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Brake Cables

What is a brake cable?

A brake cable connects the pedal to the parking brake. When engaged, the cable creates tension and causes the brakes on the rear wheels to engage. This stops the car from moving.

What is a cable for a parking brake?

When activated, a parking brake (sometimes called a handbrake or an emergency brake) is designed to create tension in the brake system, causing the rear wheel brakes to engage. It is usually a steel-braided cable wrapped in a protective sheath.

Are brake cables and shifter cables the same?

No, these two cables are significantly different. A shifter cable connects to the transmission to control the gear selection. A brake cable is designed to keep the rear wheels locked when engaged.

Are brake cables universal?

No. Brake cables are not one-size-fits-all. They vary in length and diameter. The design and cable attachments can also be different. Take extra care to confirm that the parking cable you buy fits your vehicle.

How do you adjust or tighten brake cables?

Over time, the brake cable can stretch and lose tension. Many cars have a self-adjusting mechanism for the parking brake, but if yours doesn't, here's how to adjust the brake cable:

  • Release the parking brake, then pull on the lever a few clicks to engage the brake.
  • Safely raise the rear wheels, supporting with jack stands and chocking the front wheels.
  • Spray the cable adjuster with penetrating oil to lubricate the nut and make it easier to loosen.
  • Loosen the adjuster nut and loosen the cable slightly.
  • Tighten the adjustment nut until you feel a slight drag on the wheels.
  • Release the parking brake lever and ensure the wheels turn without drag.

Read this: How to Diagnose and Repair Your Parking Brake

How long do brake cables last?

There is no standard for the lifespan. Have them checked and adjusted regularly to maximize the useful life.

Can brake cables break? How do you repair them?

Yes, cables can break from extreme wear or abuse. For example, sometimes drivers forget to release the parking brake when starting a car, which can cause excessive wear over time. Once a cable is broken, the integrity of its balance is compromised. When a cable breaks, the entire length of the cable should be replaced.

How do you engage the brake cable?

The brake cable mechanism commonly engages in two ways. In the first, there is a lever near the center console. Lifting the lever causes tension on the brake cable, and the brakes lock the wheels. Depressing a plunger on the lever can return the lever to a normal position, thereby releasing tension.

The other method has a separate pedal or rod under the dash. You commonly depress the pedal until it locks the wheels or pull the toothed rod toward you until it engages the brakes. There is a release lever to release the pedal, or the toothed rod can be twisted so that it is no longer mated to the ratcheting design, releasing the tension on the rear brakes.

Do some cars have electric brakes?

Yes, many electric and hybrid vehicles have an electronic brake function.

Which brake cable is the best?

Consider using the original manufacturer for replacement equipment. DIY kits may be universal and modified to fit your vehicle. Also choose a cable made of high-quality, durable materials like steel. You can extend the life of the cable by selecting one with rust and corrosion protection.

Read this article: A Beginner’s Guide to Hand Brakes