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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My son called me the other night. He was at his snowboarding class (yes, college is a little different than when I went) on Sunday night, and told me that the Tauruses left rear wheel was locked up as he was attempting to leave the parking lot.

He claims he had not set the parking brake, but when the problem happened, he depressed it then released it in an effort to free the wheel. The problem still didn't go away. He had shut the car off to call me, and when he restarted it, everything was fine. Oddly enough, it happened two days later, and he restarted the car and things were good again. Not sure if it matters, but both times it happened it was probably about 20 degrees out.

Is there some form of electronic connection on the emergency brake that would reset when you restart the car? I thought it was strictly a manual thing (depress the pedal and the brake sets, pull the lever and it releases).

Any thoughts?
 

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Nothing electronic. Sounds like you may want to take the wheel and drum and see how things look inside...could be time for a drum brake job...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Bull Geek - I had the drums re-done about 5,000 miles ago. Of course, now I wonder if they were done right! WHY they don't put 4-wheel disc on the sedans I don't know. I'll definitely have someone give it a once over when he's home next month.

Sheila -- hopefully this one was weather related as well. It's been cold (single-digit lows) over in the NC mountains where he is going to school, so maybe that was it. Strange question, but does that only happen to drum brakes in cold weather? I've had disc brakes in some pretty cold weather, but never had that happen.
 

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My son called me the other night. He was at his snowboarding class (yes, college is a little different than when I went) on Sunday night, and told me that the Tauruses left rear wheel was locked up as he was attempting to leave the parking lot.

He claims he had not set the parking brake, but when the problem happened, he depressed it then released it in an effort to free the wheel. The problem still didn't go away. He had shut the car off to call me, and when he restarted it, everything was fine. Oddly enough, it happened two days later, and he restarted the car and things were good again. Not sure if it matters, but both times it happened it was probably about 20 degrees out.

Is there some form of electronic connection on the emergency brake that would reset when you restart the car? I thought it was strictly a manual thing (depress the pedal and the brake sets, pull the lever and it releases).

Any thoughts?
I would look at the emergency brake cable to that wheel.

Emergency brake cables tends to rust/corrode over time.

It could have just gotten moisture in it and froze and later melted and freed itself.

If it is not corroded/rusted then at the least grease the cable to keep moisture from freezing it up.
 

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Could be a one time weather related fluke. I had a P brake cable freeze up (not on a Taurus, but another rear drum Ford) on one wheel years ago after a winter rain storm followed by a rapid 40 deg temp drop = everything was ice. I just took another car and let that one sit a few days. Worked fine after a thaw, and never gave problems after that one time for the 2 or 3 years until I junked that car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The good news is that the weather is warming up a bit over in the mountains, so hopefully this will be the last time this problem occurs. Either way, I'll be sure to check/grease the cable when I see the car next month.
 

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Were are you in NC?
 

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The only problem I've ever had with my parking brake (and this is not really a "problem" or a problem with the brake) is that when it's below freezing outside, the red parking break light will randomly come on while I'm driving and usually goes away after the vehicle warms up. I've seen this happen on other Fords as well, like Crown Vics. But it gets far below zero F often here in the winter time and I've never had any wheels lock up or anything like that.
 

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^ Taurus2001, check brake fluid level in the master cylinder. Also, spray the plunger switch on the arm above the e-brake pedal with wd-40 and engage and disengage e-brake a few times.
 

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That used to happen to my '98 if it sat for a few days, the drum would seize up. To get the wheel to un-seize, I would have to pull on the ebrake release lever, while driving in reverse, it would pop right back to normal.
 

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I'll give it a go...

Your original post seemed to say the rear wheel was locked up before your son tried setting and releasing the parking brake. And that the car was parked w/out the parking brake set. You also said you had a rear brake job done prior to the current lovely weather.

My guess: the mechanic forgot to replace the rubber plug(s) on the back plate of the wheel(s). These are the access slots to the Brake adjuster "star-wheel" in the back plate. If I remember correctly, there may even be two of them per wheel, but I have only worked w/ the one that accesses the adjuster. Water has splashed up inside of the drum and is now freezing and locking up the wheel with the cold temps.

I'll even go further out on this limb... The drum is releasing after parking brake use because the parking brake applies pressure - pads against drum. Pressure results in heat; an increase in the temperature. Not much, but enough to get the pads unfrozen from the drum.

He will probably need to pull the tire to check it. The slot w/ the plug missing, or the plug itself, will be near where the brake line enters the plate. If it turns out to be a missing plug he can get a new plug almost anywhere that brakes are done. He should snag two plugs for a dollar or so and then have a look. That way if one or both are missing he need only raise the car once (per side) and pop 'em in. He should also check around to find the other slot and make sure it's covered too - darned if I remember where it is.

After that normal braking should heat up and dry out the drum soon enough.

As always - safety first...MAKE SURE he supports the car properly once it is jacked up before he starts sticking his noggin into wheel wells.

If he is not the type to do such things, a mechanic would probably charge next to nothing to throw the car onto a lift and put in a plug or plugs if missing. $10-$15 or so at most?
 

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Another possibility is a wheel cylinder is beginning to seize up keeping the shoes in contact with the drum. Wheel cylinder need not be leaking to do this.
 

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I've had my brakes freeze up in cold weather, now I make sure that I release the brakes just before I put it in park, just a slight roll and all is good. Lee
 
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