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1996 Camry V6 parking emergency brake woes

2054 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  donbryce
So I while I was changing my winter wheels to summer, I noticed that the left rear emergency brake wasn't 'grabbing' the wheel with the parking brake pedal depressed, about 4 'clicks'. The right one was holding firmly. Both wheels spun free when the pedal release was pulled.

I stupidly decided to take both discs off and inspect the inner parking brake workings, inside the little drums cast into the rear disc brake rotors. Each took over an hour to get off, even with bolts into the 2 little threaded holes, which work really well to push the discs off the hubs.

The problem was rust around the inner circumference of the drum part of the rotors. I used a drum sanding accessory to remove the rust, which allowed the rotors to be removed and replaced easily, with the adjusters backed fully off.

However, after cleaning everything up, and verifying that the parts and shoes were all OK for re-use, and properly lubed at the right points, I had to spend hours on the previously working right side assembly to get the wheel to turn in a forward direction, because the thing kept locking up if you spun the wheel with any speed. The left one never did grab the wheel, so I actually accomplished nothing after 6 hours of frigging!

Then, on the road, I get this really loud clunk clunk clunk from the right wheel. I remembered the official Toyota procedure, which says to push the pedal down with X amount of force (measured in ft-lbs, how they don't say) and drive for about 1/4 mile with the E brake partially on to 'seat' the shoes. Lo and behold, after several sessions of this, the clunking disappeared . It returned a couple of times, so I repeated the drill until it didn't make any more noise.

I can only surmise that the left cable is somehow frozen and doesn't pull on the shoes enough to work. The right side seems to be OK, but the adjusters are both fully retracted....and they will stay that way until I get a chance to drop the exhaust (yeah, the heat shield covers the cables!) and try to free up the cables.

This E-brake set-up is the worse I've ever dealt with. I'm guessing the lack of use by a previous owner caused the problem, as the shoes have lots of lining, and nothing appears broken or out of place. Anyone have any hints as to how to lube those cables without removing the exhaust heat shileds?
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i dont think the parking brake is self-adjusting, so maybe the left parking brake is too loose? i dont have rear disks on my camry so maybe its different than what i have worked on with other rear disks, but there should be a rubber plug on the inside that will gain you access to the star adjuster. this will give you access without removing the wheel. adjust it until it makes contact (you can spin the wheel to find out) then back it off slightly.
Yeah, I had the star-wheel adjusters on the bench, thinking they were rusted up, but the plating was still on the threads.

I've done some reading here since posting, and remember one member who took vice grips and worked the cables back and forth to free them up. Now that I think about it, at the ends of each cable, where they fit into the rear shoe 'lever', there is what I thought was supposed to be a spring. But on both of my cables, the spring looks more like a tight coil, like an exposed inner sheath, which I thought it was.

It didn't occur to me at the time, but I'm now thinking that these should be springs pushing out against the end piece of the inner cable, with some space between the coils. As there was no space at all, I'm thinking that both cables are actually siezed in a 'pull' position.

That would also explain why I couldn't get either of the adjusters in the right position per the manual, which said to turn them until the shoes locked the wheel, then back off 8 turns IIRC, then apply the brake and drive 1/4 mile to set the shoes. My left adjuster locked up after less than 5 turns, which would be due to the cable being stuck in a 'brake on' position.

We just got 2" of f$%king snow, so I'll have to wait to get at them again. I'm going to try pulling on the cables to free them up. Wish there was some way to squirt some penetrating fluid into the cables at the front end though...
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Did this problem get fixed ?
Yup. I bought 2 new cables from Rockauto. Neither one fit, probably because I didn't marry up the model I have here in Canada with the correct equivalent US version. I ended up using the spring and cable from the new one to replace the old. IIRC, I drilled out the end piece and just re-hammered hammered it onto the cable.
I was talking to a mechanic friend and he told me the service manual procedure only applies to bedding in new shoes. So, at the end of the day, I now have a decent parking/emergency brake. I also now have a '93 Lexus ES300, with the same set-up, and similar issues, but as long as it will hold the car in gear for 10 seconds during our yearly safety inspection, I'm happy.
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