MKIII Parking Brake (Disk) Cable Replacement

Why do this?

Simple, its below freezing one night, and then the next morning you go to move your car, and now its stuck... Or you yank as hard as you can, and engage the parking brake, then when you release it, your car won't move.

What happens?

Water migrates into the cables, and freezes and rusts over time.  It seems the average life of a set of cables is 3-4 years.  Part of the issue is a basic design flaw (yea, I said it) in how the cables are routed.  A small rubber boot covers the cable at the rear, near the calipers.  The if the boot gets cracked, torn, or dry-rots water can enter the cable as its kicked up by wheel splash.  The water then gets trapped in the cable and sits and rusts.  When it gets below freezing, well, of course it freezes.  The drum brake setup does not have this rubber boot, and does not have this issue.  HERE is a video of what happens when the cables get stuck, note the slack on the handle (do not make fun of my brake handle!!! Its far cooler than yours!!

Why even bother with parking brakes?

Its easy, safety.  Its a bad idea to just leave your car in 1st gear, it could pop out of gear (any gear), and roll away.  If your car is an Automatic, if you saw the little gear that holds the trans in park, you'd poop your pants and never trust it again.  Best of all, using your parking brake keeps the calipers moving and prevents damage to them.  It keeps things lubed, keeps the back brakes adjusted and healthy.  Never use your parking brake and kiss your calipers good bye!

This fellow Vortexer, found out the hard way..  Yes, his car popped out of gear and rolled away...  Bummer..

How hard is it?  I don't want to mess with the brakes!

Its easy, no fluid, no spills, its no harder then bicycle brake cables..

What you need;

Parking brake tubes:
1H0 711 951 B - guide tube for handbrake cable (left)
1H0 711 952 C - guide tube for handbrake cable (right)
2 Parking Brake Cables - Beware on the MKIII there was a mid-model design change starting in mid 95.  Ensure you are getting the correct cables, you'll need to check your VIN
Rubber Bump Stops on calipers (I don't have the P/N, I did not get them, wish I had).

How Long Will This Take?

If your on a lift, 1/2 an hour, if your lying on your back, longer.

Tools Needed:

10mm deep socket
Two 10mm open end wrenches
Silicone Slide Lube (spray)

Floor jack, Jackstands, Lift (best way).

Step 1 - Slide both front seats all the foreword.  And locate the small circle on the side of the console.

Use a pick to remove the cover

Under the cover you'll see a Phillips head screw, remove it.  Do this on both sides.

Step 3 - Rotate the rear part of the center console up, just fold the boot over itself, no need to remove it fully.  Remove the two 10mm nuts and two Phillips screws shown.  Note, you only need to loosen the 10mm nuts, not fully remove them.


Step 4 -With the center console bracket removed, you can see the cables, tubes, and nuts. (Why are they not equal?  Dunno, even when finished I had this same issue, brakes are adjusted and work fine...).  Use the two 10mm open end wrenches to loosen the locknut and main cable nut.


Step 5 - Remove nuts and equalizer bracket.  Note how the brake guide tubes press into the white angle bracket.

Step 6- Go under the car, and press down on the caliper brake arm.  If you can move it by hand, and stop a spinning wheel, good.  If not, you need a caliper.  Bummer for you.   Note the missing rubber stop.  HERE IS A VIDEO

Step 7 - This is the backside of the brake guide tube under the car.  Chances are its stuck to the brake cable.  No matter, just pull it out.

Now that the cable is removed with the tube, note the rust inside the cable.  Somehow, water gets allllll the way up here, and locks the cable up.

Lie the old cable next to the new cable, don't mix the left and right guide tubes up.  The new guide tubes I got were about 1" longer than the older design.  No issue here,  The new one is the black guide, the old one is the half rust/gold model.

Step 8 -Unclip the brake cable from the back.  This requires NO TOOLS.

Step 9 - Do the same for the other side.  Note the intact rubber stop.

Step 10 - Spray the guide tubes with silicone spray and insert them into the rubber gasket that they came out of.  Check inside the car to make sure they are seated into the angle bracket (see step 5).

Tighten down the brake adjuster until there is no slack against the equalizer bracket.  Pull the brake a few times.

Step 11-  Adjust the cables until there is a 1.5mm gap between the rubber stop and the arm.

Step 12 - Make sure the wheels spin free, or have a *little* drag when the cable is released.  And that they lock up within 3 clicks of the brake.  Note wire tire (cut the slack off), since the old cable bracket was broken off the axle.. Oh well.  Just make sure its not rubbing against the tire, or brake lines.

Step 13 - Enjoy your parking brakes for 3-4 years... plan ahead, and order spares.... haha... heh.... eehhhhhh...