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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:

Flathead 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 house 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.

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.

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.

Then pull up parking brake lever boot to detach from center console.
Figure 2

Then pull up parking brake lever boot to detach from center console. 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 (geeen arrow) that tighten the parking brake cables.
Figure 3

With a deep 10mm socket loosen the two 10mm adjustment nuts (geeen arrow) that tighten the parking brake cables. This will provide slack and take all tension off of the parking brake shoes.

Rotate the rotor so that one of the lug bolt holes is at the 6 oÂ'clock position.
Figure 4

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

Use a flathead screwdriver to insert and lever on the adjuster pawl.
Figure 5

Use a flathead screwdriver to insert and lever on the adjuster pawl. You can go up or down 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 screwdriver should end up in the up position.
Figure 7

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

Insert the screwdriver at the bottom of the hole and lever downward in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 8

Insert the screwdriver at the bottom of the hole and lever downward in the direction of the blue arrow.

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

The screwdriver 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 thisPicture 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. 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:
Fred Comments: For my 2003 525i Wagon, the adjustment screw was not at 6 o'clock. On driver it is at 3 o'clock. I assume on passenger, it will be at 9 o'clock but if not, should be at 3 o'clock. Spent a bunch of time trying to find it at 6 but ended up just removing the whole caliper and rotor to find it.
June 14, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Fred King Comments: on the drivers side as in the photos the you ratchet up to spread the pads apart . On the passenger side you ratchet the pawl DOWN to spread the pads.
December 31, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW does not state directions in their info, this may have been the author's experience. Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Wed 8/23/2017 02:07:09 AM