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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I haven’t seen anybody show a way to FIX a stinkin frozen brake cable. The only solution I’ve read is to replace with new cables, and drop the gas tank to install them.
But I love a challenge.
I just finished successfully removing the inner cables from the housings. I burned off the crappy plastic coating from the inner cables (that somehow causes the mysterious seized cable problem), and reinstalled them to FIX my parking brakes. For free.
Lots of photos and detailed steps here...
 

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I love it! What ingenuity.
Is the plastic sheathing that well bonded to the cable that it can’t be sliced and peeled off or would a heat gun do the trick? If it’s PVC, maybe soaking the cable in acetone would soften it up?
 

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Wow, as problematic as this site is... that site is an eyesore.

Wonderful post! I wonder if it will result in sheath wear now that it's a loose metal cable against the sheath flopping and scraping around. I've never had my parking brake freeze but I've also never subjected the car to temps under 40F. Plenty of moisture, but never freezing temps. Sadly we don't have snow here.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I asssume the housing also has a plastic liner. All I can guess is the two plastics degrade somehow, get sticky? Swell? And cause the seizing. My cables starting seizing in the last two months when temps here are 90-100F. I immediately tried squirting lubricants into both ends. Seeing now that the wear surfaces all appear to be plastic, oil and lubes probably just made things worse. I expect my cheap “fix” will work for the next 16 years. If the rough surface of the cable saws into a plastic liner there should be enough clearance that the cables can still move - and not seize like the factory design.
 

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Freezing up at HIGH temperatures? That's a new one to me. I had one snap and one stretch, but never freeze. Never heard of this issue from locals in the Bay Area but hear it's common elsewhere.

Yeah I don't expect any unintended wear to cause any major issues. Just wondering what Toyota's rationale was, I mean I don't think the cable is radically different from the Corolla's right?
 

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I guess since I never experienced it, my brain made the connection between freezing and temperature even though I KNEW it wasn't what freezing meant. TIL!

You're probably right. Maybe two different plastics for the liners, maybe degradation. Would be neat to teflon coat the raw metal cable!
 

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Has anybody tried Dry-Slide lubricant? It’s the stuff used on motorcycle cables. It works great on those cables. It has graphite in it. I need to buy some more and try it. Sounds like it wouldn’t have worked on yours, Paul since yours was pretty seized.
 

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The cable design is similar to many control cables used in various machinery such as marine equipment and motorcycles where either the housing, the cable, or both are plastic coated. The coating is the "lubricant" to keep the cable moving smoothly. In fact, the cables should probably never be lubricated.

They seize for a couple primary reasons. One is deterioration of the plastic, another is corrosion in the actual cable or housing that causes the core or housing reinforcing to expand and bind. Unfortunately rarely does lubrication do anything useful as it doesn't address the root cause. The only real fix is replacing the cable assembly
 

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Oink, oink! Awhile back, I went to try the Dry-slide but it was all dried up so tried silicone spray and it just made it worse. The beauty of the dry- slide is how the solvent carries the graphite throughout the cable and penetrates everything but in the case of motorcycle cables, the cable is not sheathed with plastic, so this might not work. I wouldn’t try any lube if it’s working fine as Beachbum mentioned but I will if it gets any tighter and before it seizes.
 

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On old motorcycle cables, I've used a shop-vac to suck ATF through the entire cable and housing, with a baggie to catch the outflow. I suppose you could rig up a way to use the pressure side of the vac to push lube the other direction, especially if you're using someone else's vacuum.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One year later update - the “repaired” cables are sticking again!#[email protected] My theory is that the cable housings are also lined with plastic. And the raw steel cable is sawing into the plastic lining somehow. Regardless, once again the brake cable handle is very stiff, will hardly grab the brakes, and won’t release after I pull the handle up. I have a pair of new cables to install, so I’ll probably cut the old ones apart to see just what the heck is going on in there. Gotta love designed obsolescence! Spare part profits are holding steady.
 

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At least it gives a person a good enough reason to replace the stupid rubber seals on the gas tank while it's dropped. I have 2 new cables waiting to be installed. Might as well get everything at once.
 

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At least it gives a person a good enough reason to replace the stupid rubber seals on the gas tank while it's dropped. I have 2 new cables waiting to be installed. Might as well get everything at once.
As someone who didn't do this when I replaced a handbrake cable and started getting EVAP codes... drop the $150 on all the seals and hoses and just replace em. Listening to scotched.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I removed my old “fixed” parking brake cables and cut them apart. Surprise, there is NO liner inside the cable housing. The housing is just a steel spiral.

I cut the housing open to look inside and I found lots of crunchy rust. Now it makes sense, when I removed the inner cables a bunch of nasty water and sand was all over the cables. After looking inside the housings, I believe the crunchy stuff was chunks of rust. Part of the cable housing was so full of rust that I couldn’t push the inner cable through on the workbench.

So I think the failures everyone sees is just the buildup of rust inside the cable housings. The chunks of rust get wedged against the inner cable and eventually lock it up. Ideally if we could push some corrosion preventive into the housing, it might stop the rust. But I don’t know how the plastic coating on the inner cable is made. If you squirt some oil in there and it degrades the plastic coating, it could make things worse.
78556
 
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