Friday, August 21, 2009
Babba vs The Parking Brake
I hate parking brakes. What I really hate are parking brakes on disc brakes. Over the last 80
years car makers have pretty well got the mechanism perfected for drum brakes. Usually just grease the adjustment fittings and tighten the cable once a year and that's it. Occasionally a cable will bind up and have to be replaced; no big deal.
The first unusual arrangement was on my 88 4-Runner. The 4WD models had this complicated arrangement with cams and release springs and a double cable that always hung up. Every year I had to take the drums off and clean and grease every thing and after a month only one rear wheel would hold with the parking brake. Now my 93 Olds has the parking brake built into one rear disc brake caliper. This 16 year old caliper has gradually got more and more bound up till finally it took so much force to apply it that I bent the parking brake pedal. So I straightened it out with a pipe wrench but I broke the mechanism so the pedal doesn't engage the cogs to tighten the cable.
Now I like to have a working parking brake. One reason is that it's a requirement to pass inspection and also my driveway is on an incline and small children play in the area. Finally, a reason I like a working parking brake is that I first started to drive at a time when brake failures were a seasonal occurrence. I had the sequence of responses always ready: downshift, hold the parking brake release up and apply the parking brake and look for a way around whatever is in front of you. My best brake failure happened when exiting a parkway in an MG. I popped the curb and drove around in circles on the grass till the combination of shrubs, small trees and parking brake brought me to a stop.
So my 93 'beater" is getting a new parking brake mechanism from G.M. I figure I couldn't sell someone a car that couldn't pass inspection. Hopefully my mechanic will also fix the rear mechanism that caused the problem. I'm happy I have a mechanic that can fix my old "beater". When he asked me if I knew what the problem was I said "sure I do, I broke it".