This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
If your parking brake is not functioning properly, perhaps it's time you replaced the parking brake shoes. First, make sure the parking brake cables and handles are adjusted properly (see Project 53 in the book).
The parking brake shoes can only be inspected after removing the rear brake discs (see Project 57). With the brake discs off, you can visually inspect the shoes for wear. They should have some brake lining along the top but should not have any heavy grooves cut into them. Compare your brake shoes to the new shoes in these pictures to determine if you need to replace yours.
After the brake disc has been removed from the brake assembly, remove the small parking brake adjuster by prying it out from between the upper and lower parking brake shoes. Make sure that the parking brake handle is all the way down for this procedure. Be very careful during this removal, as the adjuster is spring loaded and the springs may fly out when you remove it.
When you have removed the adjuster, take a set of needle-nose pliers and remove the long spring that holds the upper and lower shoes together near where the adjuster was mounted. Again, be mindful of the spring, as it may fly off unexpectedly. Wear safety glasses during this entire procedure.
Now, remove the washer and conical spring-retaining mechanism at the top of the assembly. Press in the spring, then rotate the special spring washer so you can slide it out of its retainer. Make sure you don't lose the parts if they happen to fly out.
Move to the front of the brake assembly (toward the front of the car), and remove the long spring from the two brake shoes. Use the needle-nose pliers again, and be careful not to catch your fingers in the process.
After the three springs have been removed from the parking brake assembly, both the top and bottom shoes should lift off the assembly.
Install the new shoe in the opposite manner as the removal process. Reassemble the parking brake by attaching the long spring toward the front of the car first, then the upper conical spring, and finally the spring toward the rear.
When you are finished, test the assembly by operating the emergency brake handle a few times. Carefully check that the springs are properly seated in the restraining holes in the brake shoes.
Reinstall the brake disc, and then recheck and adjust the parking brake mechanism (Project 53 in the book) before you reinstall the caliper and brake pads.
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Remove the small adjusting cog assembly by using a large screwdriver to push it out from between the two parking brake shoes. With some effort, the cog assembly should pop out, leaving a bit of slack between the two parking brake shoes. Be very careful when installing the new shoe, as the retaining springs may snap out of place and fly out. Keep your hands out of the way, and wear safety glasses when installing or removing the springs. The inset photo shows a brand-new parking brake shoe. Compare your old one to this to see if you need to replace it.
Using a pair of pliers, grab and unhook the parking brake spring from the brake shoes (green arrow). Be careful of the spring, as it is under a lot of tension at this point. Use a pair of Vise-Grips and a pair of needle-nose pliers to twist the spring and unlatch it from the assembly. Also undo the small spring retainer (inset) that secures the brake shoes to the rear trailing arm. If you don't think the parking brake shoes are worn, take a close look at these (red arrows). The brake lining has completely broken off, probably due to the previous owner driving too many miles with the parking brake on.