05 Malibu: Emergency brake rarely engages.

Discussion in 'Domestics' started by 00oleary315, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. 00oleary315

    00oleary315 Newbie

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    Please fill out the following to ask a question.

    MAKE: Chevrolet
    MODEL: Malibu LS
    YEAR: 2005
    MILES: 62,527
    ENGINE: 3.5 L, V6
    DESCRIBE ISSUE....I have a 2005 Chevy Malibu LS that recently failed its first safety inspection. The outer tie rod end on the front right side was bent and the emergency brake (foot pedal) does not engage. The tie rod I can replace, but the mechanic wanted to charge me $55 to diagnose the emergency brake which is something I cannot afford at the moment.

    I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience with their emergency brake. The brake is not a handle to be pulled up, but rather a pedal on the left hand side. The brake will occasionally engage when you step on it (in fact it passed the inspection last year because it just so happened to work when they tested it), but more likely it will push all the way down to the floor with no resistance and the brake does not engage. I really shouldn't just hope that it works when it gets inspected again, and should fix the problem outright.

    I have 12 days to figure out what the issue is and replace it before I get the car re-inspected. If anyone has any information I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you,
    Steve
     
  2. jd

    jd Hero Member

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    Steve, does it have Drum or Disc Brakes on the Rear? If the rear brakes are drum, the lining might be worn out and the self-adjusting feature can't give you any more parking brake "pedal." It's also VERY possible the car isn't being driven in a way that lets the adjusters do their job. You can't just back up, tapping the brakes. Drum self-adjusters need you to do a backward-stop then forward-stop maneuver to actually advance the adjusting screw. Also, the mechanism could be stuck.

    If it's rear disc brakes, I can't tell enough from the parts diagrams I can find, to help you much. Some use a little parking brake with shoes and a little drum section in the rear disc. They're called Drum-In-Hat, where the hat "brim" is the Disc part, and the part your head does into is Drum part of the Hat. That system can have all of the above problems.

    If rear disc where the parking brake works off the disc caliper, worn out pads can cause parking brake to slip. And, there's a tricky little adjuster built into the caliper piston that could be acting up or at the limit of its travel.

    All that or slack in the parking brake cable... They sell a tightener for that. Just don't make the brakes drag.
     
  3. 00oleary315

    00oleary315 Newbie

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    JD, the car has Disc Brakes in the Rear. I actually replaced the rear brake pads and rotors a couple of months ago, and I don't use the car very often. This issue with the parking brake precedes the replacement in the brake pads and rotors so I don't believe the wear of the pads would be the issue.

    The caliper piston on the other hand could be the issue. I had some trouble resetting the piston after replacing the pads and maybe it wasn't compressed entirely. I plan on replacing the front pads and rotors and the damaged tie rod next week when the snow melts, and will take a look at the rear caliper pistons and parking brake cable. Thank you for your help, I'll keep you updated!
     
  4. billr

    billr wrench Staff Member

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    I read your symptoms a bit differently. It sounded to me like this is an "intermittent" problem, sometimes the P-brake works fine, but often the pedal goes all the way to the floor; and that this can change from day-to-day (maybe even within a single day?). If it is so intermittent, than I don't think any of that adjusting mechanism is the problem, so please clarify.
     
  5. 00oleary315

    00oleary315 Newbie

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    Billr, you are absolutely correct. More often than not, the pedal will go straight to the floor with no resistance, and sometimes the pedal will have a lot of resistance and actually engage the brake. If I park the car and try to engage the brake, sometimes it will hit the floor 4 times in a row before there is actual resistance. I also noticed that sometimes the slower I push on the pedal the more likely it is to engage the brake (though this is not always the case).

    I can engage the brake every time I park the car, but it usually takes multiple attempts. And yet there are some times where it will engage on the first try. When I brought the car back from the inspection yesterday, the brake engaged immediately. There does not appear to be a clear pattern as to when it will engage and when it won't.
     
  6. billr

    billr wrench Staff Member

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    I gotta go, but that will give others more to think about. That sounds most likely a problem in the pedal mechanism to me, but I don't know the details of that cable system; where else it can suddenly "lose travel".
     
  7. jd

    jd Hero Member

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    I was thinking the parking brake was holding in the last "pinch of an inch" making it seem intermittent. Maybe it'd work one time and not the next. How much "Pedal" do you have when the Parking Brake DOES work? Does it have a little throw left, or is it on the floor?

    Did your rear caliper pistons have a parking brake adjuster that has to be "wound back" with a tool like [​IMG] And if so, did you do it? I've only put pads on cars with this setup, and "winding" the adjusters back worked. I'd think, though, that new or rebuilt calipers would have the adjuster already seated in the "new pad" position.
     
  8. 00oleary315

    00oleary315 Newbie

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    When the parking brake does work, the tension is immediate. I barely have to push the pedal at all to get push back and engage the brake.

    When I replaced the rear brake pads and rotors, I did use the tool above to wind back the caliper pistons.
     
  9. jd

    jd Hero Member

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    Maybe somebody here has an expanded diagram of how the pedal assembly looks. Have you inspected the apply components, from the pedal assembly, how it's mounted, and the cable, through all guides and connectors, all the way to both rear brake? Summit Racing shows a complete pedal assembly for $70, ACDelco 25780187 [​IMG]
     
  10. jd

    jd Hero Member

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  11. 00oleary315

    00oleary315 Newbie

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    I honestly have not had a chance to check the brake myself just yet. I wanted to see if anyone else has had this issue or would be able to tell from my description what the issue may be before I took a look.

    I'll have some time this weekend to inspect it myself and will certainly provide an update with anything I find. I appreciate everyone's help so far, it has been very helpful.
     
  12. billr

    billr wrench Staff Member

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    Understand, I am not familiar with that specific type vehicle, and have not seen your situation in person...

    However, I have seen similar-sounding failures in the P-brake pedal assembly in several other types of vehicles over the years. For some reason not clear to me, those pedal operated P-brakes are a lot more complicated than I would expect. Rather than a simple lever that pulls on the cable, with a ratchet to hold it (like most hand-operated ones), the pedal type often have two "levers" and two "ratchets". Your foot moves the lever with the pedal, which then moves the second lever via a ratchet. That second lever moves the cable, and the whole circus is locked in place by the second ratchet.

    Point is, the ratchet/pawl that links the two levers seems to be a chronic problem and can fail. Watch that mechanism a while as you move the pedal by hand, you may be able to see how it isn't catching. Maybe you can lube that flaky pawl and revive it, but a new pedal assembly probably is in your future...
     
  13. Mobile Dan

    Mobile Dan wrench

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    I would recommend a liberal dose of Silicone spray to inner workings of mechanism. Some brands of this product are stinky for a long time after application, I would recommend a test spray onto something that is not in the interior of your car.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. 00oleary315

    00oleary315 Newbie

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    Update: I went ahead and replaced the front brake pads the other day and miraculously, I have had no problems with the parking brake. It engages every single time I use it and I have tested it several times.

    However, since I changed my font brake pads, I have had an issue with my brakes and brake pedal. Whenever I use the brakes, the pedal almost hits the floor before the brakes are activated. Once the brakes start engaging, I have to continue to push the pedal a lot harder to get the brakes to engage more.

    When I replaced the brake pads, which were very worn, I had to reset the piston in the calipers. Unfortunately the front pistons have a hollow center (only the ring of piston presses the brake pads) and did not require the tool used above like the rear pistons did. I was not aware of this and did not have a way to compress the piston. I opened the bleeder valve on the front passenger piston so that I could compress the piston.

    When I did the driver's side, my friend brought over a c-clamp, but it was too small, so i applied small amounts of pressure at different points around the piston to get it to compress. I was not able to compress it in the center of the piston.

    I don't think I damaged the piston on the driver's side, but I am lead to believe that I allowed air into the system when I bled the line on the passenger's side. The pedal is pushed nearly to the floor for the brakes to engage, and even then are engaged lightly. If I pump the brakes I can get the pedal to come up a little bit to activate the brakes, but then it just falls back down to the same position it was engaging the brakes at before I pumped it.

    Any thoughts? The brake fluid is full, so it's not a lack of fluid, and there are no leaks.

    I replaced the tie-rod and am bringing the car to get an oil change, wheel alignment/rotation, and brake fluid flush (assuming there is air in the system) on Friday. They will also be inspecting the brake system in depth.
     
  15. JackC

    JackC wrench

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    Miraculously is right. No way should that have fixed your problem. I expect it to reappear.

    Now on to your present pedal to the floor problem-- You could have used the old brake pad on the caliper to press it back. And yes, sounds like you have air in lines. The brake bleed is a great idea at your mileage and will undoubtedly correct your problem. Good luck.
     

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