Handbrake cable replacement from $326
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Handbrake cable replacement
What is a handbrake?
Whether you call it a park brake, emergency brake or handbrake, it doesn’t really matter - they all have just one function and that is to mechanically stop your vehicle from moving forward or backwards.
Some of the more adventurous of us may say they have used the handbrake whilst the vehicle is still moving, usually sideways, but that could be one reason why they need to replace their handbrake cables.
If you’ve had to park on a hill or do a hill start in a manual, you would be thankful for the handbrake operating effectively.
If it’s not aiding you at those crucial times you may need to replace your handbrake cable.
Most modern vehicles now come with electronic parking brakes.
Some of these will have an electric motor that operates the cable or a hydraulic/electric system which engages the brake calipers.
There will be a switch or button in the dash or near the steering column to activate the park brake.
There’s no set service life on a handbrake cable.
It can rust, break or stretch over time.
If you need someone to replace the handbrake cable, costs will vary but be prepared to pay from around $113 to $370 depending on your vehicle.
If your vehicle is fitted with electronic parking brakes and the cable needs replacement you could be looking at over $1,000 to get this fixed.
Unfortunately, modern technology can also come with a hefty price to fix, if it does fail.
What is a handbrake cable?
The handbrake sits inside the cabin and is a driver-assisted lever which is manually raised, with resistance, and lowered again, whilst pushing a release button at the tip of the lever.
This action engages and releases the rear brakes.
However, not all vehicles are the same.
There are some vehicles that have a handbrake engagement lever on the floor next to the pedals and a release near the steering column.
Many modern vehicles will have a switch or button to activate the electronic parking brakes.
The handbrake cable is attached to the manually operated lever or electric motor.
When the handbrake is activated, the task of the cable is to engage the brake shoes or discs.
If you have rear brake drums on your vehicle, the cable runs directly to the brake shoes and is attached to a lever on the brakes.
If you have rear disc brakes on your vehicle, the cable still attaches to a brake lever but it’s attached to a screw system on the caliper that creates force against a piston, which is usually hydraulically activated.
Symptoms you need to replace a handbrake cable
- Park brake warning light is on
- You have to pull the park brake lever to full extension to activate brakes
- Park brake lever has less resistance than normal, or none at all
- No matter how hard you pull the lever, the car continues to roll
- Handbrake is locking the brakes even when it is released
How do you replace a handbrake cable?
- Vehicle is positioned on a hoist
- The centre console will be removed, to access handbrake cable
- Handbrake cable is released from handbrake lever or motor
- The cable is then released from the rear brake drums or calipers
- Cable is then removed from the holding clips under the vehicle
- Cable is removed and new cable placed ready for fitment
- New cable is then run under vehicle and clipped into place from the rear brakes up to handbrake lever slot or motor
- New cable is then attached to rear brake drums or calipers
- Cable is attached to the handbrake lever and adjusted to optimal tension
- Centre console is put back together
- Handbrake is tested for correct operation
Tips to remember
- Because the handbrake is important for emergency braking and keeping a vehicle from rolling, it is important to have a worn or faulty handbrake cable replaced as soon as possible
- Always have a qualified technician install a handbrake cable to ensure proper installation and operation
- Make sure the cable is securely clipped into place and not hanging down
- Don’t over-tighten the cable creating resistance on the wheels. When the cable is released the wheels should spin freely.
How important is it to replace a handbrake cable?
There’s an increased chance of an accident if your handbrake isn’t working properly - you could easily roll into a vehicle in front or behind you if you’re not careful.
There’s also the chance that on returning to the spot where you parked your car, you find it missing and only discover it sometime later resting in someone’s yard at the bottom of a hill!
We rely on the handbrake cable a great deal and is a valuable component in making your car safer. It is well worth keeping maintained at its optimal best in case of an emergency.