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Old 10-19-2012, 10:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Park brake fail

My wife has a 2008 Pontiac Solstice with 22,000 miles. This summer I noticed that the emergency/parking brake did not hold the car, and searching here I found that's a common problem on these cars. It took 4 trips to the dealer under warranty before the brake would hold. However, I discovered this week that if the car is moving the brake does nothing. I can jerk it up as hard as I can and literally nothing happens. If the car is rolling less than 5mph you can discern a slight drag, but that's all. This also allowed my daughter, who just got her learner's permit, to drive off with the brake set and I didn't notice it until I smelled them. The dealer claims the brake was never intended to stop the car and that this is normal. He also claims all cars have always been this way, but I've never owned a car in my life that wouldn't lock the rear wheels with the e/park brake. (That's how I did all those cool bootleg turns back in high school!)

I can't believe that this is intentional. Without getting into the whole parking brake vs emergency brake controversy, it would be a liability for GM to have cars driving around with the brake set and causing brake fires and such.

My 2004 Jaguar XJR has an electric e-brake, and if you pull the switch when stopped it goes on instantly, but if you are moving it engages gradually, taking about 3 seconds to lock the wheels. This allows it to function as an emergency brake the way the owner's manual describes. I tried my sister-in-law's 2013 Lexus, and when I jerked the brake up the rear wheels locked. My friends 2011 Corvette will lock the wheels with the e-brake. Literally every car I've ever owned or ever driven does this, so I find it hard to believe that the Kappa is the ONLY car that is designed not to.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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ive noticed if mine is on a slight hill, it wont hold as well...i have to put it in gear (like you should anyway, but it def is not near as tight of an ebrake as any other car ive had as well)
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Search the forum for the fix.

If the play is at the hand brake, you can easily adjust the nut that attaches the cable to the handle to take up the slack. If it's at the caliper, you'll have to remove the rear calipers, and screw the pistons back in.

These tend to fix the problem. I used to have a hand brake that would just barely hold. I took up the slack at the handle, and it's been great since. Others have had to screw in the pistons in the calipers.
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Old 10-19-2012, 06:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The problem is not play in the cable. After the 4th visit to the dealer and replacement of the whole park brake assembly and cable, it only comes up about halfway. It's not going to the end of the travel and failing to hold - it's going halfway and that's as far I can physically pull it. Hulk Hogan might pull it another few clicks, but still not to the end of the travel.
It holds on a hill. The problem is that it does virtually nothing when the car is moving, and the dealer claims all cars are like this. I've probably owned 50 cars in my life, and driven dozens more, and NO OTHER car has ever failed to lock the rear wheels unless the brake was broken or misadjusted.
The Service Manager started giving me a lecture about the percentage of the rear brakes contribution to the total braking of the car, which was a third grade level explanation. The percentage that the rear brakes add varies with the decelerative force the front brakes are providing. I used to have an old Rabbit I used for autocross, and with upgraded brembos and slicks I could actually get the rear wheels off the ground - meaning the rear brakes were providing zero braking at that point.
The closest thing to describe it is that it's like brake fade. I have overheated the brakes on the track before and until they cool they do nothing - you can stand on them as hard as you want and the car just doesn't stop. That's what the e/park brake is doing al the time. If I'm moving it doesn't matter how hard I pull the brake, nothing happens.
I'm sure everyone has had the experience of forgetting to release the brake, backing out of a parking space without noticing because the brakes don't hold as well in reverse, then try to go forward and realize the brake is on because the car won't move. In this car, with the brake applied as hard as I can pull the handle, you can drive away and never notice. It does so little I'm amazed that it DOES hold the car on a hill, although I haven't tried it on a steep incline yet.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Surely they're kidding. Very stupid explanation and that brake should hold. Every car I've owned had a hand braked that really held tight. Hell....some you can't drive with it on! Good luck.
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Old 10-20-2012, 01:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If you've already tried taking up the slack in the handle area, odds are you have a slightly or very stuck piston or two in your rear calipers, and they aren't fully clamping down on the rotor, more like slightly pushing from one side.

Trust me, remove the rear wheels, remove the rear caliper, screw the pistons, back, put everything back together, and it'll fix the problem. Search the forum if you don't believe me.
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Old 10-20-2012, 05:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Mine went to the dealer twice to fix the parking brake, first time they just adjusted the cable. 2nd time, they put much more effort into figuring it out and did the adjustment at the caliper, screwing the piston back in as the service manual states. I can stop my car with the parking brake, it will lock up the rears now.
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Old 10-20-2012, 08:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z28302 View Post
The problem is not play in the cable. After the 4th visit to the dealer and replacement of the whole park brake assembly and cable, it only comes up about halfway. It's not going to the end of the travel and failing to hold - it's going halfway and that's as far I can physically pull it. Hulk Hogan might pull it another few clicks, but still not to the end of the travel.
It holds on a hill. The problem is that it does virtually nothing when the car is moving, and the dealer claims all cars are like this. I've probably owned 50 cars in my life, and driven dozens more, and NO OTHER car has ever failed to lock the rear wheels unless the brake was broken or misadjusted.
The Service Manager started giving me a lecture about the percentage of the rear brakes contribution to the total braking of the car, which was a third grade level explanation. The percentage that the rear brakes add varies with the decelerative force the front brakes are providing. I used to have an old Rabbit I used for autocross, and with upgraded brembos and slicks I could actually get the rear wheels off the ground - meaning the rear brakes were providing zero braking at that point.
The closest thing to describe it is that it's like brake fade. I have overheated the brakes on the track before and until they cool they do nothing - you can stand on them as hard as you want and the car just doesn't stop. That's what the e/park brake is doing al the time. If I'm moving it doesn't matter how hard I pull the brake, nothing happens.
I'm sure everyone has had the experience of forgetting to release the brake, backing out of a parking space without noticing because the brakes don't hold as well in reverse, then try to go forward and realize the brake is on because the car won't move. In this car, with the brake applied as hard as I can pull the handle, you can drive away and never notice. It does so little I'm amazed that it DOES hold the car on a hill, although I haven't tried it on a steep incline yet.
Keep in mind, many vehicles on the road are still drum rear, which tends to have a very effective parking brake, they are inferior brakes overall for sure, but that's another story. Also, there are several makeups of disc ebrake rears that I am aware of. The solstice, have a caliper that has a piston that can manually engage (which I have seen at least in larger cars to be weak), and a design that involves normal caliper with e-brake inside the rotor "hat" (machined inner surface of course), rotating around like a drum brake design, example later ford explorers.

Funny you mention the Rabbit, I remember those days well. But I'd have to look at pics again to see if the Rabbits actually had disc rear back then. They were just a cheap runabout that was way fun to throw-about.
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Last edited by Shadofax; 10-20-2012 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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its supposed to be able to lock up the rears isnt it?? ...i have a few times driven with my brake all the way up (thats how loose it is, and im sure doing this makes it loose and is very bad for it) ...obviously i catch it within a few seconds, but still ive taken off and driven in 1st for a little with it as high up as it goes pretty much...and i dont think it should be right...but im gonna try the fix here shortly
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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its supposed to be able to lock up the rears isnt it?? ...i have a few times driven with my brake all the way up (thats how loose it is, and im sure doing this makes it loose and is very bad for it) ...obviously i catch it within a few seconds, but still ive taken off and driven in 1st for a little with it as high up as it goes pretty much...and i dont think it should be right...but im gonna try the fix here shortly
No, why would you think that? These days a vehicle with rotors rear and an emergency brake/parking brake is likely designed, 1) to hold the vehicle on an incline while parked, this is a must, and 2) to slow a vehicle that has lost braking in an emergency, not necessarily locking up rear brakes to accomplish that.
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Old 10-21-2012, 01:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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The biggest problem might be a loose nut. The one behind the steering wheel.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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No, why would you think that? These days a vehicle with rotors rear and an emergency brake/parking brake is likely designed, 1) to hold the vehicle on an incline while parked, this is a must, and 2) to slow a vehicle that has lost braking in an emergency, not necessarily locking up rear brakes to accomplish that.
i honestly was only asking...i have very minimal auto knowledge, i just knew that my previous car and every other car ive used, would easily lock the rear wheels when the ebrake was pulled...i just always figured it was supposed to be able to...but eitherway, right now with my ebrake on my sol it will not even hold the vehicle on an incline, so it needs adjusted
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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On both of our Kappa's, application of the hand brake will apply significant breaking power. At moderate speeds it will lock up the rear wheels.

The proper procedure for holding on a hill is to put the transmission in gear, either 1st or reverse on a manual or in park for an auto.

The hand brake is really there to make starting on a hill easier and to back up the above procedure for holding the car stationary when not running.

If I took my car to a dealer and he tried to tell me that the hand brake was not supposed to provide significant braking force then I would be investigating their level of knowledge.
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Old 10-22-2012, 05:26 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm with Rob and the others who have stated as such. True, it's a "Parking Brake" and not an "Emergency Brake" but a dealer who tells you that it's not suppose to provide braking power is basically saying they don't know and/or don't care. Everybody's gotta make money, I know, but that's a weak attempt at getting you out of their service department.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z28302 View Post
My wife has a 2008 Pontiac Solstice with 22,000 miles. This summer I noticed that the emergency/parking brake did not hold the car, and searching here I found that's a common problem on these cars. It took 4 trips to the dealer under warranty before the brake would hold. However, I discovered this week that if the car is moving the brake does nothing. I can jerk it up as hard as I can and literally nothing happens. If the car is rolling less than 5mph you can discern a slight drag, but that's all. This also allowed my daughter, who just got her learner's permit, to drive off with the brake set and I didn't notice it until I smelled them. The dealer claims the brake was never intended to stop the car and that this is normal. He also claims all cars have always been this way, but I've never owned a car in my life that wouldn't lock the rear wheels with the e/park brake. (That's how I did all those cool bootleg turns back in high school!)

I can't believe that this is intentional. Without getting into the whole parking brake vs emergency brake controversy, it would be a liability for GM to have cars driving around with the brake set and causing brake fires and such.

My 2004 Jaguar XJR has an electric e-brake, and if you pull the switch when stopped it goes on instantly, but if you are moving it engages gradually, taking about 3 seconds to lock the wheels. This allows it to function as an emergency brake the way the owner's manual describes. I tried my sister-in-law's 2013 Lexus, and when I jerked the brake up the rear wheels locked. My friends 2011 Corvette will lock the wheels with the e-brake. Literally every car I've ever owned or ever driven does this, so I find it hard to believe that the Kappa is the ONLY car that is designed not to.

Thoughts?
Your concern is certainly justifiable. Please send a DM with the dealership, contact information, and situation if this isn't resolved for you. Thank you.

Matt,

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