How to adjust the parking brake and fix a sticking emergency brake lever on a mk5 VW Jetta TDI

difficulty: 2/5
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The parking brake lever often needs adjustment on the 2005-2006, 2009-2010 VW Jetta TDI.  This shows how to adjust the rear emergency brake lever.

For some reason, some mk5 Jetta came with tighter than necessary parking brakes.  It can apply to any mk5-mk6 VW Jetta or Golf but the years above are mentioned because those were the years the mk5 Jetta was sold with TDI in North America.

The parking brake lever pulls a cable which actuates the rear brake calipers.   If you spin the rear wheels in the air and find that there is any resistance, the parking brake may be sticking.  There's an auto adjuster inside the rear caliper which keeps the lever at the same position as the pads wear down so don't worry about adjusting the lever a little high.

The factory method requires removal of the center console.  A faster and less clip-breaking way is to dremel the center console to get access to the adjustment nut.

Another problem is torn parking brake boots.  If water gets into torn boots in the winter, it can freeze and hold the parking brake in the actuated position, effectively clamping the rear brakes.  If you feel the brakes dragging in the winter, feel for unusual heat radiating off the rear brakes and wheels.  If the parking brake on the caliper is clamped, tap it with a hammer to free it.

Below is a video showing how the self adjuster inside the rear caliper works and why you should always use the parking brake in general.


T20 or T25 torx screwdriver to remove the rear console trim
10mm wrench

Procedure to adjust the parking brake handle

First remove the rear console trim.  2009 and later VW Jetta TDI have a 115V household outlet plug, 2005-2006 have a cubby which can be removed with 2x torx screws.

Here you can see fail on VW's part.  They certainly didn't make it easy to get access.

I ended up removing more material than necessary but you get the idea.  If you have the dremel set to the fastest speed it will melt the plastic more than cut it.  Obviously, open all the doors and don't breathe the fumes.  Use an open ended wrench at an angle to loosen the nut if you want to loosen the parking brake and vice versa.

Here is a view from the top.  If you have the early MDI adapter, iPod dock, or CD changer you have the media bay armrest.  If you don't have you have the regular armrest.  See 1000q: ipod and aux-in for a compatibility chart of OEM iPod adapters and solutions and how to remove the media bay.

Here is a view with the center console removed. As you can see, it's a lot easier just to dremel the hole.

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