Engaging the parking brake on your car can add additional safety and prevent accidents. When you have your parking brake on, it stops your vehicle from rolling away, especially when you are parked on a hill. The parking brake can stop your car from rolling into traffic, buildings, and people.
But what do you do if your parking brake becomes stuck and you cannot release it (or you can’t engage it in the first place)? There are many reasons why your parking brake won’t release, but there are solutions for most situations.
Why Won’t My Parking Brake Release?
There are many reasons why a parking brake won’t release, and here are some of the most common.
1. The Parking Brake Is Frozen
If it is cold outside, ice can accumulate on many parts of your vehicle’s engine and body. That ice can freeze up your parking brake or the cable. If you notice that it is cold outside, this is the most likely reason for not being able to engage or disengage the parking brake (check the section below for some tips on how to fix the issue).
2. Rusty Or Corroded Parking Brake
Over time, metal is going to become rusty or corroded. This can happen with a parking brake, and it is not something that you can see easily, but it is something that you can feel over time. If you catch it early, you might be able to fix it. If not, you will need to take it to a professional.
3. The Parking Brake Was Applied For Too Long
Your parking brake is only really designed to be used overnight at a maximum. It will last a lot longer than that, but if you have it applied for an extended period of time (such as when you are on vacation), you might find that it starts to stick. Prevention is the best cure here.
4. Loose, Broke, Detached, Or Frayed Cable
Sometimes, things just break. With a loose or detached cable, you might be able to feel what is wrong when you try to apply the parking brake. There are times when you can fix the issue yourself, but professional help might be the best option if you need to replace parts.
Check out this video if you want to try and get to the root of the problem.
5. A Jammed Parking Brake
Everything should be treated well, and that includes your parking brake. If you are too vigorous with your parking brake, it can become jammed. You might be able to unstick it by pressing on the parking brake, or it might need a professional touch.
6. Stuck, Seized, Or Damaged Parts
The caliper (if your system uses one), the caliper spring, and the return spring are the most likely problems here. Over time, everything is going to become worn or rusty. When the return spring loses strength, it won’t be able to disengage the brake; the caliper spring can lead to the same problem; the caliper can become stuck.
How To Deal With Common Parking Brake Problems
Nobody wants to have to take their car in to be serviced if it can be avoided. Thankfully, you can solve some parking brake issues yourself and save some money in the process.
Frozen Parking Brake
When ice accumulates around your parking brake, it can seize it up. You can use some common sense to solve this issue.
First, if it is not cold outside, there is not going to be any ice. So, the following tips won’t work, and you can move on to another troubleshooting solution.
If you think that you do have ice buildup, the best way to get rid of it is to create some heat. Start your car and let the engine warm up. It will take some time, so be patient and give. You can also rev the engine to create more heat and speed up the process.
Try the parking brake after some time has passed. If it releases, you are good to go. If it feels a little looser, give it some more time. If the issue is not solved by this, then chances are you don’t have ice buildup.
Rusted Parking Brake
If rust has built up on the brake, it can be hard to engage and disengage it. There are two things that you can try to loosen up the brake and get rid of some of the rust.
If you can, release the parking brake and apply it again. Do that a few times, and it should loosen the cable and mechanisms. If that doesn’t loosen it, you can try the following.
Put the vehicle in drive and inch forward a little. Switch to reverse and inch back a little. Do this a couple of times, and you might be good to go.
If none of that helps you to release the parking brake, you will have to seek out professional help.
My Parking Brake Is Still Stuck, And I Can’t Get It Unstuck
Your last course of action, though you probably tried it as part of the above troubleshooting methods, is to gently try and disengage the brake. Push down on the parking brake and press it down as far as you can without applying too much pressure. Press down and take the pressure off, repeating that until you have attempted it enough to know whether that is going to work or not.
If you cannot dislodge the parking brake with any of these methods, you will need to take your vehicle to a mechanic.
Prevention Is The Best Cure: How To Prevent Your Parking Brake Becoming Stuck
To prevent your parking brake from becoming stuck, follow these expert tips:
- Don’t use the parking brake for extended periods. It is fine to use the parking brake overnight, but if you are going to be parked for a long time (for many weeks or months, for example), try to park on a flat and leave the parking brake off.
- Let your vehicle warm up. If it is cold, it is always good practice to give your car 30 seconds to warm up before you drive.
- Be gentle. If you use your parking brake too vigorously, it takes a toll. Be gentle when using the parking brake, and it will last for a long time.
- Don’t engage the brake too hard.