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Discussion Starter #1
I’m having an issue with one rear brake on the drivers side that just started, seems to occur if the car is left alone for more than 24 hours without driving it. I will start the car and as it moves forward a few feet suddenly the one rear wheel locks up. Oddly if I put the car in reverse and step on the brakes it unlocks and I can back up fine, going forward it may do it again, and using this forward/reverse rocking motion it usually gives and after I leave the driveway no problem. I’m afraid of it suddenly seizing up on the highway which could be catastrophic. After it rains it seems worse and yes there is a good deal of rust beneath the vehicle. My mechanic seems to think it’s the brake shoe separating, but it does’t make sense, he wants to replace both rear brakes but that’s more money than I can spend now given the current economic situation especially since I’m not sure that’s the issue. The first time it happened I had it towed and the operator released the lock up with the emergency brake and said it was probably just due to rust. I’ve never used the emergency brake for any reason and I will be the first to admit I’m not savvy at all when it comes to cars. I have tried to research it some and have read that sometimes this kind of thing happens from non use of the emergency brake, that it can seize up? From only one side though? I appreciate any kind of help or suggestions from anyone who may know what’s going on before I pay for an expensive and possibly unnecessary repair?
 

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Welcome to Allpar. Drum brakes? Shoe return spring rust-out and breakage is common after a few years. The return spring may not even be found if it got chewed up and spit out. The wheel cylinders can also stick intermittently on a 17 year-old car.
Best to pull both rear brake drums for a comprehensive brake inspection. When was the last time the rear brakes were looked at?
You want safe brakes. Think about it, safe brakes are infinitely more affordable than the worst-case alternatives.
 

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The '03 Limited should have 4-wheel disc brakes, which uses a smaller set of brake shoes inside the disc on the rear for the parking brake.

Check out this thread from PTCL as there is a lever that can cause issues:

Parking Brake Problem / Lesson - PT Cruiser Forum (at http://www.ptcruiserlinks.com/forum/wheels-tires-suspension/66100-parking-brake-problem-lesson.html )

One issue is that you may not be able to see all of the pics, because nobody new can join PTCL.

I have drum brakes on the rear of my PT, but I use the parking brake all the time, just to keep things from locking up from non-use. :)

Troublesome brakes are not really something you can live with, or if you do, you may not live. They really need to be taken care of. ;)
 
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This happened to my 1972 Dodge Dart, which I had bought in 1982 and had not serviced the brakes when I got it at 119K. It started at 144K.
Turns out they were the original brakes. The drums were so worn that with the starwheel adjusted fully inward, the shoes were still captive from the lip worn in the drum.
If you let this continue, it will damage the wheel bearing and its seal(s), as it did mine. Before I diagnosed and caught it, the rear axle bearing and its race were chewed, and it leaked axle grease onto the brake shoes.
I recommend complete replacement of all rear brake hardware, both sides, and adjust the parking brake so that it holds and releases correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all that have replied, I had left the car with the mechanic when this first started and he checked it out, now I can’t say he took the brakes apart and examined them, I doubt it, but he drove it around for a few days and had typically happens to us, it never acted up on him, only when I got it back. The car has been out of commission for 2 weeks due to a broken transmission cable which is being replaced this afternoon. He manually adjusted the transmission line so we could move the car over to his garage to work on and funny enough the lockup didn’t occur until we got in his driveway, but we had adjusted the emergency/parking brake several times prior to moving it so we could get the center console off. Because we had the transmission fixed in drive I could not reverse to rock it free as I had in the past, but I engaged the parking brake manually then disengaged it, as soon as I did this the lock released, every time as it locked twice more following the first time. We’re going to take the wheel off and try to look at the drum etc and see if the lever mentioned above could be an issue as well. It only happens when the car moves forward and to me (again not a mechanic) it seems somehow connected to the emergency brake like the tow truck driver mentioned as it unlocked each time.
 
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