REPLACING AND ADJUSTING E-BRAKE CABLES ON A MKIV CAR
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.
PART I - REMOVAL
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.
PART II - INSTALLATION
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).
PART III - ADJUSTMENT
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