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BMW E39 Parking Brake Adjusting
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Parking Brake Adjusting

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$0

Talent:

***

Tools:

Flatblade Screwdriver, Jack, 17mm socket, Plastic Prying Tool

Applicable Models:

BMW E39 5-Series (1997-03)

Hot Tip:

Double check adjustment before finishing up

Performance Gain:

Proper parking brake function

Complementary Modification:

Replace parking brake cables

BMW uses the inside portion of the rear rotors to hose the parking brake shoes. They work like older drum brakes. When you pull up on the lever a cable is pulled. This action levers a cam that forces the brake shoes apart gripping the inside of the rotor. Your parking brakes are supposed to clamp on the rear brake rotors and hold the car still on a hill. If your car still rolls back after applying the parking brake you should adjust them. If your parking brake cable clicks more than 10 times you should adjust them. Three clicks is a good number. You don't want the parking brake adjustment too tight because as parts heat up they expand and you don't want the parking brake applied even a little while you are driving. The rear brakes will smell funny and you will wear out your parking brake shoes. In this tech article we will go over adjusting your parking brakes and cable.

Working in vehicle interior, lever bottom of parking brake lever up using a plastic prying tool.
Figure 1

Working in vehicle interior, lever bottom of parking brake lever up using a plastic prying tool.

Pull up parking brake lever boot over the parking brake handle to move it out of the way.
Figure 2

Pull up parking brake lever boot over the parking brake handle to move it out of the way. Pull up on the handle two clicks. This should give you the access you need and allow you to adjust the cables back when the job is done. With a deep 10mm socket loosen the two 10mm adjustment nuts (green arrows) that tighten the parking brake cables. This will provide slack and take all tension off of the parking brake shoes.

Make sure the lever is at two to three clicks because this is the position you will be adjusting the parking brake cable at during installation.
Figure 3

Make sure the lever is at two to three clicks because this is the position you will be adjusting the parking brake cable at during installation. If you adjust the parking brake cable when it is all the way down it will be too tight and the brake components will heat up while driving. This may cause the pads to grab the rotor, generate excessive heat and cause possible parking brake failure. Lift and support rear of vehicle. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. Remove your rear wheel you are going to adjust the parking brake on.

Rotate the rotor so that one of the lug bolt holes (green arrow) is at the 6 o'clock position (yellow arrow).
Figure 4

Rotate the rotor so that one of the lug bolt holes (green arrow) is at the 6 o'clock position (yellow arrow). You should be able to see the adjuster inside the hole with a flashlight.

Use a flat blade screw driver to insert and lever on the adjuster pawl.
Figure 5

Use a flat blade screw driver to insert and lever on the adjuster pawl. You can go up or down in the direction of the blue arrows to loosen or tighten the parking brake shoes.

Insert the screwdriver at the top of the hole and lever upwards in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 6

Insert the screwdriver at the top of the hole and lever upwards in the direction of the blue arrow. This moves the parking pawl downward and adjusts the parking brake shoes inward.

The screw driver should end up in the up position.
Figure 7

The screw driver should end up in the up position. By loosening the parking brake shoes you can take off the rotor easier.

To adjust the parking brake tighter insert the screwdriver at the bottom of the hole and lever downward in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 8

To adjust the parking brake tighter insert the screwdriver at the bottom of the hole and lever downward in the direction of the blue arrow.

The screw driver should end up here as you move it downward.
Figure 9

The screw driver should end up here as you move it downward. This moves the parking pawl upward and adjusts the parking brake shoes outward. Adjust outward until there is slight drag on the wheel.

Here is what you are trying to do with the brake rotor removed, Remember moving down on the pawl bring the parking brake shoes in.
Figure 10

Here is what you are trying to do with the brake rotor removed, Remember moving down on the pawl bring the parking brake shoes in.

In this picture we are showing you ratcheting up on the adjusting pawl.
Figure 11

In this picture we are showing you ratcheting up on the adjusting pawl. This spreads the pads apart removing any slack between the parking brake shoes and the interior of the drum of the rotor. Tighten the parking brake cable at the center console until all of the slack is taken up in the cable. Working in vehicle interior, pull parking brake lever multiple times. Release lever and confirm wheels rotate freely. Release lever, then pull up 3 notches, check that rear wheels will do not rotate and parking brake warning light is ON. When done, install parking brake lever boot and rear wheels studs.

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Comments and Suggestions:
skatetrippy Comments: Can't you just reverse at 15mph and pull the ebrake?
January 31, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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