How to Replace an Emergency Brake Cable

  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 35-100
What You'll Need
Adjustable wrench
Socket set
Safety glasses
High-powered flashlight or spot light
Surgical gloves
Hydraulic jacks
Wheel chocks or bricks

When you need replace the emergency brake cable on your vehicle, you will need be able to get right underneath it and this means having good hydraulic jacks that can suspend the vehicle safely while you are working. All vehicles have different set-ups, so check the user manual for your particular vehicle.

Step 1 – Raising the Car

Using 2 hydraulic jacks, raise the front of the car enough so that you are able to slide under it and be able to see more clearly what you are doing. Make absolutely certain that the vehicle is safely jacked up and there is no danger of it collapsing on you. Chock the back wheels with blocks or bricks to stop the car rolling. Once you are satisfied that you are safe, fully release the emergency brake and back the brake adjusters off slightly.

Step 2 – Locating the Nuts

Locate the ‘cotter’ pin and the ‘castle nut’ on the back wheel shaft. Make a mark on the nut and the end of the axle where the cotter pin passes through. This will help later on when you need to reset the torque strength. Remove the cotter pin from the castle nut. Some castle nuts are not accessible while the wheels are still on. Check the repair manual for your particular vehicle as to how you can access the castle nuts.

Step 3 – Rear End

Raise the back end of the car using hydraulic jacks so that the entire vehicle is off the ground, but still be aware of all safety precautions.

Step 4 – The Cable

Locate and remove the rubber boot from the brake handle. Locate the adjusting nuts on the top of the cable. You will see that there are usually 2 on each side. Loosen and remove those and then using a flat head screw driver in the slot to prevent the cable from turning. Now, you can remove the compensator lever from the housing.

Step 5 – Back End

At the back of the car, you will note there is a bolt that attaches the hand brake cable to the backing plate. You must disconnect this.

Step 6 – Pulling the Cable

Retrieve the entire cable from the settings. Pull it through the backing plate and then clean the cable and the guide tube.

Step 7 - Grease

Lubricate the new cable with grease. You are now ready to thread the new cable through the guide tube. Thread the back end of the cable through the brake backing plate. Reinstall the brake shoes, if you are putting back the old ones, or use new if you are replacing those too. Attach the emergency brake cable to the lever on the back shoe.

Step 8 - Reattach

Reattach the cable adjusting nut but keep it loose until you have readjusted the torque strength.

Step 9 - Replace

Replace the wheels if you needed to remove them and tighten all nuts and screws, making sure you have replaced the cable into the torque mark you left earlier.