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May 19, 2009

Grief for DIYers - And...fixing a stuck emergency brake

I read a New York Times article on the weekend that will scare a lot of people away from doing their own home repairs.  And then another article citing more bad combinations of humans and tools. 

Dammit Jim, they're just trying to scare us.  Like Star Trek explorers, we do-it-yourselfers know that disaster is always a possible outcome.  If you don't believe that, you haven't really tried it.  Of course things can go desperately wrong in DIY.  That's why we like it.  We are hardwired for adventure, and we can find our excitement under a sink or behind a washing machine or inside an electrical panel.

What those articles fail to mention is that a lot of things actually go well for DIYers.  I can't think of any examples right now, but I'm sure I've had one or two successful repairs in the last decade. So don't be discouraged by naysayers in the press.  They're just looking for something fresh to scare people with.  

Fixing Lucy's emergency brake Speaking of DIY, I learned how to fix a stuck emergency brake underneath a Toyota Landcruiser. 

So here's the trick if you ever have the Emergency Brake "!" symbol light up on your dashboard.

There's a cable that runs along the rear axle to the disc brake.  (It's usually the left side that gets stuck on my car.)

A short swift tug on the cable should free it from the stuck position. 

Yanking on the stuck cable



Im completely clueless at when it comes to fixin cars and even knowin about cars.. but readin this was fun.. I agree with the whole scarin us thing.. they make it difficult on purpose just to scare the daylights out of us! And it is that you mag underneath your truck?
take care,


Maybe I'm suspecting conspiracy everywhere, but I guess behind this DIY-skepticism there is the (probably not explicit) idea that if you don't DIY, you actually pay somebody to do your repairs. You've already written about DIY becoming more popular with the recession, so this phenomenon may be connected too.

I live in a country (Hungary) where most people are not so well-off, so DIY is very popular. Actually, I guess, most people try to repair everything on their own first, and if something goes astray, they call an expert.


Good points, Brigi. Human ingenuity always blossoms in a recession. For some people it means new learning and success, and for others it means shelling out emergency cash to someone more skilled! Either way, wisdom is the result.


Marcus Ward

Hey Mag, I found out about you from Chris Schwartz - he's right, you're a hoot! About that stuck emergency brake: The reason most of them stick is because water gets into the little boot where it goes into the housing, causing the housing to rust and swell, trapping the cable. Pull that boot back and smear a little permatex anti-seize on the cable and then work the emergency brake a few times to distribute it inside the housing. Voila, no more sticking.

fyi - handle that stuff like it's radioactive, not because it is, but because it sticks to EVERYTHING, it's quite messy.


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    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

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