Parking Brake Loose After brake Job – Probable Causes & Expert Fixes

So you just fixed your parking brakes, and you’re sure you are good to go. But then you feel something weird about your brakes. This may mean your parking brake is loose. You wondered why the parking brake was loose after the brake job. 

You did the right thing, ensuring your parking brakes are intact, but anyone can make mistakes, even experts. Is your parking brake loose after a brake job? Here are the causes and possible ways to fix it.

focus st e brake adjustment

Read Also: Electric parking brake problems: Everything you need to know

What causes the parking brake to loose after the brake job?

If your parking brake, otherwise called emergency brake feels loose after a brake job, it may be because of the following reasons.

1.  Improper adjustment

Your drum brake component consists of brake pots, springs, and brake shoes that work collectively and also keep them together. While working on your drum brakes, it’s normal for you to remove the parking brake springs and linings. If, however, they are not adjusted adequately after the brake job, your parking brake will feel loose and won’t work as it should. 

For instance, you may not have appropriately adjusted the drum brakes. In this case, the brake will grab a little but won’t be able to let you through a steep hill. When your parking brake adjustment is out of place, you will notice your car pulling to one side when braking. 

In other cases, you may experience fluid leaks or even reduced braking ability. So if your parking brake doesn’t work after a brake job, try checking the springs, cables, and adjustments.

2. Damaged parking brake linings

Your brake lining should remain functional if you want the parking brake to stay intact.  But chances are your parking brake linings may have been worn that you didn’t take note of during the brake job. 

So if this is the case, your parking brake will get loose after the brake job. It’s common for mechanics to adjust the brake lining without opening the drum.  What to do if brake lining breaks or gets worn? Open the drum and replace the brake lining.

How do I avoid parking brake loose after brake job?

To ensure your parking brake doesn’t come loose after a brake job, you may try out the following.

  • Ensure you properly adjust the brake drum after your brake job
  • Ensure the parking brake cables are well reconnected.
  • See that the parking brake cables are not damaged. If they are, change them while doing the brake job.

Read Also: The Importance of Brake Light on Dashboard

How much does it cost to adjust a parking brake?

Parking brake adjustment is estimated at around $56-$70 and sometimes costs nothing. So technically, how much you spend depends on whether you’re doing it yourself and what causes the brake misadjustment. 

If a loose parking brake line is responsible for a loose parking brake, you could adjust the brake by adjusting the drum brakes from the backing plate. If the brake isn’t tightened to your taste, disassemble the center console and tighten the cable manually.

If, however, the issue is caused by a worn-out cable, you will need to buy a new cable to replace it. This job would take time and effort and might need the services of a skilled mechanic. Implying you will spend more, parking brake cables adjustment is estimated at around $90 depending on your vehicle. For example, the 2015 Honda Accord parking adjustment cost will differ from the 2010 Acura TST parking brake adjustment cost.

honda accord handbrake adjustment


Q: Why is my parking brake loose?

Your parking brake may be loose because of improper drum brake adjustment, and this can happen after a brake job.  In other cases, it could be that the cables that activate the parking brake have slacked over time. So all you need is to readjust the cables.

Q: How do you tighten a parking brake?

You can tighten a parking brake by fixing what causes the brake to loose. If the brake lining is loose, tighten it by adjusting the brake adjustment from the backing plate. If this doesn’t suffice, dismantle the center console and tighten the cable. If the cables have become overstretched, you may need to replace them.

Again, if the adjustment screw is not screwed tightly, the brake will still loose.

If none of these works, you may need to check and replace it with a new brake as the parking brake lining may have worn out. A damaged lining will not even let you drive your car.

Q: How do I know if my hand brake cable is overstretched?

An overstretched handbrake cable will not pull the parking brake tightly. This invariably causes the brake to be incapable of holding the vehicle’s weight and will eventually cause your car to pull one-sided even when the parking brake is fully engaged.

Again, handbrakes have average clicks of 5-8 from down to up. If the click is above 8, your handbrake is stretched and needs to be tightened. So if you’re asking what happens if your brake line breaks, the number of clicks will increase, and your car will pull one side.  

Q: How do you know if your parking brake is bad?

 A bad parking brake will be challenging to use in an emergency, which indicates the brake is too tight. A bad parking brake will also make your handbrake feel wobbly, indicating it’s too loose or overstretched. 

A functioning parking brake should allow you to Park your car on a hilly road without rolling. However, if it is bad, your car will roll or slide when parked on a sloppy road. A failing handbrake will also not produce friction, making it unreliable in emergencies. Your handbrake will also not disengage properly when it’s failing. A bad handbrake will cause a squealing noise at the rear wheels when you try to gain speed.

Q: Is it hard to replace a parking brake cable?

Replacing the parking brake cable is not too difficult. However, it will require you to have good access to the vehicle underneath, which will take time–about 2 hours if you do it yourself. In most vehicles, you will need to remove the rear drums and parking brakes to access the parking brake cable.

Q: Should my car move when parking brake is on?

Generally, with your parking brake activated, your car will not move on its own or even with a moderate force. However, if you put excess pressure on the accelerator pedal, it will move. But this can cause your brake to begin to smoke and even cause other damage.

Many drivers press the accelerator so hard that their cars can move without realizing the parking brake is on. So if you’re having a hard time moving your car, check to see if the handbrake is activated. 

Q: How long does it take to replace a parking brake cable?

Replacing a parking brake cable can take about 2 hours if you do it yourself. This includes the time to gather all needed tools and your replacement cable.

Final Thoughts

Parking brake loose after a brake job is not an uncommon issue with drivers. Thankfully, this article has explained why it happens, how to tell if the parking brake is broken, and the best ways to avoid or fix them. Recap! A loose brake adjustment or a loose or damaged parking brake cable can cause your parking brake to loose after a brake job.

So ensure you tighten the screws and wires properly after every brake job. Even if you didn’t do a brake job but notice your parking brake acting weird, try going for brake adjustment or fix whatever is causing the issue. You need your brake to be intact for your safety.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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