cases, a shoe similar to those found on drum brakes acts on the inside of the rear rotor hat. Typically the parking brake linkage is controlled in one of the following ways:
For more information on parking brakes or to learn how to release a stuck parking brake, see our handy “How To” guide for stuck brakes.
The number of “clicks” needed to set a parking brake differs by manufacturer, type of parking brake mechanism, or type of vehicle. Typically this number is around 3-4 clicks to fully engage the parking brake, but it can be more or less.
A good way to determine if your parking brake needs to be adjusted is by a combination of feel and number of clicks. If the parking brake lever feels heavy or hard to move, and engages after 1-2 clicks, it might be too tight. A very loose parking brake that requires a lot of clicks, or doesn’t fully engage, may need to be tightened.
Electronic parking brakes use electric motors or actuators instead of cables to apply and release the brakes. It requires less effort to use, but can make it harder to service the rear brakes.
To apply the electronic parking brake, push the parking brake button. The button then activates the electric motors to set the rear brakes. In most cases, you will hear a whirring noise as the parking brake is set.
To release an electronic parking brake, you can do one or more of the following:
For the proper sequence to set and release your electronic parking brake, consult the owner’s manual for your car.