How to Adjust a Parking Brake in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Vehicles is equipped with rear disc brakes and a "drum-in-hat" parking brake system. Unlike other parking brake systems, this system uses a set of small brake shoes that expand against the hat area of the disc brake rotor to secure the Vehicles when it is parked. Although it is equipped with a self-adjuster mechanism, the shoes wear quickly when the parking brake is left on while driving and may require adjustment. The hat area of the rotor is not serviceable and the rotor should be replaced if the surface is damaged.

Under The Hood:

 How to Adjust a Parking Brake in a Subaru

Check the braking system on your Subaru to ensure that all air has been bled and the hydraulic system is adjusted properly and functioning as designed. Complete any repairs or adjustments to this system before adjusting the parking brake. Apply the parking brake several times while counting the clicks. If the number is more than five or six you will tighten the cable, less and you will loosen it.

Remove the center console by carefully using the trim stick to pry up the console trim cover. Remove the console cover and tray and then the console.

Use a small wrench to loosen the lock nut on the adjuster while holding the adjustment nut with another wrench. Turn the adjuster nut counter-clockwise to loosen the assembly. Snug the nut by hand and apply the brake. If it is still out of adjustment, continue tightening the adjustment nut until you have the proper number of clicks.

Tighten the lock nut against the adjusting nut using two wrenches. Reinstall the console, console tray and console cover. Reinstall the console trim cover.

Items you will need

  • Basic automotive hand tools, metric and standard

  • Automotive trim stick

 How to Adjust the Parking Brake on a Ford F-150

Put the truck in gear and turn the engine off. Chock the front tires and jack the truck up. Place the truck on jack stands.

Climb under the back of the truck and look behind one of the rear tires. Locate a rubber cap behind the brake dust cover and under the axle. Take the cap off with the flat-head screwdriver.

Turn the adjustment star sits under the cap with the flat-head screwdriver. Turning it clockwise will tighten the emergency brakes and turning it counterclockwise will loosen the emergency brakes.

Move to the other side of the truck and adjust the adjustment star in the same manner. Replace both caps.

Let the truck down and put it into neutral. Engage the emergency brake and remove the chocks. Push the truck back and forth to see if the emergency brakes are holding -- in forward and reverse.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wheel chocks

  • Flat-head screwdriver

 How to Adjust the Parking Brake on a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Place the wheel chocks behind the front wheels and position the floor jack under the rear differential. Raise the rear of the Jeep until the wheels are off the ground. Place jack stands under the rear of the frame and lower the vehicle onto the stands. Remove the rear wheels by unscrewing the lug nuts that attach the wheels to the axle and rolling the wheels out of the way.

Locate and remove the rubber plug on the back side of the brake system backing plate to which the brakes are attached. Insert a screwdriver into the slot that the plug was removed from and feel for the toothed adjuster wheel.

Rotate the adjuster in an upward direction until there is a slight drag on the brake by the parking brake shoes. Repeat this procedure on both sides of the rear brakes. Apply the parking brake. The parking brake should lock down the brakes within six to 10 clicks on the ratcheting mechanism of the parking brake lever. Repeat the adjustment as needed to achieve this range.

Reinstall the wheels and lower the Jeep from the jack stands. Test drive to verify that the parking brake holds the vehicle with the engine running and the transmission in drive.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Screwdriver

 How to Adjust the Parking Brake on an Astro Van

Get underneath the vehicle and find a long bolt that houses the rear brake cable. This bolt holds an adjuster nut. Grip the bolt with the vise grips to keep it from spinning around as you adjust the nut.

Rotate the adjuster nut with a wrench, turning counterclockwise, if the cable is too tight. If the cable is too loose, you turn the adjuster nut clockwise.

Slide out from under the vehicle. Park it on a downhill incline and engage the parking brake. There should be no slipping if you did the adjustment correctly.

Items you will need

  • Vise grips

  • Wrench

 How to Adjust Parking Brake on a Nissan Titan

Engage the parking brake until there is considerable tension. If you have to press the pedal all the way to the floor, that's fine. Locate the parking brake adjusting nut located on the bottom of the parking brake pedal, just before the pivot point of the pedal arm. The nut and bolt are both brass colored to distinguish them. Use a 10mm wrench or deep socket to turn the nut counterclockwise to loosen the cable tension. Release the parking brake.

Loosen the lug nuts on both rear wheels. Use the jack to raise the rear of the vehicle, and support both sides with a jack stand. Remove the lug nuts and wheels.

Remove the rear rotor and measure its inside diameter.

Use a flat blade screwdriver to rotate the adjusting wheel of the parking brake shoes to move them outwards until they span 6mm less than the inside diameter of the brake rotor. A simple tape measure or ruler should suffice, but Nissan does make a special tool (J-21177-A) to take this measurement. You can purchase it from a dealership, or possible rent it from a tool rental service.

Replace the rotor, and rotate it a few times to make sure the parking brake shoes are not dragging against it. Repeat the adjustment on the other rear wheel.

Return to the parking brake pedal and depress it firmly at least 10 times. Rotate the adjusting nut clockwise to remove enough slack in the cable for the parking brake to engage within 4 clicks.

Recheck the rear rotors to make sure they turn freely without rubbing the shoes.

Replace the rear wheels and lug nuts. Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts.

Items you will need

  • Automotive jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • 10mm wrench or deep socket

  • Tape measure or ruler (or Nissan tool J-21177-A)

  • Flat blade screwdriver

 How to Adjust the Parking Brake on a 2003 Suburban

Set the parking brake to the on position by pressing the pedal down. The parking brake pedal is on the left of the driver's side, near the kick panel.

Start the truck and put it in reverse, with your foot on the brake.

Ease off the brake and let the truck roll gently in reverse. If the truck does not roll by itself, gently tap the gas pedal repeatedly. Rolling the truck backward with the parking brake on will cause the automatic brake adjuster to tighten the parking brake.

Repeat Steps 1 to 3 until you have the desired pressure in your parking brake. Release the parking brake by depressing the pedal a second time, or by pulling the parking brake release.

 How to Adjust the Parking Brake on a 1998 Explorer

Engage the parking brake by pressing it to the floor with your foot.

Put two wheel chocks in front of the front wheels and two behind them. Raise the rear of the vehicle up with a floor jack, slide two jack stands underneath the Explorer's rear frame rails near each rear wheel, then lower the Explorer onto the stands.

Get under the Explorer and hold the parking brake cable rod in place with your hand. You can recognize it as the rod in the center of the underside of the vehicle that has cables coming toward it. Tighten the equalizer nut with your pliers six turns.

Find the equalizers at the rear drums inside the wheel wells. Put the cable tension gauge behind the equalizers and set the tension up to 600 pounds max.

Ensure that the rear wheels won't spin. Then disengage the parking brake and check to see that the rear wheels spin easily and freely. If not, repeat the adjustment.

Raise the vehicle, remove the jack stands, lower the vehicle, and remove the wheel chocks.

Items you will need

  • 4 wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Pliers

  • Cable tension gauge

About the Author

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