Parking brake cable repair/replacement

Apr 18, 2017
Parking brake cable repair/replacement
  • Parking brake cable repair and replacement - mk4 VW

    Difficulty: 2/5

    The parking brake can sometimes get stuck, especially in cold weather. The reason why is because a crack in the line lets water freeze and hold the cable in the parked position. If you noticed that your car has lost a lot of power and is pulling (maybe) or you smell burning brake (maybe) stop the car and get out. If it is to the point where you can feel heat coming off the rear brakes and smell burning, let the brakes cool for at least 10 minutes and see if it is okay. The only fix is to replace the cable and/or parking brake line boot. When you pull the parking brake lever up, the lever pulls a metal wire that actuates the rear brakes.

    It is also possible that the parking brake will remain engaged due to the rear caliper parking brake actuator shanks getting corroded and therefore not returning all the way. See bottom of article for more information.

    Parking brake cable VW# 1J0 609 721 E OR 1J0 609 721 AC OR 1J0 609 721 K (MUST READ NOTE)

    Early parking brake cables
    Parking brake cable (mk4)
    Heavy duty parking brake cables

    Note: Before ordering the parking brake cables, double check to see what cables you have on your car because there are a few types of cables. You could order them according to the VIN but there have been cases where it was wrong. You must check the parking brake cable on your car and see which part number you have or risk getting the wrong cable. The "AC" and "K" cables are slightly different lengths than the 'E' cable and have a different "ball" end at the caliper end.

    Retaining clip for rear axle VW# 1H0 609 734 C OR 1H0 609 734 F (parts were superseded and are interchangeable) Torx 15 screwdriver for the center console
    10mm wrench, preferably ratcheting (socket won't work, except hollow center)
    Flat head screwdriver
    Diagonal shears
    Long-nose Vise Grips or similar
    Jack, stands, chocks

    To adjust or remove the parking brake first remove the center console as shown in center console removal. To adjust the parking brake, tighten or loosen the nut marked in red.


    To replace the parking brake cables, remove that nut.

    Press on the brakes firmly three times.

    Engage the parking brake, jack up the rear of the car using the factory jack points, rest car securely on jack stands, chock the rear wheels, and make sure the car is safe and secure before doing anything else.

    Remove the rear wheel, remove parking brake cable clip, marked in green below, and unhook the parking brake cable.


    Unclip the cable from the retaining clips and you should be able to just pull the cable out. Shown below is the same part on a later car.

    Compare it to the old cable to note clip location and curvature Here is a parking brake cable and assembly+brackets removed from the car. You can see where the line isn't as dirty and goes into the car.

    Installation is the reverse of removal.

    To adjust the parking brake, with the rear end still in the air, place the parking brake to the 4th notch.

    Tighten the adjuster nut until the rear wheels begin to brake, then tighten it by a half more turn to account for slack in the lines/assembly.

    Parking brake adjustment mechanism not returning all the way

    It's possible that the parking brake cables are in proper adjustment and not iced up, but still don't fully release when disengage the parking brake lever. See below video for description of how the parking brake self-adjustment mechanism works:

    Failure of the parking brake lever to return all the way can be caused by resistance in the parking brake actuator mechanism due to corrosion on the parking brake actuator shaft, as shown in the picture below:


    To clean it remove the self adjustment mechanism from the caliper. To clean it without removing it from the caliper, remove the parking brake lever and rubber seal seal to reveal the shaft as shown in the picture below. Spray PB blaster onto shank and work lever back and forth. This will actuate the parking brake adjustment mechanism so you may need to push the piston back in with the above mentioned piston resetting tool 3272 or similar and repeat until you are satisfied with the "snap-back" that the lever has.


    You can add springs to the parking brake levers to give them more "snap-back". See part # 7H0615296 for right caliper and #7H0615295A for left.

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