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Unread 02-17-2011, 05:44 PM   #1
T-J
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 4
98 ZJ Possible Brake Problem

98 ZJ 4.0L I6. Laredo. Runs and drives just fine.

I've been getting ****ty mileage. About 13mpg around town. A few times I've noticed a burnt rubber smell when getting out. It seemed to come from the rear. Today I poked my fingers through the spaces in the wheels and touched the rear brakes. They were hot enough that I reflexively pulled my hand back, but not so hot that I was burned. Same on both sides. I'm thinking the might be dragging lightly.

Parking brake lever does nothing. I can hear the cables moving under the Jeep when I cycle the lever, but no brake engages. They could be out of adjustment. The hardware could be missing. I haven't owned it long, and haven't looked into it yet.

Is break dragging common on these?
Anything I need to know before pulling the wheels for brake inspection?

Thanks.

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Unread 02-17-2011, 06:54 PM   #2
TallyZJ
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1996 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Posts: 1,140
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-J View Post
98 ZJ 4.0L I6. Laredo. Runs and drives just fine.

I've been getting ****ty mileage. About 13mpg around town. A few times I've noticed a burnt rubber smell when getting out. It seemed to come from the rear. Today I poked my fingers through the spaces in the wheels and touched the rear brakes. They were hot enough that I reflexively pulled my hand back, but not so hot that I was burned. Same on both sides. I'm thinking the might be dragging lightly.

Parking brake lever does nothing. I can hear the cables moving under the Jeep when I cycle the lever, but no brake engages. They could be out of adjustment. The hardware could be missing. I haven't owned it long, and haven't looked into it yet.

Is break dragging common on these?
Anything I need to know before pulling the wheels for brake inspection?

Thanks.
The brake rotors themselves will get very very hot under use. However, the wheel itself will warm up but, if a caliper is dragging, the wheel may get so hot you cannot handle it. This is due to the heat from the caliper dispersing through the caliper, to the wheel hub and eventually into the wheel. Too much heat cannot dissipate quickly.

If you smell brakes, see smoke, have very hot wheels then you likely havge a caliper problem.

The rear parking brake system is an internal brake shoe with rotors that act as drums. the rotor hat has a brake drum machined into its inside. Parking brake shoes can become dislodged or stuck or improperly installed and may be dragging.

get it on jack stands, remove the rear wheels when it is cooled down and see if you can spin the rotors. If one or both are too tight to spin then you have a problem. If you can proceed then remove the calipers and pads and then remove the rotors.

If all of this sounds like Chinese to you then take it to a shop. What I have described is basic brake maintenance so if its not familiar to you then you need a good manual or you need a professional to check it out.
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Unread 02-17-2011, 07:08 PM   #3
Mike97ZJ
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1997 ZJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Newport, RI
Posts: 1,228
I had a dragging rear brake caliper last winter. My mpg was way down, I was getting like 12, and it felt sluggish while driving, and it wouldn't coast, it would want to slow right down.

I was getting kind of a burning smell from the rear, so I suspected a caliper, and since there was snow on the ground, I just threw some at the wheel...it hissed and melted instantly, so I could tell there was some real heat in there.

As far as the parking brake, mine has worked in years. Even after replacing the shoes and hardware, it still doesn't work. I think very few ZJ's actually have working parking brakes at this point.

I've since learned what the problem is after the second time around. There's an actuator arm that fits through the backing plate and is connected to the cables. The other end of that arm contacts the shoes and expands them. What happens is the two pieces of that actuator rust together, and then won't operate the brake as it should. I sanded mine down real good and lubed them up, but after a week or so it stopped working again. Only way is to buy new actuators, then lube them up real good when installing.

The only convenient way to work on the parking brake is with the axle shafts out, and I really dont feel like doing that again, so I live w/out the parking brake.
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Unread 02-18-2011, 05:47 AM   #4
T-J
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Location: Milwaukee, WI
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Tally,
Everything you typed makes perfect sense. Tear down for inspection is what I was planning. I posted in case this was common and there was some turn key solution.

IE: "They all do this when the ABS wheel sensor is dying."
Or, "If it's not getting REAL hot like a dragging brake, then your axle bearings are likely dead."

That's the power of forums. Shared experience can make things real efficient.

Mike,
Thanks for the head's up on the actuator rusting.
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Unread 07-01-2014, 07:07 AM   #5
JeepForever
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Chicago area
Posts: 124
Hi All: I'm reviving an old post because I have the same issue with my rear parking brakes (and the rear brakes in general) on my 1995 ZJ. I replaced the shoes about 5 years ago when a wheel cylinder was shot. Yesterday I replaced the shoes again just because it's been a while and I was surprised that they didn't appear worn at all. Also, the parking brake does little to slow down the vehicle. I cleaned and lubricated the parking brake adjusters and parts but it didn't seem to make a difference. It appears that my rear brakes aren't doing anything. Any ideas?
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