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How to Clean & Adjust the Emergency Brake on a PT Cruiser GT

Updated November 22, 2016

The Chrysler PT Cruiser has four-wheel disc brakes. The centre of the rear disc rotors form a brake drum, which houses the emergency or parking brake shoes. The parking brake shoes on the PT Cruiser need occasional adjustment. While you are adjusting the parking brake shoes, you should clean the assembly to ensure good operation, as road dust and grime build up in the parking brake assembly and can cause failure of the system.

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  1. Jack up the rear of the vehicle and support it with jack stands. Remove both rear wheels. Retract the disc brake caliper piston slightly by grasping the caliper on the inboard side and pulling out gently working with the caliper pins. Remove the two caliper guide pin bolts from the brake caliper. Remove the brake caliper by rotating the top part away from the caliper support first and then lifting the bottom part clear.

  2. Hang the caliper from the rear strut using the bungee cord. Remove any clips that are on the wheel studs and discard. Remove the brake rotor from the hub and bearing assembly. Repeat this for the other side. Inspect the brake shoes for wear. If there is less than 2mm of lining from the steel surface of the shoe, replace the shoes and hardware.

  3. Spray the shoes and hardware liberally with the brake cleaning solvent. Wipe the surface of the brake shoes with a shop towel, as well as the springs and hardware. Use the sponge to apply the soapy water to the parking brake shoes, springs and hardware. Scrub with the brush and rinse out with clean water. Wash the inside of the brake drum surface with the soapy water, as well as the contact surface of the disc brake rotor. Rinse and dry carefully. Install the rotor and the brake caliper. Install the rear wheels.

  4. Remove the rubber plugs in the backing plates or the back of the rotor and drum assembly. For the left side or driver's side, insert a medium-sized screwdriver into the opening to engage the toothed wheel that operates the adjusters. Rotate the star wheel downward until a slight drag is noticed while spinning the wheel by hand. Using the screwdriver, turn the wheel upward until no drag is noticed. Do not back off the wheel more than two clicks after no drag is felt.

  5. Insert a medium-sized screwdriver on the right side opening. Rotate the wheel upwards until a drag is felt and then back it off by rotating the wheel downward until you feel no resistance, again not going more than two clicks past this point.

  6. Operate the parking brake lever a few times. With the parking brake lever pulled, see if you can move the rear wheel and tire assembly. You should not be able to if the shoes are working correctly. Release the handle and the wheels should spin freely. If they do not work correctly, readjust the parking brake shoes.

  7. Tip

    Skip the use of the brake cleaner if the brakes do not have heavy build-up of dirt.


    Be certain that you are comfortable working around the vehicle's braking system before attempting this repair.

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Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • 2 jack stands
  • Basic set of hand tools
  • Can of brake cleaning solvent
  • Bucket of soapy water
  • Sponge
  • Scrub brush
  • Paper shop towels
  • Bungee cord

About the Author

Craig Woodman

Craig Woodman began writing professionally in 2007. Woodman's articles have been published in "Professional Distributor" magazine and in various online publications. He has written extensively on automotive issues, business, personal finance and recreational vehicles. Woodman is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in finance through online education.

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