Parking brake cable repair/replacement

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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.


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

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.  Don't order them according to the VIN because it can be wrong.  You must check the parking brake cable on your car and see which part number you have.   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Retaining clip for rear axle VW# 1H0 609 734 C  OR 1H0 609 734 F (parts were superceded and are interchangeable)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 fix, first remove the center console.

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.

Raise 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 from the guide tube.  Shown below is the same part on a later car.

Compare it to the old cable to note clip location and curvature.  Picture is from and is a mk3 car.  They're all pretty much the same.  The one shown above was an mk6.

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.

Need more details on how to adjust or replace a stuck parking brake?  Please ask in the forums linked above or search below: