Parking brake cable for different automobiles
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Your Handbrake cable worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Safe acceleration and parking with the parking brake
The fully mechanical parking brake blocks a car's rear wheels. It is operated with a hand lever or a pedal. The braking force is transmitted through a cable with a limited life span.
Construction and function of a parking brake
A parking brake prevents the car from rolling away when it is parked, generally blocking the rear wheels. It has an additional use when driving uphill: it allows engaging the gear without the car rolling backwards or the engine stalling. Most parking brakes are operated with a manual lever next to the driver's seat. This lever is connected to a guiding system tightening a cable on the underbody of the car. The tension is transmitted to the brake shoes of the rear wheel brake. The brake shoes are pulled apart mechanically by the lever and pressed against the brake drum's sidewall, safely parking the car and protecting it from rolling away. Other cars, especially Mercedes, have a pedal operating the parking brake. Users of other brands have to get used to this. In these cars, using the parking brake on slopes becomes unnecessary due to a very low torque and powerful first gear.
Wear of the parking brake cable
The brake cable is a component under high strain and exposed to the elements. It is a twisted cable consisting of several separate metal wires, a so-called Bowden cable. Parking brake cables are generally protected against penetrating dirt by a protective sleeve with an internal lubrication of graphite powder. Over time this loses its effect. Holes allow condensing moisture to penetrate the cable, causing it to rust. As a result its swells and jams in its protective sleeve. The combination of rust and the high tension weakens it. If a defective parking brake fails suddenly, it is ruptured. Alternatively, its operation can gradually become more difficult or its function gradually deteriorates. In this case the internal cable is swollen, causing it to jam in its sleeve. In both cases replacement is the only sensible option. Lubricating a parking brake cable is hardly useful. With a spray pistol and thin lubricant only a temporary improvement can be achieved. This repair however does not last long. The lubricant will lose its effect within a few days and problems start again. This course of action is therefore only useful as a makeshift weekend repair when the suppliers are closed.
Repair of a parking brake
Fortunately, replacement of a parking brake cable is very simple. It is attached to the corresponding points of the rear wheel brake and the handle. Carefully check its guiding. If the cable is too slack it could rupture at the first obstacle. The best thing is to check the attachment of the old cable and apply the new one in the same manner. This repair is done in just 30 minutes and restores full safety. The cable's automatic adjustment has to be adjusted on the new cable. This is generally nothing more than tightening a tensioner nut. A replaced parking brake cable should last years.
Costs or a parking brake cable
The parking brake cable is a very cheap part. With even an OEM-quality branded item for a luxury car like BMW or Mercedes seldom costing more than 15 EUR (c. £13), there is no need for purchasing too cheap cables. A high-grade parking brake cable has certified quality for all its components: protective sleeve, connection points, inner cable and lubrication. This is a component you can trust.