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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

First-time poster, long-time lurker. I just finished a camper build on a 2015 136" high top diesel with 80k miles on it. The car checked out fine upon first inspection from mechanic at time of purchase a few months ago and since then has had new snow tires mounted and the oil changed.

I then drove it from portland to northern California without issue. Then half way from California to Denver, I get a check engine light upon start-up but no symptoms to speak of. I go to nappa, check the codes and it pulls a smattering of nonsensical codes: 1. oil viscosity too low 2. invalid data received from ABS 3. lost communication with body control module A 4. Clutch A stuck engaged. I needed to get to Denver, so I drove it the rest of the way without issue and after gassing up the check engine light went away. I chalked it up to a freak electronic error.

However, yesterday I was driving out of a parking lot and suddenly it was as if someone threw the e-brake on. There was a loud squeal when I hit the gas and it had to rev to 2k to budge. Needless say I parked it. The right rear tire was completely blown (worn down as if from dragging the short distance) and left rear was also significantly worn. When this occurred nearly all of the idiot lights on the dash lit up including the check-engine.

It then sat overnight, and the next morning I had it towed. When I maneuvered it to get it on the tow truck the only idiot light left was the check engine light. Also, aside from driving on a completely flat tire, it was no longer resisting me like it was before--in other words the issue had completely resolved.

As of now, it is at a tire shop getting replacement tires. They agree the tires look like they have a hole from being dragged, as if the rear tires were locked. However, given that the issue seems to be intermittent in nature, I suspect they won't be able to do anything else. I'm at a loss and desperately need a repair before next week as this is my home and daily driver and I work fulltime.

Thanks in advance.
 

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I'll toss a few questions out there,
How are the treads on the rear tires, really worn down with a hole or like new with a hole?
When they took the rear tires off did anyone check anything?
Was the temperature 32 degrees or colder?
Were the roads wet, snow or slush?
Do you use the parking brake?
However, yesterday I was driving out of a parking lot and suddenly it was as if someone threw the e-brake on. There was a loud squeal when I hit the gas and it had to rev to 2k to budge. Needless say I parked it. The right rear tire was completely blown (worn down as if from dragging the short distance) and left rear was also significantly worn.
IMO you would have to drag a tire quite a distance to wear a hole in it and you state the tires are only a couple of months old.
Since your tires are fairly new the tread depth on all 4 tires should all be similar.

Off the cuff I'd say the parking brakes were still engaged, frozen because of the temperature.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey Phil,

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

How are the treads on the rear tires, really worn down with a hole or like new with a hole?
The tires are only 1.5 weeks old with approx 2k miles on them. The tires have great tread all around except the rear tires which on one plane where it looks like the tire was flattened (worse on the right than left--the hole on the right being large enough to put a fist through).
When they took the rear tires off did anyone check anything?
The shop plans to actually remove the tires and replace tomorrow AM (they didn't have the tires so nothing was done yet)
Was the temperature 32 degrees or colder?
Yes, hovering around 32 degrees as the van is located in Denver.
Were the roads wet, snow or slush?
Roads were not wet. It was one day post a trip through I-80 spanning utah and wyoming where it did get wet.
Do you use the parking brake?
I do use the parking brake quite a bit. The diesels have no "park" and thus you do have to yank It hard to get it to hold it tight. I had recently tightened the e-brake, now that you mention it, about 3 days and 1k miles before this incident occurred. It does not feel inappropriately tight, though.

That's a very compelling theory. I think that would explain quite a lot of what occurred. The only part of the events that doesn't quite add up is that I was able to back out of the parking space without issue and drive maybe a yard or two before the it suddenly seized up. I can't think of anything that would fit better, though, especially given that the issue resolved on its own (for now).
 

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I a flat spot in a new tire and a hole the size of a fist would not occur from dragging the tire a few feet.
Granted, snow tires are made from a softer compound, I'd say it would still take dragging it at least a half mile or more to arrive at that type of damage.
And I agree that it sounds like an E-brake issue.
Have the shop go through and inspect all the rear brakes while they have the wheels off.
 

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Have the diesel in “D” when you come to a stop. Shut it off, it now is in first gear like any manual transmission. Pull up about an inch on the e-brake handle to stop the beeping. release the e-brake. Your van won’t move because it is in gear. No e-brake needed.
 

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Someone here replaced the wimpy e-brake return spring with a pair of off-the-shelf springs from Lowes, fabbed a quickee new bracket to get tension set right and there is no argument 99.8% of the time that cable get proper disengage yank back.

The OEM spring on my 2014 diesel has rusted so badly I'm sure the tension has been reduced by half - if it wasn't for a tree root bump in my driveway that chocks downhill movement and religiously leaving it in gear I'd have already resprung the mechanism, it's on the better-weather to-do list.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
RD- thanks for the advice, I do usually leave it in D when I park but have been paranoid about rolling back. I'll do that religiously from now on.

RnR and - thanks for the input. It sounds like the consensus is frozen e-brake, which fits the bill. I'll update once the tires get replaced today.

Someone here replaced the wimpy e-brake return spring with a pair of off-the-shelf springs from Lowes, fabbed a quickee new bracket to get tension set right and there is no argument 99.8% of the time that cable get proper disengage yank back.

Hmmm, that's an interesting idea. It did look pretty wimpy when I was under there.
 

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What a great mystery, this would make for a good cartalk call...

To state the obvious: the van is FWD, only the brakes could have caused the rear wheels to lock up. What I dont get is how it could have been possible for the rear brakes locking up once to wear a hole the size of a fist in a new truck tire. It doesn't seem plausible. A photo of the tire wear/hole would make this even more interesting...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just a wild guess -- ABS system failure that locked the brakes on?
Any of the codes ABS related?

Gary
You may be onto something. When the event occurred several idiot lights went on, and I do remember the ESC light came on as well as the check engine. Any idea if an ESC failure could cause this sort of thing? Can't recall for sure whether ABS light went on as well.
 

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This is the image I have of your tires, good tread, both flat spotted and one having a big hole, about right?
60356
 

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That takes completely locked wheels for a long distance. Hard to imagine you wouldn't have felt that. It would've felt like pulling a 10k lb trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes, that is an accurate picture. However, Firestone originally said it was both rear tires that were damaged and as it turns out it was only the passenger rear that was damaged. They claimed to have replaced the tire and driven it without issue. I picked it up last night and I began hearing a screeching noise and the ABS and ESC as well as check engine lights came on. I pulled over immediately. There was no visible tire damage and had it towed to the dealer where it is now. As it was being towed up onto the flatbed, all 4 wheels were rotating but the passenger wheel was squealing.

As for duration of driving during the original event, I did have to drive the car back into a parking space with the 'flat.' But certainly I did not go a half mile once the symptoms started.

My money is on a faulty ESC and less so ebrake given that it is just one sided and worsened with driving progressively.

I would provide a tire picture but firestone sent the tires to Bridgestone.
 

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My money is on a faulty ESC and less so ebrake given that it is just one sided and worsened with driving progressively.
Could also be something else wrong with that one brake, and the resulting drag (pull to one side) merely activated the ESC. Let us know what they find.
 

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Was this an empty van? If so, since there was no weight in the rear maybe it was actually possible to "drag" one of the rear wheels/tires that was locked up. Amazing that it was possible! It must have taken lots of throttle/power to do that!
 

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less so ebrake given that it is just one sided and worsened with driving progressively.
I just had to replace my e-brake shoes and rotors (drums) because of a similar problem. Spent a week on the Oregon coast, in the rain, then drove back to CO last month. Cable froze up somewhere in there. Possible that water had infiltrated the shoes/drums as well.

One set of shoes had worn completely down to metal from the constant dragging, and had started to wear through the drum.

Point simply being that it doesn't need to manifest on both sides to be the e-brake.
 
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