If you notice that your old parking brake just doesn’t seem to be doing its job anymore, you may need to adjust it manually. Most modern parking brakes have a self-adjusting mechanism, but over time, even these can use a little help. If your vehicle is a pedal type, you can follow a few simple steps to do the job yourself.

Turn on the car and press the brakes several times to ensure the brake shoes are positioned in the brake drum (if you have rear brake drums instead of disks). Get the rear end of the car up, with the proper jack and jack stands. Be sure to chock the front wheels.

After you are sure the car is securely positioned, push the parking brake three notches. This should cause three audible clicks when you then depress the brake pedal.

Look for the equalizer yoke somewhere in the middle of the underside of your vehicle. It holds two brake cables that are connected to your rear brakes. Start by loosening the locknut on the equalizer yoke. Turn the adjusting nut, or the turnbuckles, if that’s what your vehicle has. Your goal here is to get rid of the extra slack on the brake cable.

Using your hands, rotate both of the rear tires and feel for the brake shoes dragging against the brake drum. If this doesn’t work, adjust the nut or turnbuckles a second time and try it again. After that, tighten the locknut and bring the car back down to check your work.

Release the parking brake and then slowly push the pedal down. It shouldn’t have to go too far down before it engages. If it does, you may need to start over again and readjust the parking brake.

Once the parking brake pedal passes this test, take it to a steep hill and give it a real test. If you’ve done it right, you should be able to easily apply the parking brake pedal and be on your way.