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    Thread: DIY - Replacing and adjusting e-brake cables on a MKIV car

    1. 01-31-2007 11:26 PM #1
      The following procedure describes how to replace e-brake cables on a MKIV car. E-brake cables are very simple items and are well sealed, so there should rarley be an issue with them. In some cases though, moisture can get inside them and either rust the cable or freeze in he winter. The latter often results in the rear wheels locking up until the mositure defrosts. I had this problem on my car and when I replaced the cables, I found out why. The picture below shows a hole in the outer casing of the cable that let moisture in (red arrow), causing the cable to freeze up when temps went below freezing. Notice how "bloated" the cable housing is in the vicinity of the hole. Any increase in the diameter of the cable housing is a clear sign that moisture has gotten in a caused corrosion of the cable/housing. If you want to check your cables for similar damage, check them where they pass underneath the rear axle. They are at there lowest point and are most likely to hit a foreign object here.

      Before purchasing a new set of e-brake cables, you'll need to figure out the appropriate cables to buy since more than one cable was used. I will update this section when I'm able to compile all of the applicable part numbers. Until then, make sure to have your VIN handy when ordering the cables as the model year, body style and place of manufacture will determine what cables are used on your car. I recommend replacing both cables together, even if only one is bad. Not only are they too cheap to not do both, but one new and one old cable may be of sufficiently different length that the compensator (described below) may not be able to compensate properly.
      The procedure can be done with the car on the ground, but is significantly easier with the rear end raised up, especially if the car is lowered. The steps are based on a '99.5 Jetta GLS VR6, but should be applicable to all MKIV VR6s and similar on other VWs.
      If you are replacing the e-brake cables, perform steps 1 through 23. If you are only adjusting your existing cables, then perform steps 1, 2 and 19 through 23.

      1. Begin by removing the rear ashtray and cupholder (if your car has one) from the center console by following steps 1 through 7 in this DIY - http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=958556. With the parts removed you should see the compensator (red arrow below) that connects the e-brake cables to the handle.

      2. The close-up picture below shows the different parts of the e-brake mechanism under the center console. The yellow arrow is the driver's side cable. The blue arrow is the passenger's side cable. The white arrow is a bolt attached to the e-brake handle. The red arrow is the compensator that accounts for any difference in the length of the cables or the thickness of the rear brake pads. The green arrow is the nut that is used to adjust the tightness of the cables and e-brake handle.

      3. Lower the e-brake handle fully (chock the front wheels or put the car in gear first) and then loosen the compensator adjusting nut a few turns to loosen the cables enough so that you can remove the cable ends from the compensator. Keep track of the number of turns so that you can return the nut to that positon after the new cables are installed. The new cables may still need to be adjusted afterwards, but at least you'll be at a good starting point.
      4. Disconnect the two cable ends from the compensator.
      5. The e-brake cables pull on a lever (yellow arrow in picture below) that mechanically activates the rear brake calipers. Pull down on the lever and remove the cable end (blue arrow) from the lever. Next, pull the securing clip (red arrow) off of the support bracket (green arrow) and then slide the cable out of the bracket.

      6. Under the car in front of the rear wheel, remove the cable from the securing clip, indicated by the red arrow in the picture below.

      7. Remove the cable from the clip underneath the rear axle bushing (red arrow in pitcure below) and inside the rear wheel (yellow arrow).

      8. The close-up picture below shows the clip inside of the rear wheel. The clip presses onto two threaded studs (yellow arrows) and surrounds a metal ring around the cable (red arrow). This clips is a bit of a pain to get off.

      9. The picture below shows the clip off of the car. The red arrow points to the metal ring around the cable. The clip that surrounds that ring is secured to the threaded studs by four bent tabs (blue arrows). To remove the clip from the studs, use a small screwdriver to bend these tabs down slightly so that they don't catch on the thread studs and the clip can slide off of the studs easily. Don't bend them too much because you'll need to reuse the clip and bend the tabs back to secure the clip to the studs. Once the clip is removed from the studs, spread open the clip by undoing the locking tab (green arrow) and then removing the clip from the cable.

      10. The picture below shows a side view of this PITA clip. The red arrows point to the locking tabs that secure the clip to the studs and the blue arrow points to the locking tab that secures the clip to the cable.

      11. The cable (red arrow in picture below) slides into a tube (yellow arrow) that guides the tube into the cabin of the car beneath the center console. The green arrow points to where the cable and guide tube meet.

      12. Carefully pull the cable out of the guide tube. It should come out very easily, but if it doesn't then use a pair of plyers to grab the cable end (near the green arrow in the picture above) and pull on the cable.

      13. Slide the correct end of the new cable (the end without the rubber accordion seal) into the guide tube mentioned in step 11.
      14. Reattach the other end of the cable to the caliper mechanism and bracket mentioned in step 5.
      15. Secure the cable with the clips mentioned in steps 6 and 7.
      16. Reconnect the cable end closest to the front of the car to the appropriate side of the compensator.
      17. When the ends of both cables are reattached to the compensator, tighten the compensator nut the same number of turns that you loosened it in step 3.
      18. Adjust the tension of the e-brake mechanism as needed (see below).

      The proper adjustment of the e-brake is critical so that the rear brakes are quickly engaged before the full motion of e-brake handle is exhausted but with the rear wheels being allowed to spin freely with the e-brake disengaged. The Bentley manual states that the e-brake is properly adjusted when both rear wheels are difficult to turn with the handle raised up four notches and rotate freely with the handle all the way down. I prefer the handle to be a little firmer/tighter than this, and have it adjusted so that the rear wheels are difficult to turn at the second notch. You may use the second, third or fourth notch depending on what feel you prefer and as long as the above two conditions are met.
      To adjust the e-brake handle, perform the following steps:
      19. Lower the e-brake handle completely.
      20. Firmly depress the brake pedal once.
      21. Raise the handle to the fourth notch (or whatever one you prefer).
      22. Tighten (or loosen) the compensator nut until both rear wheels become difficult to turn.
      23. Lower the handle completely and make sure that both rear wheels spin freely. If one or more doesn't, loosen the compensator nut a little at a time until both wheels spin freely.
      The e-brake mechanism should now be properly adjusted.

      As always, do this procedure at your own risk. I am not responsible for any mistakes in the procedure or those that you make while performing it.

      Modified by VgRt6 at 11:27 PM 1-31-2007

    2. 01-31-2007 11:50 PM #2

    3. Member Gu VW's Avatar
      Join Date
      Dec 4th, 2006
      B'more, MD
      2000 VW Jetta VR6 12v
      01-31-2007 11:58 PM #3
      awesome! thanks! I'm in the planning process too of this same job - this will be a great help! (I look forward to the parts confirmation - perhaps someone here could offer ? People with a Bentley?)

    4. Banned shawshank's Avatar
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      Jun 23rd, 2005
      02-01-2007 12:01 AM #4
      not too shabby....i could have used this a few months ago...nice write up [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    5. Member toooofastforu's Avatar
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      Nov 14th, 2004
      Wenonah NJ
      a white GLI i think
      02-01-2007 12:18 AM #5
      nice write up...i always enjoy your DIY's very well written and diagrammed [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    6. 02-01-2007 08:01 AM #6
      Thanks. Morning bump.

    7. Member
      Join Date
      Jan 10th, 2003
      '09 335d
      02-01-2007 08:02 AM #7
      Nice HOWTO man. I replaced both of my cables about 6 months ago..
      Wasn't to bad, although those little brake line clips can be a pain in the ass.

    8. 02-01-2007 08:08 AM #8
      I agree. The cable clips are the worst part by far! It's still a VERY easy job though.

    9. Member
      Join Date
      Jan 10th, 2003
      '09 335d
      02-01-2007 08:12 AM #9
      Agreed, maybe a 2 on the 10 scale..

    10. 02-01-2007 08:19 AM #10
      And it's a 2 only if you raise the rear end.

    11. 02-01-2007 08:27 AM #11
      Very nice DIY. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG] [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    12. Member digraph's Avatar
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      Jul 23rd, 1999
      Bay State
      '12 Impreza, '10 Forester, '09 Matchbox Unimog
      02-01-2007 08:38 AM #12
      Excellent! Thanks!
      Bentley says 4-clicks? It takes 4-5 clicks on my '00 to feel the same as 2 clicks on my '04.

    13. 02-01-2007 08:51 AM #13
      That's because the cables on the '00 are stretched. I use the second notch and it works great. Wheels spin freely with the handle down and the feel of the handle is nice and tight. The second notch may not work on all cars though.
      Use the DIY to tighten up the compensator nut on the '00. You should be able to make it feel like the '04.

    14. 02-01-2007 09:19 AM #14
      [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG] good write up

    15. 02-01-2007 10:06 AM #15
      One of my calipers sticks on cold days after the E-Brakes have been engaged for a bit, now I think I know why! At least I'm hoping it's just a cable and not a caliper

    16. Member reddog3390's Avatar
      Join Date
      Oct 30th, 2002
      2011 GTI
      02-01-2007 10:26 AM #16
      i just had mine replaced, i wish this would have been 1 week sooner!!!

      Good DIY non the less [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      96' MKIII GOLF GLS 2.0
      00' MKIV Jetta GLS 1.8T
      07' MKV GTI 2.0T REVO STAGE 1
      11' MKVI GTI 2.0T APR Stage 1, APR Carbonio Intake, FK Springs

    17. 02-01-2007 12:15 PM #17
      Quote, originally posted by anon_az »
      One of my calipers sticks on cold days after the E-Brakes have been engaged for a bit, now I think I know why! At least I'm hoping it's just a cable and not a caliper

      It's probably just the cable.

    18. Member 031.8tjetta's Avatar
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      Oct 4th, 2006
      NYC / NJ
      03 jetta 1.8t, 04 350Z
      02-01-2007 12:36 PM #18
      i had someone move my car for street cleaning when i was out of town, and when i came back, the brake handle was pulled up to almost 90 degrees, now the handle doesn't hold anything in the first two clicks, and barely on the following two, i have to go up to 6 or seven... the car used to roll back but now i can feel it come to a complete halt... i think i'm driving withe the back brakes engaged and i didn't even know it... great post... i was wondering how to adjust that...thanx

    19. Member silver_arrow_jetta's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 30th, 2004
      Central Mass
      MK4 Jetta VR6 12v
      02-01-2007 02:24 PM #19
      well done DIY. Should be added to the DIY list
      Dub, short pronunciation of the letter W

    20. Member vr6_d00d's Avatar
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      Oct 11th, 2006
      2013 Golf R, 2011 GTI Autobahn, 2000 Jetta GLX
      02-01-2007 02:45 PM #20
      did this without the diy and didnt find it hard at all( took me about 15-20mins from rasing the car to lowering it)... the cable going to the right tire was completely rusted through for about 5 inches
      and therefore it really didnt do much.... gj on the diy!!
      keep up the good work
      C2Motorsport Stage 1+ | VWR Springs | EVOMS Intake | Smoked OEM LED | Euroswitch | Bold-Sport Blinkers and Parking LEDs | Interior LED | VagCom Tweaks

    21. Member Joker_2.8's Avatar
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      Nov 1st, 2005
      Port Coquitlam, BC
      2008 Audi A4 Avant S-line (The meat Wagon)
      02-01-2007 04:21 PM #21
      .:Stage Awesome:.

    22. 02-01-2007 04:35 PM #22
      haha i had this same problem i knew it was the cables but never got a chance to replace them....good right up [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      i need another mk4

    23. 02-02-2007 10:10 AM #23
      Bump for those who missed it yesterday.
      Added it to the DIY/FAQ thread.

    24. Banned
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      Nov 24th, 2001
      02-02-2007 10:21 AM #24
      [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emlove.gif[/IMG] Gary! [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    25. Member pilotboy17's Avatar
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      Dec 21st, 2005
      Milton, FL
      2000 VW Jetta VR6, 2008 Nissan Xterra S
      02-02-2007 10:39 AM #25
      Another awesome DIY, man! [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

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