Today I think I pulled my handbrake maybe a little too hard to stop my self from rolling down a hill. The stick is now loose and it engages only when I pull it to the very top. I can pull it up without any effort until it reaches that engage point.

Anyway, is it dangerous to continue using it this way?

Edit: its a 97 Toyota Levin


You have either stretched the cable(s) or pulled them out of alignment, both of which can usually be solved by re-adjusting them.

The adjuster can be found at the point the cables reach the lever, but depending on the design it may be inside the car (under some trim between the seats) or underneath - Your workshop manual should tell you which it is, and how far to adjust it. Generally you should aim for it to be fully engaged 3-4 clicks before the top of the lever's travel, but that does vary.

One caveat is that if the cable has stretched too far, there will not be enough adjustment left to tighten it, in which case you will need new cables. Replacement is obviously a more complicated job than adjustment, but usually still within the scope of a fairly competant DIY mechanic.

The danger of driving a car with a non-functional handbrake is that you no longer have an emergency brake in the event of a service brake failure. Additionally, you won't be able to park on a slope! (unless it is a manual car and you park it in gear)

  • I would get it to a garage sooner rather than later. Until then, when you do park, on the flat of course, I would advise turning the wheel towards the kerb and placing small stones in front of and behind a wheel as chocks. – Rory Alsop Oct 11 '11 at 16:54
  • Any idea as to how much the adjusting or replacing would cost?. – silent Oct 12 '11 at 1:57
  • That depends entirely where you are and what sort of garage you go to. I would imagine a small garage would charge you 30 minutes to an hour's labour for the adjustment, and a couple of hours per cable for replacement. – Nick C Oct 12 '11 at 8:33
  • I just bought a cable for my Toyota Land Cruiser at the dealer for about 110$ US. I need to replace my rear brake, so it will be done at the same time, should be an half hour job. – Gabriel Mongeon Oct 13 '11 at 14:46

I'm inclined to believe that you probably broke the cable on one side and that you're looking at a cable replacement.

  • how much would a cable replacement cost do you know? – silent Oct 12 '11 at 1:44
  • I don't know anything about the Levin. I believe it runs around $500 US in my MR2 though. Cable is just under $300 and can take 2.5 hours labor. – Brian Knoblauch Oct 12 '11 at 11:45

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