How to Replace the Emergency Brakes in Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The emergency brakes on your vehicle were originally used to stop it when the regular brakes failed. However, the brakes on a Ford car now rarely fail, and the emergency brakes are more often used to keep the vehicle from moving while parked. The most common source of failure Ford car emergency brakes occurs when they aren't used Ford car a period of time, causing the brake cable to rust and seize.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Emergency Brakes in a Dodge Caravan

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Dodge Caravan will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Dodge Caravan use drum brakes on the rear wheels.

Release the parking brake pedal completely and raise the vehicle. Remove the rear wheels with a socket wrench and pull the brake drums off the wheel studs. Clamp a pair of locking pliers onto the parking brake cable just behind the rear body outrigger bracket.

Detach the automatic adjustment lever and its spring from the leading brake shoe with a socket wrench. Remove the lower return spring and the tension clip that secures the upper return spring to the automatic adjuster assembly. You will now be able to disconnect the upper return spring.

Disconnect the hold-down clip and pin for the trailing brake shoe so you can remove the trailing brake shoe with a socket wrench. Detach the parking brake actuating lever and strut from the brake support plate. Disconnect the automatic adjuster assembly, hold-down clip and pin from the leading brake shoe so you can remove the leading brake shoe with a socket wrench. Disconnect the parking brake actuator plate from the leading brake shoe with a socket wrench.

Clean the backing plate thoroughly and apply brake lubricant to the eight brake shoe contact areas. Lubricate the brake shoe anchor but ensure there is no grease on the brake shoe linings.

Install the new rear brake shoes by reversing the removal procedure. The automatic adjuster will adjust the brake shoes during the road test.

Items you will need

  • Brake lubricant

  • Rear brake shoes

  • Locking pliers

  • Socket wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Lincoln Navigator

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Lincoln Navigator will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Lincoln Navigator use disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Release the parking brake and pull down on the front parking brake cable at the coupler to relieve the tension on the brakes. Insert a 4mm pin into the parking brake lever and remove the brake disc with a socket wrench.

Remove the front parking brake shoe retaining clip and pin. Remove the parking brake shoe adjuster by spreading the bottom of the parking brake shoes apart with a brake adjuster tool. Remove the parking brake shoe adjuster spring and slide the forward parking brake shoe up and out of the guide flange.

Detach the parking brake shoe return spring, retaining clip and pin so you can remove the rearward parking brake shoe.

Lubricate the contact points on the new parking brake shoe with silicone brake caliper grease.

Install the new parking brake shoes by reversing the removal procedure. Use brake adjusting gauge 206-D002 to adjust the parking brake shoe diameter to 0.02 inch less than the inside diameter of the drum portion of the rear brake disc.

Items you will need

  • 4mm pin

  • Brake adjusting gauge 206-D002

  • Brake adjuster tool

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Silicone brake caliper grease

  • Socket wrench set

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Pontiac Grand Prix

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Pontiac Grand Prix will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Pontiac Grand Prix may use drum or disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Raise the vehicle and remove the rear brake caliper with a socket wrench if your vehicle is equipped with rear disc brakes. Support the caliper with mechanic's wire so it does not hang by the brake hose.

Remove the caliper bracket bolts with a socket wrench and remove the caliper. They were installed with a thread-locking compound at the factory so this may require considerable force. Remove the rear brake rotor and disconnect the parking brake actuator and rear wheel hub. Remove the brake shoes from the parking brake support plate with a socket wrench.

Disconnect the tire and wheel assembly with a socket wrench if you have rear drum brakes. Remove the brake drum. Use tool J-38400 to remove the actuator spring from the adjuster lever and the retractor spring from the adjuster shoe assembly. Remove the brake shoe and adjuster assembly. Disconnect the parking brake lever from the shoe.

Install the new brake shoes by reversing the removal process. Use thread-locking compound on the caliper bracket bolts and tighten them to 92 ft. lbs. with a torque wrench. Clean the backing plate and apply a thin coat of brake grease to the brake shoe contact points. Adjust the brakes and road test the vehicle for proper brake operation.

Adjust the brakes and road test the vehicle for proper brake operation.

Items you will need

  • Brake grease

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Mechanics wire (disc brakes)

  • Socket wrench set

  • Thread-locking compound

  • Tool J-38400 (drum brakes)

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Jeep Grand Cherokee

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Jeep Grand Cherokee will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for all versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee use the disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Raise the vehicle and remove the rear wheel and tire assembly with a socket wrench. Support the brake caliper so that it does not hang by the brake hose when you unfasten both caliper bolts with a socket wrench. Remove the caliper and the rubber access plug from the back of the rear disc brake support plate.

Retract the parking brake shoes with a brake adjuster tool, if necessary. Position the tool at the top of the star wheel and rotate the wheel. Remove the brake rotor from the axle hub flange and unfasten the four axle flange nuts with a socket wrench. Remove the axle shaft from the rear differential. Detach the brake shoe return spring with needle nose pliers and then remove the brake adjuster.

Remove the hold-down clip and pin for the brake shoe by pushing the clip ends together and sliding the clip until the head of the pin clears the narrow part of notch. Remove the brake shoes from the actuator lever for the park brake.

Install the new brakes shoes by reversing the removal steps. Lubricate the brake adjuster assembly. Be sure to seat the notched ends of the brake adjuster assembly on the brake shoes and align the star wheel with the access hole in the support plate. Use a torque wrench to tighten the caliper mounting bolts to between 66 and 85 foot/pounds.

Items you will need

  • Brake adjuster tool

  • Rear brake shoes kit

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Emergency Brakes in a Chevy Impala

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Chevy Impala will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Chevy Impala use the rear wheels, which may have disc or drum brakes.

Remove the caliper from its mounting bracket with a socket wrench and support the brake caliper with heavy mechanic's wire to prevent the hydraulic brake hose from bearing the weight of the brake caliper. Take the brake pads, their retainers and the brake caliper guide pins from the brake caliper bracket with a socket wrench.

Apply a thin coat of high-temperature silicone brake lubricant to the inside of the brake caliper guide pin boots. Ensure there is not an excessive amount of lubricant on the end of the lower guide pin and that the rim of the guide pin boots is seated in the guide pin grooves. Lubricate the brake pad mating surfaces of the caliper bracket very lightly.

Mount the disc brake pad with the wear sensor inboard of the rotor so that the sensor's leading edge faces the brake rotor when the wheel rotates forward.

Attach the caliper to the mounting bracket with a socket wrench while using the mechanic's wire to support it. Remove the mechanic's wire.

Items you will need

  • Heavy mechanic's wire

  • High-temperature silicone brake lubricant

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Socket wrench set

 How to Replace the Emergency Brakes in a Chevy Avalanche

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Chevy Avalanche will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Chevy Avalanche may use all four wheels or just the rear wheels depending on the drive option.

Release the parking brake and drain two-thirds of the brake fluid from the master cylinder. Raise the vehicle and remove the tire and wheel assembly with a socket wrench.

Remove the brake caliper and mounting bracket as an assembly with a socket wrench. Hang the caliper and mounting bracket assembly from the suspension with mechanic's wire. Remove the caliper mounting bracket bolts from the backing plate with a socket wrench. Separate the brake pads from the caliper mounting bracket. Release and discard the clips from the inside ends of the caliper mounting bracket.

Install the new parking brake pads by reversing the removal procedure. Remove original adhesive patch on the caliper mounting bolts with brake parts cleaner and apply red Loctite 272 to the threads of the bolts. Use a torque wrench to tighten the caliper mounting bolts to 148 ft. lbs. for the 15 series and 122 ft. lbs. for the 25 series. Torque the bracket mounting bolts to 80 ft. lbs.

Pump the brake pedal slowly and firmly in order to seat the brake pads.

Items you will need

  • Brake parts cleaner

  • Mechanic's wire

  • Parking brake pads

  • Red Loctite 272

  • Socket wrench set

 How to Replace the Emergency Brakes in a Chevy Silverado

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Chevy Silverado will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Chevy Silverado may use all four wheels or just the rear wheels depending on the drive option.

Raise and support the vehicle. Remove the tire and the wheel assembly with a socket wrench and disconnect the brake caliper and its mounting bracket as an assembly. Loosen the nut at the equalizer with a socket wrench to relieve the tension on the parking brake cables.

Remove the parking brake cable from its lever with a socket wrench and disconnect the brake rotor and axle shaft. Turn the adjustment screw in the notched adjustment nut to the home position with a flathead screwdriver. Slide the brake shoe assembly toward the retaining spring until the shoe disengages.

Align the slots in the adjustment screw and tappet so they are parallel with the backing plate face. Position the park brake shoe on the inboard side of the actuator and slide it into position until it seats into the retaining spring. Ensure the shoe assembly is centered on the backing plate with both tips in the slots.

Complete the installation by reversing the removal procedure. Tighten the nut on the equalizer to 31 inch pounds with a torque wrench.

Items you will need

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Flathead screwdriver

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Nissan Altima

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Nissan Altima will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Nissan Altima use the disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Remove the rear wheels and the bracket bolt for the parking brake cable with a socket wrench. Unfasten the pin bolts with a socket wrench and remove them from the caliper body. Remove the lock spring.

Disconnect the brake fluid hose from the brake caliper with a flare nut wrench. Remove the caliper with a socket wrench and detach the brake pad springs, brake pads and shims.

Coat the contact area on the new brake pads with a silicone-based grease. Install the new brake pads and turn the brake piston clockwise into the caliper body.

Complete the installation of the brake pads and calipers by reversing the removal procedure. Position the brake caliper body into position on the mounting support and tighten the pin bolts to between 16 and 23 foot pounds with a torque wrench. Use new copper washers for the brake hose and torque the flare nut to between 12 and 14 foot pounds.

Items you will need

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Flare nut wrench

  • Silicone-based grease

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Honda Accord

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Honda Accord will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Honda Accord uses disc or drum brakes on the rear wheels.

Raise the vehicle and remove the rear wheels with a socket wrench. Remove the brake drum or discs as required and detach the upper return spring from the brake shoes.

Push the retainer springs and turn the tension pins to release the shoes from the backing plate. Lower the brake shoe assembly so you can remove the lower return spring.

Disconnect the brake shoe assembly from the backing plate and the parking brake cable from the brake shoe lever with a socket wrench. Remove the upper return spring, self-adjusting lever and self-adjusting spring. You can now separate the brake shoes. Detach the U-clip so you can also remove the wave washer, parking brake lever and pivot pin from the brake shoe.

Apply brake cylinder grease to the sliding surface of the pivot pin before inserting it into the brake shoe.

Install the new parking brake shoes by reversing the removal procedure. Loosen the adjuster bolt with a socket wrench just enough so you can mount the brake drum and turn it easily.

Depress the brake pedal several times and adjust the parking brakes.

Items you will need

  • Brake cylinder grease

  • Parking brake shoes

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Toyota Highlander

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Toyota Highlander will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for all versions of the Toyota Highlander use the disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Remove the rear wheel and tire assemblies with a socket wrench. Unbolt the rear brake caliper without disconnecting the brake line. Suspend the caliper with mechanic's wire so it does not pull on the brake line.

Release the parking brake completely and remove the rear brake disc with a socket wrench. Disconnect both parking brake shoe return tension springs with needle-nose pliers. Remove the parking brake shoe strut and its compression spring.

Disconnect the brake shoe hold down spring and return spring so you can remove the brake shoe assembly with a socket wrench. Use a standard screwdriver to remove the brake shoe adjusting screw from the brake shoe assembly. Disconnect the parking brake cable with needle-nose pliers.

Separate the rear speed sensor, rear axle shaft nut, rear axle hub and bearing assembly and brake shoe hold down spring pin if your vehicle has all-wheel drive. Remove the brake shoe C-washer with a standard screwdriver so you can disconnect the shim and parking brake lever from the parking brake shoe.

Install the new parking brake shoe by reversing the removal procedure. Apply high-temperature grease to the contact points of the backing plate, brake shoe adjusting bolt and return tension spring, but ensure there is no grease on the friction surface of the shoe lining and disc. Use a torque wrench to tighten the rear wheel and tire assembly to 76 foot/pounds.

Items you will need

  • High-temperature brake grease

  • Mechanic's wire

  • Needle-nose pliers

  • Parking brake shoes

  • Socket wrench set

  • Standard screwdriver

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Hyundai Santa Fe

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Hyundai Santa Fe will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Hyundai Santa Fe use the rear wheels, which may have drum brakes.

Remove the rear wheels with a socket wrench and slide the rear brake drum from the rear axle.

Release the hold-down spring and return spring for the brake shoes. Disconnect the brake shoe strut and brake shoes with a socket wrench.

Install the new brake shoes onto the brake drum with a socket wrench. Attach the return spring and hold-down spring to the brake shoes. Connect the brake strut with a socket wrench and mount the brake drum onto the rear axle. Install the rear wheels with a socket wrench.

Pull the parking brake lever up one click and tighten the adjusting nut with a socket wrench until the parking brakes drag the rear wheels slightly. Release the parking brake completely and ensure the parking brakes do not drag at all. Make sure the parking brakes are fully applied when you pull the parking brake lever up all the way.

Items you will need

  • Parking brake shoes

  • Socket wrench set

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Ford Focus

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Ford Focus will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Ford Focus use the rear wheels, which may have disc or drum brakes.

Release the parking brake and remove the wheel and tire with a socket wrench. Disconnect the parking brake cable from the brake caliper and the parking brake lever with a socket wrench.

Detach the conduit retaining clip and remove the brake caliper and anchor plate from the wheel knuckle with a socket wrench. Support the brake caliper properly with mechanic's wire and remove the disc.

Disconnect the brake drum, bearing and spindle assembly with a socket wrench, if present.

Install the new brake disc or drum by reversing the removal procedure. Use a torque wrench to tighten the mounting bolts for the brake caliper and anchor plate to 41 foot pounds if you have brake discs. Torque the mounting bolts to 49 foot pounds if you have a brake drum. Adjust the tension on the parking brake cable, if needed.

Items you will need

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Mechanic's wire

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Subaru Outback

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Subaru Outback will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Subaru Outback use the disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Raise your vehicle and remove the wheel with a socket wrench. Disconnect the brake caliper assembly without removing the brake lines. Support the brake caliper from the strut with mechanic's wire and remove the brake rotor with a socket wrench.

Disconnect the brake shoe return spring from the parking brake assembly and the front brake shoe hold down spring and pin with pliers. Remove the brake strut and its spring. Use a socket wrench to disconnect the adjuster assembly from the parking brake assembly and remove the brake shoe. Remove the rear shoe hold-down spring and pin with pliers.

Remove the parking brake cable from the parking brake lever with a socket wrench and raise the retainer with a standard screwdriver. Disconnect the parking lever and washer from the brake shoe with a socket wrench.

Install the new brake shoes by reversing the removal procedure. Apply brake grease to the various contact surfaces for the brake shoe rim, back plate packing, parking brake lever, brake shoe wave, anchor pin and brake shoe adjuster assembly.

Re-install the brake shoe adjuster assembly securely with the screw in the left side and facing the front of the vehicle. Adjust the tension on the parking brakes.

Items you will need

  • Brake grease

  • Emergency brakes kit

  • Mechanic's wire

  • Pliers

  • Socket wrench set

 How to Replace Emergency Brakes in a Mitsubishi Eclipse

Determine which type of emergency brakes your Mitsubishi Eclipse will need. Emergency brakes typically function by activating the regular braking system on the driving wheels. The emergency brakes for the Mitsubishi Eclipse may use disc or drum brakes on the rear wheels.

Raise the vehicle and remove the rear wheels with a socket wrench.

Remove the brake drum, if present. Detach the return spring for the parking brake lever and the shoe-to-lever spring. Disconnect the brake adjuster lever and the auto-adjuster assembly. Remove the retainer spring, brake shoe hold-down springs and spring cups and the shoe-to-shoe spring. You can now remove the brake shoes with a socket wrench. Disconnect the parking brake cable from the lever on the brake shoe.

Replace the brake pads if you have disc brakes. Drain some of the brake fluid from the master brake cylinder and release the brake. Disconnect the parking brake cable and the lower pin on the brake caliper with a socket wrench. Swing the caliper assembly upward so you can remove the outer shim, brake pads and spring clips from the brake caliper support. Compress the piston into the caliper bore.

Install the new brake shoes if you have rear drum brakes. Clean the backing plate and apply a light coating of brake grease to the six support pads for the brake shoes and the threads for the brake adjuster.

Replace the new brake pads if you have rear disc brakes. Lubricate all sliding and pivot points in addition to the lower pin.

Items you will need

  • Brake fluid (disc brakes)

  • Brake grease

  • Parking brake shoes (drum brakes)

  • Parking brake pads (disc brakes)

  • Socket wrench set

About the Author

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