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Discussion Starter #1
I've previously posted this problem and followed through on the suggestions. But to no avail.

When I bought the van the parking brake didn't work as the cables were seized. And the ratchet on the pedal assembly was damaged. I replaced the pedal assembly with a used one from a low mileage wreck, and I had a shop replace all the cables with new, plus some new upgraded cable guides. I can tell that the brake shoes (drum) are making contact (only 20% wear), but not enough to hold the van on any kind of incline or when in gear.

During the recent winter tire changeover I asked the shop (not a Chrysler dealer) to pull the rear drums to make sure that the rear assembly wasn't installed backwards, or upside down. Still no satisfaction.

Anyone have any helpful advice to offer before I bite the bullet and go to an actual Chrysler dealership - and get a part-time job to pay for the visit?
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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Did the shop attempt to adjust the brakes? There is a "star" adjuster that is used to help adjust the brakes by tightening or loosening the cable. In theory they are suppose to self adjust - usually when backing up and when the brakes are applied to stop it should "click" (though you won't hear this).

Back when I had my Acclaim I thought the brakes needed replacement. Shop simply adjusted the rear brakes (drum) and I noticed an immediate increase in braking ability.
 

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The levers on the backside of the shoes also need to be free to move. These are best disassembled, cleaned and lubed during a brake job. There is a pin and E-clip retaining them.
The only regular brake and parking brake adjustment is at the rear shoes. Adjust the star-wheel up until the shoes just make contact with the drum. Hit the regular brake pedal to center the shoes and then recheck the shoe adjustment.
 

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Doug D said:
Did the shop attempt to adjust the brakes? There is a "star" adjuster that is used to help adjust the brakes by tightening or loosening the cable. In theory they are suppose to self adjust - usually when backing up and when the brakes are applied to stop it should "click" (though you won't hear this).
The rear brakes in this generation minivan are adjusted by using the the parking brake. Stopping in reverse has no effect on the adjustment.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys. According to the two local shops that I've been to the brakes are all properly assembled, adjusted, and operating. According to my Haynes the parking brake auto-adjusts through the ratchet mechanism of the parking brake assembly. I'm guessing that if the end of the brake shoes that is controlled by the parking brake cables is touching the drum, and the brakes don't hold, then it may be that the other end of the brake shoes - the pivot end - is not close enough to the drum and therefore not enought surface area of the shoes is in contact with the drums. Wish I could easily get in there myself. I'm not a mechanic but I can usually work out how something works (or doesn't) by observing it for a couple of minutes.

And people ask me why I use my 75 Pontiac as a daily driver! :)
 

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When I first got my 96 mini, I had a similar problem. The problem went away when I did a complete rear brake job including cleaning and lubing the star wheels and threads with graphite, and spinning them up and down the threads to insure they were free of any binding or roughness.

As mentioned, the E-brake self adjusts by operating the E-Brake pedal a few times (push, release, push, release, push....). Eventually the the E-brake pedal will only have a couple of inches of downward play before the rear brakes lock solid to the drums when the pedal is depressed.
 
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