Went to start the car today but noticed straight away that the handbrake leaver hasn't got any tension on it at all - can pull it up and down with one finger. Thought i might have a snapped cable and was going to take it to the local garage... When I went to pull away I heard a stretching sound as if the handbrake was still on? Tried a few times to slowly pull away but it sounds like the handbrake cable is still engaged and would snap if I try to pull away.

Would anyone have any idea what's happened and what the solution would be?

It's a 2009 Renault Mégane expression vvt 1.6

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Dec 1, 2019 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


If I should guess, I'd say your handbrake cables are both frozen.

There are two steel cables running from the hand brake lever to each rear brake, acting on a small lever there. And there is a small spring on each brake pulling back the cable.

The tension you feel comes from that spring, and from the inner tension of the brake.

  • If the cable or the lever on one wheel gets seized all of a sudden, then that leaves you with an activated brake on that side, and a very low tension (less than 50%!) from the other side.
  • If it seized slowly over time, you'll have the same effect on the lever, but the brake on that side does not work - even if you pull hard. The very low tension
  • If a cable snapped, it would be the same as #2.
  • If both sides get seized all of a sudden, there will be absolutely no tension on the hand brake lever. And if both brakes are active, and it's below freezing, chances are high that the cables are just frozen in their cladding.
  • Thank you very much for the detailed reply. It has been below freezing for a couple of days and have no tension in the handbrake lever at all. Are seized handbrake cables a big job to fix?
    – Kris
    Dec 1, 2019 at 19:09
  • If the cables are frozen, I'd suggest to replace them. There's already water inside the cladding, which can cause corrosion and so further problems. I don't know your car, but in general, it should be no big deal.
    – sweber
    Dec 1, 2019 at 20:29

Sounds like the cable is seized. If you can't move the car, you'll have to have it towed to a shop.

  • Would that explain the play in the handbrake leaver? It doesn't have any tension in it at all?
    – Kris
    Dec 1, 2019 at 17:55

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