Thursday, April 15, 2021

Parking Brake Sliding Seal Replacement: C3 Corvette

The moment I pulled the parking brake handle, the cracking noise was unmistakable and I didn't have to look to know what had just happened.


Somehow, the plastic slider seal got caught on something which locked it in place, and as I pulled the handle up, it cracked the seal down the middle.

It happened in a split second, but that's all it needed to be ruined.

And because of where the damage occurred, a repair is impossible since it would be visible and easy to spot. So the logical solution was to order a new one.

Fortunately, they are not expensive even though the shipping charges cost more than the part itself. But for $10, including delivery, who am I to complain.

Installation is nothing more than an inconvenience, but it can be challenging if your console still has that almost-impossible-to-reach bolt all the way in the back behind the bulkhead. I did away with the one in my car years ago and never looked back. (see #4 in the diagram below).



As far as the seal itself, a quick online search yielded a bunch of sellers offering replacement pieces ranging from around $5 plus shipping charges to absurd amounts for both the part itself as well as unreasonable shipping costs.

I ordered from RPI Designs which offered one for a reasonable amount. Delivery was a bit on the slow side but I received it approximately 10 days after placing my order.


I don't use the parking brake very often, so what lead to the seal getting caught and cracking was some of the adhesive material on a piece of sound deadener I applied to the transmission tunnel.


Don't ask me how, but a corner of the sound deadener lifted, and that exposed a small amount of adhesive that attached itself to the plastic sliding seal with enough force to lock it in place, resulting in the seal cracking when I applied the parking brake.





Because of where this happened, this necessitated the removal of the shifter console which is a job in itself, mainly because of the two studs from the gauge cluster which secure both pieces together with nuts that are hard to reach.

As I explain in the video, I replaced the hex nuts with wingnuts which makes removal of the shifter console a bit easier since you do not need bulky tools. If you decide to do the same for your C3, any hardware store will have them available. I do not recall the size, but bring one of yours to ensure you get the right ones. And of course, you'll need to buy two of them.


In addition to the aforementioned bulkhead bolt, removal of the parking bake/armrest console also requires the removal of four side screws (see diagram above). They are blocked by the seats, but you can push the cushions down far enough to easily remove them with a Phillips screwdriver.

You can then carefully lift the console from the rear and disconnect the power window switches if so equipped. The seal will slide out and remain attached to the parking brake handle as you slide the console out.


Installation of the new seal is straight-forward and a reversal of the instructions above, unless you also need to remove the shifter console as in my case, something that would be highly unusual.

If you've followed my blog for a while, then you know that I cannot leave well enough alone, so since I had the shifter console out of the way I removed some of the sound deadener material that caused the seal to break. I also took the opportunity to take apart the parking brake handle assembly front brackets and gave them a good cleaning and a coat of paint.



Even though these pieces are hardly ever seen, they are now as good as new and will last a long time.

The parking brake console seals usually fail due to age as they become brittle, but you still need to make sure the new seal will slide freely to prevent damage to the new part. If—as in my case—something other than old age has caused the failure of the seal, you need to determine the cause and correct it before installing the new part.

You will only need a Phillips screwdriver to do this job and an open-end wrench if the bulkhead bolt is in place. I do not remember what size that one is.

The complete removal and replacement steps are covered in the video below.

The photo below (see arrow), shows the small trim piece that bridges the shifter console with the parking brake console. It simply clips into place and you have to install it before fitting the parking brake console back in place.


You will also need to plug the power window switches back in (if so equipped) before lowering the parking brake console back into position. You also want to test them to ensure both windows operate properly.



Once everything is reinstalled and you have secured the parking brake console with the four Phillips screws, plus the bulkhead bolt if you are a sucker for punishment, the job is done!


The video goes into a lot more detail, especially since I had to remove the shifter console, so get yourself a big mug of coffee and watch the whole thing as it may provide a better understanding of all steps involved.




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