Ford F-150 F-250: Why is My Emergency Brake Stuck?

You pressed your Ford F-150 or Super Duty's emergency brake pedal and it got stuck? Don't panic, here is the solution to your problem.

By Tom Cavanagh - September 3, 2014

This article applies to Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and the F-250 Super Duty (2005-2014).

For starters, "emergency" brake is something of a misnomer. The first emergency brakes were cable contraptions attached to the rear brake shoes used to help slow down runaway trucks up through the 1920's. Henry Ford improved on the system in 1928. With the advent of hydraulic brakes in the 1930's, the emergency brake began to find its niche as a "parking" brake.

Whatever we call it, an inability to release this brake can cause problems for you. Your Ford F-series may pull to one side while driving. You also run the risk of burning out the pads on the brake. The problem usually lies with the cable linkage to the brake, or the brake assembly itself. If you want to fix it yourself, here are three steps to explore.


  • Jack
  • Jack Stands
  • Tire iron
  • Set of wrenches and sockets
  • Brake Lubricant

Step 1 - Remove the parts

Even if your Ford F-Series features rear disc brakes, the actual emergency brake is on the brake shoe and drum type.

  • Remove the rear brakes, rotors, and e-brake shoes. You may discover that some of the moving parts have seized with rust.
  • Clean the rust off.
  • Lubricate all shoe sliding surfaces of the backing plate, the threads, and head of the adjuster with a high temperature brake grease.

Many times moisture, road debris, and salt spray work their into the moving parts of the e-brake, causing rust which can fuse the parts together.

Step 2 - Check the lever

While you have everything disassembled

  • Check and clean the parking lever.
  • Replace it if it's beyond repair.

Step 3 - Check the connecting cables

If everything in Steps 1 and 2 checks out and your brake is still stuck, inspect the cable connections in the actuator in the cab. Repair or replace any damaged elements.

  • Inspect the cables for any breaks.
  • Make sure they are securely connected.
  • Inspect the locking ratchet mechanism on the brake pedal or lever.

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