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Pelican Technical Article:

Parking Brake Adjustment

Nick Czerula


1 hour1 hr






10mm socket, plastic prying tool, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, lug wrench, torque wrench, tape measure

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-11)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)

Parts Required:

No parts required

Hot Tip:

Inspect cable for easy movement

Performance Gain:

Proper parking brake function

Complementary Modification:

Replace parking brake cables

MINI R56 models are equipped with a mechanical parking brake. This parking brake is used to hold the vehicle stationary when not in use. The parking brake is operated via a handle in the vehicle cabin -- actuated cables that engage the rear brake calipers.

The system is compact and integrated into the rear brake caliper. The rear rotor is used as the clamping area when the brake caliper is actuated via the parking brake lever. Most of the time the parking brake self-adjusts. These adjustments happen at the rear brake caliper. You can adjust your parking brake with the wheels raised off the ground after compressing the rear brake caliper pistons. A quick check of the parking brake is to pull up the parking brake lever and listen to the number of clicks it makes until stopping. If your parking brake lever makes six clicks or more, it needs to be adjusted. Keep in mind that the parking brake is not strong enough to stop the vehicle when driven or when being moved by the engine.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Working in the vehicle interior, lever the top of the parking brake lever boot out using a plastic prying tool.
Figure 1

Working in the vehicle interior, lever the top of the parking brake lever boot out using a plastic prying tool. Then pull out the parking brake lever boot to detach it from the center console. Start at the front and work your way around the trim piece. It has to be detached on all sides before you can pull it up and remove it.

Pull the parking brake handle trim up and over the handle.
Figure 2

Pull the parking brake handle trim up and over the handle. This will expose the adjusting screw (red arrows). Back off the adjusting nut to the end of the stud.

Remove both rear wheels.
Figure 3

Remove both rear wheels. Remove the rear brake calipers and compress the pistons using a piston tool. See our tech article on brakes replacing. Once the pistons are retracted, reinstall the caliper. Check the gap from the cable lever (green arrow) to the stop (red arrow) and take a measurement. Next, at the parking brake handle, tighten the adjusting nut until the gap at the cable lever (green arrow) and stop (red arrow) is between 0.5: 1.5mm. Apply the parking park lever three times and release it. Then press the brake pedal down three times to seat the caliper piston. Recheck the gap measurement and adjust it if needed. Check the parking brake operation, parking brake light operation and top up the brake fluid.

If you suspect a brake cable or caliper is hanging up, prematurely wearing your rear brake pads, remove the cable and check both.
Figure 4

If you suspect a brake cable or caliper is hanging up, prematurely wearing your rear brake pads, remove the cable and check both. Pull the cable out of the lever (green arrow). Check that when you pull the lever down, away from the stop, that it returns smoothly and does not bind or stick.

Then, pull the cable out (red arrow) and push it in (green arrow).
Figure 5

Then, pull the cable out (red arrow) and push it in (green arrow). The cable should slide back and forth with no resistance. If it binds or sticks, replace the cable. I suggest replacing them in pairs. See our tech article on parking brake cable replacing.

Comments and Suggestions:
Peff Comments: Very professional and good information/ help you provide
Where is the video? I cant find it?
Do you deliver to Sweden?
Fig 3. My gape is very different on both sides. On the right it is very littel gap and the handbrake is not working good enough. Can I just unscrew the bolt that holds the lever and change the angel on the lever?

Best regards Peter
June 30, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No video for this procedure. We will ship to you. Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.

No, it has to be adjusted as shown. You may have a sticking cable. - Nick at Pelican Parts
bendy Comments: -- Please note - Hand brake lever travel was fine before job commencment .
Replaced a genuine rear brake caliper and new brake pads , on a 2007 cooper , due a seized piston . System bled from air . As always , I wound fully the pistons as far as they go in and tightened all home .
Started engine, pumped brake pedal a couple of times to get the pistons close in on the rotors and get the designed clearance as is normal practice.
However somehow the new genuine caliper would not hold on handbrake operation and lever travel increased considerable .
Only after fiddling several times winding " out and in " the piston , I managed to get acceptable operation.
The system is bonkers as I heard several issues with this system ,
I plan to dismantle a caliper to somehow try to understand why such a silly hydroumechanical system is not designed like other systems as used by other manufecturers / systems .
The caliper , system is from " TRW "
Stupid arrangement
and thanks for your articles Plican
January 9, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is a rotating ramp inside that allows adjustment with wear. Wonder if the new one was jammed? Thanks for sharing your experience. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
D1QuickSilver Comments: The handbrake trim was so flush with the console that I couldn't figure out that it was two pieces.

Thanks to the video I was able to "git er done".
December 25, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
chris Comments: Ever since I replaced my rear pads 2 months ago my emergency brakes has trouble holding the car in place on my driveway incline. How tdo I adjust the tension on the calibar?
July 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The article you commented on shows you how. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike Comments: Do you do this adjustment on both wheels at the same time? I just replace the pads and compressed pitons all the way to the dead end. Now my pkg brake lever goes up pretty high. How could it cause that as it was pretty normal before. Thanks for your advice.
April 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, make the adjustments on both sides one after the other.

If you removed the rotors, something may be out of adjustment. - Nick at Pelican Parts

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Page last updated: Mon 1/15/2018 03:22:04 AM