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Parking brake does not release in extreme cold

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Old 02-12-2018, 03:56 PM   #1
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Default Parking brake does not release in extreme cold

2017 F150 Lariat Supercrew FX4.

I am in Calgary, Alberta, where we get the odd extreme cold snap (-30C / -22F). Today was second such cold snap we have had in the past couple of months, and since I have owned this truck. I park on my driveway which has a slight incline to it, so I am always in the habit of engaging the parking brake when I park.

Today, it happened again... -30C this morning, and after the truck has run for about 10-15 mins to warm up, I get in, and I am stuck. The truck won't go anywhere.

The last time it happened, about a month ago, I had to call roadside assistance and have it towed to the dealership. By the time it got there and by the time the mechanics had looked at it (in a heated garage of course), it had released. They parked it outside overnight and took another look the next morning, but it wasn't as cold that second night, and so of course, it was not stuck the next morning either. So they shrugged their shoulders and said that there isn't much they can do if it won't malfunction while they have it.

So this morning, I determined that it was only one of the rear wheels that was stuck (passenger side). So I got out a small plumbers torch and heated up the disc around the brake caliper for about 5 mins. This seemed to help and I was able to get the thing moving. For the first 5-10 mins or so, however, it still felt like the brake was dragging, until eventually it freed up completely.

Anyone have any ideas as to potential permanent solutions? I would like to not have this happen every time it gets cold and don't want to be busting out the torch every time. Do these trucks have a drum type brake built-into the disc? I am pretty sure it is all cable actuated and not electronic. Is it a cable actuated secondary system using the disc caliper and pads? Any idea what part(s) might be getting stuck?
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:49 PM   #2
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If it has cables, then the cause is most likely water inside the e-brake CABLES (not the disk/drum). During warm weather, use a sports ball needle adapter on a shop air blowgun to get inside the rubber boot at one end of the cable, and blow the water out the other end (it WILL be difficult). Use aerosol silicone lubricant to drive the last of the water out, and displace it with silicone, which should prevent it from happening again. Or you might be able to get it covered by warranty since the cables should be collecting water this soon (unless you off-road it through brush & rocks).

If it's an electric e-brake, it's probably water contamination of the brake fluid in the calipers. A brake fluid flush should fix it, and should be covered by warranty.
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Old 02-13-2018, 08:45 AM   #3
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While I'm still learning my way around these trucks, it is VERY common to see parking brakes freeze up in the car world. I've only ever seen the cause being the pad freezing to the rotor. Usually only occurring if thee's any moisture present from rain/snow. It's surprisingly common on the super cold days here in GA because of how much humidity we have in the air.

Be careful if you're torching your rotor. Any uneven heat and you'll risk warping it once you brake while moving.

It's great habit to always use your parking brake. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people smooth out their parking gear because they never use the brake. However, it might be best to avoid using the brake until the temps are warmer. Does the '17 have an electric brake or a manual brake? If it's manual, you can set it just-enough to hold the truck and not overly tight. If it's electric, then it's pretty much all or nothing...
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Old 02-13-2018, 02:54 PM   #4
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Does the '17 have an electric brake or a manual brake? If it's manual, you can set it just-enough to hold the truck and not overly tight. If it's electric, then it's pretty much all or nothing...[/QUOTE]

It varies - different drivetrain/engine combos get different systems.
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Old 02-13-2018, 06:15 PM   #5
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I had the EXACT same issue. One of the read e-brakes was 'stuck' and producing a burning smell. Had it towed in, they adjusted the actuator. While this seemed to fix it, the pedal was still really hard to push and the brake would sometimes stick on. Took it to my selling dealer and the replaced all the e-brake cables. Problem is gone. Well, gone until moisture builds up again and they freeze. This summer I will look at lubricating the lines at preventative maintenance.

The frozen e-brake cables were a really nice compliment to my frozen locks.
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Old 02-13-2018, 06:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaintruck View Post
I had the EXACT same issue. One of the read e-brakes was 'stuck' and producing a burning smell. Had it towed in, they adjusted the actuator. While this seemed to fix it, the pedal was still really hard to push and the brake would sometimes stick on. Took it to my selling dealer and the replaced all the e-brake cables. Problem is gone. Well, gone until moisture builds up again and they freeze. This summer I will look at lubricating the lines at preventative maintenance.

The frozen e-brake cables were a really nice compliment to my frozen locks.
You should have put a big decal on your truck saying "FROZEN, a Disney Production" and then driven by the local TV stations...
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Old 02-14-2018, 01:03 AM   #7
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I had a new 92 F150 back when with a manual trans and a sloped driveway. The e brake always froze up overnight, my solution was to park on the street if it was storming on my way home from work. The street was flat no e brake needed.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:09 AM   #8
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Thanks for the comments and suggestions everyone. To follow up a bit on a few points:

1. I am pretty sure it is cable actuated. I have never had a vehicle with an electric parking brake but I would assume that means a button, whereas my truck has a pedal on the left that ratchets down.
2. When this first happened, my first thought was that the cable was frozen, but the fact that putting a torch on the rotor this last time seemed to help fix the problem, I am more inclined to think that the problem is that the shoes are sticking to the inside of the drum.
3. I am going to try to not engage the brake on nights when the temps are going to drop, but sometimes old habits die hard...
4. I am 100% sure that it was the passenger side rear this last time, and about 50% sure that it was the same wheel the first time it happened, although, it could have been both wheels the first time (It was really, really stuck that time). The tail pipe is on the passenger side, and I have noticed that when it is sitting on the driveway, warming up, the plume of vapour coming from the tail pipe more or less envelops that whole rear corner of the truck. The body panels around the tail pipe normally have a good build up of frost and when I was the truck in the winter, there is always more ice on that rear quarter than the driver's side. I kinda have a feeling that this is a contributing factor as well. Perhaps when it is super cold out, I need to not be quite as lazy with the remote start, and get outside, brush the snow off and release the brake before I let it warm up.

Thanks again for all the input. Looks like we are in for a few more cold blasts over the next 10 days so I will update this thread with any new information that might be helpful to anyone else that has this issue.
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