atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#117: The joys of driving a 21 year old car

Parking brake jammed on the '85 Fiero today. Right rear brakes nearly caught fire. They were smoking and trying hard to burn, so I tossed a half-liter of bottled water onto the rear rotor. It boiled off but at least it cooled everything down enough that it stopped smoking.

I was trying to get some gasoline and noticed that the car wouldn't stop unless I pressed the pedal all the way down. "No problem," thought I; "I'll just give the parking brake lever a yank and that'll adjust the rear calipers."

Well, it didn't. All it did do was to jam the goddamned parking brake cable. In the process of trying to free it, I managed to jam it even worse.

Still, it drove fine, and it was obvious that the brakes weren't dragging--the parking brake has never worked well on that car, despite new cables, pads, and calipers--so I drove home. And I got into the next town over when the car started to pull to the right, badly, a sure sign of a dragging caliper.

I pulled off into the train station parking lot to double-check, and a cloud of smoke drifted past--so I bolted out of the car, got the trunk open, and grabbed the fire extinguisher...but it wasn't on fire, so I sacrificed my bottle of water instead. (Bottled water is cheaper than a fire extinguisher.) This kind of situation has burned more Fieros than any of the problems which sparked recalls, I might add.

I called a tow truck, but the dumbass told me it was going to be an hour, so I cancelled that and had my parents bring my tools and a jack. By the time they got there, I had the car up on its jack and the wheel off. I just needed the tools to loosen the parking brake cable, and then I was able to release the stuck caliper. The drive home went fine.

Now I get to go work on my Fiero. The pads, obviously, are toast. The right rear caliper may be screwed up and sticking "on", or it may just be the cables. The cables probably need to be replaced, again. (I replaced them after I bought the car, in 2002.)

All told, it is not what I wanted to do with my weekend. Fixing the red Escort is beginning to look like more and more of a priority....

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