What is a parking brake won’t engage inspection?

A parking brake won’t engage inspection is when a qualified mechanic investigates your parking brake and its adjacent systems for signs of wear, corrosion, or misalignment. Generally, a parking brake is made up of the following components.
  • A handle sitting between the front seats (or parking brake pedal under the dash)
  • A cable connected to the handle and parking brake assembly
  • A pair of brake shoes inside the wheel drum
The simplicity of this system ensures that problems will be unlikely, so no matter what happens to your transmission, you’ll always have the parking brake as a viable option. If you run into issues with any of these components, though, your parking brake will stop engaging, and you’ll need to find out why.

How to inspect a parking brake that won’t engage

To find out what’s causing your unresponsive parking brake, a mechanic will need to investigate a few key areas for the most likely culprits. In some instances, a mechanic will need to carry out a more comprehensive inspection of your braking system.
If the mechanic determines that your brake requires more extensive repair or replacement, they will give you an estimate on the price for that type of service.
Here are some common causes of why your parking brake is not engaging:

Need to adjust brake shoes

The brake shoes are the most common cause of a parking brake that won’t engage. To reach this vehicle area, a mechanic will need to remove the wheel drum. From there, a simple adjustment should fix the problem.

Cable is detached

A detached cable will create a loose feeling, which will allow your car to roll even when the brake is engaged. The cable could have come loose from either side of the vehicle (front or back) or both.

Cable is loose at the handle

If the cable is loose from this region, the vehicle will have no response when you pull on the handle. This can be a common occurrence after receiving a brake repair from a less than qualified mechanic.

Rusted bell crank

If you don’t use your parking brake often, the bell crank could be prone to rust. A bell crank is located at the front of the parking brake assembly and is a common cause for a parking brake that won’t engage.

When do I need to inspect a parking brake that won’t engage?

If you suspect a problem with your parking brake, you should have it inspected as soon as possible. A parking brake is an integral part of your vehicle’s braking system. It allows you to plant your car in a much more reliable way than relying purely on your transmission.
While you don’t need a parking brake to drive your vehicle, this component can function as a last resort option. If your brakes fail, it’s good to have a parking brake as your backup.

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