Toyota Parking Brake Malfunction

Toyota Dashboard Warning Lights

A “Parking brake malfunction” message may appear on the dashboard of a Toyota vehicle when there is an issue with the vehicle’s parking brake system. This message is usually accompanied by a warning light and indicates that the parking brake is not functioning properly. 

The Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) system is an electronically controlled mechanism that locks the vehicle’s brakes when activated. When there is a problem with the EPB, a warning light on the dashboard will be displayed to indicate a fault has occurred in the system. The electric parking brake, also known as EPB, is designed to keep the car from moving when parked. When activated, it applies a force on the rear brake pads to keep the vehicle in place and prevent unintended movement.

What Causes Toyota Parking Brake Malfunctions?

Toyota-Parking-Brake-Malfunction

There are a few different things that could cause this message to appear, some of which include a problem with the parking brake actuator, parking brake cable or parking brake switch, a malfunctioning brake control module, or other electronic components.

If you see this message, it is important to have the vehicle inspected as soon as possible, as driving with a malfunctioning parking brake can be dangerous. Depending on the diagnosis, repairs may include the replacement of the parking brake actuator, brake pads sensor, or brake control module, as well as the replacement of the brake cable and lever or just a brake fluid flush.

Common Problems

Toyota Parking Brake Actuator

Electronic parking brakes, also known as electric parking brakes or EPBs, are becoming more common in Toyota vehicles. Like any other electronic component, they can sometimes experience issues. Here are some of the most common problems with Toyota’s electronic parking brakes:

  1. Parking Brake Actuator – The actuators mount on the rear axle, right behind the rear brake calipers, and operate every time you press and release the parking switch. The motor can fail and the gear can also break which can lead to the parking brakes not working.
  2. Weak batteryAnother potential cause for the electric handbrake not functioning properly may be a weak battery, which does not provide the necessary voltage to operate the parking brake actuator or power up the parking brake module. It is also important to ensure that all vehicle electronic components are in good working condition. If you replace the car battery or fully charge it the parking brake malfunction should reset if that was the cause.
  3. Failure to release – One of the most common problems with Toyota electronic parking brakes is that they can sometimes fail to release when the driver wants to move the vehicle. This can happen due to a malfunctioning sensor, a weak battery, or a software issue.
  4. Failure to engage – On the other hand, the electronic parking brake can also fail to engage when the driver tries to activate it. This usually will happen due to a mechanical issue, such as a worn brake caliper or a problem with the brake actuator. A failed parking brake switch may also be the issue here.
  5. Warning light – Another common problem is the parking brake warning light appearing on the dashboard. Of course, this could indicate a problem with the brake’s sensor or control module but the problem could also be a bad instrument cluster as well or issues with the ABS module that are not directly related to the parking brake.
  6. Uneven brake pad wear – Electronic parking brakes rely on brake pads to grip the rotors and hold the vehicle in place. Over time, the brake pads can experience uneven wear, which can affect the effectiveness of the electronic parking brake. This is often due to stuck brake calipers.
  7. Poor lubrication – If the electronic parking brake mechanism is not properly lubricated, it can cause the brake not to function properly, blow a fuse and make noise.
  8. Rust – Toyota drivers who never use the parking brake may notice that the parking brake doesn’t work when they try to activate the parking brake. Not using the parking brake on a regular basis, can lead to the parking mechanism not being operated for months or even years and can lead to rust building up on the actuator and parking brake cables when applicable. When the driver tries to operate the parking brakes after a long time of no operation, the warning message parking brake system malfunction pops up as the parking brake may be seized or stuck due to rust.
  9. Software issues – As Toyota electronic parking brakes are controlled by software, they could malfunction because of problems in the software. On certain Toyota models such as the Camry, the Parking Brake Malfunction or Cruise Control Malfunction warning message shows up, and fault code C13B0 is active. To fix this problem take the vehicle to a Toyota dealer to reprogram the Skid Control Computer software. Mention TSB-0168-19.  Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) C13B0 (Electric Parking Brake ECU Malfunction). Toyota dealers may cover this update under warranty.

It’s important to note that these are just some of the most common problems with Toyota electronic parking brakes and that other issues can occur.

Before replacing the brake pads, it is recommended to put the car in service mode and electronically retract the emergency brakes which can be completed with a YOUCANIC scanner. Once the brake pad replacement is completed, perform an emergency brake reset.

How to reset Toyota parking brake malfunction?

To reset the Toyota parking brake malfunction warning message, perform the following steps:

  1. Start the car and make sure the transmission is in “Park.”
  2. Press and hold the parking switch until the parking brakes are engaged.
  3. Turn the car off, wait 5 seconds then restart the engine.
  4. Press the brake pedal and keep it pressed.
  5. Press the parking brake switch to release the parking brakes.
  6. Verify that the parking brake warning light has been turned off.

This procedure should reset the parking brake malfunction on a Toyota. Also if the parking brake is malfunctioning on your Toyota, consider turning off the automatic parking brake mode until the parking brake issue is resolved.

If the warning light stays on, or if the parking brake malfunction message continues to appear, there is still an issue with the parking brake system that needs to be addressed. In this case, it’s best to check the parking brake actuator as that is the most common malfunction, or take the vehicle to a mechanic or Toyota dealer who can diagnose the problem and repair it.

Can I drive Toyota with a parking brake malfunction?

Toyota-parking-brake-alert

If the parking brake on your Toyota is stuck in the released position the may still be drivable. If the parking brake is stuck in an engaged position, the vehicle can not be driven. It’s important to remember that if you suspect a problem with the parking brake system, it is critical not to drive the car until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional. This can prevent further damage to the brake system and ensure your safety while driving.

How much does it cost to fix a Toyota parking brake malfunction?

If your Toyota’s parking brake is malfunctioning, a trip to the dealership may cost around $150 – $200 for diagnosis alone. If the issue is simply an update needed for the parking brake module, an additional $150-$200 may be required. However, if the problem lies elsewhere, such as with a faulty Parking Brake Actuator Assembly, the cost can range from $1200 to $2000.

If the vehicle is still under warranty, the dealership should fix the problem free of charge. If your Toyota is out of warranty you may be able to save money by doing some of the troubleshooting yourself.

Troubleshooting

Scan Toyota Codes with YOUCANIC Scanner for Blind Spot Cross Traffic Alert

Checking the voltage supply to the braking system is also important. If the system is not receiving the appropriate voltage, it may be due to a problem with the battery or the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). Using diagnostic tools to measure the voltage can help identify any issues.

It’s also important to regularly check the condition of the cables in the EPB system, as they can deteriorate over time and use. Damaged or exposed cables can cause a lack of electrical voltage, which can lead to malfunctions.

To ensure your safety while driving, it’s important to have regular maintenance and inspection of your brake system done by a reputable and reliable workshop. Remember that brakes are the most important safety features in a car, and timely maintenance can help avoid costly repairs and keep you and your passengers safe.

Newer Toyota vehicles have a dedicated parking brake control module. You can use the YOUCANIC full system scanner to read the codes from the parking brake control module and determine what is causing the problem. The scanner will show you fault codes such as C060e-2a, defined as “Left Electric Parking Brake Actuator Signal Stuck In Range.” and C13B0  Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) (Electric Parking Brake ECU Malfunction) which should help you narrow down the issue.

Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced in 2022 that the redesigned 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup truck and the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX compact crossover had been recalled due to a faulty sensor that could prevent the electronic parking brake from functioning properly. If this sensor malfunctions, the electronic parking brake may not engage properly, which could cause the vehicle to roll away if parked on an incline. This is a serious safety concern as it could lead to accidents.

The recall affects a total of 83,725 vehicles, with 64,330 units being the 2022 Toyota Tundra and the remaining vehicles being the 2022 Lexus NX. However, it is important to note that no hybrid models are included in this recall.

The issue is caused by the electronic parking brake system’s electronic control unit, which could falsely detect an overcurrent, which would trigger the system to shut down to prevent a short circuit and possible fire. As a result, the failsafe in the system will prevent the electronic parking brake from engaging or disengaging. This false read triggers a “Parking brake malfunction, visit your dealer” message in the instrument cluster, and/or it illuminates a malfunction indicator light in the cluster.

To see if your vehicle is involved in a safety recall visit Toyota.com/recall, Lexus.com/recall or nhtsa.gov/recalls or visit nhtsa.gov/recalls.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I avoid problems with my Toyota parking brake system?

Use the parking brakes regularly. Regular vehicle maintenance is crucial for the proper functioning of the EPB system. The cables that operate the electric handbrake should be inspected, as well as the brake pads and fluid levels. Any leaks in the brake fluid should be immediately addressed.

Why do newer Toyota vehicles have electronic parking brakes?

The electric parking brake system offers several advantages, making it user-friendly. However, if the system malfunctions, it may require a full system scanner to diagnose the problem as most newer vehicles have a dedicated parking module.

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