E-Brake stuck/frozen, mushy brake pedal - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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  #1  
Old 01-12-2009
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E-Brake stuck/frozen, mushy brake pedal

For the past month at least my rear brakes (drums) have been sticking. It's not the brakes, but mostly the cable above the axle. Last week I took the brakes apart and they are fine, not rusted together or anything, and very free moving. I did clean and lube them up to prevent anything else. My e-brake light is on now because the cable won't return. I think the cables are frozen from being under water many times and now with the freezing temps outside. When I had the drums off I tried pulling on the cables but no luck. I try stepping on the foot lever in the cab and it goes down the entire way with some force but never returns the entire way back up. My brakes stick some but not enough to stop the truck, and they seem to loosen up after driving.
My main concern is the brake pedal, it is very mushy since the rear brakes are already engaged partially. I noticed last week that my brake fluid reservoir was empty, so I topped it off, and it went down a bit already in just a few days. The brakes work after the pedal is depressed almost the entire way to the floor. Is the pedal mushy because of this frozen drum brake line problem, or is there possibly another major brake line problem that I should look for?
I've searched for a while but it doesn't seem like anyone mentioned about the same exact problem that I have.

Last edited by rideac1; 01-12-2009 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 01-12-2009
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If your reservoir was empty, might have gotten air in the lines. Rebleed all your brakes, then replace the cables. I had the exact same thing with my rear drums, replaced the two rear cables and worked MUCH better. I thought the pads were loosening after driving, but they were draggin the whole time. Not good for wheels, drums, or pads.
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Old 01-12-2009
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Yeah, I think the only fix is to replace the cable lines that sit over the rear axle.
How much do those run, and is Ford the only place to get em?
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Old 01-12-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rideac1 View Post
Yeah, I think the only fix is to replace the cable lines that sit over the rear axle.
How much do those run, and is Ford the only place to get em?


Napa should have them, or www.rockauto.com. Ford wants an arm and a leg, no surprise there.
There are two cables, one to each drum. There is also a front cable, but that is usually good. I've had to replace both sides twice in 130k, it's now become a Spring ritual of removing and regreasing the inner line.
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Old 01-12-2009
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Check your rear wheel cylinders too. They are cheap and seize up very easily. I had problems with my parking break staying stuck with freezing temps, but the problem was never the cables, it was the wheel cylinders.

If you get inside the drums, check your shoes for wear and your drums too......just because it eventually gets unstuck and rolling, doesn't mean the shoes stop grabbing. I went through plenty trouble with my rear brakes getting them fixed at a local shop. Turns out they had put the wrong size drums and rear cables on there.....causing premature wear. I finally got pissed off and got the replaced at Ford with the PROPER hardware and never had a problem since.

My advise to you, ALWAYS replace your parts with the exact replacment part. LOL
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Old 01-12-2009
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I know for a fact that the cables are stuck. I had the drums off last week and tried pushing the cable back through the housing from inside the drum but was unable to.
There's a NAPA nearby, I just checked online and it looks like a replacement for both sides will be around $50 total.
The brake cylinders could be bad also, i'll do the lines first since I know they are seized for sure.
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Old 01-12-2009
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Yeah those cables are a common thing at my work...

I see a ranger come in for a "brake inspection, rear grabs" I already know what to price out... and 90% of them i have to destroy the whole rear end getting the drums off..
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Old 01-12-2009
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with the pedal going to the floor i'd have a look at the front end and make sure your brakes are good there too. and for the e-brake pedal going to the floor, after you replace the cables you might want to go in there and manually adjust the rears. if they're out of adjustment, that could be your problem with both pedals.
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Old 01-12-2009
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with the pedal going to the floor i'd have a look at the front end and make sure your brakes are good there too. and for the e-brake pedal going to the floor, after you replace the cables you might want to go in there and manually adjust the rears. if they're out of adjustment, that could be your problem with both pedals.
The fronts are fine, I looked at them not too long ago when I rotated my tires. I had the drums off on Saturday, the shoes are adjusted perfectly. It seems that the only problem is the cable lines on the e-brake line that split to to each wheel.
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Old 01-12-2009
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Yeah those cables are a common thing at my work...

I see a ranger come in for a "brake inspection, rear grabs" I already know what to price out... and 90% of them i have to destroy the whole rear end getting the drums off..
Yeah my truck locks the rears up too. I tried taking the drums off to take a look but i couldn't get them off so i said f-it. What usually gets destroyed? I guess i'll call the dealer cause its under warranty.
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Old 01-12-2009
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Originally Posted by swamper06 View Post
Yeah my truck locks the rears up too. I tried taking the drums off to take a look but i couldn't get them off so i said f-it. What usually gets destroyed? I guess i'll call the dealer cause its under warranty.
same here put new shoes in the rear and still does it but it only does it after its been raining
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Old 01-12-2009
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i really don't see how your e-brake would affect your brake pedal being 'mushy'. Like someone else said, give them a good bleeding, or better yet flush the fluid and get some new stuff in there.
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Old 01-13-2009
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i have the same issuse i just want to put a new rear end in it and go disc. but i am thinking of selling it and gettin a f250 and putting a plow on it.
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  #14  
Old 01-13-2009
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Personally if i still had my ranger, IT would have a rear disc conversion on it... Its really easy to do, We do it to jeep cherokee's alot at work (my boss's off road buddy's)

But depending on your rear end, I would just get a different axle with better gears, with disc...

The ebrake will cause a "mushy pedal" If its not adjusted right, But right now I would replace those ebrake cable's and start from there... Make sure your adjusters are adjusted right.
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Old 01-13-2009
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Mine sometimes lately when I go out in the morning and start it up,when its been really cold, I go to put it and gear and drive away sometimes something sticks as well and it sort of "pop's" out and move but makes a loud noise. I'm thinking this is similar to the problem your experienced as well. I think it's just my e-brake sticking too, I'm not too sure
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Old 01-13-2009
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Originally Posted by kyle12201 View Post
Mine sometimes lately when I go out in the morning and start it up,when its been really cold, I go to put it and gear and drive away sometimes something sticks as well and it sort of "pop's" out and move but makes a loud noise. I'm thinking this is similar to the problem your experienced as well. I think it's just my e-brake sticking too, I'm not too sure
REAL common for the pads to freeze overnight. I would stop using the e brake in the winter, that's what most do.
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Old 01-13-2009
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I ordered new both new cables from Napa, will be here tomorrow and i'll put em on then. After work today I took off the current cables and they are both seized, I can't get them to move at all through the housing. The brake pads and parts look fine and are adjusted correctly. I put everything together minus the cables and drove around and the pedal is still very mushy. I imagine it is mushy because the rear pads do not return to their original position without a working e-brake cable with springs on. Is this correct?, or should the brakes and pedal work perfectly without the e-brake cables installed?
Also, i've lost the entire reservior of brake fluid again, over the past few days of driving. Where is the fluid going? The brakes work perfectly except for how the pedal feels, can there be a leak somewhere? I did look a bit for fluid leaks but didn't seem to stumble upon one.
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Old 01-14-2009
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Well now that you say your loosing brake fluid.. AND you have a mushy pedal, I would stop driving now...

And find out whats going on with it...

Its going to be "mushy" if your loosing brake fluid..

Lines are very common, Caliper seals leaking.. etc..

go somewhere dry.. and just sit and pump up the brakes.. Hold the pedal down, and find out where the fluid leaks on the ground and find out what it is..

If it was my guess, i would say the brake line by the fuel tank or on the rear axle area is leaking...

And how are your rear brake shoes adjusted right? Is there slight friction when you turn the drum? Spin freely?

I would get this figured out asap, or take it to a shop, because if your loosing fluid and a "mushy" pedal.. your line could snap and have no brakes at any time, let alone no ebrake right now..
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  #19  
Old 01-14-2009
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^^^ Great advice!

BTW, My old e brake cables lasted about 5 years, and that's with me constantly lubing up the exposed metal parts - I also use the ebrake everytime I parked.

When I installed my new brake cables (the right side had seized, cooking the shoes on that side) - replaced both sides because I was under there anyway - I soaked the new cables for a day or two in some ATF

Did it to slow down corrosion - just let them soak for a while, left them on some paper towels to dry out a bit, installed them.

Figure they'll last the lifetime of the vehicle, given the same sort of maintenance as the original set
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Old 01-15-2009
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I pumped the brakes with the truck off...fluid ran out of the rear, passenger side brake drum. I replaced the both rear e-brake cables, and the passenger side wheel cylinder. I don't see any more fluid leaking and the pedal feels much better, but is still loses pressure when I hold the pedal down with a heavy force, i'm guessing I need to bleed at least the rear passenger side brake. At least the main problem should be solved.
The e-brake works like a dream.
Easy fixes, hopefully that's all that's wrong except for the bleed that I need to do now.

My drums are adjusted so that I can get the drum back on, but do slightly scratch when rotating with drum on.
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Old 01-15-2009
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When bleeding the brakes do all 4 to make sure all the air is out. I would do this since you said you lost all of the fluid in the master cylinder. Start with the passenger rear, then the drivers rear, then passenger front, then drivers front. You want to start the farthest away from the master cylinder. You don't have to bleed a lot of fluid out, just enough to be sure there is no more air. You do want a slight drag on the drums when they are properly adjusted.
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Old 01-15-2009
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You have to bleed all four corners because if you get just one air bubble in there your pedal will be "mushy". Think of it this way when you get air in your line air can be compressed and brake fluid can't. Thats what gives you that spongy feeling, the air being compressed. You ALWAYS have to bleed your brakes when replacing any brake related parts even if you didn't touch the front, bleed it. Also when you let it get down to nothing i can guarentee you that you got air in your system. Oh lol also replace wheel cylinders in pairs.
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Old 01-15-2009
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Well...the same brake still leaks. I replaced everything yesterday and tried it again today when I got home from work (didn't drive it to work) and fluid still leaks out of the passenger side drum. I put a new cylinder in and screwed the line back into it. What else can be wrong there? It's not leaking from the line from what I can see.
I was going to bleed the whole system but since it's leaking still I don't know what else to do. And, the temperature at my house is 10 degrees, so working on it isn't really an option, my garage isn't heated either and it isn't large enough to put the door down and get around the truck, and I don't know what else to do...I just made an appt at Ford for Tuesday, unless someone knows some miracle fix before then.
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  #24  
Old 01-15-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockysFord View Post
Yeah those cables are a common thing at my work...

I see a ranger come in for a "brake inspection, rear grabs" I already know what to price out... and 90% of them i have to destroy the whole rear end getting the drums off..
What parts?
Cables? Drums? Shoes? Hardware kits (Springs?)
Do a complete rebuild on the rears?
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Old 01-16-2009
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I'm going to work on it again to try to fix the leak. I installed a new wheel cylinder, but is it possible that it is bad to begin with? I'm not sure why or what would be leaking from inside the brake drum, and the wheel cylinder is the only part inside the drum that uses fluid, so it must be that. Any other ideas?
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