DODGE CARAVAN PARKING BRAKE PEDAL ASSEMBLY


I presume you have a service manual, though I may include brief pointers from it to make this advice more cohesive.

GEOMETRY
The 1994 Dodge Caravan has an assembly carrying the parking brake pedal, its hold-down ratchet, release mechanism, and brake-on switch.

A quadrant has triangular notches in an arc, after an initial smooth portion. The notches appear to be flat-sided and symmetrical. (Or teeth between the notches if you want to look at it that way.)

A pivoting lever sits in one of the notches, lifted out by another lever that contacts its opposite arm and pushes it up when the release rod is pulled.

I couldn’t see the lever-notch interface well enough to evaluate wear, especially on the lever part, until I removed the assembly.

In a few notches, pulling on the pedal would pop the latch.

Once I removed the assembly, I could see substantial wear on the centre of the lever such that the worn area had a lesser slope than original so wouldn’t retain as strongly and might not sit as deeply in the notches. Seemingly there was enough slope to either push the shaft's apart or push lever back against its spring.

I ground it steeper using a small diameter medium-to-coarse small cylindrical stone in a drill. (I held the lever away from the quadrant and to a lateral part of the main frame of the assembly with "Vice-Grip" pliers.) Hand filing would be slooow but might be useful to flatten the ground surface.

The lever's shaft is not intended to be replaceable - ends are peened over to retain it in the assembly's structure.

And I tried to tighten the spring one turn to better keep the lever in the notches. I was able to drill a hole in the main panel of the bracket assembly just beyond the stiffening depression. It is necessary to carefully understand where the end of the spring will rest so that it stays in position. You may need to use needle-nose pliers to tilt the end of the spring to get it in the hole.
On the quadrant I saw one tooth chipped, the end notch with substantial wear, the rest with modest wear high on the tooth - seemingly contact was never well distributed.

GETTING AT IT
The lever and release mechanism are in an assembly that is attached to side body structure with three side-facing bolts, two accessible from below the panel structure (with ratchet wrench and extension - one just above the cable and one at top forward corner) and one through the access panel (need to remove circuit breaker and three relays to get ratchet wrench with extension in - note where the empty sockets were), both using a ratchet wrench driver and a short extension.

Bolt head is 1/2 inch/13 mm, but forget that nice 13mm swivel socket you bought to adjust the door - this time you need rigidity to hold the socket in place, preferably having a choice of extension bar lengths.
When reinstalling the assembly, you may be able to see how the bolts are lining up with the threaded holes in body structure by peaking along the inside of the body. I suggest putting the aft (nearest you) bolt in first because it is easiest to see and then only vertical position of the assembly need by varied to align the other ones.

Access is by:
- Disconnecting the parking brake release handle (twist the cylindrical part of the plastic clip off the rod then pull the rod sideways)
- remove five screws holding the lower dash left cover panel, which contains the release handle and the rear hatch switch
- disconnect the rear hatch switch, then remove the panel
- remove four screws holding a strong-looking metal cover
- slacking off the rear brake adjustment so that you can get the cable end out of the assembly to faciliate removal of the assembly. Do it even if you are hopeful you can do everything in situ - the assembly is very difficult to remove and reinstall otherwise. (The adjuster is under the left side of the van (of course) just ahead of the front leaf spring mounting.)
- remove the clip that prevents the cable end from popping out sideways (a nail into the centre hole may be useful to pry up the centre locking part so that you can pry the clip off, assuming you have the same retainer my van has.
- pull the inner cable out a bit then slide the end sideways to clear the end holder
- then pry the end of the cable housing out of the assembly structure, and pull the cable out of the assembly
- disconnect brake release handle by popping plastic end socket off the handle rod
- remove the dash lower trim panel with five screws, Phillips head (one side facing).
- remove the metal access panel with four screws, Phillips head.
- disconnect the brake light switch connector (upper forward, single spade connector pulls off at an angle (upward and aft), - be careful as there is much to damage underneat (wires, cables, fuse box)
Whee!

It is possible to get the assembly out in the open to work on without detaching the cable, but very awkward - see caution above. I suggest detaching the fuse box (two Phillips head screws through the aft face of the dash structure) and carefully tucking it up higher (turned 90 degrees). You'll need to remove the sill cover that sweeps up the body pillar and roll the carpet back to flex the cable. Try to keep the assembly top against the body side but pull it down by twisting its bottom inward (otherwise the forward tang will catch on things).
Are we having fun yet?


© Keith Sketchley Page version 2009.05.17 (1015PDT)

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