Frozen E-Brake
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Thread: Frozen E-Brake

  1. #1

    Default Frozen E-Brake

    Hey Guys-

    I went out to my car this morning like I always do to go to work and had some trouble. It was pretty cold here in Boston last night (~20F) and I left my car in neutral with the brake on (as I always do). I have an 03 GTI 1.8T, manual (obviously).

    This morning I got in and put the ebrake down and started driving like normal. I realized my car was struggling a bit so I figured my ebrake was on. I stopped the car, and lifted the handle up to check if there was any resistance, and sure enough nothing. The handle went all the way up with absolutely no resistance whatsoever.

    I ended up taking my roommates car to work, but I was hoping you guys would be able to help me. How do I get this e-brake unfrozen? I left my car running for a while (~45 minutes) and nothing changed, the handle still freely moves up and down.

    Anyone got any ideas?

    -Brando

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  3. #2
    GTI Master Jsilva970's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by mortgeek View Post
    Hey Guys-

    I went out to my car this morning like I always do to go to work and had some trouble. It was pretty cold here in Boston last night (~20F) and I left my car in neutral with the brake on (as I always do). I have an 03 GTI 1.8T, manual (obviously).

    This morning I got in and put the ebrake down and started driving like normal. I realized my car was struggling a bit so I figured my ebrake was on. I stopped the car, and lifted the handle up to check if there was any resistance, and sure enough nothing. The handle went all the way up with absolutely no resistance whatsoever.

    I ended up taking my roommates car to work, but I was hoping you guys would be able to help me. How do I get this e-brake unfrozen? I left my car running for a while (~45 minutes) and nothing changed, the handle still freely moves up and down.

    Anyone got any ideas?

    -Brando
    seiezed calipers. could be a problem
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by Jsilva970 View Post
    seiezed calipers. could be a problem
    I agree they they are seized in the sense that the brake won't release, but I think the problem has way more to do with a frozen e-brake cable than the calipers actually being seized.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by mortgeek View Post
    I agree they they are seized in the sense that the brake won't release, but I think the problem has way more to do with a frozen e-brake cable than the calipers actually being seized.
    jack your car up and try to spin the wheel by hand. sometimes it breaks it free
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    yeah. kinda annoying sig
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Good idea, I'll do it tonight when I'm home from work.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    hey when that has happend to me. all i do i back up. the way the brakes lock it is like it is going forward. so if you go back wards it releases the brakes. also what you can do is take a metal hammer and hit the caliper or drum. do not beat the hell out of it but kind of hard. watch out for the bleader valve and all the brake lines. this is what is taught when you go to school for automobiles. when backing up make sure that you do not have anything behind you and that it is safe that give it a little gas. let me know how that works out.
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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Before you go pounding on the caliper try checking the black cables that run close the the wheel well on either side of your ride. They droop a bit and a clearly visable on any MkIV. If there is a bulge in the line ANYWHERE it is crimped and needs to be replaced. It's not a hard job, totally DIY and the lines are $15 from a VW dealer. If there is no bulge it may be a seized caliper piston like the lovely gentlemen on this forum suggest.
    They so smart all the time!
    Also, try checking the cables where they attach to the handle. Sometimes they pop out of the holder but your e-brake would be stuck off instead of on.

    Good luck!
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  9. #8

    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Thanks for the replies everybody. I believe I fixed the problem.

    As a suggestion per my mechanic, I drove my car in reverse for a short burst and slammed on the brakes. This released the brake and allowed me to drive normally.

    My e brake handle still had no resistance, so I checked where the cables connect to the handle, and sure enough, they were disconnected. I reconnected, tightened, and adjusted the e brake and it is working perfectly now.

    I believe what happened was, the brake lines froze because of the weather which locked the brakes up. When I put the handle down, the lines stayed where they were while the handle moved, thus the cables disconnected themselves from the handle. When I drove in reverse and hit the brakes, the cables popped back into place (because the ice cracked/moved) and thus fixed that problem. All that was left to do was reconnect the cables.

    I appreciate the help everyone, hopefully I can avoid this for the rest of the winter by avoiding the e brake in really cold weather, and then when its warm enough in the spring, I can replace the lines.

    -Brando

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    If you have considerable mileage (50k plus) on the car, I highly suggest flushing your brake fluid and getting all new fluid in the lines. Chances are your's is cooked and that's messing with it's freezing/boiling point temps.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by SiMuL View Post
    If you have considerable mileage (50k plus) on the car, I highly suggest flushing your brake fluid and getting all new fluid in the lines. Chances are your's is cooked and that's messing with it's freezing/boiling point temps.
    I was under the impression that e-brake's are mechanical linkages that are connected directly to the calipers. I don't think the brake fluid will effect the e-brake assembly.

    Also, I replaced my brake fluid about 10,000 miles ago, so I'm 99.99% positive that is not the problem.

    Thanks for the suggestion though.

  12. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mortgeek View Post
    I was under the impression that e-brake's are mechanical linkages that are connected directly to the calipers. I don't think the brake fluid will effect the e-brake assembly.

    Also, I replaced my brake fluid about 10,000 miles ago, so I'm 99.99% positive that is not the problem.

    Thanks for the suggestion though.
    The cable worked itself loose on my 02. Off the handle of course. Rather stupid, never replaced my cable and after fixing it never had a problem again
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thalo View Post
    Can't get your loose stick into top gear, eh?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by mortgeek View Post
    I was under the impression that e-brake's are mechanical linkages that are connected directly to the calipers. I don't think the brake fluid will effect the e-brake assembly.

    Also, I replaced my brake fluid about 10,000 miles ago, so I'm 99.99% positive that is not the problem.

    Thanks for the suggestion though.
    Yea, you could be right. I don't really know how the e-brake system works on our cars. If you just replaced it, then that's definitely not the issue!

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    so i had the same issue on my 2000 vr6 in minnesota, but i think i broke something. i just made it release, i didn't eff with the calipers or anything. now when i pull on my ebrake there is no resistance and my car just rolls away. what did i break?

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DEANVR6 View Post
    so i had the same issue on my 2000 vr6 in minnesota, but i think i broke something. i just made it release, i didn't eff with the calipers or anything. now when i pull on my ebrake there is no resistance and my car just rolls away. what did i break?
    Pull the console apart and see if the cable is still attached to the handle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thalo View Post
    Can't get your loose stick into top gear, eh?

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Mine literally just did the same thing 5 mind ago... I held the button in and yanked it up and down till the ice broke off
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  17. #16

    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by boostedJTi View Post
    Pull the console apart and see if the cable is still attached to the handle.
    This.

    I doubt you broke the cable, check and make sure its still attached to the handle. If theres no resistance at all, I'm almost certain thats what happened.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Frozen E-Brake

    Quote Originally Posted by mortgeek View Post
    This.

    I doubt you broke the cable, check and make sure its still attached to the handle. If theres no resistance at all, I'm almost certain thats what happened.
    where do i start in pulling apart the console? i've done the doors but never the console

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DEANVR6 View Post
    where do i start in pulling apart the console? i've done the doors but never the console
    Start with the back of the console, work your way forward. Mini ashtray in the backseat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thalo View Post
    Can't get your loose stick into top gear, eh?

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