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Thread: Vectra C Parking brake imbalance

  1. #1
    Regular Member Castiel's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : GTS

    Engine : 1.8

    Year : 2004

    Default Vectra C Parking brake imbalance

    Apologies in advance for the long post ( i suffer from verbal diarrhea )

    Car is 2004 Vectra C.

    Done my NCT (Irish version of MOT) today. There is a great situation here where they cannot do the testing because of a nationwide fault with their lifts, but they still bring people in, test the car, then tell you to come back and sit the "second part" of the test once all the lifts have been inspected. Priceless

    Anywho. She passed on everything they could test for. IOW nothing that required undercarriage checking. So she passed on lights, emissions, brakes, side slip, etc. However after been told about the lifts not working and having to come back i was told she needed to be re-tested (separate to the lift part of the test at a later date to be confirmed) because she failed on the parking brake. The tester's exact words, verbatim:

    "The driver's side parking brake is not engaging at all". I looked at the result sheet i was presented with and it shows nearside - 2.110kn, offside - 0.280kn, imbalance - 87%.

    About six months back i replaced both rear calipers, brake discs, and all brake pads as the nearside caliper was stuck so i took this opportunity to replace the entire rear braking system. So i thought i'd forgotten to reattach the handbrake cable. It wouldn't be like me to forget it, but mistakes do happen.

    Got home, jacked the car, took off the wheel and check the parking brake cable to make sure i did not forget to reattach the parking brake cable to the caliper. However it was already attached.

    Next step was to check if the cable was broken. The car is jacked and in reverse with the handbrake off so i am able to move the parking brake lever on the caliper by hand. I apply the handbrake and the lever moves into the "on/locked" position. I cannot budge it, even with some leverage (pry bar). The brake pads are holding the disc and i cannot move the disc by hand or again with a large driver as leverage. I replace the wheel and spin in then apply the brake and the wheel stops. I give the handbrake another click and try to move the wheel, and nothing, not a budge.

    Thinking this is not the same as the actual test and happy the cable is not broken or stuck i drop the jack and put the car back on all fours.

    I start the car and place it into reverse (i'm against a wall hence the reverse to start with). The car moves back and i apply the handbrake. The car stops. I give the handbrake another pull and it comes up another click (about 4 in total now) and i slowly release the clutch. The handbrake holds and the car does NOT move. I give the engine a decent rev to try and make it move while still having the handbrake applied, and nothing. About 2,200 - 2,300 rpm and the car is no moving.

    I then do the same test only in first gear and again the handbrake holds and the car won't budge. The nose lifts but she stays put.

    According to the numbers on the fail sheet, and the guy at the centre the parking brake is not engaging much or at all. However at home and by my own testing (as **** poor as it is) she is not only working but as it should.

    What am i missing? The reading for the offside is 10% of the nearside. The imbalance is 87%. I thought that it could be the nearside be doing all the work but the mechanical lever, cable, and pads are doing what they are supposed to do on the offside? I then thought the cable is stretched, but again this would explain a slight or small fail in readings, but not the "utter" fail and large imbalance i'm being told is present.

    As the foot brake and parking brake are completely separate am i better off just buying a new cable and replacing it. Can get one in my local motor factors for 40 quid or is there something else i should check? Its not the cost of the part or the fitting as i'll do it myself, its being told something is wrong when i cannot find fault with it.

  2. #2
    Regular Member northpole's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : SXI limited edition

    Engine : 2.0 16v DTI

    Year : 2003

    Mileage : 140000

    Default

    It could be as simple that during the test one caliper was being sticky and not working as it should... you took it home drove it used the brakes numerous of times so it could be as simple as that and that it now works fine... basically it could be that you need fresh brake fluid because yours is dirty... and that could have been the cause of that one simple moment just there and than during the test....


    I would hand them the car and tell them to refresh the brake fluid... that simple.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Castiel's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : GTS

    Engine : 1.8

    Year : 2004

    Default

    I done a full brake fluid change when i done the calipers, discs and pads. All new fluid.

    Was just curious if anyone had this. I seen some other threads with the exact same problems however all the threads i found had no solution to them. By that i mean resolutions were posted, but the OP never came back with a "That worked" or "nope, still broken".

    Think a new cable is in order regardless. Its not a big job and i see no reason why it shouldn't be done. The car is 16 years old.

  4. #4
    Regular Member northpole's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : SXI limited edition

    Engine : 2.0 16v DTI

    Year : 2003

    Mileage : 140000

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    Yes just change the cable to make sure...

  5. #5
    Regular Member Castiel's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : GTS

    Engine : 1.8

    Year : 2004

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    Update.

    Changed the cable which was a fairly painless process. Only rung off two of the heat shield nuts, but replaced them with self tappers. The handbrake seemed, by feel, to be "loser". However it is holding on hills with the car out of gear something it didn't do all that well previously. Also the creaking as the brakes tried to hold the car, with the old handbrake cable, is gone.

    So while my checks in the first post seemed to suggest the old cable was fine it was obviously not. Have her booked back in for the re-test and am fairly confident it'll fly it.

    On a side note i was searching the forum for a thread on creaking front brake(s) when the pedal is pushed. Each time i press the brake pedal the front right makes a sound like a creaky/rusty spring being stretched. This happens even when the car is not running. It only happens when stationary or at low speeds (under 20mph) either that or i cannot hear it above this speed. Found a thread from 2012 with the exact same problem. The brakes passed the NCT with flying colours but its the noise that bothers me, so i'm off now to strip the front right caliper down and clean the sliding pins and around the piston of the caliper and grease it all up. Seems this is the cause and with new brake pads and discs all round including a brake fluid change its the only thing left to do. Worse case scenarios its a new caliper, but if a clean does it then all the better.

    Thanks for the replies.

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  7. #6
    Midlands - Vxr Owning Dick Dog_Book's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra Estate

    Trim : VXR

    Engine : Z28NEH

    Year : 07

    Default

    Yup that fixed my creaking brakes too.
    Vectra VXR estate 2007 Sapphire Black
    Teapot Tuned 255/300
    Eibachs B8's, fully loaded factory options

    Tech2 & MDI diagnostics + SPS

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  9. #7
    Regular Member Castiel's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : GTS

    Engine : 1.8

    Year : 2004

    Default

    Only got around to going at the brakes yesterday.

    I stripped down the entire caliper unit with the brake hose clamped. I broke the caliper into its two pieces and removed sliding pins, rubbers, etc. Took off the mounting bracket too. Had the piston of the brake pushed out for easier access. I sanded, cleaned and polished all the necessary bits. Took a bit of time but better to be thorough than wipe my a** against it and be left with the noise still there after all that work.

    Done both sides and made sure not to touch the body of the piston as its so smooth i didn't want to risk damaging it in any way. I simply slid back the rubber boot, washed it out with clean brake fluid and an air line, then replaced the rubber boot to its position. After cleaning everything i put proper grease on all the necessary parts and rebuilt both sides.

    End result is the creaking is gone. Yayyyyyyy.

    Funny after doing a few bits and pieces and simple tidy ups the car feels better to drive.

    Thanks everyone for the input.

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  11. #8
    Regular Member Castiel's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : GTS

    Engine : 1.8

    Year : 2004

    Default

    Bit of an update.

    The car went back in for retest and passed, which was job number one. However even though it passed the braking imbalance is still higher than i would like and/or expect. It's down from 87% to 44%. Anything over 50% is a fail. I did notice, before the retest, that the handbrake seemed to get better with usage over the week from doing the work to the test so i was wondering could it be a case of settling in?

    If it something else then i truly am lost. Having replaced everything, front and back, to do with braking over the past number of months there is nothing left to change, fix or "tighten" bar the brake lines however as the brakes passed with flying colours and the parking brake was the only thing flagged its nothing to do with the foot brake. The guy at the centre suggested adjusting the handbrake, but as its an auto adjust that isn't an option.

    One thing i find the handbrake does when engaging it, it seems to "skip". I don't know exactly how to describe it. When you pull a handbrake it clicks as it lifts. Every now and then, and it could happen once only in a days driving or two/three times in a row or once every ten to twelve pulls of the handbrake, but there is a "clunk" from the handbrake lever as though it was missing/skipping a tooth/click. Could the short cable from the lever to the joint under the car be stretched or would it be the mechanism the handbrake lever uses to latch in place as you pull it.

    The handbrake rises higher than it did before the work, but holds better. Well as good as you can expect from a Vectra.

    Lastly while trying to find a solution, and i haven't discounted that i did not "reset" the mechanism properly (but will strip the console and check in the morning), i found a few threads but none with any solutions. I did find this picture and was wondering if someone can explain what the adjustment screws in the pictures adjust/do as the thread seemed to finish with "it did lessen the travel of the handbrake lever" post but whether that translate to better parking balance i don't know.

    Thanks in advance.

    Vectra C Handbrake.jpg

  12. #9
    Regular Member northpole's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra C

    Trim : SXI limited edition

    Engine : 2.0 16v DTI

    Year : 2003

    Mileage : 140000

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    it shortens or lengthens the bit that pulls both the handbrake cables under the car... this in turn either makes the handbrake come up higher or sit lower...
    mine comes up to max 4 clicks after i messed about with both bolts... now i had to much travel on the handbrake lever but i thought the more the spring on the end is compressed the less slack there will be on the cable so the handbrake should have less travel.. the black bit is closer to the back of the bigger bolt on mine and the bolt going through the metal has been turned out a bit further.

  13. #10
    Regular Member skidmark1's Avatar
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    Vehicle : 2.2 Direct

    Trim : SRI

    Engine : YH 2.2 petrol

    Year : 2006

    Mileage : 106000

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    I had a problem with rear brake imbalance, replaced the calipers, disc pads, and hand brake cable and adjusted the screw behind the lever to get three to four clicks, this was ok but six months later the driver side was not releasing correctly and so not adjusting up, after lubricating the cable on that side and checking the operation of the caliper I replaced the return spring on the caliper itself. that made a bit of differance but it was still slow to return so I added the original spring so I had two on one side, this sorted it and has gone through two MOT's now with no problem, HTH

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