I park my 1994 Nissan truck on an incline, pull the hand lever that sets the parking brake, and the brake cable snaps. The hand brake now moves in and out with no tension on it and there is a grinding sound when I try to drive the truck. Luckily I am at home so I jack up the truck and have a look. The cable attached to the hand lever inside the truck attaches to another lever under the truck. With no tension on the cable, this lever under the truck is now rubbing on the drive shaft, hence the grinding noise.
I look online and find this youtube video of a guy fixing a 1995 Nissan parking brake and it looks to be the same as mine. I call the dealership for parts and they tell me that this part is no longer available. Shoot! Well, maybe there is a used part in a wrecking yard somewhere. I take off the part by using the youtube video as a guide. I noticed that just the very end of the cable has frayed and broken where it attaches to the hand brake. The broken-off piece has a small round end that fits into a groove in the hand brake. This is what allows the cable to be pulled tight and engage the brake. Can this be fixed by putting on a new end?
I looked online and called a couple of places, but so far I am striking out on getting the front parking brake cable. I decided to pursue the idea of fixing my existing cable. I found that Home Depot sells aluminum cable stops that you can crimp on to the end of the cable but there are a couple of issues. First, will this be strong enough? Second, can I shape the cable end stop to fit into the handbrake slot?
I found a youtube video here that says that a crimped-on end can hold several hundred pounds. That is way more than I need. I am not pulling on the brake that hard. So now the only issue is the shaping of the end stop. Using a cheap cut off tool I got from Harbor Freight Tools store, I cut and shaped the end stop. I used a cheap plastic caliper to measure the original cable stop end and compare that with the one I am shaping. It takes me about 30 minutes but in the end, it looks pretty good. After a couple of test-fits into the handbrake, I end up with something that looks like it will work. I added a little grease to the handbrake and the cable because that can’t hurt, right?
I put it all back together and voila! It works! And what did it cost me besides a bit of time? Perhaps you can guess based on the title of this post. $1.47 for the end stop! I borrowed a crimp tool since this is not a tool I am likely to use much, so no cost there. I had the cutoff tool already but even if I had to buy that I still would have spent less then $30 total. If I could have found the part it would have cost around $100. With labor, tax, and everything, I am pretty sure it would have been over $300 at a repair shop.
The best part is the brake works great. I originally bought this inexpensive little 4 cylinder truck for cash money. I intended it to be a commuter vehicle with the hope that it would hold up long term to the abuse of heavy commuter traffic. It has surpassed every expectation. After 25 years it is still running strong. If I can keep it supplied with parts as needs arise it may last many years more. It may not be fancy but oh the simple life of having a debt-free and reliable vehicle. Now, that is wonderful!