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Help! Emergency brake release broke... and brake is on...

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Posted by: Evicted

Does anyone know if you can manually release an emergency brake without using the normal release in the car? When I went to release the brake a little while ago, the handle broke off in my hand (2001 Chrysler 300m). I tried using the cable that was left in there to release the brake, but all I've done is stretched the wire. I can't find any way down past where the release was to disengage the brake, so I'm completely stuck until I can get towed to the dealer and then who knows how long til they'll get to it... I am soooooo annoyed right now!!

:(

If anyone knows a way around this, please let me know!!!

Thanks - E

p.s. I'm about as non-mechanical as you can get when it comes to cars, so if there is a way please keep it simple for this poor simpleton... ;)



Posted by: feldon23

Move to Houston. You don't need an emergency brake here. :)



Posted by: ClutchBrake

Happened to me before but it was a truck. I got under the truck and gave the cable a good pull. Problem solved.



Posted by: Mark Lopez

There should be one of those turnbuckles on the emergency brake cable that is used to adjust tension. You should be able to back it off enough to release the brake.



Posted by: Kablemodem

Or do what I did - drive with the emergency break on for 20 miles. At least I won't ever have your problem now. :o



Posted by: Evicted

Ok, so it sounds like there is a cable I can access under the car to release this then. Anyone know of a site online that has any diagrams so I don't pull out the fuel line or something important? ;)

Also sounds like if I took it to a brake shop (about a mile away), worst case they should be able to releast it for me, right? I don't mind living without being able to use the brake til it's fixed.... just hate being stuck!! The car has almost 38,000 miles on it so it's probably almost due for a brake job anyway... is the worst I can do driving it destroying the pads? (I'm only talking about going about a mile) If it just speeds up the new brakes a little bit, that would be much better than damaging the rotors or something... damn, wish I knew *anything* about cars besides go, stop, and steer... :)



Posted by: Kablemodem

I believe the emergency brake is a completely separate mechanism from the regular brakes. They don't use the same pads. When I drove with my break on it was barely engaged. The emergency brake has to be set for me to lower the top on my car. I just engage it to the first click and I forgot to release it one time after putting the top down. I smelled something burning, but I thought it was coming from a vehicle in front of me. Since the brake was only slightly engaged it did not slow me down. I wouldn't try to drive your car if the brake is fully engaged. Call AAA if you are a member and have it towed. I don't know if AAA will release the brake for you, but wherever you take it can probably do it pretty quickly.



Posted by: Otto

Yeah, I'd call the brake shop and ask them what to do. If they can fix it then you might just need to pay for the tow, unless you don't mind damaging the emergency brake. Tows don't cost that much.



Posted by: Jason Bourne

Two things:
Emergency brakes do not use the same system as your normal brakes. Your 300M has disc brakes all around (I believe). Your emergency brake will be a small brake drum inside the hat of the rear rotor. By driving around with it on, you are wearing the brake drum and internal shoes - not your primary braking system (discs and pads).

Also, I think you can easily drive the 1 mile to the brake shop as long as you take it easy, you may smell the shoes being burnt up a bit, but I'm sure that the system will survive. Just take it easy (don't go too fast) and you should be fine. They should then be able to either disconnect it for you or fix it altogether.

Good luck

Jason



Posted by: avaloncourt

quote:
Originally posted by Kablemodem
When I drove with my break on it was barely engaged. The emergency brake has to be set for me to lower the top on my car. I just engage it to the first click and I forgot to release it one time after putting the top down. I smelled something burning, but I thought it was coming from a vehicle in front of me.


Your car doesn't have a brake indicator when the emergency is engaged? Every car I've owned in the last 15 years or more turned on the Brake idiot light when the emergency is engaged.



Posted by: Evicted

Thanks for the advice. The brake is not applied all the way, which hopefully will help. The light is on and I can tell it's part way down, but in the past if I accidentally tried to drive without releasing the brake, the car didn't move. It is definitely able to move, I was just worried about the burning smell (only went maybe 200 feet). As long as it's not damaging the primary brakes, that definitely eases the worry a little.

I called the nearest brake shop, the guy says he's been there a year and never heard of anything like that - he wasn't sure if they could fix it, he said to call the service manager first thing in the morning. I think he may have thought I wanted them to actually fix it, instead of just release it. Hopefully the manager will be able to do it easily... there is a Midas about another mile down the road, but the last time I had brakes done there the guy only tightened (and loosely at that) one lug nut on the rear tires. I drove around 2 days wondering why the car sounded like a washing machine the faster I drove before I figured it out... needless to say I avoid Midas like the plague now...



Posted by: Kablemodem

quote:
Originally posted by avaloncourt


Your car doesn't have a brake indicator when the emergency is engaged? Every car I've owned in the last 15 years or more turned on the Brake idiot light when the emergency is engaged.


It does, but it is a small red light and I didn't notice it because it was very sunny.



Posted by: redrouteone

quote:
Originally posted by Jason Bourne
Two things:
Emergency brakes do not use the same system as your normal brakes. Your 300M has disc brakes all around (I believe). Your emergency brake will be a small brake drum inside the hat of the rear rotor. By driving around with it on, you are wearing the brake drum and internal shoes - not your primary braking system (discs and pads).



I have never worked on a car with rear disc brakes only drum(One was a F150 the other a Ranger). But the emergency brakes used the same brake pads and the normal brakes, there was just a wire attached to the mechanism in the drum that engaged the brakes.

But if your not sure about were something on your car is goto alldata.com, for like $20/year you get access to shop manuals for your car. Or you can go to an auto parts store and a Hayes manual for about $15.



Posted by: tivospav

I've also never heard of a seperate brake pad/drum type thing. Just that the cable pulls the brake tight instead of the fluid pressure. Our new VW beeps loudly at you if you drive more then a couple hundred feet with the e-brake on. It's a nice feature, but it also tells you when you're low in windshield washer fluid.



Posted by: Saturn

From what I know, redrouteone and tivospav are right - the e-brake cable uses the same mechanism on the wheels as the regular brake. But it is a mechanical cable instead of the brake fluid pressure. It was designed for situations where the brake line is severed or your brake fluid loses pressure for some other reason. IIRC, it only pulls the back brakes on most cars.

Now, for your dillemma. When you pull up on the handle, there's a little latch that engages near the pivot. When you push the button at the top of the handle down, it disengages the latch and lets the handle come back down. So if you want to release it, you are going to have to find that latch and release it some other way. It probably looks like a round saw blade and a spring-loaded latch mechanism of some sort. Take a look at the handle part that broke off, and see what is supposed to happen when you push the button. Does it push something further inside the handle?

Dunno without looking at it, but I think releasing it shouldn't be that difficult.

I know on my '87 prelude there was a little door panel behind the emergancy brake. If you took it off, you could plainly see the mechanism and the wire the led to the rear brakes, along with the adjustment screw that Mark Lopez was talking about. Well, it wasn't exactly a door panel, but rather a piece of plastic trim that came off pretty easily (maybe a single screw).



Posted by: Scooter

I know my wifes Sebring convertible that has 4 wheel disc brakes has a separate mini drum setup on the rear for the parking brake. Usually, a car with rear drum brakes has a mechanism that activates them when you pull/push the parking brake.

Scooter :)



Posted by: loswald

The ONLY disk brake car built in the last 20 years that used the same brake pads for the E-brake as the main braking system was Subaru, and for a very short time. The rear brakes in your 300M use disk brake operated by hydraulics, while the e-brake is mechanical and uses much smaller shoes located inside the brake rotor.

If it were me, I would try to locate the catch mechanism within the console and try to release it there. That is the best way to release the pressure because you're not changing the system (so you don't have to pay someone to reset it)

As for driving with the brake on, you can do it...but backing up will be difficult if not damaging. If you must back up, go slowly, and if it feels like nothing is giving stop and call a tow truck (who will probably just drag it anyway)

good luck



Posted by: Ray Deodude

Before even reading the thread I thought "Bet it'll be a Chrysler product." I don't know why people continue to be suckered into buying the crap this company manufactures.



Posted by: Evicted

Ok, I got the brake released. Removed the lower part of the console and pulled at the cable that was formerly attached to the brake release handle (no button, just a pull out handle that must just tug at the cable a bit). Nothing happened, so I grabbed some pliers and pulled harder. Well, that gave me a handful of shredded cable that broke off... agghhh!! However, when I looked back under there was now a short silver cable that I was able to pull and the brake popped right out. Now I just have to go find out how much the dealer wants to fix the damage I did. :( Actually I don't think I harmed much that wasn't going to need to be replaced anyway. Thanks for all the suggestions!

As far as it being a Chrysler and why people buy them - well, I'm 6' 5" and to be honest don't fit particularly well into any of the Honda's, Toyota's, etc. that I actually like. I was close to getting an Acura TL instead but it was just a little too tight for the amount of time I need to spend in a car. Honestly, my last car was a Dodge Stratus and I fit well in that too - not sure why but I seem to fit a whole lot better in Dodge/Chrysler than I do in most brands. I can "fit" in most, but long term comfort is a big factor, even at the expense of perceived quality and trade in value. That being said, I've been on both ends of the spectrum - the Dodge was the biggest piece of junk I've ever been saddled with, but the 300m (which I was afraid to buy for that reason) has been wonderful (17 months, 38,000 miles) until the brake release problem. And to be fair, I was adjusting the radio (still parked) and absent mindedly tugging at the release after it had already released - I do think I gave it a pretty significant pull when it broke, so I'm not sure it is a quality issue as much as a stupid driver trick....



Posted by: DanT

I'd try to get it fixed under warranty, even if the car is outside of warranty. Can you imagine if you'd been pulling on it when you needed to engage the brake and it snapped?



Posted by: redrouteone

Do try to get it fixed under warranty, even if the dont pay all they might pay for some of it. My 99 Mazda B3000 had the rear speed sensor go out about a week and a half ago. But by this time the warranty was out by 2 weeks, I took it to the dealer and had them find out what was wrong. I then called Mazda directly at the customer service number I found on their website. I explaned the situation, and they gave me a case number and told me to give the number to the service rep at the dealer and to tell them to call the factory service rep at Mazda. I came back later that afternoon, they gave me the key and said have a nice afternoon. So the moral is call Crysler and ask if they will pay to fix it, they might say yes.



Posted by: midas

quote:
Originally posted by loswald
The ONLY disk brake car built in the last 20 years that used the same brake pads for the E-brake as the main braking system was Subaru, and for a very short time. The rear brakes in your 300M use disk brake operated by hydraulics, while the e-brake is mechanical and uses much smaller shoes located inside the brake rotor.




Not true at all. I can't talk about the 300M because they weren't out when I got out of the auto repair business. But I can tell you that all GM L body cars with rear disks used the same pads for everything all the way up to at least the '98 model year.

Actually, I can only remember seeing one car with brake shoes inside the rotor and they were rare enough that I don't even remember the model. although it might have been BMW.




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