How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Make a simple parking brake adjustment while driving your Kia car. This unique process helps break in the shoes and make your parking brake safe. Do the project at home instead of going to the mechanics shop and save yourself time and money. This technique does not require any special tools and you can even make the adjustment while stuck in traffic. Gain a sense of accomplishment by adjusting your own car.

Under The Hood:

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Mazda6

Start your Mazda6 engine. Press on the brake pedal and release it three or four times. Turn your car's engine off.

Remove the center console cover from between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat by taking off the hooks and lifting the cover.

Use your wrench or pliers to adjust the adjusting nut. Turning the adjusting nut around the cable to adjust the parking brake lever.

Pull the brake lever up one notch. Turn on the engine and verify the parking brake warning light turns on. Release the parking brake lever.

Raise up your Mazda6 with a jack and support the rear wheels with jack stands. Verify the rear wheels turn freely when the parking brake lever releases.

Lower your Mazda6 using the jack and remove the jack stands from the rear wheels. Replace the center console cover and put the hooks back into place by hand.

Items you will need

  • Wrench or pliers

  • Jack and jack stands

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Ford Explorer

Press in on the parking brake pedal to the lowest position towards the floor. Raise your Ford Explorer rear wheels in the air using a jack and support the back wheels using jack stands.

Get underneath your Ford Explorer and grip the threaded rod of the parking brake cable adjustment to prevent it from spinning, then use your pliers to tighten the equalizer nut six full turns past the original position on the parking brake cable rod. Locate the cable rod in the middle of the vehicle with the parking brake cables coming towards it from each rear wheel.

Use your cable tension gauge to measure the right tension. Attach the gauge right behind the equalizer mechanism. There are equalizers at the right and left rear drum on the inside wheel well. Place the cable tension at 40 to 600 pounds.

Release the parking brake pedal. Verify the rear wheels spin freely.

Make sure the parking brake cables have enough tension to make the parking brake tight against the wheel well when applied and also are loose enough to release the tension after the parking brake pedal is release. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 if the cables are not adjusted properly.

Lower your Ford Explorer using your jack and remove the jack stands from the rear wheels.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Cable tension gauge (Rotunda Model 21-0018 or equivalent)

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a VW Jetta

Remove the center console cover located around the parking brake lever. Your parking brake lever is between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat.

Press down on your brake pedal with your foot and let up on the pedal. Do this three times.

Pull up on your parking brake lever to the highest position and release the parking brake lever to the lowest position. Do this three times. Put the parking brake lever in the lowest position.

Use your pliers or wrench to adjust the parking brake adjuster nut. Find this nut on the end of the rod sticking out from the back of the parking brake lever. Make the adjuster nut have a gap of 0.039 to 0.118 inches (1.0 to 3.0mm) from the brake caliper stop.

Raise your VW Jetta in the air with a jack and support the back wheels with jack stands. Make sure the back wheels spin freely after the adjustment. Repeat Step 4, adjusting the adjuster nut until the rear wheels spin freely.

Items you will need

  • Pliers or wrench

  • Jack and jack stands

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Jeep Grand Cherokee

Years 1994 to 1998

Raise your Jeep Cherokee rear wheels in the air using a jack and support the rear wheels with jack stands. Take off both rear tires using your tire iron to loosen and remove the lug nuts. Remove the tire from the bolts with your hands.

Release the adjuster nut with your pliers so the parking brake cables have slack in them. Locate the adjuster nut at the end of the parking brake lever rod underneath the vehicle. The rod attaches to an equalizer which holds both rear wheel parking brake cables.

Remove the rear wheel drums with a screwdriver. Look over the brakes for the correct installation and then inspect the cables for the correct placement.

Reinstall the rear wheel drums using your screwdriver. Reinstall the wheels using your tire iron to tighten the lug nuts. Press in on the parking brake with your foot until it reaches the lowest position to the floor.

Mark the parking brake lever cable 6.5mm from the equalizer. Tighten the adjusting nut with your pliers until the rod making moves into alignment with the equalizer.

Let the parking brake release. Test the rear wheels to make sure there is no tension when you spin them around.

Lower your Jeep Cherokee using the jack and remove the jack stand supports.

Years 1999 to 2005

Raise your vehicle in the air with your jack and support the rear wheels with the jack stand. Remove the rear wheels with your tire iron.

Remove the plug in each hole located underneath the vehicle in each wheel well. Loosen the parking brake cable until there is slack. Locate the parking brake cable underneath the vehicle in the middle.

Insert your screwdriver into the access hole and turn the star adjuster nut Turn the nut until a slight drag can be felt when turning the rear wheel. Back off the adjuster nut until the drag is removed.

Put the plugs back in, the wheels back on and lower your vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Pliers

  • Screwdriver

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Nissan Maxima

Pull up on your Nissan Maxima parking brake lever until it stops at the highest position. Note the number of clicks the parking brake moved up until it stopped. Find the parking brake between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat in the center console.

Take the center console cover off the parking brake lever. Locate the parking brake adjuster nut on the back of the parking brake lever.

Move the adjuster nut to loosen or tighten the nut on the rod sticking out from the back of the parking brake lever. Pull up on the parking brake lever to achieve nine to eleven clicks or notches. Keep adjusting the adjuster nut until you have the right number of clicks or notches.

Bend the thin piece of metal, called the parking brake warning lamp, back into position. The metal piece needs to touch the parking brake lever rod when the parking brake lever pulls up one click. Make sure the warning light turns off when the parking brake lever releases to the floor position.

Items you will need

  • Wrench or pliers

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Pontiac Grand Am

Years 1985 to 1993

Pull up on the parking brake lever by hand until it clicks three times. Locate the parking brake lever inside the vehicle between the driver seat and the front passenger seat.

Raise up your Pontiac Grand Am rear wheels. Use your jack and support the rear wheels with the jack stands.

Locate the parking brake cables underneath the car, coming from both rear wheels. They are coated wire cables. Spray the cables with penetrating oil. This prevents damage to the cable and to the adjuster nut.

Use your pliers to hold the braking cable and use another pliers to adjust the nut. Test the adjustment and spin the rear wheels around. Keep adjusting the nut until you can just spin the rear wheels backward and not spin them at all forwards.

Take off the parking brake and test the wheels for full rotation backwards and forwards. Lower your Pontiac Grand Am using the jack and removing the jack stands.

Years 1999 to 2005

Apply and release the parking brake five times. Verify the parking brake lever releases completely by turning on the ignition of your car and verifying the parking brake light does not turn on.

Pull up on the parking lever to four clicks. Raise your cars rear wheels with a jack and and support the wheels with the jack stands. Verify the rear wheels cannot be turned.

Release the parking brake and verify the wheels can spin freely. Lower your car using the jack and remove the jack stands.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Wrench and pliers

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Chrysler Sebring

Drum Brake

Remove the center console that surrounds the hand parking brake. Locate this inside the car between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat.

Use your pliers to unscrew the nut to loosest point, to release the cable.

Start the engine using your key and then press down on the foot brake with your foot.

Pull up on the hand parking brake and release. Count how many clicks it takes and stop pulling up on the hand parking brake lever when you are at three to five clicks.

Screw the adjuster nut close to the metal plate, leaving no space.

Replace the center console.

Drum to Disc Brake

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 of Section One.

Use your screwdriver in the adjustment hold to turn the adjuster the direction of the arrow. Then turn the adjuster five notches in the opposite direction to set the parking brake.

Pull up on the hand parking brake and release. Count how many clicks it takes and stop pulling up on the hand parking brake lever when you are at five to seven clicks.

Screw the adjuster nut close to the metal plate, leaving no space. Replace the center console.

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a VW Passat

Press the brake pedal down with your foot and release it. Put the parking brake lever in the lowest position. Locate the parking brake lever between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat.

Take off the rear ashtray with your screwdriver. Locate this between the center console between the driver seat and the front passenger seat.

Pull off any plastic pieces that you see installed around the compensator or parking brake component. These do not need replacing.

Hold onto the compensator with your screwdriver. This prevents it from turning while you work on the adjuster nut. Take off the locking nut.

Turn the adjusting nut by hand until the grooves on the cable are completely covered. Push the sleeves of the cables together while turning the adjuster nut.

Unscrew the adjuster nut by hand until the grooves are visible, then replace the locking element. Pull the cables sleeves until you tighten the cables.

Remove your screwdriver from the compensator. Pull up on the parking brake three times to set the brakes.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Kia Spectra

Push in on the parking brake pedal with your foot. Apply 22 lbs. of pressure or make the parking brake adjustment click three times.

Drive your car about a third of a mile, at a speed of approximately 37 miles per hour. This makes the adjuster reset itself.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 approximately three times. This ensures the parking brake adjusts itself.

Hold onto the parking brake when going up an incline 30 percent or greater. The parking brake helps to prevent the car from slipping backward.

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Chevy Corvette

Drum Brakes Years 1963 to 1982

Lift up the rear of your Chevy Corvette using a jack and then support each rear wheel with a jack stand.

Adjust the adjustment nut that holds where both of the parking brake cables come together, using a pliers. Locate the cables underneath the car coming from both the rear wheels.

Lower the car using the jack and remove the jack stands from underneath the car.

Disc Brakes Years 1963 to 1982

Release the hand parking brake by pushing it down to the floor of the car.

Raise your Chevy Corvette off the ground using the jack and support the car with the jack stands. Place a jack stand under each rear wheel.

Remove the rear wheels using a tire iron to loosen and remove the lug nuts. Take the tire off the screws with both hands.

Get underneath the car on the inside wheel well, locate the drum brake that spins around. Rotate the drum around until you can see the adjusting hole.

Loosen the cables that come from the rear wheels. Use your pliers to adjust the adjuster nut located at the curve of the "U" shape on the cable.

Place your screwdriver inside the adjusting hole of the drum brake. Move it up and down to tighten the disc to make it unmovable. Then relax the adjuster six to eight notches.

Tighten the hand parking brake four clicks. Tighten the brake cables at the adjuster nut, then release the hand parking brake to the floor. Lower your car using the jack and remove the jack stands.

Years 1984 to 1996

Raise your car with the jack and support the rear wheels with the jack stands. Remove the rear wheel and then reinstall two lug nuts to hold the rotors in place.

Get underneath your car and use pliers to hold the caliper piston in the bore. Loosen the parking brake cable to release the tension.

Rotate the wheel disc so you can insert a screwdriver into the hole where the star adjuster nut is located.

Insert your screwdriver and for the drivers side turn the handle towards the ceiling to adjust out and towards the floor to adjust in. The opposite is true for the passenger side adjustment.

Adjust the star nut until the wheels do not turn anymore. Rotate the star adjuster nut back off five to seven clicks to set it at the right adjustment. Perform this on both wheels.

Lower your car using the jack and remove the jack stands.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Pliers

  • Tire iron

  • Screwdriver or pliers

 How to Make Parking Brake Adjustments in a Nissan Pathfinder

Raise the rear of the Nissan Pathfinder with your jack and support the rear wheels with jack stands.

Pull up on the parking brake lever located in the center console of the vehicle.

Locate the parking brake lock nut attached to the parking brake cables and assembly. Crawl underneath the vehicle and find the assembly and cables mounted to the center drive shaft. Turn the lock nut with a wrench or pliers until the cables are loose.

Turn the adjuster lock nut until you have the correct amount of notches. Follow the guidelines of notches to pull up on depending on your Nissan Pathfinder year. Use 6 to 10 notches for years 1970 to 1983; use 13 to 16 notches for years 1984 to 1986; use 10 to 12 notches for years 1986 to 1988 and two-wheel drive; use nine to 11 notches for years 1986 to 1988 and four-wheel drive; for stick lever 1988 year models, use seven to nine notches.

Release the parking brake to the floor of the console. Spin the rear wheels to verify there is no resistance.

Lower your vehicle using the jack and remove the jack stands from the rear wheels.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Wrench or pliers

About the Author

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