Handbrake barely holds

Danny2v

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Jun 24, 2019
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Hey again everyone, my 02 mustang GT just doesn't hold the way it should. I have a 5 speed so it's a must for me... The problem is that is grips pretty well on slat ground but if it's a little incline, it rolls back and my car relies on 1st gear to hold it. A little worry some as If I have a brake faliure, the handbrake is gonna do absolutely nothing while I move. I can literally drive the car with the handbrake yanked up without much strain at all. I have new pads in there with about 1k miles, and I've tried the whole self tightening thing where you roll backwards and use the brake. Still nothing... it's funny how a old PT cruiser screeches tires when you pull the ebrake and my mustang is gutless. Any suggestions?
 
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wmburns

SN Certified Technician
Aug 14, 2009
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Double check that the caliper slid pins move freely in the bracket.

HOW did you compress the brake pistons when the new pads were installed? Was it real hard to turn them? If so suspect the problem is the auto adjusting calipers are not working as they should.

If true likely the easiest solution is to replace with re-man'ed units.

OBTW, the self tightening roll back procedure works on cars with drum brakes.
 
Last edited:

Danny2v

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Jun 24, 2019
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HOW did you compress the brake pistons when the new pads were installed? Was it real hard to turn them? If so suspect the problem is the auto adjusting calipers are not working as they should.

If true likely the easiest solution is to replace with re-man'ed units.
It was tight but not terrible, might be the problem... I thought the handbrake is a mechanical lever and had nothing to do with the pistons?
 

wmburns

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It was tight but not terrible, might be the problem... I thought the handbrake is a mechanical lever and had nothing to do with the pistons?
Think about. The hand brake level has to take up the space between the resting position and the disk. Soooooooo if the pistons didn't adjust this distance then the distance would continue to increase. Thus reducing the clamping pressure as the pads ware. Sound familiar?
 

Danny2v

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Jun 24, 2019
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Think about. The hand brake level has to take up the space between the resting position and the disk. Soooooooo if the pistons didn't adjust this distance then the distance would continue to increase. Thus reducing the clamping pressure as the pads ware. Sound familiar?
Definitely makes sense but that brings up another question, (sorry for being annoying) if that was the issue, wouldnt I experience changes in the handbrake throw as the pads wear? I always get the same amount of clicks regardless how worn my pads are.... New pads, old pads, still the same weak handbrake
 

wmburns

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Look at the amount that the E-brake caliper cams actually move. Compare how far the cam and pistons move before the pads actually contact the rotor. Likely you will find that all of the E-brake cam movement is GONE before full contact is make. Hence the need for the adjustment ratchet mechanism inside the calipers.

You get the same amount of travel in the hand brake because of the automatic adjusting mechanism.

Double check that the caliper slid pins move freely in the bracket. IF the slid pins are galled inside the bracket this could create a situation where the pads press only on one side of the rotor disk. Thus also causing a weak holding symptom.
 
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Mustang5L5

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Feb 18, 2001
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Definitely makes sense but that brings up another question, (sorry for being annoying) if that was the issue, wouldnt I experience changes in the handbrake throw as the pads wear? I always get the same amount of clicks regardless how worn my pads are.... New pads, old pads, still the same weak handbrake
How far up do you pull the handbrake before it's "set". Are you pulling it to the top?

There is an adjustment on the brake itself to pick up any slack on the cables.

One issue is that when people set the handbrake, rather than slowly pull up until it's tight and release, they just give it a big yank until it's pointed straight up. Over time this stretches the cables. So you can think it's set all the way, but due to the stretch it really hasn't actuated the pistons in the calipers much.

On my 03GT (since been sold), I could hold the car on the steepest of inclines with the handle at about 45 degrees. Never changed positions during the entire time I owned that car (80k miles) but I was sure to carefully and slowly set the brake.
 

Danny2v

Member
Jun 24, 2019
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California
How far up do you pull the handbrake before it's "set". Are you pulling it to the top?

There is an adjustment on the brake itself to pick up any slack on the cables.

One issue is that when people set the handbrake, rather than slowly pull up until it's tight and release, they just give it a big yank until it's pointed straight up. Over time this stretches the cables. So you can think it's set all the way, but due to the stretch it really hasn't actuated the pistons in the calipers much.

On my 03GT (since been sold), I could hold the car on the steepest of inclines with the handle at about 45 degrees. Never changed positions during the entire time I owned that car (80k miles) but I was sure to carefully and slowly set the brake.
I've never yanked on the brake, possibly last owner did, my brake is set about 5 or so clicks whick is far from maxing out. I doubt it's cable stretck thats the problem right?
 

Sluggie24

Active Member
Apr 8, 2017
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There could also be a problem with one or both of the cables. You should watch the parking brake levers on the calipers while someone pulls and releases the p brake handle a few times for you. Do they both move? Do they move the same amount?
 
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